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