Wednesday, March 9, 2016

9 March 2016

Dear All,

On Wednesday we saw a guy do a drug deal right in front of our house.
And then he started walking on the other side of the street and within
30 seconds did another one. And then he turned a corner and did a
third one. We're pretty sure he then did a fourth one, but we're not
100% sure on the fourth. That guy must be a master dealer. Possibly 4 deals
in about a minute. We were just utterly stunned and honestly confused
as to how he did it. That was certainly a Bronx Moment.

We just went over to teach an investigator but they weren't home.
We're afraid that they actually were home but the person who answered
just won't let us in because (we're pretty sure) the owner of the home
doesn't like us very much. We had a person near there that we
wanted to visit so we stopped by. The person is a Less Active and we
just wanted to see how she was doing. She was super happy to see us
and said that the sisters who usually visit her hadn't been by in a
while. She said she had needed people to stop by and knew that God
sent us. We had an awesome lesson and the Spirit was totally there.
It's just cool to see that Elder Bell and I went over there planning
to go to one person's house, but God had a different plan for us. This
has been a relatively common theme I've noticed in missionary work.
We'll make plans to visit someone and the plans will just completely fall
through. We then visit someone nearby and it becomes a miracle. It's
been humbling for me because when the lesson falls through I'll think,
"Well, coming over here was useless. I guess we'll just go look up
someone." Then we do it and realize that that's the reason Heavenly
Father sent us there, not to visit the person we thought we were

So you'll often see people with babies in strollers trying to go up
the stairs in subways. We commonly offer to help them with the
stroller. Some people accept and others don't, but we figure why not
ask? So we had just gotten into the subway and there was a lady who
had been carrying a stroller up some stairs by herself. We offered to
help and she accepted without hesitation. We took it up the one
flight of stairs to the turnstiles for entering the actual subway
station, but those turnstiles are still underground, which means
there are still more stairs to go up. If we left the station we'd have
to wait 18 minutes to get back in - our metro cards are monthly
unlimited cards and there's an 18 minute waiting period between each
swipe. So Elder Bell offered for us to take the stroller up the
second, bigger flight of stairs. I was like, "Wait, if we do that then
we'll be stuck outside of the turnstile for 15 minutes, which means
we'll miss our train and then some." I wouldn't have cared if we
weren't on a tight schedule, but we were. Of course we could've gotten
back in the subway without using our metro card. I'm sure the
emergency exit would've been opened by someone at some point, but we
try to avoid going through the gate because it looks like we're going
into the subway without paying. Elder Bell's response was, "Oh, we'll
get through." I was doubtful of how we would but figured we were
helping someone, so why not? As we're taking the stroller up the
stairs, right as the thought of how we're getting back in the subway
entered my mind, the woman says, "Hold up, let me go tell the woman in
the MTA booth that you guys are helping me, and to open the gate for
you on your way back." Boom, there was my answer. It was just so cool
how it all played out. We were providing service to someone, but by
doing so, we were messing up our schedule. I think that Heavenly Father saw that
what we were doing was a righteous thing and knew that we needed that
gate to open. So He did it. He did it very simply.

Church has been pretty good. The Spirit has been pretty strong,
especially in comparison to some of the other Sundays I've been here.
It was fast and testimony meeting on Sunday, so people were sharing their
testimonies. I realized that I miss the testimony meetings from
Summerlake. (Note: Summerlake is the name of the congregation in
 Oregon that Daniel attended before his mission.) The meetings here 
are wonderful, but in a different way.
There are almost no families here, and most of the members are still
searching for a testimony. In Summerlake, there are so so many
families and generally stronger testimonies. Families are the most
important unit to God's Plan of Salvation. The gospel thrives in
families. I think one of the main reasons there's such a strong spirit
in Summerlake is because of the families. The idea of family and what
makes family important is very weak in New York. I believe that is a
huge part of why there are so many people struggling here. A lot of
our members mention temple sealings and how they want to do them.
We've made it clear that we would love to help them get there: helping
people get to the temple is one of the most important parts of being a
missionary. The problem is a lot of people aren't willing to work hard
to achieve these wonderful goals. This brings me to my next point.
There is a fundamental difference between conversion and having a
testimony. We cannot, absolutely cannot be converted if we don't 1 -
Consistently go to Church, 2 - Pray everyday, and 3 - Read the
scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon. We can certainly have
testimonies without doing one or more of these things, but we cannot
be converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Something to understand
is that conversion is a life-long process. It's not like
we're magically converted when we do these three things; we must
continue doing them our whole life in order to be converted. I can
promise that doing these three things makes a world of difference in
our lives because this has been my experience. I used to just go to
church and pray but not read the scriptures much. I certainly had a
testimony and knew that the Church was true, but I wasn't fully
involved nor had my conversion process really started. As I've read
the Book of Mormon I've been so much more faithful and knowledgeable
and happy, and everything really.

We had the most epic run to make the train. We heard the train and so
of course we sprinted across the crosswalk and up the stairs, and we
barely made it. I literally felt the train doors closing on my bag. It
was super epic and I looked back and the doors were shut. Elder Bell
was looking around for me hoping I made it in and boom, we made it. The
best part was I was carrying Elder Bell's bag and shoes because we
were headed to a chapel for Zone Leader splits. It was so legit.

You know, fasting is hard. The few times I fasted before my mission were
hard. I would be starving at church and throughout the day. But when I
got home, I would usually sleep or relax in some other way. So yes
fasting was hard, but it wasn't that bad. Oh my gosh, as a missionary
fasting has been so much harder, but so much more spiritual. I have
felt the Spirit more while fasting every single time I've done it, and
I've also been completely and utterly exhausted every time I've done it. I
don't think I understood fasting at all before my mission, and I'm not
gonna pretend like I fully understand it now. But I certainly have a
better understanding of how it helps. Fasting has been an actual
sacrifice so far on my mission. At home it was a sacrifice, but just
not quite as much. I am pretty much dead while I'm fasting. I'm also
so much hungrier than I ever was at home because it's so hard to go
without meals as a missionary. But it being such a sacrifice makes it
so much more meaningful. I get to show the Lord that I'm willing to
give up something very important, with faith that it will reap some
sort of reward. It's honestly so cool that He does that for us. He
pretty much says, "If you'll give up food for a while, for a purpose,
then I'll give you something in return." It's just so wonderful.

So yesterday I was on a split with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Kerr.
He's super legit and we had so much success and fun. We didn't have
time to eat dinner, but we were able to talk to so many people that
had been shutting us down. Elder Kerr is in the Spanish Program and
one of our investigators' mom is Dominican and only knows Spanish.
Elder Kerr talked with her and it seems like she doesn't hate us
anymore. That was just one thing that happened; it was just overall an
amazing day.

Alma 36 is an incredible chapter. This is when Alma is talking with
his son, Helaman. Alma tells his conversion story. In verses 12-13 he
explains that he was "racked with eternal torment...tormented with the
pains of hell". He continues to explain how awful he felt and how much
pain he was in because of his sins. Verses 18-21 are my favorites. He
explains that he was without strength for three days and knew that
what he had done was wrong and needed to repent. He then says, "Oh
Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of
bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of
death...when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more...oh
what joy, and what marvelous light did I behold; yea my soul was
filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!" It's so incredible how
even when Alma had done so many bad things, he was still able to
repent. God wants us to repent. He wants us to be happy. It doesn't
matter what you've done, you can repent. The best part about it all is
how he explains the relief and joy that came from that repentance.
"There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains.
Yea and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand there
could be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." When we do
wrong things, we feel awful. Sometimes we feel so guilty and so awful
that we don't know if we can continue. The level of pain and guilt we
feel from committing awful sins can be completely reversed. If we are
willing to humble ourselves and have faith even unto repentance, then
we can be happy. Jesus Christ already suffered for every single one of
our sins, he made it so we don't have to suffer. The exceedingly great
joy that can come from repentance is absolutely real. I know it is
real. We're here on earth so that we may improve and learn from
experience. One of the most important experiences we should often have
is that of repentance. Because we're humans, we are imperfect.
Therefore, we must repent to become better. We must change ourselves
to become more like Christ.

Well, that's all for this week. "It was another wonderful week here in
my little Lamborghini. I'm sure glad I had my Hollywood Hills account
to drive around in my eight Lamborghinis."

"I like that outfit, Elder West. It really SUIT-s you." -Elder Bell's
incredibly dry sense of humor
"Yo, It's not safe here after dark...but really, all joking aside,
it's not safe."
"No wicked man could write such a book. And no good man would write
such a book, unless he was commanded by God."
"Mmm, magma pillows. My favorite snack."
"It is never too early, nor too late for ghetto trap music."

Alma 30:60 - Wicked people have no support from the devil.
Alma 32:16 - Blessed are those who are humble without being compelled to be so.
Alma 37:37 - Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings.
Alma 5:26 - Can you feel so now?
Ephesians 4:32 - Forgive each other as God forgives you

Keep on Truckin

-Elder West

Post Fast Sunday Dinner:

New York Sized Rat

No comments:

Post a Comment