Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Well, hello! I am living in Fredonia, a recently reopened area. It is a really weird change from the middle of PA, where I have been my entire mission. I can't quite place it yet, New York is just... different.... than Pennsylvania. We have a car (Jeep Compass) and cover a humongous amount of territory. That is really the biggest change, my "walk areas" were small and even Dover was remarkably small to be a full branch. But we have Silvercreek, Dunkirk, Fredonia, Stockton, Brockton, Cassedega, Westfield, and a couple of other towns that I can't even remember all in our area. We have to drive a lot! The church in Fredonia closed down a few years ago, so we go to Jamestown for church, a little less than an hour's drive.
I really hated to leave Dover, but it was what the Lord needed I guess. This area has a lot of awesome potential, so I am really excited about it actually. The ward is nice, but has some structural issues, namely-over 900 members on the rolls but only 160 at church on Sundays. Just last month, it absorbed the failed Warren ward, so now Jamestown is even more enormous geographically. It is very hard to coordinate with folks, or get fed, just because we live so far away from anyone or anything. We are trying to set up a way to correlate without ward mission leader via Skype actually, just because we live so far away.
I have also noticed a slight detachment between members and missionaries thus far. Really, it's almost ambivalence. With the exception of some awesome members, the vast majority did not even seem to notice I was new or care to know my name, much less introduce themselves. That's not good. And frankly, that is my goal to change. We are going to get these members pumped up about missionary work again.
Here's the good news though! We are reopening the Fredonia building in January and starting a group. Not a branch, a group. There are about 4 active families in our area and that will be about the core. So this is really a new experience, it's going to be super interesting but super cool! I feel like the presence of the church will help to drive many members out of inactivity. This is a really exciting time to be in Fredonia. Talk about being in the mission field, no one here even really knows what a Mormon is!
So of course, you want to know my companion. Or should I say... companions? I am serving with Elder O and Elder S. I actually came out with O; we were in the same casa in the CCM. S is his trainee, they just finished training. So it's back to the tripanionship for Elder Wright. We are working really well together, they are good missionaries with sincere desires to work hard and serve. We’re going to do awesome together.
Yeah that's the such.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
To the meat... I am getting transferred. AH man! No news where, though I will write immediately. It's hard, but at the same time, I know it's because I need to be somewhere else. I suppose the Lord wouldn't do this unless He was sure. So that is a big help. I feel like Dover was huge for me because I saw effective church leadership in action. The church can be so effective if it streamlines in the right ways. Gospel principles of leadership, service, humility, and authority, all played in and I was really able to witness miracles happen because of it. There's a lot to take with me that I can learn not just for the mission but also for the rest of my life. So that was a huge blessing. I asked during PEC if I could bear my testimony, and the 2nd counselor Brother F looked at me awkwardly and asked if I would be willing to speak for a little longer... the third speaker didn't materialize, so I ended up giving a talk this Sunday. Luckily, the 2nd speaker delivered a lengthy discourse so it was not as long as I thought I would have to fill. Oh, good old church intrigue! What fun.
C is doing wonderful! She has a calling now, she is serving in nursery! That is nice and I am glad the presidency is so on the ball, but it's a double-edged sword. You don't have any way to meet members or form friendships if you are in nursery, much less acquire more gospel knowledge if you can't make it to Gospel Principles or Relief Society. But she decided to go down to see the temple lights last Saturday, and she loved it! She really had a great time, plus she dragged her roommate M there, as he owns a car. And he enjoyed it. So we may begin to teach him, because now he quite interested in temples, at the very least.
Z and A are still going through really bad times. Just struggling in a lot of different ways, I think that the constant trials, pains and lows that they are hitting are starting to drill something into them though-that they need to commit to this gospel, especially studying the scriptures and praying if they have any hope of survival. I stopped by to see both of them last night and we had a really good talk. I have a lot of hope for them.
A cool thing we are working with is the “ He is the Gift" initiative. We have really seen it give us a window into talking with people, sharing the gospel, and opening closed hearts. We have been able to get some new investigators and potential investigators through sharing it. So that has been thrilling!
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
This is the last week of the transfer. WE have been making a huge push to share the #He is the Gift video, don't know if you've seen it, but the church is making it a big deal. It's all over YouTube. It is really powerful. I really like the way the church takes modern technology in stride to fulfill greater and grander purposes. Who would have thought that the gospel could be taken to all the earth via a mouse click? Cool right?
I'll tell you quickly about the B family. They are this wonderful family that was inactive for 20 years after getting bitterly offended. They were on our “ Do not contact" list, though we didn't know it, and so we went to see them. It gradually progressed from talks at the door to the porch to the house, and the family has warmed up so much to us. Brother B has an angry look to him, he is a hard man but has a heart of gold. Sister M, his wife, has really made a 180 degree turnaround ever since she started reading the scriptures again. She knows her purpose again and it's incredible to see the difference in her eyes. They have begun coming back to church, they have been warmly received, and last Sunday Sister M bore her testimony about how we had given her new hope and once again put her on the right path. I am so proud of them. I have this sinking feeling I am getting transferred soon, which would be heartbreaking, but in the meantime I have joy while laboring in the vineyard! It's great!
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
So the big thing is that we went to Gettysburg this morning. It was pretty cool, It was nice to return, remember last time, and also the weather was a lot warmer today so we could enjoy it more. Brother M, our assistant branch mission leader, took us and the West York elders. It was an awesome time. I had a lot of fun.
We have hit a recent doldrums of investigators, nothing really new happening and no real progress with our others. But we're re-shifting focus this week, we really want to have a baptism this December. The branch support is there, the work ethic is there; we just need the help of the Lord to find a golden investigator.We have been seeing a lot of progress with less active and inactive families though. It's been awesome, we had a lot at church this Sunday, including for the first time the B family. They moved from Oregon, haven't been active ever, were offended before. The brother was actually a Do Not Contact person, but we didn't know... Anyway it took some work but we have really developed a warm relationship with them, including their special needs son, who is deaf-mute and has charge syndrome. And they finally came! Just a cool way to see the gospel change lives. The very first time we met him, he said that he could never come back. This was stopping him that was stopping him. Here's the thing: people are either looking for excuses or opportunities. At first, any excuse would derail him. Now, he is looking for opportunities to come and ways to make it work despite his challenges. It is really heartwarming to see. We're pumped.
So here's the lowdown on C. As I may have alluded to, she had a pretty traumatic early life. She has a lot of siblings, but none of them really know each other because her mother put them all up for foster care. So she has worked for several years to find who they all are and reconnect them. She grew up with her mother for a while in Lancaster City and York. At one point, her mother was in a relationship with an inactive church member named D. I have actually met him once before, he is the ex-boyfriend of J, an inactive member that Elder G and I found and located in Lancaster City and started working with. We met with him one time, but were unable to get much further than that. It was an eye opener to me though that the Lord has all the right moves in all the right places, I am essentially one of two missionaries in the entire mission that could have recognized that name, put it to that face, and connected that dot. Anyway it appears she was baptized during that window of time. It was very hard to nail that down due to the fact that C's mother went by multiple names, multiple boyfriends, and multiple addresses. (as well as abandoning her daughter later on). Plus C's name was legally changed at age 5 as well. So this was much more complicated than I am making it sound. But we broke the news to her and she was so excited. She said, "Maybe that's the reason I just feel at home so much when I am at the church." So she is loving it, she has brought two friends to church already and we have talked about beginning to teach her roommate. I had a question nagging me, though. Why did both Elder B and I feel so strongly to set her with a baptismal date of November 29th? It had seemed inspired, and the fact that that date was the date she beat cancer three years previous had seemed to confirm our spiritual prompting. Then I realized the date during the lesson that we revealed she was a member of the church. November 29th, 2014. Truly, God works in pretty cool ways. So she didn't get baptized on that date, but she found out she was a member of the Lord's true church. And she wasn't confirmed on the 30th, but she did have her records moved in and was officially welcomed to the ward. Cool, no?
The other big thing was Thanksgiving! That was pretty darn cool, the day after the big snow, but a whole bunch of people from the different wards showed up anyway Compared to last year, when there were like 10 people, this year there was a few dozen! Anyway for a lot of these big guys with desk jobs, it is a big time to flex their inner manliness, so things got pretty rough for two-hand touch. It was really fun though. Then afterwards we made a giant snowman, like over 6 feet tall, and left it on the bleachers. We drove by today and it was the only chunk of snow still remaining, a little bowling ball-sized splot of snow. Oh well. Anyway we also went to Gravity Hill. It is a strange mysterious place in Pennsylvania where the very laws of gravity cease to function. You park your car in neutral at the bottom of the hill and it will roll backwards, uphill! Pretty special! Ha-ha it's really anticlimactic but kind of cool. (The trick is that it's all angles. The hill intersects with another, much steeper hill, so it looks like a downhill while actually being a slight uphill.)
We were going to just have one dinner, but then we ended up eating another dinner in West York with their investigators and then another (!) at a member's in our area. Luckily, remembering last year, I paced myself and thus got terribly full but survived. Elder B, still full of youthful enthusiasm, was dying by meal two. I'll send some pictures so you can see what I mean. The second meal was with a Spanish family, and they also made sure we ate a big dessert. Elder B shoveled his entire slice of pie and cake onto a little kid's plate when no one was looking. Basically we got stuffed but made it through. Man it was a toughie!