Wednesday, April 20, 2016

13 April 2016 - Elder Bell's Birthday

Dear All,

We did a lot of service these last few days and it was awesome. Work
in the deaf program with investigators has been extremely slow and
kinda rough, but we were able to work with a lot of our members and
serve them a lot too. Overall, it was a great week.

We were over at a Less Active's house on Wednesday. We had originally
went over to teach her and hopefully her kids. But as soon as we
walked in, she said, "We're kinda busy right now." We immediately
asked if there was anything we could do to help. We've really been
trying to find service, especially with deaf people, so we were really
hoping she'd say yes. She was like, "Well I mean if y'all have time."
At the time she was putting together a bed frame. So the next hour and a
half were spent making a bed frame, and it was super fun. We also got
to talk with her and her grandkids, it was a wonderful service

A man and a woman got on the train at the same time and the man
started talking to the woman. It looked like he was bothering her. He
eventually offered her a dollar for something, and I was pretty confused
what was going on. Then I realized that he asked her for a kiss in
exchange for a dollar. The woman declined and said something sassy
back to him; it was super weird. Then there was a guy next to him that
was like, "Really? I'd kiss anyone for a dollar." It turned out to be
a light-hearted joke so it was all good. Just another interesting
thing to happen in the subway.

So as I said earlier, the work has been very slow, and so we're
currently looking for new deaf people to teach. Holy cow, it is hard to
find deaf people here. We've been doing some of the regular finding
activities that have always been done in the deaf program with little
to no success. So we decided to go old fashioned and just start
walking up and down every project building we were in. (It really only
happened on one of the days, because most of the other days were
filled with other activities.) So just FYI for all y'all, project
buildings are about as ghetto as it gets in New York. For example, on
one of the doors that I checked, there were multiple bullet holes.
They also have an overwhelming smell of marijuana, cigarette smoke,
and urine. Anyway, the reason we have been going up and down all the
project buildings is because we are looking for deaf bells on the
doors. They're generally a very distinctive kind of bell, but we just
rang every bell we found in hopes to find a deaf person. In total, we
checked about 1007 doors in the one day, and ran into 4 deaf bells.
We already knew all 4 of them would be there. We checked 8 buildings.
Those four bells belonged to people whom we had on record and were going over
to meet, but none of them answered. So it was pretty rough, but it was
also enjoyable because it was something new we got to do.

One of the big service opportunities we had this week was on Sunday. I
may have already described this opportunity, but I can't remember. So
for the next two-ish months, we will have two Elders from the North
Mission go Upstate to the Yorktown Ward to do interpreting for a
couple of deaf people. The interpreters that are normally there for them
have a conflict for the next while. So we'll have one Elder from each
of the areas go up to Yorktown each week so that there can still be
one Elder from each area at our normal Church building in South
Manhattan. This week it was Elder Turner and me. It was really good to
see something a little bit different from the city for a little. I
love the city, but I guess I forgot how much I love seeing actual
landscape and trees and stuff. The interpreting itself was also very
fun and a nice change-up.

One of the things we studied this week was the Proclamation to the
World. We read it because there have been some families who have been
on our mind. One of the most prominent line in it is definitely where
it says, "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when
founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." A lot of people
don't realize how much happiness comes from the Gospel. Honesty,
that's just the point of the Gospel - to make us happy. His teaching
just helps families be closer and love each other more. We discussed
this proclamation with each other and it's just so awesome that we
have things like that to help us have clarity in our lives. It helps
describe how to make our families happy and how mothers and fathers
can support each other in their divine roles.

So on Fast Sunday, I had been fasting to find new deaf people to
teach. I truly desire to find some, and Elder Bell and I have been
working really hard to do so. I know that Heavenly Father will help us
find new people if that's in line with His will. The next day, we were
at a train stop and a deaf person came up to Elder Bell and started
signing to him, I was reporting on a lesson and didn't see who it was
at first. Then when I realized Elder Bell was signing with someone I
looked over and it was Jason Smith! He was my first really solid
lesson on my mission. He's a super amazing guy and he was very
interested but eventually he wasn't able to meet us, and Elder Bell and
I both felt that he was just brushing us off. He wouldn't respond to
our messages so we just decided to stop bothering him. It was so so
awesome that he saw us and came up to us at the train station.
Apparently, he is still very interested and has read the Book of
Mormon a little bit in the almost 3 months since we last saw him. He
said his life is just super hectic right now and so he really wants to
meet with us next week. He even said that there was a train that got
there before we got there but that it was really full so he decided to
wait for the next one. Well lo and behold, he runs into us! It was
sooo awesome. I'm so excited to begin working with him again.

Yesterday we did our regular service at the Food Pantry, which was
awesome. We then went to help a Less Active member who's in a
wheelchair. She needed to go shopping and we went to Whole Foods
because that's where she wanted to go. It was certainly a new experience:
taking someone in a wheelchair shopping. It was also pretty weird to
be shopping at an actual store with non-ghetto stuff. Everything was
about 18 levels out of our price range though. It made me sad to see
all the stuff I wanted but couldn't afford. It was fun though, but
it took forever. It was also just full of rich white women: a few men
and a few non-while people, but mostly rich white women. The woman we
were helping took longer to shop than my mother. I'm serious, she
needed three hours to shop and it wasn't even that much food. It was
still really good though.

We're on our way to South Manhattan right now as I'm typing this, and
there were three different performances on our train car for three
stops in a row. The first one was a strange dance of sorts; the next
one was a rapper; and the third one was a singer. They were all super
good too. It was nice to have a triple performance. One of the nice
things about traveling in the subway, so many people solicit it for
money. Oh, I haven't even finished typing this before another group
came onto the subway. This time it was a drumming duo preaching
respect and happiness as they drummed: too fun. They were also telling
jokes and stuff the whole time.
I haven't sent this yet and I have a couple more fun events to add.
For Elder Bell's birthday we went to the One World Trade Center with
our roommates. After about 15 minutes of pictures and stuff, we ran
into a member family from Australia. They were really nice. We also
ran into a member who was from Washington State with her family. She
was also very nice. We don't run into very many members in the Bronx,
like at all. We also ran into a member family at Union Square not too
long ago. They bought us dinner which was so amazing. We've run into
more members at tourist areas than all other areas combined.

The last thing for this week came from studying. We were studying the
talk, "Behold Thy Mother" by the Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland. It's a
really good talk to study. He talks all about how a Mother's love is
so precious. The realization I had as I was reading it was this: "The
love that a mother has for her child is the closest thing to the love
that Jesus has for all of us." There is nothing else on this earth
that quite compares to the love of a mother. I want to add a quote
from that talk in here. "To all of our mothers everywhere, past,
present, or future, I say, 'Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for
shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure
love of Christ.' To Mother Eve, to Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, to Mary
of Nazareth, and to a Mother in Heaven, I say, 'Thank you for your
crucial role in fulfilling the purposes of eternity.' To all mothers
in every circumstance, including those who struggle--and all will--I
say, 'Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better
than you think you are. In fact, you are saviors on Mount Zion, and
like the Master you follow, your love ‘never faileth.’ I can pay no
higher tribute to anyone."

"Hey! Yo Elderlies!"
"Excuse me, sir, are you Jewish?
Have a good day."
"Well, shoot. Shoot me in the head, is that family sized Reese's Puffs?"
"...Church disciplinary action. That means they'll put you in time out.
Ya, time out from the Gospel."
"You kinda find out who you are and who your Jesus is."
"I'm Jehovah's Witness and Mormon."
"Only God can be this organized."
"I am not a domestic violence person."
"Marriage is easy."
"Pray like everything depends on Him and work like everything depends on you."
"I look like Buzz? Buzz freakin Lightyear?"
"I could keep track of our district's investigators on like a quarter
of a post-it note."
"We are essentially glorified vacuum salesman."

"Behold Thy Mother" - Jeffrey R. Holland
"Tomorrow the Lord will do Wonders Among you" - Jeffrey R. Holland

Keep on Truckin

-Elder West

Elder Bell's birthday gifts and my new iPad keyboard (thanks dad)

My new inspiring wall

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