Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 9 2015 This is Elder Sirrine hailing from New York

My new comp, Elder Galke

The view form our apartment window

Well the fraction of my experiences that I can write is an even smaller number his week than normal.

We left the MTC at four am to catch the flight at seven (the Padresgot a surprise telephone call at five-something am from the airport). We were a bit late getting out of the residence so we didn't have time for breakfast. I dramatically shed a single tear.

Our flight ended up getting delayed almost 45 minute (after they had trapped us on the plane of course), so we would have missed our next flight, but the forces of nature decided to cancel our connection flight, just for good measure.  So there were 19 missionaries,speaking a variety of languages (some of them very little English) wandering around Detroit's airport, not quite sure what to do. So we worked out a shuttle and a hotel, but still had to wait a couple hours in the airport.  So naturally, we ate pizza and terrorized the people at large.  It was SO exciting to be out and about and have real live people to run down! Actually most of the missionaries were super stressed and anxious/depressed because of the whole situation.  As for a reformed adrenaline junkie (I've been clean five months), WOW that was a refreshing adventure! The MTC was absolutely wonderful, but after 7 weeks I really needed some new territory to sniff out.

Eventually we got to the hotel and there discovered.... A clothes iron! So naturally we had to get a pic of me walking Bartholomew the Second. So there we were, in the hallway of La Quinta, and right as we were taking the pic, a room service lady walked out of a room. She was, understandably, a little confused, but we explained the story and she laughed and said that, after a long day, she really appreciated the humor. We asked her what she knew about the church, and she ended up committing pretty enthusiastically to watch Meet the Mormons. So in a nutshell, walking your iron can be dangerous, but a careful analysis of the risk versus reward scheme may reveal profit.

Somehow our luggage had made it straight to New York.  I didn't really have a carry on like everyone else, just my little satchel that was stuffed with study materials.  It ended up working out though, I went and begged the hotel desk for a toothbrush, so it was all good. Scriptures, marking pencils, and a toothbrush.  What more does a man need? I mean, Preach My Gospel itself is the ultimate survival guide so I was pretty much Bear Grylls-ing it.

The next morning we left early again to catch a 7:20 flight. The hotel didn't have breakfast that early and we got caught up in security due to diabetic complications, so no breakfast two days in a row. And due to the luggage situation and my poor choice of what to include in my shoulder bag, I had no snacks.  What an oversight.  In the words of our fearless district leader of 23b, "The one time Elder Sirrine doesn't have enough food on his person to eat a small meal every 45 minutes".

I had plenty of sitting time to reflect upon this gross error.  The flight was listed as one hour and five minutes. We were on that plane for almost five hours due to more delays. Unfortunately, everyone else on the plane was absorbed into their smartphones, so it was difficult to talk to people.

Because we arrived a day late, we skipped the mission home and all the niceties.  So I guess I'm still roughing it without my bedding (but I'm sure it arrived on time, mom).  The President ordered in pizza, so we finally got to eat! I'm down a solid five pounds - our last day in the MTC was fast Sunday, Monday we didn't eat until 2 pm, and then food finally graced us around 4 on Tuesday.

We immediately met our comps and headed out to our areas.  My trainer is Elder Galke from Panama (although, not to be deceived, he is just as much a gringo as I am).  He's a really good guy.  We then headed to our area, Staten Island, the largest in the mission, although we of course stopped by Manhattan on the way (Elder Galke got a little lost. Of course I would break the mission boundary rule on the first day).

The first Sunday was an adventure. We went to ward council in the morning and honestly did not understand what occurred during that gathering.  The church meetings were a lot better because they were talking about subjects I was familiar with, but after three hours it became difficult to exert that much brain power.  Goodness gracious there are a lot of Dominicans and if I didn't know any better I'd say they invented their own language.

And hence, the accompaniment set up an impressively dissonant congregation.  Despite that, I loved the enthusiasm of the little branch.  The choir professor at BYUi said, "if you're going to miss
it, miss it big" because our choir often didn't sound quite lively enough.  I don't think anyone ever had enough courage to follow that advice, but she would have loved this branch.

At first, arriving in New York was just what I'd expected.  I was reminded why I like small towns.  But  I knew that God would take care of me.  I have a testimony of he changing power of the Atonement.  I knew that if I had learned to love the MTC, New York would be no problem.  And the second day here we taught a lesson and I was comforted so much.  We got up into this puny apartment and started teaching Concepcion and Yavanni, and really felt the presence of the Spirit there.  The feeling of love I had for them was overwhelming.  I already knew this, but it really struck me that people are children of God everywhere.  It doesn't matter where you find yourself, whether
you are a set apart or a member, whether you are in the most remote mountain or in New York City, missionary work is the same.  It is inviting children of God to come into Christ, the work of salvation.
I testify that this is God's work.  I invite everyone to reconsider how much importance it has in your life and set missionary goals today.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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