Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Weekly 7/10 (my absolute favorite day of the year other than all my other favorite days) or "Just Don't Die in Tha Hood" (taken from a cool piece of grafitti this week)

Well, I am very sad to say Sister McDowell and I are doomed to forever only do one-and-dones. She is, as of this morning, OUT. :( I feel under-qualified to continue the work without her, but I pray that the Lord will help me and my new companion in our efforts to find, teach, and baptize the people here in New York.
Just don't die in tha hood!

Sadly, we learned that one of our most progressing investigators is moving! This week! I am a bit heartbroken, given the good relationship we have developed. However, I know the members of Staten Island will be good to her and I am praying for her continued success in the gospel in Staten.

Also, we have decided that one of our other most progressing investigators should probably be taught by the elders. Sadly, there are many needs of investigators that can sometimes only be met by different sets of missionaries. I feel confident that Elders Franco and Carlson will teach him well, though. And I look forward to his baptism in the next two weeks. :)

One of the Elder's investigators whom I love dearly is to be baptized this coming Saturday! She and her daughter have become dear friends to me and I look forward to seeing them continue to become a part of our wonderful ward. We also look forward to going to the temple with our recent convert Jose Luis in two weeks! It won't be the same without Sister McDowell, but I know that Jose's first time in the temple will be only augmented by what she taught him while she was here.
The Unisphere!
Pictures from the site of the 1964-1965 World's Fair!

Sister McDowell has taught me a lot. Charity, Christ-like service, and many ways to be more competent and successful in the work. I know as I follow her model and example I will be able to succeed in my mission and in many aspects of my life. So it is a sad day in some ways, but we have much to which we look forward. Please pray for our continued success in finding new people to teach in the coming weeks whom we can bring to church and help prepare for baptism. I want to start my second decade of life with a bang, so I am hoping we can work and work and work and teach and preach like missionaries do!
A lovely flower from the festival
More from World's Fair site
Pancake breakfast on July 4th!
A patriotic fire station!

It poured rain, but we still have to work...
Yesterday ended my teens with a fun finale as well. There was a Colombian flower festival on the street we live so we enjoyed proselyting with the many many Colombians who live near us. We received flowers and saw floats and many traditions from the town of MedellĂ­n. Moreover, I had the exquisite opportunity of petting a squirrel. It came up to me with a peanut in its mouth and I couldn't help but pet the cute thing. Also, we met an awesome potential who had a teacup maltese named Pnina. It was the best lapdog I have yet met in my life, given she sat on me and yet only took up maybe a quarter of the space she had. Of course my favorite part was her owner's willingness to learn the gospel. So many of the people here have true desires to follow Christ's plan for them.
Columbian Festival of Flowers

Cute dog from the festival. Can you guess  their flag colors?
To be repetitive, I have to again share of my gratitude for all the amazing people who worked to make our nation free. For those who died, for those who participated, and for those whose memories live on to this day. I have an especial amount of respect for George Washington, our first president. As we stood on our roof and watched the many fireworks fired off in Manhattan's firework show, I thought of how grateful I am for this country and how I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Long live America and her religious freedom. <3

Quotes of the week

"I've always wanted to climb up the fire escapes onto the roof like they do in movies.... And today is the fourth of July... so, we could probably climb up onto the roof to see the show from Manhattan.... Can we please?" -me.
"That's why they say sight and sound. Cause if you can't see 'em and if you cant hear 'em, they're probably dead." -Hna. McDowell on me choking on a spree while she was in the bathroom.

I love you all! We are off to get crepes, and maybe to also go to Cheesecake Factory for strawberry shortcake and also to get a tie for our investigator and go to the lego store as per tradition and also to go to the zoo and maybe to go to the computers at the library to order a present for the Elder's investigator (did I mention I love her?) and for Hna. McDowell to send in her ecclesiatical endorsement, and for me to check when school starts.

Stay tuned for the next episode of: Just Don't Die in Tha Hood.

<3 Hermana Ally Voss

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th of July, dear friends! 

One of my favorite holidays. Fireworks and BBQs and... oh wait Hispanics don't celebrate the 4th of July.
Team Rego 2
The first little bit of July has been great! Jose Luis was confirmed on Sunday which was beautiful and lovely to see him get a gift that will help him throughout the rest of his life.
We went on exchanges with Sisters Grimsman, Persinger, Platt, and Amaro this week. They were all amazing and I can't express how amazing all of the sisters in our area are. This week Sister McDowell and I got haircuts, and we all bought jerseys in my district. I got Ecuador, with Chile, Mexico, and Colombia also represented.

Heart Attacking
Something fun from this week is that there are so many activities at the church that one of our investigators texted us on Friday and said, "so are you going to the church tonight? The event of the day is a baby shower!" There is almost an activity every single night nowadays. Which is nice for our investigators. :) Our pool is doing very well right now and we are enjoying getting to know our ward and finding new people to teach. I have definitely seen how faithful finding contributes to successful teaching and baptizing.
I can't believe that we are already on week six of this transfer! Time flies.
All my love,
Hermana Voss

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Three Trees

Hello pleasant readers,

Today I am going to start off with the story of the three trees (narrated by yours truly):

'There was once a rather nice round, green hill in a beautiful land. On the pinnacle of the hill grew three trees. They started as saplings and grew to be strong and true trees. One day the three trees decided to talk about their aspirations and dreams in life. Tree number one had a dream to one day be carved into a magnificent treasure chest to carry the world's most precious objects, gems, jewelery, and artifacts. Tree number two wanted so badly to be cut into a magnificent vessel to carry kings and queens and rulers across the sea. Tree number three wanted to grow to be the tallest tree on the hill, and the closest to God. The years went by and the trees clung tightly to their hopes and desires.
Jose's baptism!
In time lumberjacks came to the hill. They cut down tree number one first and he was terribly excited because he knew he was about to be carved into a magnificent treasure chest to carry the world's most precious objects, gems, jewelery, and artifacts. They cut down tree number two second and he was thrilled because he knew that soon he would be cut into a magnificent vessel to carry kings and queens and rulers across the sea. And last they cut down the third tree who was very sad because he knew that now he would never grow to be the tallest tree on the hill, and the closest to God.

However, the first tree was cut into a simple chest without a top, which was placed in a barn far away and oxen ate hay out of him. The tree was very, very sad because he hadn't been carved into a magnificent treasure chest and he didn't carry precious objects, nor gems, nor artifacts. However, one night a woman laid a small newborn in his hay and somehow he knew that he had carried the most precious treasure the world had ever known.
 It was such a sweet day. :)
Raquel and Dasha (cute baby) and Joselyn are my favorites.
Us and Valentina

Sisters Hilliard and Panoussi
The rose our member bought me.❤
Thanks mom and dad! The new scripture markers were much needed!!
A bunch of missionaries at FHE
The second tree was carved into a very small boat that could hardly carry a few people and was only used by fishermen. He was devastated because he knew that now he would never be a grand vessel who would carry kings, and queens, and rulers across the sea. But one night he was on the sea and there was a terrible storm and he thought he would never even make it back to shore and his wood would rot in the depths of the small sea in which he dwelled. A man was then awakened who slept within his small deck who calmed the sea. The tree knew that somehow he had carried the most magnificent and royal king who had ever lived across the sea.

The third tree was cut into a wood pile that was used for firewood and other odds and ends. He was distraught and without consolation because he knew that he would never grow to be the tallest tree on the hill, and never be the closest to God. And one day, years later, he was placed on a hill and the Savior of the world was crucified on his wood. He knew that he had indeed grown to be the tallest tree on the hill, and he was the closest tree to God that had ever grown.

The moral of this story is that all the trees accomplished their dreams and hopes - but it wasn't in the way that any of them had imagined. However, they all eventually became what the Lord wanted them to be.'

I testify that the Lord wants us to achieve our hopes and dreams and that as we reach out to him he will shape us and lead us and guide us to be the people he wants us to be. That story is taken from what Elder Nixon said last night, though I think I may have changed some things in the written narration. It really touched me, though, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

This week was amazing. We had an opportunity to see Jose's baptism. After a very long time investigating the church and coming with his family (his wife and step-daughter are members) he called us and said, "I want to be baptized this Sunday." So, we made it happen! It is amazing what a ward can get done when they all pull together for a common cause! We have a hope that one day they may be able to be sealed for time and all eternity. It was beautiful. The gospel is true!

Funny stories and miracles from this week
-We couldn't figure out where to have a lesson with our investigator and member present so the member's daughter suggested RiteAid because there are chairs in the back. So we went in and I sat on one of the side tables and there were already two Hispanic ladies sitting there and one of them asked, "So, are you going to teach us about God?" I asked if they wanted me to and they looked at me like I was crazy and said, "of course!" So we added two new investigators to our little group and talked about the importance of prayer and these ladies were *amazing*. They testified to our investigator about how important prayer is and promised her blessings and at the end of the closing prayer one of the ladies was crying. To make her feel better I complimented her earrings and she took them off and gave them to me. And then our member bought us roses at a corner store a block down. And the lesson was excellent. 100% A+ exchange with Sister Spencer.

-The next day we were walking and talking with a potential who was a dad and he bought us frozen oreo hot chocolate at Dunkin' Donuts because he saw we were trying to make the world better and he said it was something he hoped a stranger would be willing to do for his daughters. His love for his daughters touched me.

-I got a Queen's library card this week! Having fun isn't hard when I've got a library card!

- A random guy pointed at us yesterday and said, "Look! It's the mojo jojo powerpuff girls!"

-Me: (after interviews when it was 2:00 and President hadn't even eaten anything) "wow, he works so hard. He should have assistants or something to help him."

Hna. McDowell:"... Assistance?"

Me: "No, like an assistant or something."

Hna. McDowell: *gives me one of those 'it's blantantly obvious you don't understand' looks* *waits about five seconds* "... he does have those! In fact, he has two of them! They're even called 'the Assistants to the President'!"

Me: *realizes what I just said and it dawns on me that he does in fact have two missionary assistants to help him*
*And we both burst out laughing*

It was a spiritually uplifting week. The Lord works miracles through His humble and faithful servants!

I love you all,

Hermana Ally Voss

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

'Completo'-ly Blessed in Queens

¿Que tal, amigos?

Well this week was filled with mini-miracles and we found SO many people to teach!
The elders took a picture of us in a five minute prayer with a new investigator at a park!
I wondered if it was because we got up at 5:30am to take our investigator to church or because we were extra-super obedient or if it was because we were humbling ourselves and repenting more or maybe because we invited members to all of our lessons or because we involved the bishop or because we were even just trying to be better people. And I think all of those things probably helped to contribute to our blessed week. But it is no wonder, given we just heard that Sister McDowell's entire family fasted for our teaching pool in addition to our personal efforts. I felt very blessed this past week. We had two investigators at church, found seven new investigators (several of which just walked up to us and asked about our church and how they could find happiness in life), and I'm not even sure how we had enough time to find that many people because our week was filled with Mega-Zone and Youth Conference, and meetings like Correlation and District Meeting.
Us at 6:00am picking up an investigator
We bought $10 cute Mexican dresses and I loved it so much  I had to take a picture.

We saw Sister Persinger's randomly in Jackson Heights on his business trip!
Sister Petersen took us to Costco!
All of our lovely sisters! <3
 When we do our best, the Lord supplements our efforts!
Even though I felt so tired that I almost fell asleep around five times in church, the Lord helped our investigators come and blessed us with finding two investigators after church. 

When I felt bashful and shy about our workshop in MegaZone, the Lord helped me afterwards to see that even though I may be weak in leadership skills or teaching skills, I have a strength in talking to others and sharing what I believe with everyone around me. I may not be a loud example to others, but I'm okay at being a quiet one. :)
We had exchanges with Sister Borges and Sister Romney this week. They are both dear and sweet and wonderfully hard workers. Sister Romney has been in the mission for about three weeks and is killing it in Queens YSA.
We made lasagna, baked oatmeal, and ice cream with chocolate chip cookies for their exchange. Yummm. I think that in between dinners at Sister Petersen's and dinners for the sisters I gained a couple of pounds (and walked it off when the busses skipped us on Sunday).
On Sunday it was super funny in church when one of the Releif Society sisters was reading aloud and accidentaly said, "jugo de esclavitud" rather than, "yugo de esclavitud." What is the difference? The yoke of bondage versus the juice of bondage! Our investigator *burst* out laughing (and everyone else as well - including the sister) and we all had a good laugh.
Cool murals next to a police station.
Also, shoutout to Sister Chung because this week I ate Chilean "completos"! They are hotdogs with avocado and tomato and everything good in the world. <3 They made me think of her and miss my little Chilean. I love her.
I love and miss all of you! I have been thinking this week about how before my mission by mom said, "You'll probably finally get to experience living in the city which you've said you have wanted to do your whole life. And, you'll get to decide whether you like it or not."  I used to dream about living in New York City and Brooklyn and on my mission I have been able to live those dreams. I was on the fence whether I was a "city girl" when I lived in Brooklyn. I loved it, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't totally convinced I could live in the city for longer than just my mission. Getting used to the city again I realize that maybe I wasn't convinced before, though now I can say that I think I would be perfectly fine living in the city - even after the mission.
Exchanges with sisters Borges and Romney :)
My spiritual thought this week is just the overused, "obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles." It's true! If one obeys the commandments, one will receive more blessings than they ever could have dared imagine. I testify of that.
A true Brooklynite and Queens-dweller (I'm not sure the term used here yet),
Hermana Ally Voss

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Tower of Babel Confounds All New York Residents"

Happy Monday, lovelies!

Wow! This week flew by in a blink. Settling into Queens is great. Our area is significantly smaller than any of my previous areas (essentially we only have Corona, Queens and Elmhurst/Rego Park Queens) but in that small area is a largely compact amount of Hispanics and other nice things.

My worries about Preparation Days in the city is that on Long Island there was so much that we could do. We went to castles, mansions, parks, gardens, museums, libraries, etc. I was worried when I realized the modest size of our area that we might not have anything to do. But then I realized how ridiculous that was. I'm not on a mission to go sight-seeing (though I tend to enjoy be just a wee bit touristy), I am here to serve the people. And besides that here is Corona we have much we can do. We can go to Flushing/Corona park and go to the zoo or the science museum (I actaully think we might do that today) or to the Queen's mall. I hear it is a tradition for each Spanish sister in this area to get a keychain from the lego shop so one day I may send a picture of which keychain I decide to buy.
Also, just living here is amazing! Where else can you always find pee and doggy doo on the street and killed pigeons and opossums daily along with cockroaches (cucarachas) in your sink and car horns and above-ground subways designed to make one go deaf? Where else can one find six less active Hispanics a day who say, "oh yes, I used to be a Mormon back in my country," (False! Once a Mormon always a Mormon. Just very less active)? Where else can you see the sun set purple and gold and red and orange on Manhattan from the subway stops? Where else can you meet fifty people from all different countries in less than an hour?
New York is splendid and I am so grateful to serve here. I wouldn't rather be anywhere else right now.
In other news from this week, we went on exchanges with the Bermuda sisters! It is fun because they are in our zone, however obviously they can't come up to New York once a transfer for exchanges (that would be very expensive) so we just skype them. It is awesome to hear about their experiences and note the differences in our areas. They are doing well, though, and they are great sisters.
We went to the science museum in flushing meadows park and here are the pictures!!

The little room - like Alice in Wonderland!
I especially love the ones in the blue great hall and the giant book.

Tender mercies:

-We had fried rice with salchichas (hot dogs).
-I got five letters this week! Wow #bendiciones
-That last one might be because I haven't checked my mail in a couple of weeks, but still!
-I learned how to say 'Happy Sunday' in Nepalese! (I forgot, but I knew it for five minutes).
-We went to a cafe with an invesitgator and drank peppermint tea.
-my calves are looking better with every passing day.
-Sister Peterson made us stir fry and strawberry crumb cake.
Spiritual Thought:
1 Thessalonians 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
God trusted us to teach this gospel and I will try to teach it His way! :)

District Pictures.

Happy Father's Day!

My love,

Hermana Ally Voss
P.S. The post title comes from something I said on the street after not being able to communicate with persons of about four different languages that were not Spanish nor English. I blame the Tower of Babel for any miscommunications, honestly.

City life in Rego Park, Queens

Well, I never anticipated being sent to Rego Park in Queens, but here I am!
I am pleased to report that after last Monday we arrived at transfers on Tuesday and what I had anticipated did, indeed, occur. I found Sister McDowell and we learned of our impending companionship. President Reynolds saw us sitting next to each other when he was reading off companions and said, "and Sister Voss and Sister McDowell have been following each other around for the last hour almost as if they knew they would be companions."
We got smart phones!

Another fun thing is that after about five months I finally saw SISTER ASHFORD! We had never been at transfers at the same time and we kept missing each other but she got a training call this transfer so by virtue of that was at transfers to pick up her trainee and at least we reunited! It was one of those epic movie moments where we saw each other and just ran and embraced each other. It was amazing. I love her so much! I feel cheated out of having my full time with her. I wish we had been able to be together for longer. <3 I love that missionary.
Also, Sister Fa'ulao is training, too! It was refreshing to see old companions. Her trainee told me she didn't understand English and only spoke Spanish which threw me off for a moment until I realized she was joking. Phew. It was cute, though! The only companion I didn't see was Sister Gourley who is in Westbury with her trainee. I hope to either see her next transfer or the siguente translado.
Can I say how much I love Rego Park, Queens? So much! I have never seen so many Hispanics on a single street since 5th Ave. in Brooklyn. In fact, I think there are even more Hispanics here than in Brooklyn. Corona is straight out of Central and South America. In Mineola Sister Chung would always say, "en vez de hablar con 'everyone' habla con 'every Juan'" however here there are so many Juans passing one by on every side one can't even decide which Juan with whom to converse! It is one of the most amazing dilemmas in which I have thus found myself.

Yet again I find myself in a city area with a blonde and blue-eyed companion which complicates matters a bit in terms of the rude cat-callers, but ni modo, the work goes on.
Subways and busses own my heart. My Metrocard is one of my most prized possessions. When they placed it into my hands I was so excited I almost cried. I may have been in Mineola for seven months, however I still must proclaim myself a city missionary. There is nothing like walking and walking and walking and catching trains until one comes home to their apartment and collapses on the bed from fatigue. You don't get that in the Island (Long Island). In the city, it is a daily fact of life. It feels so amazing. I love it so, so much.

In terms of exciting news, I am writing this weekly from a Samsung J3, or in other words a smartphone! On Friday at MLC (Mission Leadership Council) they told us how we were getting new proselyting technology. Our mission is the test group for it, so currently about thirty missionaries in the world have the phones. They took away our iPads and locked them up for a few months to see how well the phones work for us. There were a few hiccups, and my phone for example didn't run the church program MaaS360 immediately so I talked to a very nice man in Salt Lake and we resolved the problem. As we set up the phones we had Salt Lake representatives watching us through FaceTime to help us.

President Reynolds and Sister Reynolds are so excited for the technology. However with great power comes great responsibility. "If you abuse it, you'll lose it," stated Sister Reynolds. "Elder Bednar and Elder Oaks are watching us through a microscope right now. If you mess up we'll lose it." -President Reynolds. "Don't mess up!" -Elder Weisler.

The blessing is that we have the Safeguards for Using Technology to help us use technology wisely. They are:
1. Be in tune with spiritual promptings.
2. Be focused on your missionary purpose.
3. Be disciplined.
4. Be one.
"I'm glad to you that you wouldn't dare open up your smartphone without going through those four steps." -Sister Reynolds

We have already seen miracles. One phone in each companionship can make calls/send texts/ and has data. This data allows us to contact street contacts in seconds with meaningful links to or and we are able to add people we meet on facebook within seconds. It is incredible being a missionary in New York City with the ability to contact people instantaneously. It is powerful, it is amazing, and I testify that the Lord is hastening His work and He is doing so now. Through us simple and frequently not smart missionaries in the New York New York South Mission. Through small and simple means the Lord brings to pass His purposes.
Other little weekly things are:

I'm back in a ward! There are so many people!
I miss Mineola, Sister Chung, and all the people in Mineola and Freeport.
But have I mentioned Corona is amazing?
Yesterday I learned a bit about brotherly love (6/4).... We were looking around and somthing was obviouly very different from the normal short Hispanic couples of women with slightly taller men. In fact, there was something most definitely a bit off. We asked a macho-looking man about it (his name was Santiago) and he had little to no idea. He said there was a march earlier that day and we looked at each other and said, "ohhhhhh."
I finally used a Cold Stone card I have had for years.

We visited Laguardia Airport, which is in our area.
As we were walking home I saw a public demonstration of affection and looked straight ahead with my normal smile and heard, "Happy Gay Pride Day, ladies."
I said a tight-lipped, "thank you!" and Sister McDowell said, "happy day!" and then one of them got in my face and said, "Mormonism is a cult, get out of it." Others tried to harass us as well.
We didn't feel awful about getting home a few minutes earlier to plan a workshop, needless to say.
A very lovely and interesting and different week. What is the best part of my mission? THE PEOPLE! I could say it a thousand times, I could shout it from the roof top. My mission is more than I ever could have imagined. Is it because of New York City? Do I love Brooklyn, and Queens, and Manhattan? Yes. Do I love Mineola? Of course. And I love them because of the people. 100% my favorite thing about my mission is how stellar and incredible and weird and funny and rude and kind and confusing and sweet and christ-like the people are.
Go out and make a difference today, because we as people make the world interesting. :) "You is kind, you is smart, you is important." -The Help
Love you all!
-Hermana Ally Voss