I'm writing this in the rain, so my first order of business will be to say how very extraordinarily much I adore the rain. Also, I love getting sopping wet about two hours after I take a shower because (and
my apologies to the inordinately kind Elder and Sister Johnson for saving us) I forgot the key to our apartment. Oops! Also, I love singing in the rain. ("I love singing. Singing's my favorite!" *Name
|Ally in the big city|
Getting to Know You:
Hermana Gourley - Grade-A trainer, ballerina, soccer-player, singer (she doesn't believe that one), mean public transportation rider, hair-flipper extraordinaire, and testimony builder (like a body
builder, but with testimonies).
The not-so-boring business part:
Tuesday was pleasant because we had interviews with President Reynolds. Talking to him and his wife is always so comforting and spiritual. Sister Reynolds makes one feel so comforted and happy. Talking with her brought so much peace to my heart. Also, our Assistants to the President (two elders who, as aforementioned, assist the President) gave a wonderful workshop on the technology in our mission.
In addition on Saturday we had a "zone conference" (see 'zone' definition in Cultural Awareness) in the which we taste tested from some sweet, some bitter, and some bland batches of technology, agency, and other assorted flavors of topics.
What was super fun is that our Spanish Elders (Elder Creager and Elder Weisler) had two baptisms this week! And Spanish culture denotes that after any activity of significance, food is requisite. Therefore we had two fiestas, and one was a legitimate barbecue! (Hermana Gourley told me at church last Sunday that there was no way it would be an actual barbecue - rather there would be rice and chicken, and perhaps fruit if we got lucky. The ward did amazingly though, and I 100% think it counted. The lack of barbecue sauce was perhaps questionable, but there *were* hot dogs to be fair.) Also, I love how the Chino Elders in our district came and tried to talk to the members. The members
here just love missionaries and it is so lovely that though they can't really talk to our Chino Elders, they still kiss them (something I'm acclimating to day by day) and speak to them in broken (or fluent)
In other food news, we ran into a member on the street and she said she would walk us to the bus stop we were going to, since she was going to a small produce store right behind it. What we didn't expect
was to be coerced to go inside, coerced to accept half of the store's fruit and drink contents as a gift, and then left with a kiss, smile, and apology she couldn't have made us real food or given us more.
Hispanic hospitality is so genuine!
As a last item in regards to food, we pretty much have to buy half our meals in the city. We are hardly ever actually at our apartment since it is so far away from everything (like an hours public transportation or a bit less on a good day). It's very nice that we have a grocery store across the street from us, but I fear we underutilize it by a far cry.
My district (group of elder and sister missionaries that work in the same area and use the same church building) consists of a Mandarin and Cantonese speaking trio of Elders, two Mandarin and Cantonese speaking sisters, Hermana Gourley and I (Spanish), and two Spanish-speaking elders in our same ward. I absolutely love coming to church on Sunday and seeing them all! We see our Spanish Elders, Elder Creager and Elder Weisler, almost all the time. With all the languages, I feel like I'm still in the MTC. In fact, our Zone (group of three districts) has Hatian-Creole speakers, English speakers, and Korean speakers, too. That's six languages! The diversity is so amazing here in Brooklyn!
English class was amazing again. I feel like teaching English really actually helps me improve the way I speak. There are some grammatical features for which I forgot the functions, and going back to the basics is more humbling than I ever would have expected.
I got to conduct the music in both baptisms and church this last Sunday. :) Elder Weisler played piano, since not too many members play, (I've yet to meet one, though I'm sure that's not always true!) and I was allowed to use the skills gained in my conducting class. Honestly, I think choral conducting was one of the most profitable college classes I took, and I've used it in practice probably more than any other class!
Also, Hermana Gourley has a lovely voice. When we were locked out of our apartment we decided to sing (for once I was able to harmonize - my skills in that regard are rapidly improving), and were stopped by several people who told us how much they enjoyed it! I love sharing the gospel through music!
|My Crazy Awesome Zone|
In exciting news, a pigeon tried to kill me this week. We walked by, and naturally I expected the pigeon might, you know, move or something. Well, it didn't. In fact, it flew pretty much right into my
face. So that was fun. Also, we walked into an apartment building, and felt the spirit go away in a noticeable *whoosh*. Needless to say, we walked out pretty quickly.
In additional experiences, what's fun about being a companionship that stands out so much is that people come right up to us! It happens *all* the time. Just this week we had probably three people walk over to us and ask to know more about the church. My companion says it never happens, every time it happens. It feels almost normal to me now, though. However standing out doesn't always end extremely well. For example, the drunks are fun, and many others enjoy getting in our face a little. Luckily we have a force field of the spirit surrounding us (think Wizard of Oz with Glinda in her bubble or The Incredibles with Violet's powers) so no one has yet tried to kill us.
|Me and Hermana Gourley Weekly Planning|
|An Empty bus at 9:00am on Sunday morning.|
One of my insights from the week I gained in our zone meeting. One of the workshops was on submitting to the will of the Father. I remembered something I learned in Book of Mormon that our Heavenly Father has access to everything we have right now or ever could have in the future. The one thing He does not have the capability to take from us is our agency. So us submitting our will to Him is giving Him the only thing He doesn't already have. I think it is so beautiful that we can give up the very central feature of our personalities and lives, and present it as a gift to the God we love. I heard a quote this past week from President Thomas S. Monson, which states, "The greatest decision I ever made was to give up something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more. He has never forgotten me for it." I know with a surety that God will bless us as we submit our will to Him, and as we allow our lives to be steered by His loving guidance.
So long, farewell, auf weidersein adieu,