Wednesday, April 20, 2016

20 April 2016 - Moving and Cleaning - Elder Bell and Elder West edition!

Dear All,

Wow, this week has been so busy, but not necessarily with normal missionary work.

We were on the subway and there was a nine-year-old rapping while his dad
recorded him. He was just getting up and his dad was recording him
multiple times. He did it again each time a new group of people got onto
the train. Each time they finished, they sat down and his dad would
give him tips on how to improve and make the next time better. It was
kinda strange. The kid just kept on singing, "I am a Jamaican boy." It
was definitely interesting though.

On Thursday there was a conference call with President Smith where he
announced a few miracles that were sent to him from missionaries. This
is the miracle that we sent in, written by Elder Bell: "We have been
praying in our area for more service opportunities for the past couple
of weeks, and the Lord is providing. We've been offering service to
everyone we visit, and in the process were able to help a less active
member assemble a bed frame; push another less active in her
wheelchair to go buy groceries; and have plans to help pick up others
to go to church on Sunday. This week we were praying during personal
study and the Spirit strongly prompted me that we needed to go to 1765
Madison Avenue. We had never been there before, and I didn't even know
if the address existed, but we looked it up on Google Maps and it was
a church of another faith. We were a little confused but decided to go
anyway. When we arrived, all of the doors were locked and no one was
there, but we saw a sign outside that said there was a food pantry
that had distribution on Friday mornings. We had prayed specifically
for another food pantry to volunteer at and the Lord answered our
prayers by the Spirit the very same day. Such a miracle."
I hadn't quite realized how much of a miracle that was until I heard
it from President Smith on the phone. It was really cool. He talked
about how wonderful it was that we got to experience that. Possibly
the thing that stuck out to me the most was the fact that President
Smith talked about how we were granted our desire because of how
righteous a desire it was and how hard we had worked for it. It's
just so amazing that Heavenly Father does those sorts of things for

So I gave a talk on Sunday and taught Priesthood with Elder Holloway.
Afterward, a few of the members came and complimented us on our
teaching, and my talk. It was nice to see them appreciate our efforts.
We then went to interpret for a member's temple recommend interview,
where she started to criticize my talk. I just kinda nodded my head and
watched her sign away. It was less than pleasant, but I just kinda took
it with a grain of salt. Oh Deaf Branch, you never disappoint.

New Yorkers are so kind: We saw one of them allow his neighbor to
use his milk crate to open his beer bottle. Then we saw a guy peeing
on a wall in a very crowded and public place. Oh New York, you never
disappoint either.

Now it is time for the main event of the week!


The Assistants let us know something pretty random this week. I
gotta explain the background first: Our apartment is getting shut down.
Elder Newbold is getting transferred to Lincoln Square and becoming a
District Leader, which is in the legit city, and it covers the area
where the temple is. Elder Davis is going to train a missionary, and
Elder Bell and I were supposed to move into a different apartment,
along with Elder Davis and his new trainee. It's super close to the one
we're currently in. A potential problem was that the new apartment is the 
only one in both their area and a Spanish companionship's area, and it
wasn't meant to accommodate six missionaries. ASL missionaries'
areas are so big that we generally have more options. Even so, the plan for
the whole transfer had been that Elder Bell and I would move in with the
other four, and it still had been the plan up until Monday. However, out of
nowhere we received a call from the Assistants (who had already
confirmed with us that we were moving to this apartment near ours.)
They let us know that plans had changed, and we would be moving to a
new apartment alone. That kinda stunk to hear that we wouldn't be with
Elder Davis, but we knew that the call had come from President Smith,
which meant it really came from Heavenly Father, so of course we knew
we would be fine. And then we checked the address and found out that
the apartment was in Inwood. The ASL area splits the city in half, and
Inwood is out of our area, but for some reason, we were getting moved there.
It was about as far away from our transportation routes as possible. That
apartment was actually in one of the worst locations for us because
it's nowhere near any of the transportation we use to get to church
or to any of our investigators and less active members. Elder Bell and I
were completely at a loss for understanding why we were going to this
apartment. We would be living alone in an area where we 
don't proselyte. We had absolutely no idea why we were going
there or how to make it work effectively, but we were gonna
figure it out. 

So because our old apartment was getting shut
down, we had to deep clean it. And I mean deep, deep clean. We probably
spent about 30 hours (combined) cleaning it. It was horrible because
we lost all of our proselyting time for almost 3 days, and we still had
to move all of our stuff. Deep cleaning an apartment that's had
missionaries living in it for five years is not the most fun thing in
the world; in fact, it's one of the least fun things in the world.

President Smith called us right after we had first arrived at the new
apartment to deliver some news to Elder Bell. He then asked about our
current situation in this apartment. Elder Bell explained it, and
President Smith's response was something like, "That doesn't make any
sense for you guys to be there. There's clearly been some
miscommunication in this situation. We'll see how it goes in the next
few weeks." It was a huge relief that he wasn't telling us that we
just moved to the wrong address or something: That would've been

It literally took us 10 hours to move our stuff yesterday! We just
filled up our suitcases and moved it all. We had to make 3 trips back
and forth. We're still not even done moving all our stuff into the
apartment. We lugged our 60+ pound suitcases up and down countless
flights of stairs. Each trip took about an hour and fifteen minutes,
one way. So all in all, we spent about 7 hours moving our stuff and 3
hours putting our stuff in the new apartment and cleaning the old one.
We've still got at least 5 hours of organization left at the new
apartment and 5 hours of cleaning at the old one...oh my, it's insane.
We haven't even been able to do regular missionary work these last few
days. But hey, sometimes it's nice to do something different for a
while. I'm so sore today though. We legit had to carry our suitcases,
one in each hand, up and down the stairs. And each time, they weighed
about 40-60 pounds. The worst part was the first trip, where we took
the Bronx cart that was completely full and too heavy to carry by just
one person. (Note: a "Bronx cart" is similar to a grocery cart.)

We had two interesting experiences on the subway during our various
trips to Inwood. One involved a group of young people, and the other
involved an older person. The first one was just a group of kids having fun.
They were waiting by one of the poles near the door, and as soon as the
doors opened, two of them would race to the wall and then back to the
pole as many times as they could before the doors closed back up. The
conductor then came over the speaker and chastised them. It was
definitely a new and original activity to do with friends. The next
experience involved a crazy old man. Elder Bell and I were signing to
each other, as we do on trains, and some crazy old man started signing
to us. It wasn't real sign language, he was just being crazy and
moving his hands. He also tried to speak to us, but Elder Bell was
standing away from him. I was sitting near him, but I didn't respond
because he already thought I was deaf. Additionally, I was a little 
afraid of what he might say - based on the weird things he had
already said. Undaunted, the man continued to try to communicate
with me via CMSL (Crazy Man Sign Language). When we got off
the train I shook his hand and waved goodbye.

Yeah, this was definitely one of the strangest weeks of my mission
because we really didn't do that much missionary work. We didn't have
a ton of spiritual experiences with investigators or members because
we just didn't get to spend a lot of time with them. However, we did
have an investigator just randomly show up to church, as well as a
couple of people we haven't seen at church before who were apparently
members. That was really awesome. The week was still very good and
fun, just not the standard week.

"No thank you we're Christians.
Okay, can we leave a picture of Christ?
No thank you we're Christians."
"No guns or drugs guys, huh? No guns or drugs."
"Yeah, that doesn't make any sense for you to live an hour out of your
area." -President Smith

A little bit different this week -
Children's Hymns:
Love is Spoken Here
When I am Baptized
Families Can Be Together Forever

Keep on Truckin

-Elder West

Shake Shack for dinner
Cleaning with Elder West
My District, all ASL Elders

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