Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Isaac's birthday is coming up in two weeks, on October 8. It would be so nice if people would send him a card. I just learned that sometimes missionaries only have 30 minutes on the computer to both read and write emails, and they run out of time to read what they receive, so a real card in the mail would be a very nice gesture, that I know he will appreciate. Even better, throw in a simple recipe in your card …see below.
Elder Isaac Wright
3300 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17109
The news for this week:
Here's the down low. Basically, no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing! I'm working harder than I've ever had and it is paying off. Even though so many of our lesson plans fall through and so many people bail on us, the work is still just great! We taught 27 lessons this week, which is super high! And we have two people committed to baptism on the 12th, N who I told you about and his nephew K! Plus more the next week!
On Wednesday we did exchanges with New Bloomfield. That means that Elder L and I went down to their area and met up with Elder H, and Elder G went to Harrisburg to work with Elder B. It helps shake things up, exposes us to new teaching styles, and gives Elder L (district leader) a chance to see how other missionaries are doing. I am super glad we're in a "walk" area after spending a day as a "drive" missionary. It's so hard to talk to people and I feel like so much time is wasted getting from place to place. Plus less exercise! But since I'm a Spanish missionary most likely I'll be in walk/bike areas most of my mission.
To just answer your questions- when we cook, we do it really quickly; we don't want to just waste time that we could be teaching. So microwaved stuff, or basic things on the stove like quesadillas or beans and rice. And the first week, we had like three dinner appointments bail, so we were doing a lot of our own stuff. But last week, a bunch of member dinners. So we ate like kings!
Our neighborhood is nice, but we do most of our Work in Area 3, which is inner-city and sketchy as heck! Ghetto!
Real fast, things that I need:
Maybe mail some simple recipes that can be made with basic ingredients? I don't know, I'm getting tired of ramen.
We had zone conference on Friday. It happens every three months, it was super cool to meet a bunch of other missionaries. We learned a bunch of things, but what really stood out to me was grace. It is such a miraculous concept! Read Brad Wilcox's talk on it, and then the one by Elder Bednar. It will change your perspective on the Atonement. Also, go to Mormonchannel.org! It is honestly so cool! And a great way to share. There's one investigator named E, the husband in a part member family. He likes missionaries but is hard to convince to do anything. We were having a hard time with him, but showing him the Mormon message on fatherhood was super cool and helped him open up to us. So use those too!
Also help the missionaries in any way you can. If there's something I've figured out, (PMG Ch. 9) it's that members mean everything. Fellowshipping new members, having missionaries for dinner, giving them rides, going out with them. If they're not asking the ward for these things, they should be. They should know who needs help, and if you help them you will open the doors to incredible missionary work. When members are resistant to ideas or push back when we suggest things, it just kills us. So help them! God knows they need it!
Quick story: Teaching K, an investigator with a baptismal date. He desires to believe but doesn't just yet. After the lesson was very I was prompted to ask him to share his testimony. I Thought, "No that's stupid". Then the Spirit was like, "DO IT ISAAC" so I asked him. His testimony was simple and short but grew in the bearing of it! Go Holy Ghost! Listen to the Spirit!
One more quick story. So Elder B is one of our zone leaders, he lives directly above us. He turned 20 last week. So we cooked a ton of eggs, rice, beans, all that stuff. Tossed some cinnamon, milk, and hot chocolate mix in the blender, made horchata. Then combined chewy candy, PB&J, chocolate syrup, Swedish fish, cookies cupcakes and pretzels and made a sweet cake. Wish I could send you pictures, dang it! But next week. He was super stoked and surprised. It was great. It's the little things, honestly, that get you through the tough times.
Oh yeah! So every Tuesday we do service at this place called Recycle Bicycles. It was started by this one old guy, and basically for the cost of a bike lock you can waltz in and take a bicycle. They're donated in crap condition, but people come by and pick one out that they like, then we fix it up right then, and they take it! For at most, like 6 dollars! So that's cool. I was pretty useless last week but I'm learning how to fix bikes. Which is great! Also we can soup up our own bikes (that's where we got ours from to begin with) so we can keep ours in good shape. I'm going to fix my brakes and maybe add a kickstand to mine tonight. It's fun stuff!
Monday, September 23, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
September 16, 2013
Finally I'm on! Man this has been such a long week, and I bet you were dying too! But get ready for the scoop! Though you've probably heard some from Scott and Lynne by now. So, after showing up pretty late to the stake center, we headed back to the mission home. It was Elder O and W and I (the CCM elders) and about 21 missionaries from the MTC. Coming from Mexico made us somewhat celebrities to the other elders, that was pretty cool actually. But President and Sister T are super cool! They're not super uptight and just seem very fresh and funny. President T has super white hair. Very GA-like.
So the next day we all went back to the Stake Center for more missionary training. I guess that was Tuesday. We knew that there were three Spanish elders in our mission, and so we were trying to figure out who they were and where we'd be serving. Well, I am serving my first transfer in the Harrisburg Walk area! It's legit! I've got two companions, actually, so we've got a tripanionship action going on here. Elder L is my senior companion; he's from New Jersey and is fluent in Spanish! He's super friendly and really has his head in the game. He makes sure we have plans and are busy and is able to keep us constantly improving. He was the one who was there to pick me up. So we were leaving the building and President T asks really quickly if someone can take one of the mission cars down to Harrisburg. Elder L doesn't have a license, so on my first day in the field I pulled off a 4 and a half hour drive from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg. Kind of brutal, but gave me a great chance to get to know one of my comps. And I only got lost once!
Once we hit the apartments, (which was after we checked in all the other elders, since Elder L is also district leader) I met Elder B, he's from Colorado but he's been called to Brazil, he's been in Pennsylvania 6 months because he doesn't have a visa. But he's really cheerful and upbeat and positive, and a good counterbalance to Elder L. And our apartment is big! One of the biggest in the mission actually, which is good because there's three of us. And I'm sleeping on an air mattress, which leaves a bit to be desired I guess.
To answer your questions, we're the Harrisburg WALK mission. So we actually never drive. We do have bikes, which is really lucky, which we use all the time. The Elders above us have a car; they're the DRIVE mission.
Elder L's parents are from Mexico, he grew up speaking English and Spanish. God's got a sense of humor! Earlier, Elder L was in a district with two Elders named J and Wright. He loved them! He prayed that in his next transfer, he'd be a companion with Elder J. He got paired with another Elder named J. Before his mission, he was praying he could learn Portuguese. Elder B, our third companion, got called to Brazil and is trying to learn Portuguese himself! And Elder L was praying to be companions with the other Elder Wright as well. He got me. I guess God's trying to teach him about specific prayers, huh?
So there are a few Hispanic families in our ward, and there are some in Harrisburg! So I will be using some Spanish at least! And I'm really going to focus on speaking it more with Elder L. He's going to be a big help in that regard. But let me just tell you- the days are long! And tiring! But so so worth it! Honestly this mission is such an incredible experience! The chance that I have, to share a message that can touch and change lives, is so incredible. So Sept. 11 was my first day of technically missionary work. I'll describe it in detail to give you a better sense for it. But first- Harrisburg is the highest teaching area in the mission. The members are all excited for missionary work, and we're focusing on getting tons of referrals this week. And we have! We haven't done any straight up tracting yet! So here was Wednesday. Woke up, dressed, showered, STUDY! I have to study so much because I’m a new missionary, it's like an additional hour on top of everything else. First we taught a lesson to a less active member (we do a lot of that) who lived in our apartment complex. By the way there are two other drive missionaries who live above us. But we were halfway through our lesson when some neighbors came out (nonmembers) and asked us to say an emergency prayer for their daughter who was having a baby in the Philippines. So we were able to talk to them a bit too. We got picked up by Brother C, an older member, and went to teach another less active but he wouldn't let us in. So we taught another less active member who was really receptive to our message. That was great. She lives with her dad, who's been excommunicated twice. But was a nice guy, he gave us popsicles. Oh yeah it was like 95 degrees on Wednesday. That was brutal. Humid too. But after we went back to the apartment and got bikes, because we're one of the few bike areas in our mission. Taught a recent convert named S at a member's house (the D's). They speak Spanish so fast I can understand barely 50%.) And one time Bro D said something to me in English and I thought it was Spanish because his accent is that thick and indecipherable. Embarrassing! Rode to N's house, an investigator, he wasn't there. More on N later. Biked back to the apartment, had a quick dinner of microwaved taquitos, headed out with Brother H and taught a recent convert named C and a less active member named B. Then we got back and planned for the next day! So that was just straight up exhausting!
There's way too much to tell you all! There's this place called Sheetz here, it's a gas station that makes super cheap food. It is a big and expanding chain here in Pennsylvania. Pretty good too. We went to the grand opening of one of them on Thursday after the district meeting. So some bullet points from Thursday- we biked to E's house. She's an older black lady who was super receptive to what we taught her. We asked her to read and pray about what we told her, and then to be baptized if she felt the Spirit! She said she would! Awesome! She was at church yesterday too by the way and loved it. Then it started DUMPING rain. And I had basically nothing. I got soaked. And a car drove by and I barely dodged the big water spray. As I congratulated myself on that close shave, another car drove by and soaked my legs. So.
Here’s the story of N. It's pretty miraculous. So he's had this crappy life, he's a young adult, addicted to cigarettes and the like, living with his brother and brother's girlfriend, who's a less active member. Elders L and B were teaching the brother and N walked in, they told them who they were and he asked a boatload of questions. He was apparently pretty standoffish. But he agreed to read from the Book of Mormon, and then called them and asked for more lessons. His whole demeanor changed, he now just wants to know more more more. For example, we taught him the Word of Wisdom, all that no smoking and drinking and everything, but he had already read the pamphlet and said he would. So we followed that up with the Law of Chastity, which is a lot tougher to swallow. He said he would do that as well. I invited him to be baptized October 12, and he said he would be! Miracle! Wow! And that's only a fraction of what happened on Thursday!
We set crazy goals as a companionship. It can honestly be a little overwhelming, and I did not have a lot of faith on Friday. But after our weekly plan session, Elder L told me to think of a number between one and 10. I said 7. Then we went out in our day and I didn't think about it. We taught two lessons in the day where we extended a baptism invitation. The first was to K, actually the son of L, whose boyfriend's brother N is getting baptized. He's 11 and he goes to church, but for whatever reason no one has baptized him. So we've begun teaching him all the lessons. And there's this other guy named K, who was basically just interested in Mormons and agreed to take discussions. He's really smart, asks a lot of questions, and follows through. He wants to be baptized later this month. So at the end of the day, we tallied up our numbers. 7 referrals received in one day- that's new people we could go out and teach. And 7 lessons taught- that's a ton. Way more than I thought we could do. Some of the more suffering areas in our mission teach that many in a week! I am so blessed! This mission is freaking incredible!
Sunday was stake conference for us. Good experience, got to meet some members but not that many. President T made a suprise visit, he was giving a talk. His wife asked if I was in shock yet, I replied in the affirmative. But of course I saw Scott and Lynne! That was so cool! What incredible good fortune! I'd been kicking myself all week, actually, for not knowing in what part of Pennsylvania they lived in. But Lynne called us last week and so we're going to set up a dinner sometime. And she made us cookies! They're delicious, and definitely needed because we work hard all-day and everyday. Whoo!
Love Elder Wright
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Well I'm not sure if you knew I'd get to email before I left, but I do! I hope you check this soon! Right now I'm trying to figure out all my flight stuff, because I leave the CCM tomorrow morning at 5! So weird to be going out into the "real" mission after what seems like such a short time. Imagine if this were like the MTC only a year ago, I'd be barely hitting the halfway point of my training experience right now... something to think about! But I can't wait to get out in the field tomorrow! Wow!
So here's some stories, but give me feedback. Am I saying interesting things? Do you want me to be more descriptive? Less descriptive? Let me know! I'm taking copious notes in my (now mostly destroyed) planner. Why's it destroyed? Read further!
First though, a funny story: so, the phrase "look for it" in Español is "Buscalo!" We've taken to shouting it in our district whenever someone asks for the definition of a word. So, the other day, Elder J is pretty mad because he can't find his English-Spanish dictionary. So he starts going, "Where the heck is my Buscalo? I can't find my Buscalo!" It turns out he was under the impression that "buscalo" was the name of the dictionary itself.
So I got my hair cut on Thursday in preparation for my leaving. The lady (who was literally five feet tall, tops, I had to slouch as much as possible in my barber chair) gave me a good cut, though she did also cut my ear during it. We were talking in Spanish about the difficulties of learning the language, and she tells me the trick trolling your r's right is to practice talking with a pencil in your mouth. So before I can do anything, she grabs a pen off the counter (the one that every single missionary uses to sign in) and sticks it under her tongue in her mouth, and just starts mumbling incoherently at me. I was trying not to crack up, but also really glad that I had already signed in and would not have to use that pen again. Felt badly for the missionaries behind me though.
On Friday we had “in field” orientation. Really really great. It tied in all the concepts about effective teaching that we've learned so far, and helped me to get super psyched about getting out and spreading the gospel! Whoo! It was broken up into sections with all the missionaries leaving this week, where we watched a PowerPoint and answered questions, then we'd have breakout sessions with just a few other districts, where we'd work on specific skills and have object lessons. There was this one thing about retaining investigators, and to illustrate I got called up to hold a big tube over a bucket, and then someone else dumped beans in, where they would go through the tube into a bucket. beans=people or investigators, tube= missionary work and fellowshipping, bucket was baptism. And there were holes cut in the tube so that if you help it a certain way, you could get the beans in the tub, but otherwise they would fall out. Afterwards, as I was walking back, I said, "i guess we're all just human frijoles." Absolutely zero people got it. I guess Spanish puns are still above a lot of people's levels right now.
Terrible accident happened that day though. Very embarrassing. So we were leaving the seminario building to go to the auditorium and it was pounding rain. For some stupid reason i didn't have my umbrella on me, so Elder J and I were going to run it. We made the dash, and I was running, and all of a sudden an elder right in front of me just stops. So I slam into his back, carom off, skid forward for a few frantic footsteps, and then just eat it. I tripped forward, tucked my head under, and did a forward somersault roll off my left shoulder. Don't worry; the star of your life is fine. And my black pinstripe suit didn't rip either. But it did get soaked and dirty, and now that it's dried smells like a wet dog. And I wasn't able to get it dry cleaned because I'm leaving tomorrow, so I'll just have to get it done in Pittsburgh. Oh and my agenda planner flew out of my pocket and landed in a puddle. So it got soaked. And everyone saw it- in the auditorium elders would come up to me and say, "Was that you who totally crashed and burned in the rain on the way here?" Yup, that was me.
Other things- big old tie trade on Saturday, and I made out like a bandit. Walked over to casa 44 with five ties, came back with 8. And I'm stoked on 'em. Plus I now have two paisleys (the most coveted pattern of any missionary tie) and when I came here I had none. THAT'S called social climbing for you. Elder Kl traded 3 of the most hideous ties I have ever seen and a bag of skittles and jolly ranchers for a super cool red one, so he came out ahead that night too. I made sure I got out before curfew hit though, because our teacher Hermano S was telling us a few days before he cleared out another tie trade that was going strong at 11:15 pm. He looked out his window and saw missionaries’ running by with ties just strung around their collars, so he knew something was up. He asked them where they were going, and they ran away. So he walked down the street and saw some truly moronic elders had put a sign on their front door saying, USE THE BACK DOOR. So he went in there, and in a process that I'm sure was reminiscent of Christ clearing the moneylenders from the temple, cleared the tie traders from the casa. As he fled, one of the elders who knew some guys in our district said, "You're Carlos, right? You're that impossible investigator!" So he was truly majestic in his wrath, from all accounts. And now Hermano S has the rep of being both the CCM policeman and the meanest investigator to work with.
Today in church, our district sang our arrangement of God Be With You Till We Meet Again. It was really spiritual though luckily no one cried. So sad that we're all leaving now, despite some bumps our district really has been close for the past four weeks.
And there are a bunch of Missionaries coming to the Ventura mission tomorrow. Those that I know of include:
Plus a couple of hermanas. Cool!
I really do hope you get some new missionaries that I know. Be sure to have them over for dinner. I am so excited to leave! There's a whole host of emotions running through me right now but excitement is the dominant one. I'm so glad for the time that I ve spent here in the CCM. I know that I've grown so much, matured so much, and come that much closer to God. I am spiritually fired up! Takeaway quote from Elder Holland in the devotional: "Now, the deal is. if we can, with the Lord, get you converted, then you MUST go and 'Preach My Gospel' by the Spirit. And you must preach it His way!" And in the words of Joseph Smith, I am fired with heavenly and joyful anticipation.
Love, Elder Wright
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Man! P-day is the bomb! Just got back from a great day at the temple, it was a bit sad because I realized this is the last time I'll be able to go for 23 months or so! But on the way back driving through the city, saw a fire-breather, a truck precariously stacked full of propane tanks, and Elder B leaned out the window while we were stopped in traffic and bought a bag of chips for 3 pesos. So that was cool. I can't wait to get out into the mission though!!!
Answering questions: The laundry sitch here is great. Big fancy machines that do a great job, it's like a Laundromat! My shirts are great; I haven't had to iron any of them more than once. Except for one short sleeve shirt that I think I might have packed by mistake. Seriously, that thing wrinkles up in a light breeze. RJ is doing great! Seems to be on his feet and having a good time. Same with Emily. Her schedule is super out of sync with mine so I hardly ever see her though.
So once a week, we have a thing called TRC, which translates into something in Spanish. Not sure what. But basically members of the church from outside the walls come in and we teach them, like the missionaries teach a short lesson to the members back home after they have them over for dinner. So it's low(er) pressure and usually pretty enjoyable. Elder J and I were teaching a lesson on Thursday about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon for personal revelation. Before we started, while we were waiting to get called up, he started fretting how we hadn't prepared enough and worrying what we would do if we got a nonmember to teach. I just told him to calm down, and I'd give him a peso is we actually had to teach a non-Mormon. So we walk in to our lesson, it's a Mexican lady and her daughter, F. She's super friendly and we're chatting a bit, and I ask her if she's a member. She goes, "No." Whulp! Turns out her husband is and she wasn’t, but she's going to be baptized in two weeks. Wow. So we ended up teaching a really powerful lesson to her and ended by challenging her to read the Book of Mormon daily (because she hadn't.) So that was great! And I had to give Elder J a peso.So I don't think I 've mentioned this before, but we started a district choir! I’m the choir director, which means I'm responsible for keeping everyone on track and focused. We (8 elders, 4 Hermanas’) are singing a variation of God Be With You Till We Meet Again; on the last Sunday at church right before we all leave. Should be a serious tearjerker! The first verse, the Hermanas’ start and the elders join, then we all come together. That's in English. The second and third verses are the Hermanas’ and the elders respectively, Spanish. And the final verse we split into 5 part harmony and sing all together! Should be pretty dang awesome. We're hurting for experienced singers, so much so that I'm filling the tenor part even though I'm technically a bass... oh well. It's fun though
Other random things... Yesterday all our elders did Elder Holland hair. So we all did the severe comb over with the distinguished part, it looked pretty good. Mine was ok, but Elder M's hair was seriously perfect. Wish I'd had a camera. All the Hermanas’ agreed we looked very professional.
We taught another group of missionaries the other day, they'd been out for two weeks and apparently the district has been having some unity issues. So I gave a lesson to one of the Elders, and focused on really getting to know him. He really opened up about his struggles on the mission and the things he was worried about, so I was able to give him a fiery call to righteousness that he came up and told me really helped him out. The strength of my lesson was definitely due to me following the promptings of the Spirit, but my Holland hair also probably helped.
Not sure how exciting this will be to you, but you know that hideous red-green tie you had RJ bring me? The one that Uncle Pei gave to me like 5 years ago and I've probably never worn? I was doing some tie trading the other day and some chump thought it was the coolest tie he'd seen. So I got a pretty nice yellow one for it! Stoked!