Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I was hoping, with it being the first day of Spring and all, to see a little bit of green, but nope.

So what an awesome week this was!
We (as you can probably see) went to the Palmyra temple and it was wonderful! It is a smaller temple, it overlooks the Sacred Grove. Very beautiful. J has been doing family history so we were able to attend the temple with her and a bunch of people from the stake (it was a stake temple trip) and it was really great, she did baptisms for many of her kindred dead, T did some others, and I was able to receive the endowment afterwards for one of them. Very very spiritual the whole time, J was crying throughout. There is a special Spirit that is there for baptisms for your ancestors that doesn't exist necessarily otherwise, you can really feel the connection. very neat and beautiful experience.
We were in a hurry, but we also took a tour of the Book of Mormon printing press. The first 5000 copies were printed by E.B. Grandin, and the shop is still well preserved. The tour was quite good and interesting.  I learned a lot about the process of setting the type, inking, and binding- and also that it took almost two years for the Book of Mormon to be published after is was handed in. Long time, right? That must have been super frustrating for the Prophet to knock out the translation in 65 working days and then have to stew around for a couple of years. Tour was done by a sister missionary, she was kind of clueless... didn't know the answers to a lot of the questions I asked just out of genuine curiosity. 
The next thing we did was visit the Joseph Smith farm, which was really neat. The sister missionaries who gave the tour here were much more prepared and informed, I'll have you note. I learned a lot here. The house was really really small, especially for 11 people. We went to the upstairs room where Joseph Smith was first visited by the angel Moroni, and it is tiny! Plus there would have been three other people in the room (other siblings) sleeping with him! That's not something you see in the movie version. I guess they were just super sound sleepers.
Finally we walked through the Sacred Grove. I was hoping, with it being the first day of Spring and all, to see a little bit of green, but nope. Still quite snowy and bare. Still, it was super serene and peaceful. Just a beautiful and spiritual place. There isn't an exact location for where Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, it's just a series of trails you can walk. I would have loved to spend more time here. We should come back some time as a family to see the Hill Cumorah pageant and see these sites! 
All in all, a long and exhausting day, very cool though. I loved it.
Elder Wright

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Sacred Grove & Palmyra Temple

                                    Book of Mormon Pages!
                                    You can see the temple from the farmhouse.
                                           More trees (there are a lot of trees).
                                      Me, J, and Elder A at the Palmyra temple!
      All of us there in the Joseph Smith house (in the bedroom where Moroni appeared).
At the Alvin Smith home (right next door, Joseph Smith hid the plates from a mob under the brick fireplace in the room behind us).
                                                The Sacred Grove

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The church is true! Miracles happen! So do baptisms!

So this weekend was such a miracle! 
Let's start at the beginning. L decided that baptism was not something he was ready for. However, his younger sister L, who is 8, was really excited to enter the waters of baptism! She was so anxious they got there an hour and a half early. It is really great to see the transformation that has occurred in the lives of Sister W and her family since they have started coming back to church 3 months ago. This is a great step for them on their path in the Gospel, and we hope that L will join her pretty soon. Yay! There was a big turnout for her! And an even bigger turnout for J, later that evening. She has gone through such a remarkable change these past few months, she is just glowing with the light of the gospel and she is so happy. The purpose of the gospel is to make bad people good, and good people better, and that is what has happened in J's life. Last month in testimony meeting, she announced to the congregation (in addition to a powerful testimony) that she was going to write President Monson and petition for missionaries to start wearing bow ties. So, the missionaries in the ward honored that request for her. (Not sure how the ward mission leader Brother H liked that, he was already leery that J had requested Come Thou Fount as the closing hymn. But oh well.) It was such a powerful spiritual experience. Not dissing on L's at all, but I think the Holy Ghost showed up in force for this one, it was just a wall of pure spiritual power that reduced anyone who felt it to a blubbering wreck. J's parents were there, they are both Catholic but highly supportive of it all! They then came to the confirmation the next day, another great experience! At the baptism, I gave a talk, on baptism, and Elder S baptized J. It was his first, and he has taught since the beginning, when he first came to the mission. That evening, he received his transfer call. A really good note to go out on.
So the problem was, J's confirmation took place in Jamestown, as the "hub" ward, but this Sunday was also the Fredonia group week. So after sacrament meeting we hightailed it out of there to get back to the twig. Got there during the sacrament. (Would have been there sooner had not a cop shadowed me for like 15 miles...!) But it turned out the organist, J, had slept in (it was daylights saving time, [and he is a college student]) so I then had to play the organ! What a terrifying experience! I think I did okay, though! No one walked out, at least. But anyways, what a great week! The church is true! Miracles happen! So do baptisms!
Elder Wright

Monday, March 9, 2015

Isn't This Place Classy?

 Here at the Westfield Library.  Isn't this place classy? I sure think so.
                              Ice Castle... this place was a maze.
                               Bow Tie Missionaries
                      Paying my parking ticket (Selfie at the Police Station)
                            The elephant and I (this place is a winery).
                              J's baptism!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I hope it all melts! Every last drop! Bring on spring!

This week's been a toughie. Some discouragements and setbacks, so that's been a bit tough to deal with. We haven't yet been able to sit down with R, we are seeing him tomorrow. We did talk with Bishop F this Sunday, it was a good meeting because he has a lot of insight, and it helped me a lot. He has the mannerisms of a GA, he's a former senior missionary, and he’s pretty cool. He also helped us out a bit with R; she has not been progressing this week at all. Her visit with her parents went about as we expected, they wholeheartedly rejected her decision to be baptized. They also fed her tons of anti stuff to dissuade her, she is now confused. She wants to be baptized but now she just wants more time. So we are seeing her tonight, we are going to be talking about faith as a principle of action. How sometimes you need to step a little into the dark, then the light gathers. Or in a Biblical context, you have to get your feet wet in the River Jordan before the river lifts up before you. So we are really praying we can help her overcome her concerns and progress again towards baptism. 
Self-defense is still going good. I told you we learned about knife and gun dis-arments, right? Guns ones are surprisingly a lot simpler than knives. Two fundamental rules for both, according to N: "The gun is going to go off, and someone will get cut at least a little bit.”  Last week was principles of centers of balance, and maintaining them and using them. And he also taught us how to get out of being pinned to the ground with someone on top of you. It is basically centers of balance again, you lock your foot on their heel and just flip your hips, their balance is destroyed and they can't move their leg to readjust it. So they fall. It's cool stuff! But also painful-he taught us the importance of pressure points by striking each of them. I was way sore! Surprisingly, the armpit is a really sensitive one!
This weekend was also a bit of a downer. It actually was a huge bummer. We went down to Jamestown on Saturday night to sleep over at the elders’ apartment, because we have an 8 o’clock meeting before church. The next day, we just caught a ride in the Jamestown elders' car down to the church. And we were the only ones from Fredonia to make it, icy roads and a blizzard cut off everybody else, active and less active alike. That was frustrating. L had his baptismal interview as well, which he did not pass. That was super frustrating, because he has a testimony of the church and of the gospel, but he just expressed heretofore-unknown doubts in his interview. So now we don't know if it's happening this Saturday. Then we went from church to the apartment, and our car had a ticket. That was the last stinking straw. In New York, the side of the road that you are allowed to park on switches halfway through the day, and so while we were at church the side had switched. So now I have to pay $30. I was mega-bummed on the ride home from church. (Fasting may have contributed to the low morale.) But a lot of scripture study, as well as just getting busy, teaching and stuff, have helped me to kind of shake out of the funk. What's going to happen will happen. All that matters is that I am doing my best and working my hardest.
So we had a lesson with C, who's a 9 year old son of C, a returning member. He's pretty off the wall, but a sharp kid! We were talking about the plan of salvation, and he seemed like it was going in one ear and out the other. So then I made him repeat it back, and he had the whole thing from the beginning to the end. Sweet! We also wanted to talk about baptism, and he was initially kind of opposed, or at least confused about what it all is. Then we explained how the next step is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and we talked about what that does for us. He was immediately on board! He was like, "Well, then I definitely want to get baptized!" So that was pretty cool! We also had an experience talking to S, who is going through a rough patch with the father of her child. We talked about how part of God's plan is that families can be together forever. And she just leapt to her feet; she was like "That is True! I really believe that! I love that you teach that in your church!" And she hadn't even been that interested before that point. So it was really sweet! What I have learned is to help people join your church; you need to find something that connects to them, strongly. That is the foundation, the "me" moment, that starts any interest. So you gotta find it!
In a plus for missionary service, we did shovel a lady out who crashed into a snow bank. Wheels were spinning, but there was so much snow under the car that she wasn't going anywhere. Even with all our efforts, it wasn't until we flagged down a big van with chains that the car got dragged out. So that was interesting. I hope it all melts! Every last drop! Bring on spring! Bring on the rampant pollination so bad that your nose runs like a cross country guy in the last 100 meters. I miss California weather, and that’s about the long and short of it!
Elder Wright