Thursday, February 26, 2015

February 23, 2015 Our People

With President and Sister Calderwood
This is a list of the people Elder Galke claim as our own.  I basically copied and pasted it with a few modifications from a list I've been creating as I go.  There's so many new people to meet I can't remember everyone if I don't write this. I thought it would be fun for you to get to know them a little bit better. In this mission we do "open pool", which means that anybody can teach anybody (which makes sense - President Calderwood is a big proponent of figuring out what works and avoiding conventions just because that's how it's always done.

So keep a list of these people and I will add more people/details as they come.

Christian and Anthony - two cousins, around fifteen years old.  They have friends that are members, so somehow they got interested and have been taking the lessons.  My first week they agreed to march 8 as a baptismal date.  They are good kids and both really like the church and the gospel, but it's hard for them being the only ones in their family.  Anthony's mother believes that changing religions is a very serious sin, and they are Catholic.  That said, they want it to be up to Anthony, and Sister Vazquez and Sister Vela are working with them.  The Sisters are also working with Christian's parents.  Christian wants to be baptized but really wants to do it with his family.  It sounds like his parents are close and say they would get baptized if Christian did.

Belkis and Rick - Inactive for ten years.  They both work in Manhattan.  Sweetest people ever. Belkis feeds one to two sets of missionaries every week, Rick is usually asleep because of his work schedule, but our last visit I met him! So cool, he's Italian and looks exactly like a classic Italian clothes model. He gave Elder Galke's last companion a ton of super expensive clothes because he lost a ton of weight. Belkis said she put a hundred pounds on him the first year of marriage, and that's no surprise. Her cooking is bien bien rico.  Marrying her would be bad for one's figure, but man it's good.  She takes pride in fattening up missionaries.  Oh Belkis is from Spain and I love her Spanish, it's very proper and clear, although we actually mostly use English, they are both fluent.  I'm not sure exactly what is holding them back.  They accept our teachings and seem to have testimonies. Not positive on Rick, but I know Belkis really wants to follow God, but can't see the importance of a few things, like going to church and reading from the scriptures and such.

La familia Contreras - the Contreras are a great family with good desires, but they sort of struggle.  It depends on the month whether they are active or less active. My first lesson with them the husband admitted he was a little bit discouraged due to the example of our ward members. In particular, the men with much more experience than he aren't good home teachers.  He says he knows that this is a bad reason to be discouraged, but it makes it hard to do your home teaching as a recent convert if the other elders aren't doing it. Take note of that.  It's not just home teaching.  If you are a member of the church you have a huge responsibility to fellowship and befriend everyone else in the ward, especially new ones, and set good examples in all things.  He's asked to go through all the discussions again.  Their family was baptized three years ago within two weeks of meeting the missionaries, and he feels like he wants a better understanding of everything.

Lesbia and Irvin - Lesbia is a member and is preparing to go through the temple for the first time.  She usually comes to church with her kids.  Irvin is not a member. He seems to accept the missionary lessons, but withdraws if he's invited to be baptized. Lesbia says he just needs it to be on his own time table.  He is in a lot of pain right now - he's got a few bulged discs in his back poor fellow.  I just had my first lesson with them, they are really awesome people. We talked about how the gospel blesses families and Irvin committed to read a chapter we gave him out of the Book of Mormon.

La familia Menjivar - inactive family with three kids.  They didn't seem enthusiastic when we taught them, and Elder Galke says they are always like that but they are always okay with us scheduling them, so it's hard to know what goes through their heads.  Man I wish I had a meticulous biography to study of everyone we teach.  That'd be nice.  They committed to show up to church on Sunday but no such luck.

Luna - she is 11 years old and a recent convert.  Wow she is so sweet.  Her parents, Carmen and Victor, are very supportive of her being in the church, although they are less active and divorced.  Luna lives with her mom.  I think the reason her mom doesn't go to church is because Luna's dad still lives in the same branch and he goes to church sometimes.  Elder Galke says that when they ask her dad what they can do for him he just says to make sure Luna stays strong in the gospel, and it's clear that her mom feels the same way.  It's interesting how even though there is something keeping them away from living the gospel fully, they know that it is the best way of life and the key to her daughter living a better life than they have.  I've been over there once and her mom was there and was really helping Luna out.

Melissa - she's not exactly an investigator... But I just have to throw her in here! She's nine years old and so adorable, she is the embodiment of Sarah and Mary put together in a nine year old.  She's at the church during mutual and we are always there in another room making calls while we wait for it to finish and she comes in and helps us make calls.  She is so excited to be helping with missionary work! I wish Sarah and Mary could come play with her.

 Judy - another sidekick. She's probably about three.  WHY. WHY ARE WE NOT ALLOWED TO HOLD CHILDREN. Ugh... She slays me.  I didn't realize how much I missed Sarah and Mary until the first Sunday and this cruel trick came to pass.

In our district we have two sets of elders and one set of sisters. I've decided that when I get home, my mission is going to consist of recruiting young women to serve missions. Right now they are about 30 something percent of the missionary force, and it needs to be 50%.   Pres. Calderwood has really pushed Salt Lake to have a set of sisters in every district, which is not very common. But in reality, the sisters are the best missionaries in the mission. I had and experience the other day that may have illustrated one reason why they do more than all the elders do. The sisters wanted to go heart attacking people. Heart attacking is simply writing uplifting messages on heart cutouts and taping them to peoples doors that may be in need. Honestly, I was a little bit skeptical about how much this would really help our purpose, because if I was the one on the receiving end, it wouldn't really mean anything to me. But we went along with them and one of the doors that we visited what is the door of a woman named Julisa. The missionaries have been trying to get a hold of Julisa for months. They were teaching her before and she seemed to like a golden investigator, but then she sort of just disappeared. Elder Galke and I have been calling and knocking at her door ever since I got here and he says that they've been doing it for much longer than that, but she's been juking us. Well about an hour after we got home from heart attack, Julisa texted us! It was incredible to see how much this simple act had touched her. She said that she had been going through a rough time, and that we had lifted her so much (we left no indication that the heart attack was from the missionaries, she had just assumed that). She was really, really appreciative. So then Elder Galke called her, and she ended up asking us when we could come over.

*deer in headlights*

"Uh.... Uh... Yes. I mean sure well whenever you can do it you know I mean Elder Sirrine doesn't have anything against it I mean we're just missionaries you know like we do that stuff sometimes it's really up to you I mean I know you work schedule has been really busy and stuff...."

It was pretty funny. So that was a quite miraculous change of heart that I did not see coming from such an activity.

While we were driving around to the doors that we had plans to heart attack, the sisters had prepared little handouts consisting of those little hand warmer pockets and a Mormon card. We were just looking for people on the street that might be cold to give them to.  So I guess once the sisters have already laid it on the table, this is what qualifies the existence of Elders - when we saw a good victim, Hermana Vazquez would pull over, and Elder Galke and I would go run them down.  Literally.  Elder Galke thought that la Hermana Vazquez just thought it was funny planning the most difficult and longest route for us to run and park there.

"Mira mira mira! Una persona!"

"Hermana, that's not a person yet, thats just a speck."


"Okay, okay, just pointing out you could have kept driving for a little bit before parking..."

Anyways, there was a lot of rejection with the hand warmer approach, eg "FA-REE?? Son, what do I look like to you?" (No, that didn't happen - that's Elder Galke's rendering of what their eyes were saying). But there was one man that made the whole thing worth it. When I gave him that hand warmer, he just seems so appreciative and taken aback by the kindness that we had shown.  Of course, he never called that number we put on the Mormon card, but it was a positive experience for him. More importantly, it was an experience in which we had helped a child of God, a brother.

So I learned a valuable lesson in thinking outside of my own head, and not discounting certain tactics based on how I would have received it best.  So that's one reason why we have sisters.  Another reason is that we usually give all our single lady contacts to them, so they have more progressing investigators than either set of elders do.  Elder Galke has said that he wishes I could have come into an area without sisters so I could see the difference they make.  Said he, "it's ridiculous".

Verdad.  Sisters are not only a lot sweeter than Elders, but I think they are also better at studying and being disciplined.  On a mission you will hear a lot that the studies are what makes the missionaries.

Another interesting happening this week was after a lesson with Luna. We had a good lesson and then left, but right when we got home, her mom, Carmen, called and asked if we could come back.  She wouldn't tell us why.  So we drove twenty minutes back to her house and her brother, who is not a member, opened the door.  Neither of us had met her brother before, but he presented us with huge bags of really good rolls (he works at a bakery) and asked if he could sit in on the lessons. Por qué no.

I testify that this is the true church, which most fully espouses the doctrine of Christ and is endorsed by Him.  I truly believe we have seen miracles here in New York.  I give this witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Transfers with Elder Vidaurri

Public School 16

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