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

Sunday, August 14, 2016

June 20, 2016 The Hampton Times

Good ole ponquogue beach
Life is hard when you’re in paradise.  Branch party
So most of this I typed out last week, but never got the wifi before 6:00 to send it.  Sorry about that.

Well the biggest news of the week is that, if you've been following all he 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 help all these pure in heart people get to the water and make covenants. Our zone is doing quite well. Riverhead just had a baptism this week! That was super exciting. Our next zone training meeting is coming up in Thursday and we have the crazy idea in our heads to be the first zone to have every companionship hit the 567 mission vision (those numbers represent contacting 105 new people a week, teaching 12 lessons a week, and contacting 2 referrals a week). This is the missions vision this year, and it has truly changed this mission. I was there in the council that created the 567 and I know without a doubt it is inspired. We had a lot of great ideas, but they were thrown out and the 567 was given to us by the Spirit. Unfortunately, it is the ever present struggle of the mission. Many missionaries see it as just numbers and push back against it or don't care about it. Many, if not most, don't think it's possible to fully hit it. Our zone training was supposed to be last week, but the day before, we cancelled it. We had it all planned out, assignments made and trainings ready, and I just wasn't feeling it. I called Elder Peña who was out in south Hampton and told him what I was feeling, and he agreed. So I went and prayed, and the clearest impression came about what we needed to drop all the trainings and just figure out how to inspire the missionaries to hit the 567 (brilliant.... as if we hadn't been trying to do that for the last 6 months...).  I called Elder Pena, he felt the exact same thing, and we reorganized everything.

6/20/16 update:

We had our zone meeting, President came (he never says no to us), and it was great! We are excited to see how this next week goes but we are determined to get everyone in this zone hitting the 567!

Javier was interviewed on Sunday, everything is good for this Satruday.  He is so excited that he was on looking stuff up about missionary life in anticipation for his 3 year old kid to serve a mission! That man is a convert.

I am loving life out here in the Hamptons.  Being a missionary is the greatest experience I've ever had.  I've learned a lot lately about the principle of faith (I guess I missed that lesson in sunday school) and I just have to say that I love the gospel.  There is always so much more to learn.  I am so privileged to be a missionary.  I will always be one.  I believe in Jesus Christ will all my heart.  I have come to know him and love him serving in his mission.  That knowledge is the most precious thing I own in this world.  I love sharing my testimony!  I do it many times every day, its just part of who I am.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sirrine
Another temple trip! Oh no…That means I’m getting old

Elder Atoa
Elder Marchant

June 13, 2016 Maybe tomorrow...

Official notice that the Hampton Times (that was dads idea, I like it) will be postponed until tomorrow due to switching preparation day because of my temple trip tomorrow.

Thanks for all your letters, talk to you all tomorrow!

Elder Sirrine

note to letter the next day.

June 6, 2016 Happy Anniversary

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! Hope you have a great day! And year. What's your greatest piece of advice for me?

Elder Sirrine

May 30, 2016 Rusty Nail

Its been a fantastic week! Elder Johnson stepped on a rusty feces infected nail. That was probably the most fun part.  We did service at a guys yard who had accumulated garbage for years. Recently the sewer overflowed and flooded all of it.  Definitely the craziest service ever.  Elder Johnson had fun in the hospital :)

Loving life in the hamptons!

Elder Sirrine

Friday, August 5, 2016

May 24, 2016 Weddings!

From photos of journal pages….

May 12
Elder Grow arrived today.  We traveled 2.5 hours to meet with the Mission Leadership council and him and his wife at 8:15 in Woodside this morning, for half an hour.  He took the temperature of the mission and then those of the zone leaders from the island left while he met with all the city missionaries all day.  Tomorrow we go back for the general island meeting.  It was super good, learned some good things.

We found out that Javier is on probation for drunk driving.  He can’t be baptized.

May 14
Its been a dark time.  When I got sick and stayed in, my motivation and vision never returned.  And then when I was recovered physically, I got hit with bad allergies.  I haven’t been thinking clearly for a while now.
When we got the news that Javier can’t be baptized, it hit me hard.  After seeing a mighty change in his heart and such pure, humble desires to be baptized, the thought of telling him he couldn’t paralyzed me.  The last time I told an investigator he couldn’t be baptized right then, he went off the deep end.
They took it better than I did.  It’s been a rough couple of days.

May 15
Had the Elder Grow conference.  It was fantastic.

May 21
It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  These allergies have killed me.  I have been so completely and thoroughly miserable.  My eyes have been swollen nearly shut to where I can’t see and are so painful and itchy I’d rather just not have them.  Between trying all the different allergy meds and buying copious amounts of tissues, it’s getting quite expensive.  The mission nurse told me to go to the local urgent care, and the doctor there just told me to try Allegra and Zyrtec and then call him if it didn’t work.  Fortunately, today I’m feeling a lot better after having been on Zyrtec a few days.  5th try’s a charm, eh?  On top of that the nurse had me try a $25 antihistamine for a tick bite I got.  My home card(?) has come in handy.
On the bright side, we received news that if Javier’s issue is a misdemeanor and not a felony, he can be baptized at the mission Presiden’ts discretion!  We called Javier and he said he’s pretty sure it’s a misdemeanor and will confirm that at court on Tuesday.
May 23
Alicia came to church today without Javier.  She looked bad.  When we asked where he was, she replied that he was at home, with a hangover.  His friends took him out for a “Goodbye singleness” party (ridiculous, he’s not married but he’s been with Alicia long enough to have two kids together).  He’s been clean for a year.  Just one little mistake.
We went over in the afternoon and taught and encouraged them.  Fortunately, the wedding tomorrow is still on.  Unfortunately, Javier no longer wants to be baptized right away.  It’s a major step back.  You can see easily in his eyes that he doesn’t have the Spirit like he used to.  He said that, just like we indicated, it would be better to wait until the court matter is resolved.  I hope that we can get him back on track.  It just makes me wonder if we would still be baptizing him this week, if he wouldn’t have fallen, if we hadn’t have told him he couldn’t be baptized.  But I suppose I just need to trust in God.

email letter May 24th...
Alicia and Javier!
The set up crew. We're pretty good.

So Javier and Alicia got married yesterday! we were so excited.  They are just the most amazing couple I love them so much.  Also, the sister's investigators Esther and Sebastian got married the same night (we doubled up). This is now the third wedding this transfer for our district!  In the culture we work with people don't place the same importance on the actual event of getting married, so pretty much if we want to baptize someone we've got to marry them first (seriously, marriage is a big issue for almost all of our top investigators). It was a lot of work and Sister Martino got stressed out, which was interesting to witness (didn't know that happened to her).

Zone news: the ASL companionship got moved to Brentwood and was replaced with elders so now we have ANOTHER exchange. For some reason Zone 9 literally covers half of the geography of the mission (starting at Terryville and Patchogue and covering the whole island from there to the tip. Plus Bermuda, go figure) and has 14 companionships (average zone in the mission has about 8 or 9 companionships) so we are always swamped with exchanges. Ever since the brethren changed it so now they come work in our pool, exchanges have been an interesting challenge.  Having the monster zone of the mission has been fun :)

Thanks for all your support for me out here! I'm grateful to be a missionary.  I love this gospel.  These last few weeks have been rough for me. Every time we think we've made it, the Lord figures out something else to try us with.  I'm grateful for those experiences that teach me about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Without them, I wouldn't really know what it's like to rely "wholly" on the merits of He who is mighty to save.  I know that this church is true; it houses and protects the only true and full doctrine of Christ.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen

May 16, 2016 Welcome to NY time!

Some background for this letter:  The parents made a trip to NY.  Part business, part fun.  Other than getting to and from the airport, we stayed clear of  NY South mission boundaries.  We did meet ASL missionaries in the halls at church from the NY South mission that attend a deaf branch in Manhattan (inside North Mission boundaries).  That was really fun since they knew our son.  It was ward conference and the Stake President was visiting/speaking.  He is the father of Johnny's former companion that had been temporarily sent to serve near home while receiving treatment for burns on his hands.  Interesting to talk to residents on how to raise children there (good stroller with cargo space a must, and FYI,  NY Costco will deliver any non-perishable items for $5 per load - cheaper than the parking at Costco).  One 8 year resident, formerly from Utah,  said she mostly loved it and it gave her a sense of confidence- "It's hard to live here, but if you can survive it, you feel like you can survive anywhere".

Wow thank you so much for the emails! That was fun to hear that you saw missionaries when in Manhattan. That's so cool that you got to meet the ASL missionaries! Yeah they go to Manhattan a lot for meetings with their northern counterparts. I don't know Sister Seay, but I remember Sister Provard and Elder Larsen! I served with them back when I was a brand new zone leader. So I'm glad I at least did something right!

And that's cool that you met Elder Buckners dad! I never met him but elder Buckner is one of the most extraordinary missionaries I've ever met, very powerful. In fact, if all goes according to plan, he's going to somehow be part of the family ;) still not sure exactly how but we talked about this a lot and we need to be in laws. Elder Buckner was my first district leader in Jamaica. I ended up taking his position later on.

Very interesting the story about the Manhattan mom. Some people really thrive in the atmosphere of New York City. I could see Manhattan life being interesting, although no one can afford to live there

Anyways, thanks for he emails! To bad you don't get to cross the border into the promised land haha if you have extra time you should take the m train one stop out of Manhattan and the Bushwick church is right there! I'd bet anything there will be missionaries there all today eating Mei Wei (a legendary Chinese place right across the the church)

Elder Sirrine

May 9, 2016 Skyping for Mother's Day