Wednesday, July 6, 2016

6 July 2016 - Happy Birthday to Me!!

Dear All,

Today is my 19th birthday, and for that reason I'm going to the temple! Yay.

Romans 12:12 says, "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer." I think it's interesting that these three things are spoken of together. To be patient is to have hope that things will be better, and being willing to accept the Lord's timing on blessings we receive. But how can we be patient if we're not
"continuing instant in prayer"? If we want to learn patience and become more patient, then we must humble ourselves before God and pray for His divine help in being patient. I know that for me, most of the time I must rely on God to be able to be patient through things; and even then I'm not as patient as I should be. But as I rely on Him and admit to my weakness without Him, it becomes easier and I am able to be more patient.

People often get on the trains just to sell stuff, and the most common thing is "Welches fruit snacks for a dollar". There was one guy today who was selling fruit snacks and stared at us a little bit as he walked by announcing his sale. He walked by us one more time and kinda
smiles and announces, "What would Jesus do? Jesus would buy some Welches fruit snacks". We laughed, and he laughed, and then he moved on to the next train. Certainly a New York moment

Elder Hill and I have been seeing so many miracles lately. It's simply because we're putting ourselves out there and just talking with people all the time. My companions and I haven't always done this in the past
because we are ASL missionaries, and we figured we should always sign so we could get more practice, and so it would be obvious that we know ASL. And that's a good thing for sure, but now we don't feel that it's the best thing. Because neither of us are deaf, we feel that we shoulds take advantage of being in NYC and just talk to people all the time.We had Elder Bennet from the Seventy visit our mission, and this is something he talked about. He said, "If you talk to everyone, the Lord will place people in your path. You may not see the connection of your actions and the reward, but it will happen. Those people you talk today not know (deaf) people who are interested, and they themselves may not even want to learn more. But the Lord will see how hard you're trying and bless you while blessing others by allowing them theopportunity to hear the Gospel." At first I thought, "Talking to hearing people on the trains probably won't yield more deaf people forus to talk with, but it can't hurt to try." Now I look back, and we've met more deaf people in these last weeks than the rest of my missioncombined. And we have two people scheduled for baptism this month! That hasn't happened on my mission yet. It's so awesome, and we're so excited to see these people change their lives.

"Imma be honest, I actually wouldn't mind having more than one wife."
"You realize that you just asked for toilet paper for your birthday, right?"
"Hey, you guys are Nazis".
"You used to call me on my videophone..."
"You learned that you could talk to white people without them being
scared of you."
"In all ways, be wise and mature in your conduct".
"I'm just like Batman except I suck at fighting, and I'm poor."

Romans 12:12
Proverrbs 14:29
Mosiah 23:21
Alma 5:26

Keep on Truckin

-Elder Daniel West

 I came home to this from Elder Holloway
Birthday gift from Elder Holloway

Subway entertainment on the way to the Temple

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

29 Jun 2016 - Finding Deaf People in NYC

Dear All,

Tuesdays are my favorite of the service we do. This week, one of our
responsibilities was taking care of the giant bags of vegetables. So
one of the things was the smaller 10 lb bags of potatoes. That was fun.
I stood in the back corner of a pallet with people throwing the 10 lb
bags at me. I had to stack them up quickly and so that they wouldn't
tumble. They do this every week with the stuff, but this isn't usually
what I've done. It was super fun though. Elder Bell and I actually did
this sometimes when he was here, but I would throw the potatoes at
him. Well now I've seen both sides. I'll attach a picture of it too.

Wow, obedience has meant far more to me as a missionary than it did
beforehand. The commandments are there for our benefit: we already
know that. But even knowing that, it can still be difficult to follow
them. As missionaries, we are representatives of Jesus Christ, and
therefore are expected to live the higher law. Obedience isn't a
request, rather, it is a commandment. This can be hard, of course, and
some of the commandments seem like little things, and not as important.
But, something my Stake President said to me right before I left was
that those "little things" are the ones that matter most. I didn't
fully understand that comment before, but I've come to realize why
that is. Anyone can obey the big, obvious commandments. But our
obedience to the "little ones" is what truly determines how much
we're willing to give up for Him.

Elder Bell and I focused on how to sign differently to each person we
met and talked with. Because every single deaf person signs
differently, we try to change our signing so it matches theirs, and
it generally works really well. That's something that's been different
on my mission than it was at home: so much diversity. Not even just in
ASL, but with people in general. I'm just used to Portland, and its
white liberals. But here is different. I mean in Manhattan it's all white
liberals, but most of our time isn't spent with them. Ah, the things
we're learning in New York.

We had another straight up miracle last night. We were on our way home
from mail and found two more deaf people! They were right outside the
turnstiles and we just barely noticed them before we went through.
They are highly educated, which is super rare. They're also nice, and
truly both want to learn more, which is also super rare. WE FOUND TWO
EDUCATED, NICE, TEACHABLE, DEAF PEOPLE! That is the first time this has
happened on my mission! It was amazing. Heavenly Father put us in
each others' paths for a reason. That brings the total to 3 deaf street
contacts this week. Holy cow, that's a ton of deaf people in a week.

"If you turn all of New York Mormon could you come home early?"
"Excuse me sirs, would you vote...ah too young"
"Even the Mormon ones."
"Yes, the raptor may actually eat us. But we will be blessed by it."
"I wonder what kind of drugs he was using, maybe stupidity." -after
some college student runs into a guy's cane.
"If there's a deal and I'm not getting it, then I'm losing money!"
"Man it seems like all we do is cook, chow down, and do dishes."
"You cannot linger in temptation and expect to overcome sin."
"Repentance is cool"

Mosiah 16:6-9 - But there is a resurrection.
Alma 18:8-10
Isaiah 1:18

Keep on Truckin.

-Elder Daniel West

Tuesday Service
Talvin Staton received the Melchizedek Priesthood! Amazing member
The Manhattan Bridge with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

22 Jun 2016 - 7 Months

Dear All,

The Zone Leaders called us on Thursday to let us know about a service opportunity that was happening in an hour. We accepted and zoomed our way over there right after a meeting. The information they gave us was very limited, and not enough to find the place. So we just kinda walked a few of the blocks near the intersection they gave us, looking for it. We approached a guy who, unfortunately for us, only knew Spanish, so called the zone leaders and asked them to speak with him for us. He showed us the place and we walked right in. The nuns that were running it didn't want our help and said that they needed more notice, so we accepted and walked back. Right where we talked to that Spanish-speaking person was a black man that we started talking to. It turns out, he had specifically felt like he should have his Bible with him that morning and talked about how he knew we were from God. We talked for a while and it was super awesome. We knew that that's the reason we were sent to do that service. The Lord specifically wanted us to meet this Haitian man, not to do the service.

We were on the train and signing to each other. There were these two little kids that started to copy what I was signing. I looked at them and signed stuff that they continued to copy. So we got out our cards with the finger spelling abc's on the back and handed one of them to each kid. The kids went ballistic and then the mom and grandmother started joining in. The woman next to me was watching and laughing along so I asked her if she wanted one: she said she would love one. Then as we exited at our stop, there was a person who stopped us and asked for one. Elder Hill then said this, "Wow those cards are a good idea. We got the whole frikin train signing." That was a funny thing, all these randoms fingerspelling together.

We had another miracle find. We're just standing waiting for the train when Elder Hill jabs me in the side. I'm like, "What the heck?" He points to a guy who has a hearing aid and we walk right up to him. He starts speaking to him and the guy speaks back, but clearly with a deaf accent. So we started signing with him and taught him. We got to know more about him and it was awesome. I've noticed that the Lord has been constantly providing us with these miracle finds as we do our best to talk with people all the time. The members of the Godhead are a lot more willing to step in and help us out once we've done everything we can to help others out.

We got shut down hard by some guy, which was pretty funny. He walked by us and waved and so we walked up to him and were like, "Hey man, what's your name?" with an outstretched hand for a handshake. He promptly took his hand back, and while quickly walking away said, "Ha! No. Thank you I'm good. Thank you." He muttered a few other things to himself as he walked away and it was pretty funny. It certainly hurt my pride a little bit, but it's alright

We had an awesome lesson with a less-active member. We had a plan to be bold and straight-up about how things have been, because we were thinking about not visiting her so often anymore. We went in and asked her some questions and it became a completely different lesson than we had planned. It became clear that she didn't need boldness, rather, she needed love. So we apologized for not being better missionaries for her in the past and promised to do better from then on. We made it clear that we are willing to do anything she needs to help her keep her commitments. It was super cool to see how we were really the ones to blame; we hadn't been loving enough and just hadn't done what we needed to.

"Let's pretend, Marshall Mathers never picked up a pen..."
"I don't really know what they're about, but they're weird."
"Oh Lord God please help me Lord Jesus thank you dear Master. Oh Lord
Jesus, help Jodelle!
'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain'".
"I'm not mean, I just don't like you."
"Can you spare a cigarette, homie?"
"Just for future reference, when it says 'stand clear of the closing
doors' it actually means to stand right in the middle of them,
"You can call me Bob the Builder. Because I got the tools."
"Have a good one guys.
FBI? You look like the Feds!
Nah, we're representatives of Jesus Christ."
"Excuse me, just let me let this sexy family by."
"I'm 93 years old...they say the good die young. I must be one bad son
of a *****"

Exodus 20:7
Mosiah 2

Keep on Truckin

Elder Tabor from my first two weeks in NYC came to our apartment on a companion exchange!
A mid-sized roach in a project

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

15 Jun 2016 - Running Out of Subject Lines Already

Dear All,

Middle-aged Mormon moms are the worst. So far, each time one of them
has seen us they just grab my arm with the tightest grip and scare me
to death with a scream of surprise, "ELDERS!!!". No joke, this is
legit what happens almost every single time. On the contrary, the men
that have seen us generally are just like, "Hey Elders how's it
going?" So nonchalantly, almost like they planned on meeting us
there. It's very funny to see the difference in reactions.

We went to check on someone we had a little information on, and their
"nice hearing son". The son wasn't there, but the deaf mother was. She
said he was at the store, so we taught her and it was good. We left
and ended up going down the wrong way,so we turned around to go the
correct way and BOOM, we saw the son walk into the apartment. So we
went right back to the apartment and knocked the door and talked with
him. He's super interested and really wants to start taking his mom to
the church. We're super excited to meet with him again. That's a
potential eternal family found! So excited.

We witnessed some more Bronx Mom action this week, only this time
wasn't nearly as funny. This mom was just constantly nagging her child
to sit down and be quiet, but then continued to encourage rowdy
behavior from the child. Then, this is where the inner Bronx-Mom came
out: The kid stood up out of her seat and right into the mom's swinging
palm to the kid's forehead. The kid kinda fell back down into the
seat. The smack sound was about equal to the closing of a car door.
The kid was completely unfazed, even as a red mark developed on her
forehead. She even later began to stand up again, but when the mom loaded
her arm like a gun to smack the daughter again, the daughter promptly
sat down. This was certainly a (Bronx) New York moment.

I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. It's only real
because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. When we sin, there is no point in
holding onto that guilt. The longer
we wait to repent, the longer we're not allowing Christ to take that
from us. By saying that we don't need help from others, we're actually
being prideful in saying we don't need the help that Jesus Christ has
already allowed us to receive. I am so grateful
that I don't have to suffer for my mistakes. Every time I've repented
of something, it doesn't bother me anymore. The guilt I once felt
suddenly seems non-existent. "Behold, he who has repented of his sins,
the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more" (D&C
58:42). Jesus Christ is waiting for us all to allow h
Him to take that
from us. We just have to be humble enough to admit that we need Him. I
know that my Heavenly Father loves me. I know this because I've felt
His love in my life. I know that the Holy Ghost cares about each of us
just as much as our Father and our Savior do. All three of them do
everything in Their power to make us happy.

"Woo woo woo! Utah Utah Salt Lake City. Ogden, Utah, Salt Lake City!"
"Why lie? I need a beer."
"Joseph Smith, that's the guy you guys worship, right?"
"I wonder how long it's gonna be before I get married? I thought it
was gonna be a year but then I thought, 'Oh wait, it's eternity.' So I
think it'll be two years."
"I'm willing to get fat for you, Elder."
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains."
"For a brick, he flew pretty good!"
"Lights will guide you home. I'll ignite your bones...and fix you."
"So how do you make it two years? Well, ask for humbling experiences
and then hang on for the ride."
"I'm selling this candy for myself, so I can make more money to buy more candy."
"Attitude reflects leadership, Captain."

Jacob 2:9-10
2 Nephi 33:10-11
2 Nephi 9:39
Jacob 7:14
D&C 109:21

Keep on Truckin

-Elder Daniel West

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

8 Jun 2016 - Ups and Downs Each Week

Dear All,

There was a drummer duo on the subway and they were actually very
good. There was a couple with a newborn baby and as one of the
drummers passed with his hat for money he said this, "Did you enjoy
it? Yeah, I know you did because it was fire...I started when I was that
little...well maybe a little bigger." I just thought that was funny.

I love this quote from Elder Oaks: "We invite all to come unto Christ
by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors
of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else
can do this”. The reason I like it so much is because he's so straight
about it. He ends it by making it clear that we're the only ones who
have the ability to open the doors to the Celestial Kingdom for God's
children. This isn't because we're smarter or better than other
people, it's simply because of the Restoration of the Gospel. Joseph
Smith received the Priesthood Authority of God and it has remained in
this Church since then. "[This] Church is not just another religion,
nor is it an American church. Rather, it is a restoration of the
'fulness of [the] gospel' (D&C 1:23), the same as was revealed and
taught from the beginning". This is the same church as was established
by Jesus Christ. It was brought back to the earth after almost 1800
years from when it was taken away by Heavenly Father. It isn't Joseph
Smith's church, nor is it Nephi's church. This is Jesus Christ's
Church. And it's back on the earth because God loves His children and
has given it back to us.

On the subway a mother made a famous quote to her 6 year old
daughter. The daughter wasn't eating her donut the way the mom wanted
her to. So she said this, "I will bust yo head into the back of this
g*****n seat if you wanna play with me. Eat it! Or I'll throw it
away." What a classic Bronx-Mom quote.

We had just left the meeting we had with Elder Bennit of the 70. He
came to our mission on Tuesday for a mission conference of sorts. We
were on our way to a Less Active's apartment and walked past a guy and
said hello. He stopped and turned to ask us where we were from. We
told him and just immediately transitioned into teaching the Gospel
because we were still on a spiritual high from the meeting. This man,
Ashton, is a less-active member who hasn't been to church in a year.
He had just read the scriptures and prayed to tell Heavenly Father
that he'd talk to the next set of elders he found. Then five minutes
later he ran into us. It was such a miracle too, especially because
the member we went to see had apparently moved. So we felt that we
should go there because Heavenly Father wanted us to meet this man.
Even better, Ashton knows a deaf person! He's gonna get us the person's
address. Later that night we went to look up someone and wound up on a
wild goose chase. But after like 20 minutes of chasing him down and
asking everyone near if they'd seen the guy, we found him! A new deaf
person! It was super legit.

A rat fell from the sky today. We were walking back and a rat just fell from
the subway tracks above us. The subway tracks are about 20-30 feet up
and a rat just literally fell onto the sidewalk. It was very dead. It made a
very loud clunking sound as it hit the pavement.

"Obedience to Jesus Christ is a lifelong commitment."
"God is dope."
"I will bust yo head into the back off this g*****n seat of you wanna
play with me. Eat it! Or I'll throw it away."
"Get over yourself, get along with your companion."
"I cannot go out with a black girl!" *spoken by a black man

1 Nephi 11:16-17
Jacob 6:12

Keep on Truckin.

-Elder Daniel West

Games with the Elders
Classic NY mailbox
Our Rat from the sky

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

1 Jun 2016 - June Already?

Dear All,

Elder Bell has been transferred out of the city! He is now serving in
the Yorktown Ward, which is Upstate. Elder Hill has been transferred
down to be my companion from the Newburgh area, which is also Upstate.
It will be a good experience to be with Elder Hill for his last 2
transfers here in the city.

As we were walking past one of the many bars outside the Yankee
Stadium we passed a guy who called for us. He stopped us to get a
picture as he was apparently a member, although we were very doubtful
that he was active. Then about 3 stores down we passed another bar and
this time two guys who walked out of the store said, "Elders!" This
was a sure sign that he was a member because only members call us
Elders. Most people just say Mormons or Jesus People. Well this guy
was not a member: when asked, his response was, "Haha nah, I've just
seen the Book of Mormon play." Go figure. Only in New York would
people call us by our proper titles and then have it turn out to be
because of knowledge from a Broadway Play.

I really enjoy these verses in the Book of Mormon. "And he said unto
me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know
that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning
of all things." The reason I like this so much is because it's such a
simple thing, but it holds so much meaning. Nephi doesn't need to know
all things, but he does need to know that God loves him. That
knowledge provides so much more. It allows us to start to understand
why He's given us all that we have. I really can't explain how this
scripture makes me feel, but it is marvelous.

So President Smith invited us over for an FHE with him at the mission
home on Sunday night. It was very surprising because Elder Bell and I
were missionaries in the city, and the mission home is upstate. So
long story short, we got to go and spend the night in the mission
home. We even got up earlier to play basketball with President Smith
and his son, William. It was really really fun and they were really
nice and tasked with us for a long time

It's been blazing hot lately, it's honestly just ridiculous. We're
outside all day working hard with no success so far, but it's alright
because we're doing our best. It's just been terrible in these
clothes, certainly some of the most uncomfortable times of my life. We
are dying out here, but it's alright because "There is no rejection at
the door or on the street that can dim [our] enthusiasm. [We] are
willing to pay the price of repeated rejection for the hope of a
single conversion". I've been thinking about this lately: we work so
hard and are so tired at the end of every day, but we are yet to see
anyone truly progress. We keep going for one reason; in the hopes that
we help one soul come unto Christ. Each day I am reminded why I'm
doing this. Every time we study the scriptures, every time we go to
church, every time we testify of Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity
to feel God's Love for us. We want others to be able to feel the same.
We spend hours, days, weeks and even months exhausting ourselves all
for the hopes that someone we converse with will have the opportunity
to feel of their Heavenly Father's love. We know it won't be easy, we
didn't sign up for something easy. But it will be worth it. We hope
and pray every day that someone will able to be influenced by us. We want
to have the opportunity to be the vessel for the Holy Ghost. After
days of utter rejection and disappointment, we have one good
experience with a single child of God, and it makes all those bad
times feel as though they didn't exist. For a single moment we get to
feel as though we have helped someone be happier. We will keep going.
We will find those who've been prepared to meet us. We will continue
to serve our Heavenly Father because He loves us and we love him.

"If the thought is good, it is from God".
"Make it a great day".
"My sheets are starting to get Elder Turner disease".
"People Magazine".
"For 1 hour and 12 minutes, I smoked that thing Bro!"
"Oh! I thought they was cops".
"Repentance is more important than your mission."
"One on one pleading with the Lord is not a substitute."
"This is not an event on learning a language, it's a journey of loving
the people".
"But this time we're reloading the chamber with even more firepower".
"Every day I read the Book of Mormons! Every night before bed."
"You know Jesus is fake right?"
"Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?"

Mosiah 18:26
Alma 26:16
Matthew 11:28-30

Keep on Truckin

-Elder Daniel West

Mission Home
My Zone - Pre transfers
Apartment - post transfers

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

25 May 2016 - Blessing the Streets of Harlem with Crazy People

Dear All,

We ran into a crazy homeless religious man at a bus stop. He was nice
to us, just really weird. He kept on talking about how we have to open
our mouths and how powerful our words are. He then mentioned that his
name is Michael and started loudly announcing that Michael the
Archangel would defend that street corner from the devil. It was awk
because there were just these two Mormon missionaries kinda confused
as to what to do as some crazy guy was yelling blessings at the street
corner. He then used his Crucifix to bless the street corner. Most of
the people there didn't think much of it. Because...well that level of
craziness is average for most the people there. Another classic
(Harlem) New York moment.

I was reading in the Book of Mormon at a time period where King
Benjamin is speaking to the Nephites. I came across Mosiah 4:9. I just
love the simplicity of the verse, especially the first phrase.
"Believe in God; believe that He is".  King Benjamin is just exhorting
the people to believe in God. This is why I chose to be a missionary.
I always think about how happy my beliefs make me. My beliefs make me
always hope for something better, and they influence me to always think
about the better things that are waiting for me after earth. Even if
there wasn't anything more to life than our time here on earth, I'm
still happier believing that there is more. It just seems like it
would be so depressing to me if I thought these 80 or 90 years were
all of my existence. This isn't even to say that I don't like living
here and just can't wait for the next part of the plan, rather it
helps me be more conscious of how to enjoy my time here and be
righteous so that I may be even happier after this life. The Plan of
Salvation is awesome.

We were headed home and walked past a guy and girl talking and the
girl said, "Well, I can't cheat on him right now because that wouldn't
make any sense." I mean I guess casual conversations in the Bronx
often consist of random stuff, but I don't expect it to be on how to
strategically cheat on your significant other. But hey, I mean that's
another New York Moment.

The miracle this week came while Elder Kerr (one of my Zone Leaders)
and I were on an exchange in our area. We taught Jason S. and it
was amazing. The Sprit was so so strong there. The best part was by
far when Elder Kerr taught the First Vision. We just kinda felt
prompted to have him teach it in that moment. Although he doesn't know
ASL he spoke and I interpreted. It was awesome because it was almost
like I wasn't there. The attention was focused on the words from Elder
Kerr's mouth and the incredible spirit we felt in those moments. We
asked Brother S. how he felt afterwards. His response was so simple
and yet so profound. He said, "Inspired. I want to learn more". He
said he really wants to get baptized and continue in the Church. It
was just such a miraculous lesson. Sadly, he did not show up to
church, because he slept in. He very evidently felt the Spirit too during
that lesson. So we'll just keep on doing our best to help him
and hope that he sees the importance of being involved in the Gospel.

"MLC's are basically mission-life hacks with President Smith for 7 hours."
"The fire is still lit."
"What about mouthwash..."
"Not my responsibility."
"No one lives in Montana, except for 8 people...and 18 antelope."
"You wanna know who I am? I'm nobody. You wanna know why? Because
nobody's perfect."

Mosiah 4:9-11
Alma 36:24
"Safety for the Soul" -Elder Holland's talk from the October 2009
General Conference.

Keep on Truckin

-Elder Daniel West

Brother Perez, an investigator.
Outside our apartment
New York City Wall Art

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

18 May 2016 - 6 Months Today

Dear All,

Today is my six-month mark as a missionary. We're getting settled in at our new apartment. It definitely kinda stinks having so little time for proselyting and other stuff, but it's okay because we're preparing for something better. I love what President Smith said to us. He said, "I know that you may be thinking, 'Another move? Really?' But I am reminded of when this very mission was hit by Hurricane Sandy [I'm paraphrasing and IDK if that's even the right one.] Those missionaries
took 6 months to do service, and that's it. They did not proselyte." This helped me be more positive about the whole thing. The issue is that this program already struggles, and then when we take out entire days we struggle even more. But what this does is prepares us to be ready for when we will be covering the entire city. It will all work out in the end.

Service at the AME church was really good Friday morning. They really needed us, especially with heavy lifting. I feel like they're really starting to warm up to us because they talk to us and joke with us now. Donna definitely trusts us now because they were out of bags and she gave us money to go buy some from a store. That was sweet. While we were handing out the food, I heard Donna say to one of the others, "He can't hear," referring to one of the people getting food. Elder Bell and I were helping lots of people bring their groceries up the stairs, but as soon as we came down, I asked Donna if the guy was deaf, and she said yes. So Elder Bell and I immediately offered to help him take his bags up and asked if he knew ASL. Sadly, it was apparent that he did not know ASL. I then saw his hearing aid, and he could speak perfectly fine too. So we're assuming he went deaf later in life. He may not have known ASL, but it was yet another testimony to me that we can find deaf people. Literally as I was typing this, we were about to cross a crosswalk and this woman told us her brother was deaf. So we asked her about him and she said there's no way to contact him, but we gave her a card and asked her to give it to him. So that was yet another deaf person. It's pretty legit.

We moved all of our stuff on Saturday. The apartment is right next to Yankee Stadium, and there was a game that had just finished. It was a nightmare. The worst part was that we had all our giant bags and carts, and the subways were packed and everything was crazy. There was a group of college-aged kids who were super hammered. They were just yelling and acting super tight. I echo what a wise man once said to Elder Turner on a train: "They say an empty can makes the most noise." That group of kids was what I like to call, "A group of white people in the Bronx, obviously visiting from Manhattan."

(Note: Daniel wrote the following paragraph in a separate email to
us, but we've included it here because we found it interesting.)

The new apartment was an absolute mess though. It appeared that previous missionaries may not have cared much about cleanliness. There were plenty of cockroaches, which was disgusting, but didn't surprise me. We're gonna go hard in the cleaning and organizing aspect of it, especially because we're supposed to be here for a long time. I haven't put my food into the cabinet yet because there were dead roach carcasses and droppings all over it. So I really deep-cleaned
that thing. It was certainly not an experience I wish on any of my enemies because it was foul. Another interesting fact: you can almost always tell if an apartment has a roach problem the second you walk in. There is a very particular smell to it. It's not a particularly bad smell, it's just strange. The second we walked into the apartment, we knew.

We had an awesome miracle on Monday. So for district meeting, Elder Bell had us discuss the topic of testimonies and share our favorite testimonies from the scriptures. He then had us practice the NY Minute (it's teaching one principle of the Gospel in a minute) with the principle being the Book of Mormon. He specifically wanted us to focus on testifying and then backing up your companion's testimony. It was really awesome. This is where the miracle comes in, later that day, we were VideoPhoned by a random deaf person who was legitimately interested in learning more. He was asking us questions and was very
educated - educated enough to understand our answers and to read scripture! That is very rare in the deaf community in NY: having the ability to read English and fully understand ASL. We had a full-on unplanned lesson, and what do you know, we ended up teaching almost the exact same lesson we'd practiced at district meeting. I'm not kidding, we used almost the exact same teaching for the principle of the Book of Mormon with brother Platt - he's the man who called us. He lives in Brooklyn so we referred him to the South Elders. He's absolutely golden too. It was so awesome.

Well we're glad to be back in the Bronx and in an apartment that we should be in for a long time. And hey, we're living right next to the famous Yankee's Stadium. Although it is weird because there are legit giant company stores near us like Target and BJ's, and other random stuff. It just doesn't seem like it belongs here, but it's awesome for shopping, so it's all good.

"When life gives you anxiety, count the dimples on a golf ball...
How man-
There are 356".

-2 Nephi 33:6
-2 Nephi 4

Keep on Truckin

-Elder Daniel West

191st Street Stop on the train

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

11 May 2016 - Post Mothers Day Call

Dear All,

I was studying Elder Kevin R. Duncan's talk from this past General
Conference, and it is an awesome talk. It's titled, "The Healing
Ointment of Forgiveness." Although forgiveness isn't something that I
struggle with particularly, I still do fail to be able to forgive
everyone sometimes. He says some really awesome stuff. One thing is
this: "We mistakenly think that if we forgive, somehow justice will
not be served and punishments will be avoided. This simply is not the
case." I love that because it's accurate. Oftentimes we don't forgive
others because we think that they deserve punishment and they deserve
our resentment or some other petty idea. The truth is, if we don't
forgive someone, all we're doing is causing more bad feeling. God says
this in D&C 82: "Leave judgment alone with me, for it is mine and I
will repay. Peace be with you; my blessings continue with you."
Judgment is not ours to carry out. Our job is "to forgive all men."
Once we can find it in our hearts to forgive others, then we will be
free once again. Elder Duncan goes on to say, "One key to forgiving
others is to try to see them as God sees them." Of this I can testify.
The best way to learn to forgive others and love them is to try to see
them through the Savior's eyes, because as Elder Duncan says,
"Forgiveness is the very reason God sent His Son." The Atonement is
such a marvelous power. It is where we may draw power to forgive and
be forgiven. General Conference talks are awesome.

We were walking down 125th Street (it's like the Main Street in
Harlem) and one guy saw us pass and was like, "Hey it's Mormons,
Joseph Smith's people." Of course we just laughed, waved, and walked
on. Then about 20 seconds later we walked by a guy who said, "Brigham
Young; bring them young." We have actually heard of this guy from
other missionaries. Apparently, all he does is stand in the same spot
trying to upset missionaries by saying that we marry a ton of young
women. Ah it's a classic New York moment.

I was studying in Alma and I came upon one of the saddest moments in
the Book of Mormon. Alma and Amulek (essentially two missionaries)
were taken by the government and forced to watch women and children of
the Church be thrown into a pit of fire for no reason other than to
punish them for their beliefs. As they're watching this, Amulek asks,
"How could we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth
our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save
them." He simply wants to save the innocent people, but Alma's
response is, "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth
mine hand." He then goes on to explain that the Lord is allowing this
to happen because those who are killed are innocent and will go
straight to heaven. I love Amulek's response back. He says, "Behold,
perhaps they will burn us also." Amulek has such great trust in his
companion and is so submissive to the Lord's will and doesn't question
the decision at all. Alma then says, "Be it according to the will of
the Lord. But behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us
not." It's so awesome how they're so willing to suffer, even to death
if it so be that it is the Lord's will. But then he has the faith to
be able to say that their work isn't done and so they will not be
killed. Although this is such a sad chapter, it's also so awesome
because there's so much we can learn from these two.

I think we met our first truly happy bus driver this week. He said
"Good morning," to the people who walked onto the bus, including us! He
then would sing into the mic every now and then. He didn't just
announce the next stops on the bus, but he sang them. Ah it was great.
This was a reverse New York moment.

We were at a bus stop and we saw a random guy with hearing aids! At
first we were unsure as to how to approach this random man
whom we were assuming was deaf. So we just walked up and signed, 
"Do you know ASL"? We figured there was no point in beating around the
bush so we explained about ourselves. He was clearly not interested in
the Church, but there was something about him that just made us need
to keep talking with him. The cool thing is that we had a Branch Party
the next day, so we invited him to that. But even then he said he was
busy and wouldn't make it. We really wanted to talk to him and
continue but he obviously did not want to. So we got his contact
information and hoped for the best, planning to contact him soon. He
showed up to the party the next day! He was really nice and actually
talked with us. There has been no progression yet, but it was still
pretty legit.

"Holy Bungie."
"If the gun loads, shoot it."
"I like this book called DogMan. It's a dog, but it's also a man."
"I have never seen someone eat 20 tic tacs at the same time. you have."
"Okay, I'm going out for a smoke, so please hold the door for me. And
I'm getting coffee for everyone on this train. For anyone who doesn't
keep the door open for me, you're not getting any coffee."-random man
on the subway
"The Lord never promised eloquence, He promised power."
"Mormons here, Joseph Smith's people."
"Brigham Young...bring 'em young".
"Righteousness is relative...
I wouldn't necessarily phrase it that way the first time I met someone."

Nearer My God to Thee

Keep on Truckin'

-Elder West

Zone Conference

Random Subway Sculptures

Top of the Brooklyn Bridge.  
So couples write their names on these locks, lock them, and then throw the keys into the river.

Walking on the top of the Brooklyn Bridge

My ASL District enjoying P-day

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

4 May 2016 - The Bell and West Moving Company

Dear All,

At about 9:50 am today, we found out that we will be covering the
whole mission once Elders Holloway and Turner go home, which is

in July. We were notified that we will also get to close down this
apartment. We have to move out before the end of the month. Where we
will move to is not yet known, but it will be a much better location
to cover the whole city. Technically, we'll also be covering Upstate,
I guess you could say that nothing is long-term for Elder Bell and me.
But it's okay, because it's gonna be fun.

Something I realized during a study session is that Jesus Christ is

literally the center of all things that affect us eternally. When
we face God and are not fully cleansed from our sins (because
we're human and imperfect,) it is only because of Jesus Christ's
Atonement that we'll be able to receive His mercy. That's the only
way that Justice and Mercy will both be able to be satisfied. 
It's so 
profound that I cannot describe how it makes me feel.Because Jesus 
Christ was resurrected, we will have theopportunity to face God in an
immortal state. Jesus Christ is how we'll get there, and Jesus Christ 
is the way we will be able to have mercy during that judgement. That
is why this church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints (italics added.) Although I always knew this, for some reason
it was different for me to learn this time.

Last Thursday was really rough at first. At weekly planning meeting
we had almost no investigators to plan for. It was really hard on us.
We spent a lot of time trying to think of different ideas to fill our
days with meaningful activities, but we were just stuck with look-ups
and phone games. Obviously those aren't wastes of time, but there are
so many better things we could do if we had more people to teach.
We said that we need to hope and pray for a miracle this week
because nothing has been happening through our own efforts.
We spent tons of time trying to figure out what to do for the
next day and had to resort to four hours of look-ups
and one lesson, (which is a terribly slow day, just FYI.) A little bit
later we were able to contact one of our newly found Less Active's,
Joy B.! It was super awesome, and it was even better when we were
able to set up to meet with her on Friday, which was the exact day
that we needed good activities for! It was such a miracle. The Lord
truly does reward us as we are faithful and learn to rely on His power.
That evening,while planning for the next day, the phone started
ringing. It was Donna from the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
She told us that she would really appreciate it if we would be able
to go to the church the next morning to do service for 2-3 hours.
Of course we quickly accepted! That, combined
with the lesson with Joy Brown and the other previously planned
lessons, made us completely full, with no more room for anything to
add. It was super awesome, and it's just so amazing that the Lord
provided so much for us after we were faithful and working for it.
Such a miraculous day.

On Friday, while we were waiting to start our service with the African

Methodist Episcopal Church - which is the building/address Elder Bell
felt inspired to go to a couple of weeks ago, by the way - there was a
funeral viewing happening outside. One of the drivers for the hearse
was chatting with us, and he said that he used to be a taxi driver
but had been working with the funeral home for 40 years. He then said
something pretty funny about being a driver for the car with the
He said, "Yeah, now I don't get any complaints from the passenger."
(It was a funny joke because now the passenger is dead.)

We were in Relief Society upstate interpreting for a deaf member, and
the teacher was crying. She asked if anyone had a tissue, and literally
the second she said it the entire class goes quickly rummaging through
their bags to get tissues. It was hilarious. That was a classic Relief
Society thing to happen. Although I've only ever been in Relief
two times to interpret for a woman, I could tell it was a classic response.

That's all this week!

"I'm not happy Bob, not happy."
"Dominican cake, I would highly recommend it...
Yeah, if you want to kill
"That awkward moment when you're on a crowded train and you mean to
airdrop something to your companion but instead you airdrop it to a

random stranger, who then stares at you."
"We were the married couple that just looked like a Mutual activity."
"In (insert specific city here) anytime you break up with someone it's 
because you can say, 'It's alright, we can still be cousins.' "
"When you don't think you can do this, you're right. Only through

Christ can you do this."

Phillipians 4:!3 - I can do all things through Christ

Keep on Truckin

-Elder West

Homemade Naan bread pizza -  Thanx Mom
Dinner with the Martins in upstate
We ran into the West Family

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

27 April 2016 - If only we could teleport

Dear All,

I do apologize for my rather lengthy letters. I think I've figured out
how to shorten them so they will no longer be ridiculous lengths.

There's been something happening a lot lately that I think is really
cool. Anytime Elder Bell and I are talking about one thing or another,
oftentimes I'm thinking something and then he just speaks exactly
what I was thinking. These occurrences happen especially when we're
discussing how to help out investigators or members, or what to talk
about for a lesson. They also happen a lot when we are discussing
something from our personal studies, or just discussing scripture in
general. It's pretty obvious to us that this is because these thoughts
we're having are from the Holy Ghost. It's super cool to see that as
we are obedient even our thoughts are able to be
lead by the Holy Ghost. It really is true that He can literally be our
constant companion and our guide. If we are worthy and doing
everything we can to be obedient, then we have the right to have holy
thoughts at all times because of their influence in our lives. It's
just something that we realized, and it's super cool.

My subway experience for the week was a new one. There was a
crazy guy on the train who was periodically rapping. Then we got to
the Grand Central stop, which is one where many people get on the
train. So once he noticed how crowded the train was gonna get he
yelled this: "No one step on my sneakers! I will knock a ***** out! I
don't give a **** about no cops! If anyone steps on my sneakers I will
crack their jaw!" It was ridiculous.

Our new apartment is in a much less ghetto location than the old one.
Better enough so that I'm no longer afraid that I'll get shanked
outside of our apartment when we go home at night.

Moroni 8:16-17 - It's just such a good scripture. It's got so many
awesome things in it. "I speak with boldness, having authority from
God; and I fear not want man can do". This is so so directly related
to missionary work. Especially as missionaries who are set apart as
official representatives of Jesus Christ, we must not be afraid to
speak boldly - but not with rudeness. We must show our faith in Christ
by our confidence in this calling. And it applies to more than just
missionaries.  All people should "fear not what man can do" because of
the faith you have in Jesus Christ. It's so crucial that we do not
fear man, but rather that we fear God. "Perfect love casteth out all
fear. And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love."
Charity is the pure love of Christ. Christ didn't fear because His
love and faith were perfect. This scripture is just a good motto.

"She'll just have to get used to America."
"Suck it up."
"Is one box really gonna be enough?
What am I, 10?"
"Goals: Improve Eglish."
"They say an empty can makes the noise."
"If anyone steps on my shoes, I will knock you out. I don't care about
the cops, I will crack your jaw!"

Moroni 8:16-17 -  I speak with Boldness
The Family is of God
He is Risen

Keep on Truckin

-Elder West

Newly Polished shoes
Upper East Side- View out our apartment