Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 5, 2016, 2 John 1:12

Well today we are running around between airports all day starting at 5:30 this morning. Typical Monday. Next one will be pretty similar. Sorry I don't have time to write more, but know that I'm grateful for all of you and that the mission is the best!

Elder Sirrine

From photos of journal pages

November 16, 2016
Yesterday we had a wonderful visit with Eunise’s husband, Alex.  He committed to be baptized Dec 11!  We had  a good district meeting, and it was neat to see the Lord guide us as we role played for Elder Heaton’s investigator and he learned how to overcome his concerns

Later…The sacrament prayer is so powerful.  We so routinely listen to them every week.  Tonight we shared the blessing on the bread with a less active family, and the Spirit was felt so powerfully.  It’s incredible how powerful and sacred that ordinance is.

November 17, 2016
I was feeling a little “off” during zone conferences today, but I do feel like the Spirit was there.

Afterwards we had a bit of time to visit.  We hadn’t planned, so, having no idea what to do, we prayed.  We felt prompted to visit a certain member, Sister Welch.  We drove to her house, and she wasn’t there, but her inactive daughter opened the door.  We talked, got a referral, set up an appointment for Sunday with her and her non-member boyfriend, knocked the next door over, set up an appointment for the same Sunday, knocked the next door over and set up another appointment for Sunday.  Then we drove home.  Couldn’t have been a more productive 30 minutes.  God is good.

November 21, 2016
Today we were planning where to go on our coming exchanges and Elder Parrish and Elder Ko both wanted to go to Zone 3.  After some indecision, we prayed and felt prompted to call President and as his council.  We worked that out, and I felt like we ought to run the rest of the zones past him as well.  President said it was fine, but then mentioned that Elder Parrish maybe ought to serve with zone leaders he’s never served with  before.  Those happen to be the zone 9 leaders, where we had agreed I would go.  That was a dagger.  Looking forward to going back to the Hamptons one last time was something so special.  I was tempted to explain that to President because I know he’d be fine with that, but decided not to.

I’m gland we were prompted to call him and ask.  I feel it’s a neat opportunity to exercise humility, which I’ve been praying for, and submit my will.  I’m never short of eagerness to prove to the Lord that I will do anything for Him and I’ll do it happily.  My exchange with Zone 8 will be all the better.

December 1, 2016
Words can’t describe my feelings.  I never thought this would happen to me.  In two weeks, I’ll be sitting in Utah.  My head knows quite clearly that the close of this mission is the beginning to a new life, a grander road than I’ve ever traveled.  Life is beautiful, and it lies ahead.  But my heart is breaking.  I’m terrified that all this will fade.  What has made it into my journal could not be described by the smallest fraction of my experience as a missionary and my first true experience as a son of God.  The people and the places and the memories will fade, my call to teach repentance as a full time missionary will fade, leaving behind only one thing – me.  Myself.  It is truly the greatest gift God could have given me.  A new self.  A new life, a new path before me.  For the first time, I understand what it means to be reborn.

So I only attribute my sadness to a lack of faith.  I know and feel that I am the most blessed person on the earth.  But it hurts.

I returned yesterday from my last exchange as a missionary.  I was with Elder Pothier and Elder Wixom.  I was so impressed.  Elder Wixom has become an absolutely phenomenal zone leader after being with Elder Pothier.  I had little doubt that Elder Pothier would succeed Elder Ko and myself, and in transfer planning right after, President confirmed that.  I am happy for him.  He is truly humble, and therefore, truly great.

I’m so close to finishing the mission video that has taken so much attention the whole transfer.  It is powerful.  President  ____(says?) reading the vision(?)  is enough to bring tears to the “test subjects”.

November 28, 2016 The zone

Pretty good looking zone, right? It feels weird to not really be a part of it like I always was before. We finally made it to our first full zone training meeting! It was great. We've got some solid zone leaders

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time to make an email we are heading on exchanges pretty quick out to the island!

Thanks everyone for your support!

November 21, 2016 no letter this week

Monday, December 5, 2016

November 14, 2016 The planning saga continues

President always takes a traditional pic when his new assistant is called

Never would have thought I'd spend the last four and a half months of the mission planning but that's life! Either we are planning for our investigators, planning with other missionaries for their investigators, teaching planning, or planning with president for the mission! It's crazy.

By the way,  we have no teaching pool which is a unique experience. This transfer we are so busy with prepping for 2017 that it's just no our focus. But despite that, we do have an investigator that wants to get baptized in November. We found her through a Haitian member. Eunise is so awesome!

All is well!

From photos of journal pages (remember this means there could be translating errors)

October 23, 2016
We finally finished a rough draft of transfer planning after three grueling days in the office.  No work in the mission beats me like transfer planning, and this one was bad.  President said it’s been the most difficult transfer planning his whole mission.
After the first day, we came pretty close to completing a draft, but then the next morning President told us to wipe the whole thing and start over.  He asked us, “Did you get any impressions last night?”  Well I personally had been sleeping “last night”, and my companions didn’t have any more enlightenment than I.  President then explained that he had woken up at 4:00 a.m. because the Lord told him that we needed to be less emotional about the planning, and it was all wrong.
In retrospect, I saw slight promptings during planning and feeling it wasn’t quite right, but it was so subtle I ignored it.  It was a valuable lesson learned, and as we let the Lord guide us more, the difference in feeling was marked.

October 20, 2016
We went on exchanges with the Far Rockaway missionaries and had a very tender experience.  We normally only exchange with zone leaders, and that’s enough to keep our hands full; but we felt impressed a couple of weeks ago to exchange in Far Rockaway.  We were especially helping and interested in helping Elder McConkie.  We’d put him in an extremely heavy position – district leading a large and struggling district of young missionaries in a struggling, high stress area with a struggling unit where he is the branch clerk, and this is only his fifth transfer.  But we did it because we knew he was the only missionary that could.  The exchange turned out to be so inspired.

November 10-2016
The missionary department just switched zone conference and interviews to every transfer!  Crazy.  So we just finished with day on of conferences.  It went well.  I really felt the Spirit during the music.  After all our planning, we end up just winging most things, it seems, but the Lord provides!  It’s so true.  How I love this gospel.
Had a rather unorthodox visit with Eunise tonight.  We were technically supposed to be there to help Alex with his resume, but of course we started talking with Eunise and ended up teaching quite a bit while I was typing away.  She is so wonderful!  She is so excited to get baptized this month.  She has a wonderful testimony and such a sweet spirit.  We love her a lot.

November 11, 2016
Zone conferences went very well in Flushing.  It was the first meeting in the new stake center.  The building is gorgeous – and massive!  It’s almost more like the Manhattan temple than a church.  It’s truly remarkable, and a sign of the work rolling forward here.
I really felt the Spirit today as I listened to the music and taught once again.  The last two zone conferences, President has tried just having us three teach most of it in breakout groups instead of meeting together, and the missionaries love it.  I’ve grown to love small “interact to edify” settings as I feel more and more confident the Lord guides my comments and questions.  The Spirit has been teaching more this transfer than before.
Had a wonderful visit with Fernando Corz(sp?) today.  Felt the Spirit so strong.  I become more and more convinced that questions are the way to teach.  We just wanted to get a referral, but because our approach was nothing more than inspired questions, we not only got that referral, but also resolved Fernando’s needs and he brought up by himself that he wanted to talk with Bishop this week.  Huge progress.

November 13, 2016
Church was phenomenal today.  It was the Primary Program, and it was so good!  It had us laughing so hard and then feeling the Spirit incredibly strongly.  Eunise couldn’t come, but her husband Alex did.  I think that family will be baptized by the new year.
I’ve received the official delegation of “2017 mission video making man”  Its pretty prestigious.  So that is taking up a fair bit of time, but it’s coming along nicely.  Who would have thought I’d learn so much about technology on the mission.

We happened to be taking a Macedonia bound Elder to the UN on Election Day right by a nice little trump tower

Sunday, November 27, 2016

October 17, 2016 Elder Holland visits

Too blessed to be stressed

From photo of journal pages

October 17
God never ceases to amaze me by what he does.  Yesterday was the highly anticipated visit from Elder Holland.  No words can describe what an experience that was.  We worked hard to prepare the mission spiritually for it, and it certainly payed off.

As Elder Holland and his security pulled up, President, Elder Ko, and Elder Parrish and myself stood outside to welcome him and his wife.  They greeted us and he conversed briefly.  The most remarkable thing about Elder Holland was his eyes.  As he shook my hand asked me where I was from, I understood the meaning of the Apostles “handshake interview”.  His eyes, ringed with blue-green, fire, were truly piercing.  Never have I seen before any gaze that so embodies that word.  There was a certain feeling that his discerning gaze had access to your soul; not an uncomfortable feeling, because for every bit that it was fiery and piercing, it was also loving and possessed more kindness than I’ve ever known.  It was truly impressive.  It struck me so profoundly that as I was being interviewed and stared into the eyes of a special witness of Jesus Christ, he has truly taken on the countenance of someone greater.

Elder Holland mentioned later, as he taught us, that this was a special day even for him.  Due to circumstances, it was not just him that came, but his wife, son, daughter in law, and grandson.  They all radiated the warmth and light of consecrated disciples.

They all spoke briefly and wonderfully to us.  Sister Tarnasky, Nash, and myself performed “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”, and it was powerful.  Then Elder Holland addressed us.
He started at the podium, and soon worked his way down to the gymnasium floor with all of us.  He didn’t actually have anything planned to teach us, so I was very curious to see what would end up coming out, what would be done with two hours with a mission.  It turned out to be the Book of Mormon.

There’s no way I could record what was taught.  I suppose all I could say is that it was incredible.  I  had a couple take-aways.
1) The Book of Mormon is powerful.  Despite how much I already knew that and have taught that, there was no room for doubt left that the Book of Mormon is the most powerful conversion tool on the planet.
2) The gospel is simple.  What Elder Holland taught to us yesterday was very basic.  There was no deep doctrine or anything we couldn’t gain simply by reading Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon.  I think that was very purposeful.  I think that he wanted to show us that the power of his teaching came not from intricate knowledge, but simply through priesthood keys and pure testimony and conversion.  It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge to teach what he taught.  It takes an undeniable witness and passion that what you teach is true, something that only comes through time-tested obedience.
3) Spiritual preparedness is real.  I can’t help but wonder if I might have a more revelatory experience at church each week if I prepared myself by persistent prayer and fasting and having faith that it would be a spiritually significant event.  Hmm.

Elder Wu on left and Elder Jheng on right. Flushing fire
Elder Sundet on he left and Elder Moe on the right! I was in the MTC with Elder Moe.


October 10, 2016 the Exchange Train.

None of us remember how this picture was taken

From photo of Journal pages
October 3
Last night we were at President’s planning for the upcoming MLC.  Out of nowhere, President started telling us of the last letter he received from Elder Pothier, one of our finest zone leaders.  He was telling of an investigator who has been meeting with them for a while who just couldn’t receive an answer about the Book of Mormon.  He told the missionaries relentlessly that they had been teaching over and over and over again about the “Spirit” and he had simply never felt it and could not believe.  The Elders sat there dumbfounded for a moment, and then began to testify.  They just testified.

October 6
The Exchange Train.

The last few days have been a blast.  Historically, assistant exchanges with zone leaders have all been just 6-9 “primetime” exchanges, and it’s been thought impossible to do anything more.  Well, we’ve revamped our exchanges (and everything we do as assistants, really) and have decided to do two 24 hour exchanges with every zone leader.  For each exchange, two of us stay here and bring in a ZL companionship, while the other one travels to a different ZL comp.

It’s been another lesson to me that necessity, desire, and faith provide a way.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to implement this new planning model without full, proselyting, focused exchanges.
So I was nominated to travel for the first week, and so I bounced around Queens for three days without coming home.  My first stop was Jamaica.

What a blessing to return to old areas!  We visited a family I knew who had progressed so much.  Friends and former investigators stopped us on the street to say hi – one even said he had a dream about me and was trying to find me again.  I presume the Elders will get in touch shortly.  Somehow some members found out I was coming and found us at the church where we were teaching a lesson.  And we even ran into Ana(sp?), a lady that Elder Boden and I found a year ago who is getting baptized in two weeks!  It was so fun.

Elder Garza (sp?) and Elder Corbett (sp?) are our strongest ZL’s.  One of the biggest miracles of the exchange is that, skeptical at first, by the end of the exchange they were bouncing off the walls with excitement for the new planning model and member work.  3 days later, they called back and detailed how they had already communicated with every member in their zone and made plans to revamp everything they do.  They got stoked.

After Jamaica, I went to Elder Moe and Elder Sundet(sp?) in Richmond Hill.  It was very much the same experience in that they got super excited about everything.  It’s very strange to see younger missionaries just loving exchanges so much and learning so much, hanging on every word you say.  It brings me back to when I got to go on exchanges with some of the legendary assistants like Elder Birmingham.

Then I went to Astoria with Elder Watson and Elder Parkinson.  It was such a blessing.  Elder Parkinson came into my Jamaica district as a trainee over a year ago.  I remember our exchanges with his complete lack of Spanish and knowing how to be a missionary.  Now he’s a Zone leader, and he understands what “forever changed” means.  So special.

The planning model went a lot rougher with these two, but we had some wonderful pillow talk where we were all able to open up and Elder Watson felt better about some personal struggles.
What wonderful experiences.  So blessed.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

October 3, 2016 Conference was Amazing

Conference was amazing, as usual. Too blessed.

Some other quick highlights:

Things are going great in a trio, and thanks to the extra man, we double our exchange power.  I’m just packing my bags right now to be shipped off to the city to travel between exchanges for three different zone leader companionships, while Elder Ko and Elder Parrish will bring three different zone leader companionships here to Lynbrook while I’m gone.  I’m excited! I love exchanges so much.  Exchanges with my leaders in the past have seriously changed my life.  I’m sad I don’t get to go on exchanges with my leaders anymore.

On the bright side, we are getting some very unique pockets of time with our leaders.  We are riding high on our planning wave ever since our interview with Tracy Watson from the missionary department.  We just finished four days straight of zone conferences and are preparing for the upcoming mission leadership council.  We wrangled the Facebook info of the District 3 missionaries out of Brother Watson, and we are going to Skype them into our council to keep pushing what we have been learning about planning and online proselyting.

Life in the minivan
To top it all off, as we were driving home from one of the zone conferences, President Reynolds called the office of Elder Holland and told his secretary that a year ago, he had taken provided lodging for Elder Holland when he was in New York for some conference, and Elder Holland told President to “give him a jingle” the next time he was back in New York and he would love to talk with the missionaries if he could.  The other day, we got a call back – Elder Holland is coming to the mission! Now we are trying to figure out how to organize an emergency mission-wide conference during church on the 16th without letting word get out of who is coming lest the building be stormed by members (btw don’t tell that to anybody in the vicinity of New York….)

Life’s great.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary! I truly know that this church is true. I know that true joy comes from God only. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sirrine
In the home of Dustin, an extremely rich man who temporarily ran away from us to take a really long call in the middle of a visit. You can see the confusion

Sunday, November 13, 2016

September 26, 2016 Journal entries

From photos of Journal pages:

Sept 12, 2016
Picked up some mid-transfers today and the MTC decided to send us one of them a transfer early without telling anyone!  President’s face when 5 new missionaries showed up at the airport was priceless.
- In our planning a few days ago the conversation perfectly covered who was going to be our extra surprise trainer.  Disaster avoided.
- I love Elder Ko because he is just so good at the administrative side of our job.  What would I do without him?

Sept 13, 2016
- I’m so grateful we were able to recover from a rough morning and finish the day with positive energy.  And it was a miracle to catch our neighbors at just the right time to have a great conversation.
- I love Elder Ko because he is forgiving.

Sept 14, 2016
Today we spent all day at President’s planning for the next zone conference and transfers.  After that, we went over to give Candace, a less active, a blessing.  It was such a beautiful experience.  Afterwards, we were prompted to share 2 Corinthians 12 about Paul’s infirmity and the Spirit was so strong.  She was crying as she read it, and I hope this gives her the push to come back.
- I’m so grateful that we were prompted to share that scripture with Candace.  It’s such a blessing to see the Spirit work.
- I love Elder Ko because he always tries to make things better even though he makes mistakes.

Sept 15, 2016
Long day of transfer planning.  Got a new companion, now in a trio with Elder Parrish.  Wow, he is so solid.  He’s going to help.
- During planning we were good and stuck.  We prayed and asked and within 5 minutes had it worked out.  We really felt God’s hand guiding us.
- I love Elder Ko because he is wise and if we didn’t have him we’d be lost.  I can do missionary work – we understand each other real well.  All this administrative stuff goes right over my head.

Sept 16, 2016
Eating at the Chen’s(sp?) is an interesting experience.
- Transfer planning went so smooth and, as always, we really saw the Lord’s hand guiding it.
- Elder Parrish!  I love how funny he is!

Sept 17, 2016
- Was able to teach well and be animated at trainer/trainee meeting.
- I love how dedicated Elder Ko is and that he worked today even though he didn’t feel well.

Sept 18, 2016
- I’m grateful we were able to get Elder Parrish and be on time to the fireside.
- I love Elder Parrish because he is so unquestionably dedicated.

Sept 19, 2016
Picked up new trainees today – great group!  All of them seem to be really solid missionaries, which is unusual.  Two of them are Mexican and don’t speak English, both are super stars!
- I’m glad that we were able to have good conversations with people at the airport and all ran well.
- I love that Elder Ko tries so hard to make your life just a little easier.

Sept 20, 2016
We had transfers, taught leaders conference, and then had a mission home night with the departing missionaries.  Such a special experience.  Some hermanos of mine go home today.  Elder Harris in particular is someone I look up to more than almost anyone.  I will miss him.

Sept 22, 2016
Yesterday we had a personal interview with Tracy Watson from the missionary department.  He and his assistant had the intent of asking us some questions and finding out how Facebook has been implemented in the mission, but after that we kept drilling them with questions for another couple of hours, and it was an amazing experience.  What we talked about will completely revamp what we do as assistants and help us help the mission.  One of the biggest changes is that we have to find more time to proselyte.  We realized that we can’t afford to let our zone leader exchanges be anything less than 24 hours.  They inspired us so much about online proselyting and the new planning system they gave us 8 months ago that nobody can figure out.
We’re going to get this.  And then we’re going to teach the mission.

We spent all day with President scrapping what we had planned for zone conferences and redoing it all.  In the afternoon we asked President to call Brother Watson and ask him if they could work with us on a nightly planning session.  They coached us through planning, and afterward President asked us to run our new zone conference plan by then.  They loved it.  We feel really good about it.  We are asking for some miracles to happen in the next couple of days in order to make it happen.  I’m excited.

Spent the day planning with President again.  Trying to be ready to teach this by Tuesday is flying by the seat of our pants, but we’re getting it.  We brought in a Sister Training Leader companionship to the mission home and coached a daily planning session, which was quite enlightening.

Sept 19, 2016 photos only

Farewell to the district

Hello to our new companion! He's large. Grade AA.

Power trio

Looks like we sell vacuums 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

September 12, 2016 journal pages

from photos of Journal pages

Sept 5, 2016

The weather today was such a tender mercy.  Cloudy, with a cool breeze – it fuels adventure.
That helped me resist the preparation day blues for a few hours, but then we were inside forever and it got me.

Luckily, we started off our PrimeTime on a good note and I was back in the game.  We had dinner at our ward mission leader’s home and then knocked his neighborhood (very wealthy).  We met a new fellow named Michael who could be golden.  Such a miracle.  He’s going through a rough time.  We also got a return appointment with an Islamic family – we’ll see how that goes.
We went with Dominic an also finally taught his mother! The look on his face when she listened to us was priceless.  He said, “Wow.  I guess faith really does work.”

-meeting Michael…he is so prepared.  That was right time, right place down to a window of about 5 seconds.
-Dominic’s mom’s change of heart.  Miracles baby!
-I love Elder Ko because he’s exactly obedient.  No question.

Sept 6, 2016

-we got some great referrals from a less active!
-I love Elder Ko for his generous heart.  He loves blessing others.

Sept 7, 2016

Long day of transfer planning.  With how many new missionaries are coming in, finding all the zone leaders was quite the struggle.
-It’s a good thing the Lord told us to have Sister Panoussi(sp?) train.  It’s nice to feel guided by the Spirit during planning.
-I love how much Elder Ko tries to love me.

Sept 8, 2016

-The situation with the STL’s worked out miraculously, what a blessing.
-I love Elder Ko because he’s willing to receive correction.

Sept 9, 2016

Exchanges with Elder Ramos.  He’s heading out to Bermuda next week.  Hope he’s ready.
-We came by to give a blessing at just the right time and met a member’s neighbor just as she was stepping out, ad she loves missionaries because of Hurricane Sandy!  We are going to get her invited over for a dinner.
- I love Elder Ramos for his intense desire to help everyone.

Sept 10, 2016

Today a man called us and said he wanted to talk.  We quickly figured he was really going through a rough one and was mildly suicidal.  We set up a place to meet immediately, and he left feeling much better with a Book of Mormon.  It turns out, a cashier at a gas station gave him our card which we had given him a few days ago.  Talking with everyone brings miracles.

I love Elder Ko because he is so concerned for others.  The way he tried to take care of a sick Elder Ramos was so much like a mother.

September 5, 2016 Photos only this week

Getting back with the old comp on exchanges! Fun day

We got fried. Well, I guess I got fried.

Elder Ko took me to a Thai restaurant. It's like Chinese food but feels cleaner

Zone 8 exchanges. Two of the very best - Elder Moe on the left and Elder Potheir. I was in the MTC with Elder Moe.

Monday, October 17, 2016

August 24, 2016 Best Birthday Ever!

I have no idea where Elder Ko came across that shirt but it works for me

At the mission home

That man is 6'6". Normally I would look like the big one in that picture but I guess not

Picking up Elder Wright from the airport mid transfer. He's here for the  next two weeks before he heads to Macedonia. He was pretty tired! The next day we went to the UN  Macedonian consulate in Manhattan to pick up his visa and work everything out it was a nice adventure. Oh yeah and that's a minivan we're rocking. It's awesome.   

Yeah we've actually two minivans. Twice the awesomeness.

Exchanges = life
Jamaica man

Does this make us look smart? Benefits of having an Asian companion

A piece of personal study I enjoyed

Thursday, September 22, 2016

August 15, 2016 New Assignment

Typed up from photos of journal pages:

Aug 2
For some reason, I never thought the day would come that I’d open up a new journal.  I’ve always wished that I could capture on paper  what a mission really is, but I’ve come to learn that doing so would be impossible.

I generally tell people that I’m a year and a half in, but I supposed the date at the top gives away the fact that I only have 4 ½  months left.  I can scarcely imagine how devastating it will be when I have to take my tag off.  I love being a missionary with all my heart.  All my might.  All my mind.  All my strength.  I love my Savior.

The big news of the week is that Daniela is getting baptized on Saturday.  She is so special.  I remember running her down in a parking lot just a couple months ago, and now it’s happening.  She will be a member that blesses many.

Aug 6
The previous days have been  a whirlwind again.  President asked me to be his assistant.  That’s made my other two assignments a bit difficult this week, and at this point I suppose I’m just trying to wrap up the affairs of Hampton Bays and my district and our zone as gracefully as possible.
I just got back from spending two days in the city with President and the other assistants planning for the coming transfer.  It was truly a great experience.  I wish more missionaries knew of the process, of how much time and effort and revelation goes into selecting their companions, areas, and assignments.  Transfer planning is like sitting down at a massively complex puzzle, a mind game, for two days – all day.  We worked and worked and ripped our hair out, took everything down and rearranged, until God was satisfied with our effort, showed us what was right, and let us feel his warm and confirming Spirit.

Being with President was so enjoyable.  He is an example of a man who has so much unfathomable amounts of wealth and power that he could literally be doing almost anything he wanted to right now.  Instead, he is here serving humbly and working harder than anyone because he loves the Savior.
I’m excited to be back in Hampton Bays to see Daniella baptized tonight.  She is going to be such a strength in this church.  She is so humble and pure, and her conversion brings me so much joy.

Aug 7
Today I baptized Daniela.  What a tender mercy.  She is so pure, so humble.  She is going to be a fantastic member.  I feel so much the love Heavenly Father has for her and her daughter.  She thought we were trying to get a jump on the baptism by fire when they opened up the font doors and steam billowed out…we had to put some cold water in there.  Not sure how that happened.  But tomorrow she will receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Heavenly Father has blessed me so much to be able to witness that.  And Javier was sitting on the front  row, so happy, remembering when he was in the font a month ago.  Hampton Bays has been unforgettable.  I’ll be sad to leave.

Elder Ko and our mansion of an apartment
Aug 10  The last few days have been some the wildest.  On Monday, Elder Ko and I officially became companions.  We had a large group of new missionaries coming in from two different places.  Normally they come in by five, but Delta was delayed, and we picked up the first group at 8:00 and took them to the mission home.  That was such a fun experience!  They were all wide-eyed and so excited to get to NY  As we helped them contact for the first time in the airport we saw that this group is exceptionally good.  We arrived at the mission home, fed them, got to feel of their wonderful spirits, and put them to bed.  Then we were in President’s office helping him match trainees and trainers.  What a process.  There was such a feeling about it as we sought the Lord’s guidance and realized how important their trainer will be in the course of their eternity.

We finally got to bed at 1:00 a.m., still without word as to when the second group would arrive.  At 3:00 we got the call.  Elder Young and I took off to pick up the Mexico group.  The poor missionaries were so exhausted.  We got back at 5:45 and went back to bed until 6:30.
Back in the fifteen passenger
In the morning (sort of…we let the Mexico group sleep until 10:30) we had a small devotional.  President spoke, and then the assistants gave testimony.  As I did, I felt the Spirit so strong.  Being with that group of new missionaries was special.  I can’t describe what I felt, but I had to excuse myself afterwards and let tears flow.  It was so special.

We then headed to transfers, which was a whirlwind, as always.  After transfers, we took the departing missionaries to the mission home, and had quite the night!  It was so nostalgic to be with a group of missionaries I’ve served around for a year and a half.  There were some giants in that group.  Elder Young, Elder Voorhees, who I looked up to so much as assistants.  Elder Chair, Sister Robinson, Sister Urizar(sp?) – I’ve looked up to her since Jamaica.  We had another devotional, the perfect, juxtaposition to the devotional earlier that morning.  A group of missionaries who’ve been through it all.  All the pain and happiness and sorrow and pure joy of serving God’s mission.  There were many that had completely avoided all that opposition for two years.  People that never learned to understand the Doctrine of Christ, people that shied away from anything hard.  The result was obvious in that moment.  They avoided much pain, and in that moment of truth, when they all bore their testimonies, they had received no joy from serving.  There was no light in their eyes.

And then there were many who had served so profoundly in such a consecrated manner, that the veil became thin as paper for them as they bore testimony of the Savior.  The holiness that pierced that room that night will never be forgotten by me.  It was one of those times that the Spirit could not be restrained to just whispering.  It was one of those times where the character of God was revealed and manifested in such an unusual manner.  It was the second time I found myself crying like a baby that day.

Got to bed at 11:30.  The next morning, we woke up at 3:00 again to take the departing missionaries to the airport.  It was a bit sad.
At the mission home with a few of the departures

It’s been such a special few days.  Wish I could say more.

Aug  12
We had a great Misison Leadership Council today.  It was a bit odd to be on the other side of that one giving the workshops.

Had a sweet second lesson with Dominick, whom we found 2 days ago, our first night we actually got to proselyte this transfer.  It’s been so weird to have been into proselyting so much and now as an assistant to have less than a third of the time to proselyte.  The pool is completely dead.  Elder Ko says it’s super tough to balance everything and they just haven’t been able to focus on proselyting.  I want to figure out how to do it.  I want to be able to set a good example of finding, feeding, and baptizing.

Dominick is super pure in hear!  He’s 16.  Has all the right questions and loves what we taught.
I love Elder Ko.  We’ve known each other more than a year.  Never thought we’d be companions.  He’s great.  I’ve loved being an Assistant.  I love the craziness, teaching, and getting to hang out with President and his wife.  Between them and the Martinos, it’ll be nearly a year that I’ve worked very closely with a mission president and wife on the mission.  What a blessing

Thursday, September 8, 2016

August 8, 2016 The Hampton Times coming to a close

Daniela baptized!
Alicia & Javier did an incredible job fellowshipping Daniela

Dear family and friends,

What a week! God has really been good about loading up on the tender mercies the last week of each of my areas for me. Daniela got baptized on Saturday. She is so wonderful! So pure. The feeling of joy I had as I saw Javier come to Daniela's baptism and knowing beyond doubt that the two of them will not only stay active to the end, but be incredible leaders in the church, was indescribable.

I have loved the people from all my areas but nothing has compared to what I feel towards Hampton bays. I feel like in Hampton bays I became something more. It's nice to feel the approval of the spirit for the last six months. Elder Peña and I grew so much together. He's a stud! I'm now serving in Lynbrook, my companion is elder Ko! He is so awesome! We've known each other for a year now - never thought we'd be companions.... he's Korean and I'm Spanish. But we both speak English so we're going to be rocking it here in Lynbrook. I am looking forward to this transfer so much.

I love being a missionary!! If I thought it was possible to describe what it means to me to be a missionary, I might make a better effort at doing so. But what I can say is that the mission is the best decision I've ever made. It has changed me so much. Why? Because of a total focus on the doctrine of Christ 24/7! He is the one that truly has the power to change us - His grace, not the mission. The longer I'm here he more emphatically I feel with all my heart that I will never not be a missionary. This gospel means everything to me. I know it's true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sirrine

Cannot express how much I love he tuba family . They will be getting baptized the coming transfer!

Lucero family

My gangsters. Diógenes and Dionisio.

The district
The martinos blow my mind

August 1, 2016 The Hampton Times FACEBOOK edition

So as many of you have noticed, we have been on Facebook.  Yep.  A week ago that might have been a fairly apostate activity for a missionary in NY South, but then the missionary department called President Reynolds, had him schedule an emergency mission leadership council, and then came to tell us to go train our zones the next day that, while we have absolutely no idea how, we are now going to use Facebook in our proselyting efforts.  I've never seen such a frightened herd of zone leaders and sister training leaders in my life.  For the last year and a half, Facebook has been the subject-which-must-not-be-named that has loomed ominously on the horizon.  It was a horizon that all of the mission leadership council hoped was far off. Of course, when the missionary department came and told us that it was a tool that the Lord expected us to use for good when we've been "sitting on our backsides" letting the adversary take control of it for the last year and a half, we repented speedily.

They only gave us small insights into the efforts and success of the first pilot group that retested Facebook recently, and we are truly all excited for the extremely powerful tool that we are receiving.  The missionary department has completely revamped the way that Facebook is used in missionary work compared to what it was a couple of years ago, and let me tell you (after having done it for a year and a half without Facebook) that it is a tool that has the potential to solve some of our biggest problems in missionary work that have had me ripping my hair out for the last year.  Our intention with Facebook is close the 'teaching gap'.  Here in New York, meeting with people more than once or twice a week is extremely difficult, and Preach my Gospel says "daily contact".  We will not be using Facebook to communicate with people outside of our area boundaries, but if we ever post things, share them with everyone! I look forward to giving you all some more insights about ways you can help the missionaries in your areas through Facebook as well.

On a different note, the highlight of the week is that Daniela is getting baptized on Saturday!!! She is such a miracle.  This has been such a sweet experience because, like Javier, we found her only a couple months ago.  I still remember clearly running her down in a sketchy parking lot for the first time....(missionaries are super awkward, which isn't always a bad thing as it brings in the 'pity factor'. Works for persons that have been saturated by New York about 5 years or less. Other cases and true New Yorkers are generally pretty pitiless).  She is absolutely incredible, and has the most adorable little six year old that reminds me of Mary.  I feel like we are reaping a lot of the fruit of our efforts from the last several months in Hampton Bays.  The Tuba family is SO close! They will definitely get baptized next transfer (I LOVE that family)!!

Transfers are coming up in a week.  Unfortunately, I have this feeling that I've always had in each area right before I leave. I could be wrong (hopefully).  I'm really getting into the swing of things and learning how to do missionary work, which is nice.  Now we've got to relearn how to do it with a huge change in online proselyting.  It will be fun! I just really hope that the future missionaries here will not be spared the horror of learning how to talk to any New Yorker visible on the 100 degree streets of the city.... that'd be a shame.  My testimony is something that I love and always want to share! I know that this work is the work of God.  It changes peoples lives.  It's changed my life so much that my old self from a year and a half ago would hardly recognize who I am now (and like 95% of that change is positive, which isn't bad.  Patience is the one virtue that might have suffered a little out here.  Hopefully that one rebounds when I get home and just sit in the wilderness for a couple days).  More importantly, I have seen hundreds of other lives change.  I've seen and am a witness to the joy that enters into someone's life who decides to do what it takes to come closer to the Savior and live the gospel.  I know that He lives, loves us, and answers our prayers.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sirrine

Sunday, September 4, 2016

July 25, 2016 The Hampton Times

The most epic exchange ever to take place! The assistant trio took in two zone leader companionships for a day. We ate lots of food. Good thing they have a Costco. 

Wearing out the members
Your average car in Sag Harbor

This week went so fast! We saw a lot of miracles and also a lot of stress. Knocking on exchanges we ran into a long lost member and we talked a bit and she wants to come back! She was living in a nice place we named "little Guatemala", not too far from "little Mexico". There's an awful lot of white people here but we have been finding the hidden little pockets of hispánics.

A sad event was that the Tubas little boy, Ryan, had a biking accident and yesterday they did an emergency surgery. They are our number one family right now, the dad is a less active and the rest aren't members, but they've changed so much in the last few months and are so close to being married so Liliana can get baptized! I love that family so so much. Thankfully, the surgery went well. Keep them in your prayers. We are hoping that this is what brings the family together and helps them take the leap of faith towards their next steps. It's been an interesting experience, and I have seen so many miracles through it, with the Lord  guiding us as we have tried to help. I am so grateful for all the experiences I have had here in the Hamptons over the last few months, my faith has strengthened.

I love being a missionary, so much more than I could ever express. I know that God is there and answers our prayers. Many times I've wondered why He prefers to require faith and doesn't make let us discover him with our natural senses. But through a lot of time of study and prayer, I've come to know for myself that Gods slow, patient way of converting the world is truly best. I've gained so much spiritual strength through that very process that I really wouldn't have if God had simply shown himself to me. I  know this church is the church of Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Sirrine

July 18, 2016 Life is good

Hello there! Life is good out here, we are teaching this amazing family, and the parents want to get baptized on August 6th! The mom will make it for sure if there aren't any legal problems. They are so
sweet I love them.

Things are going well here in the zone and right now we are going to throw a bday party for Daniela!
Got to go
Elder Sirrine

July 11, 2016 Note of no letter

Dear family and friends,

I won't have the opportortunity to write today, this month is crazy with meetings and we've got a lot of zone training planning to do!

The work is good!

Elder Sirrine

July 6, 2016 The Hampton Times

Found this in my drafts. Apparently it never sent, but obviously this was from a few weeks ago

Well the biggest news of the week is that, if you've been following all the ups and downs with Javier's eligibility for baptism, it's looking like a go for the 25th! We are going to get there. It's been a
wild roller coaster ride but that family is so pure in heart we are not going to stop until he is baptized and they are in the temple!

We have a fantastic district and the branch continues to grow. Last week a big Mormon family from Utah was visiting and sacrament attendance hit 92. That is absolutely crazy. Only after having tried
to get members and investigators to church RELENTLESSLY for the last year and a half could I fully appreciate how much of a straight up miracle it is that only four or five months ago attendance was only 40 with English and Spanish, and now we've swung up to being one of the bigger units in the mission. God has some big plans for this branch. Now we've just got to get some of these people baptized..... In the last transfer alone we've had four solid baptismal candidates fall through because of legal issues. We really feel like Hampton bays is about to break through and finally get these people into the water.

Elder Sirrine

Hello hello! Another week has passed us by. Life is epic. Javier is such a stud it blows my mind. He literally  studies the gospel at 2 am. And his wife is a saint.

Hampton bays is still the best branch in the mission.

To answer a few personal emails: I'm doing well, really. The last couple of months have been hard for me because of a lot of different things, but what has really been frustrating me is just that I have felt like I'm not progressing so much like I used to at the beginning of the mission, and sometimes it's hard to feel successful as a leader when your missionaries change out every six weeks, so after all sometimes you feel like you're running in place. I've been a zone leader for too long haha ;) I've seen every last member of the mission leadership council come and go and I'm still here chilling! But it's been good. I've learned a lot. It's a job that require a true, absolute focus on just serving. Any slight deviation of motives results in the worst discouragement because it's an unwinnable fight if you try to win the war single handedly and forget that you're just a soldier in the army that does his job.

Funny side story: I will serve happily in whatever way I'm asked to, but I've always told our district leaders that I often miss being a district leader because they are the ones who are really in the trenches and working on a personal level directly with the missionaries in their area - I loved being a district leader because I felt close to the missionaries and had more focused power to help them. Of course I forgot to be specific with the Lord about being released from being a zone leader before going back to being a district leader, so this transfer I got stuck with both....

As always before, added responsibilities have given me a second wind.

I truly love this work. I love missionaries. It's been interesting to see my focus change over the last several months from being completely focused on our own work to being so preoccupied with thinking about other missionary's work. Making minor improvements in our own work blesses people's lives. But the blessed and sometimes frustrating journey of helping fourteen other companionships do the same blesses a lot of people's lives. Anyway, the point of telling you all this is just to let you know that you have leaders in the church, some who know you well and some who may not know your name, that care for you. They care for you so much they stay awake at night praying and thinking about you. The Savior is capable of blessing them with his love, which reaches us all even though we may not understand how that's possible.

I love this work, with all my heart, might, mind and strength. The gospel is a different thing than what I thought it was a year and a half ago, and understanding it will yet be a nice long term adventure. From the very get go, right in the MTC, the meaning of the phrase "I know this is true" has changed, and that is my testimony! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sirrine

Thursday, August 18, 2016

June 27, 2016 Javier made it!

Javier being baptized at this time was a complete miracle.  God gave Javier to Elder Pena and I the first day we were together, three months ago.  Now, he is baptized, his wife is as active as it gets, and I have no doubt that they will be a strong family that will bring many to the same path.  Javier asked me to confirm him, which was an indescribable experience.  I felt everything the Lord has in store for Javier.  The difference in the light of his eyes from three months ago is unmistakable.  I feel so blessed to have been a witness to the undeniable power of the Holy Ghost and conversion.  Javier has found so much happiness in the gospel.  That family is a miracle!  I know that.  I know that the changes there are truly from a living God who orchestrates this work.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 Darwin on the left, Jefferson on the right. We are super tight with these guys. Great members!
 Brother Carcamo is the addition bottom left. Such a miracle. When I arrived here in February, he was inactive. Now he's the elders quorum  president, and solid as a rock. A big rock.

Cuy. Guinea pigs look a lot cuter with hair 
This is a special district

From photo of Journal pages (some dates reach back a bit)

May 25  Had exchanges with Elder Johnson again.  He amazes me so much.  I’m also always astounded at my own stupidity and the fact that we ever had difficulties together.  We now have one of the deepest relationships I’ve ever had with someone.  We talked about the struggles we’ve both been having lately.  It was good.

Had to translate an interview last night.  President came in to interview the sister’s candidate, Sebastion, because he’s on probation.  He said it was a misdemeanor, which the President can approve.  Well in the interview it turned out to be a felony.  Telling super pure in heart investigators that they can’t be baptized is not something I enjoy doing greatly.

June 9  It’s been a while since I’ve written.  The update is that things are going super well and Javier is back on track and wanting to be baptized on the 25th of June!  I love that family so much.  In addition, Yovani and Liliana are actually thinking about marriage!  Liliana wants to be baptized (had a date for a day, but Yovani still isn’t quite ready to marry her, but it’s close now).  Also Neilson is finally considering baptism seriously after two and a half years.

As for the zone, things are going very well.  We just had another zone training.  President Reynolds came (he never says no to us), and it was wonderful.

June 17  Today I was on exchanges with Elder Jheng.  He is an incredible missionary.  We taught the Tubas which started well but turned into the worst argument they’ve had in front of us before.  They kept carrying on and on with us and Darwin in silence.  At length, I interrupted them.  We went to the scriptures.  We invited Yovanni to pray, to repent, and to ask on behalf of all of us for the gift of charity.  Darwin suggested they hold hands, and as Yovanni began to pray, the Spirit filled the room so strongly.  We sat back down, and Elder Jheng gave us some wonderful insights and teaching.  He doesn’t know Spanish, so had no idea what was going on, but as he spoke to us in his broken English, it was exactly what needed to be said.  Further, all three of the other people there understood exactly what he said, even though Yovanni is the only one that speaks any English.  I had been about to begin translating for him, but something stopped me. It ended on a wonderful note, and we were all grateful for the miracles that occurred.

June 20  Today we had great finding success.  Found a new family at the soccer place, as well as many others who seem pure in heart.

Jefferson’s daughter arrived today.  It’s sad to see the extremely spoiled and entitled life she’sliving in Spain while her dad works like a slave over here separated just to be able to send money over to Spain.

Today starts the week that we see if we can hit the 567 in every pool in the zone.  Bermuda’s going to struggle.  As well as Elder Cahan and Woodmansee.  Because of that, we are going over to Elder Benitez tomorrow so Elder Marchant can do a trio style exchange.  It really is possible.  You’ve just go to have faith and determination that can’t be taken.

June 25  Last night, Javier was baptized.  It was a moment I have been working and praying and hoping for without stopping for the last three months.  The last year and a half, really.
Javier is so pure in heart.  He’s come a long ways in three months.  Our last visit together, two nights ago, I asked him to bear his testimony.  It was powerful.  He knows the Book of Mormon is true.  He knows we have prophets on the earth.

That’s a special family.  I have no doubt that I will be flying back in a year to see them sealed.  We have such a special connection.  Javier asked Elder Martino to baptize him and me to confirm him.  I feel so blessed to have seen Javier found and baptized in three months.

June 27   Yesteday I confirmed Javier and he received the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  What a special experience.  The Spirit was there so strong.  I love that family so much.

Elder Johnson’s last Preparation Day.  To celebrate we went all the way to the Point to see the famous Montauk Lighthouse.  It was nice to get outside and do something fun on p-day.  It’s been a while.  I am sad to see Elder Johnson go.  Our transfer together was not without struggles, but somehow he and I have made a friendship unlike anything before.  He has impacted my life so much.  He amazes me.  I love him a lot.   (Family note:  Elder Johnson is from Lehi, UT and came to visit our family after his release.  Since these posts are behind schedule, this one had just been put together.  Very fun to meet him and hear some mission stories).

Elder Johnson's last week 
Montauk Lighthouse

Montauk celebration. Check out that tree. You wouldn't believe what it took to get us all up there