Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Monday, December 12, 2016

Snow what? It's preparation day again!

And *insert sing-song voice* December is just around the corner! Don't miss the Mormon Christmas Campaign to #LightTheWorld!
Us in huge coats with the Sister Training Leaders.

This week was a day shorter from last preparation day, so I have a few less stories to tell, but the first thing that set off our week was exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders in Little Neck. To be completely honest, it wasn't terribly interesting. We took a picture in our abrigos but since their area is our area (and we have another area besides theirs), I saw a lot of the same things as normal. They took us to some appointments, we ate taco soup, had a sleepover, daily contacted, and did Mission Standards jeopardy in their District Meeting. Sister Tarnasky and Sister Young are great missionaries, and it was interesting seeing what their pool was like. Also, I tried to speak some Chinese (Sister Young is in the Chino program). It was fun getting to see some Chinese speakers! I really miss my mixed Chino-Spanish district from my first transfer. I actually got to see Elder Brenkman, my first Chinese-speaking District Leader, at Sister McDowell's temple trip, which was awesome!

[Side note: That poor elder! He was sent away from Dyker in Brooklyn to whitewash (start a new teaching pool with no companion to stay behind to show him the area) in Flushing, where he had never once gone. Besides that, he is training a new missionary from Hong Kong who speaks very little English and he is District Leader of his new area, of which area he knows little to nothing. I can't imagine how stressful that would be! I didn't hear him complain, though, so evidently all is well.]

After exchanges, we ate hot chocolate that burned all the taste buds off of my tongue (it was made with Mexican chocolate though, so...), and met a lady with around 30 cats. Oh dear. Then a pit bull barked at me for twenty minutes while I sat, only kind of paralyzed in fear. She was 'harmless' apparently. Just a 'little sweet darling'. Her eyes said otherwise...
What the huge moon looked like two weeks ago here in New York, even though this picture probably isn't in New York.

Christmas Tree and Ana Perez at church! She is a stud.


On Thanksgiving we had a zone activity in Jamaica! It was fun... I think. I'm not very sporty, so the first two hours of playing volleyball were kinda okay. I couldn't really hit it, or serve it, and it was kinda humiliating since like 30 missionaries were there... including the assistants who are in our zone (and live just a couple streets over from us). They came in right as I was serving, and since I don't have an awful lot of arm strength I held the ball in both hands and threw it overhead, then Elder Parrish who is like 6' 8" grabbed it with his fingertips and tossed it back, not knowing that it was my serve and not an accidental toss to the other side... awkward. Elders Sirrine, Palmer, Benitez, and other assorted players covered my spot at all times. I stood there and moved when the ball came my way... But I was doing great in knockout! Basketball has always been a top choice of mine. It was fun to hang out with other missionaries and chat and have a nice bit of downtime. Especially on Thanksgiving!
I spent some time in the candy cane forest. 
We wrote chalk graffiti on a potentials doorstep so she could #LightTheWorld!
Darling Relief Society President who fed us dinner.
On Sunday Allan Poe came to church again! Yes! He is doing so well! Progressing every day. In addition, many of our investigators are choosing to read the scriptures and keep commitments which makes me thrilled.

The blind will see:

One last story. I had the unique opportunity to see what was a very special experience for me.

First a few verses in KJV of the New Testament in Mark 10:

"49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."

We showed the video Light The World on Friday to an investigator and her family who were visiting for Thanksgiving. The daughter, who is blind and feels around mostly, but has just a small bit of blurry vision left of her eyes, stood around the iPad screen as I cradled it in my hands, showing the video. Her father, surprised she was standing there I believe, asked, "¿Puede verlo?" Her face showed surprise and she said, "Sipapa, claro! It's so clear, it's like a miracle! I can see." Her surprised face leaned in as she took in the fact that for once she could see. Tears filled my companion and I's eyes. Not seconds later in the video was a clip of Christ healing a blind man.

I can't imagine it being a coincidence that she was able to see for just a few moments while the video played. As she said, I imagine that miracles aren't a thing of the past but happen in our lives today. Miracles happen through faith in our Lord.
And I found #BeYourBestSelf from Distinguished Young Women here in New York! I love DYW!

My choicest blessings on each of you. May miracles fill your lives and happiness and angels encircle you as you go about the beginning of this season of the year.

My dearest love,

Hermana Ally Voss

Four Shrimp in Spaghetti

¡Hola hola hola!

Life is splendid, Christmas songs have hit New York in a tsunami, the leaves are all but down, it has snowed twice in the past week, we have had Thanksgiving dinner, and I hit my four month mark on my mission two days ago!
Zone Conference with all the missionaries I love!
First off, four months! Time flies when one is having fun serving God in Brooklyn and Mineola. A fun fact about my new area Mineola is that I have the area in which Gatsby lives in The Great Gatsby (not my favourite book, but literature preferences can be laid aside - I really did enjoy the movie). We have East Egg and West Egg in the picturesque Port Washington and Glen Cove areas. I hear there is a castle at the end of one of the two that I've yet to visit, but I'm sure I will get to it quite soon because it sounds exciting. Camp Half-blood is also on Long Island, but I'm thinking perhaps out of my area. (Side note: I haven't found Narnia yet, either). Long Beach was crazy awesome to visit last week. I don't enjoy beaches too much, but I do like looking and admiring them. In that way being a missionary is a relief because I know no one will force me to go swimming. Long Beach was a bit chilly, but walking around and seeing the sand and playing frisbee was a bit of a nice break from the normal routine.

Today I am actually in Rego Park, Queens. My companion has a six-month anniversary temple trip, so she is enjoying the temple in Manhattan right now! We ate Strawberry Shortcake at the Cheesecake Factory and pizza at a little New York pizza place, and are back in Sister Petersen's house with candy and cookies to spare. Recently, everyone has been telling me I'm slim (side note: I never heard this in Brooklyn) but I am very concerned how hard my metabolism must be working given all the food I am eating. In a car area I can see how one could gain weight (without all the walking and running and public transportation), but I'm convinced I will be able to stay roughly the same.

Earlier this week we had Zone Training Meeting and Hermana McDowell and I sang 'Nearer my God, to Thee' with one of our assistants, Elder Ko, while another assistant (Elder Sirrine) played the piano. I was a bit apprehensive (voice isn't my instrument) but I enjoyed performing. Performing is a thrill no matter the medium which is used to perform!

Calmarones y caridad:

What is charity? In what ways was Christ so supremely charitable? How can I come to have this Christ-like charity?

Well, I have a story which I believe demonstrates more charity than I ever could have imagined. We went over to the home of a Hispanic member of our branch (well they're all Hispanic, but you know...) and she was feeding us for dinner. We sat down after talking a bit and she brought out our plates. If the audience has read any of my posts, they would probably note that I seem to be a fairly picky eater. Well, there was breaded chicken, salad, and spaghetti. Excellent! Then my companion declared, "calmarones!" My heart stopped as I really looked at my food. There were probably like 15 baby shrimp in my spaghetti. A thousand thoughts flew through my mind: 'Oh no. I've never eaten seafood. I'm going to offend her by my reaction if I eat it and don't like it! She is going to stop going to church and not associate herself with Mormons if I don't like her food! What do I do? Can I hide it? Oh dear, this is concerning.' So as she said the prayer on the food I prayed and prayed and prayed that my Heavenly Father would help me eat this food. I opened my eyes and decided I needed to work my strength up to eating the spaghetti with shrimp. So I started with the chicken, then the salad, and my host asked, "¿no le gusta las calmarones?" I was found out! I denied fervently and said I was saving the best for last. As I ate, I noticed that I only had four baby shrimp in my spaghetti. I was confused, the spaghetti was simply infused with them before! They were on everything. How did this happen? Did God literally take the shrimp off? Nevermind that, I needed to eat so I ate a shrimp every time we laughed so I could choke on it and pretend it was just because I was laughing (I've done this more than once).

As we left the appointment Hermana McDowell smiled and looked over at me and said, "how was the shrimp?" I shuddered. Then she laughed and replied, "did you know during the prayer I discreetly went through your spaghetti and took every shrimp I saw off your spaghetti, only leaving one so she could see you had some and wouldn't give you more? She kept almost opening her eyes. My excuse was going to be that I really like shrimp." I was speechless. In the very prayer in which I prayed to be able to eat this food, my Heavenly Father sent me an angel (my companion) to eat it for me. This act of charity by my companion will, I'm sure, affect me my entire life. I started thinking and realized the savior is the exact same way. We all have figurative shrimp in our spaghetti of life. When we look at it, it seems overwhelming and we reach out to Him through His atonement. When we make that effort he takes the shrimp off our plate and onto his, he makes our burdens light and gives us only those trials which we can handle. What a blessing to have a companion that knew about charity and Christ's love for me and showed me such through her actions!

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for a wonderful companion, Hermana McDowell. I am thankful for a darling family (Dad, Mom, McKinney, Nicholas, Audrey, and Will). I am thankful for a mission president (President Reynolds) who does more than I ever could. I am thankful for ice cream. I am thankful for Hispanics and their food - no matter the type! I am thankful for my mission in the New York New York South mission. I am thankful for thick coats and tights. I am thankful for pumpkins and strawberries and Christmas music. I am thankful for my cello sitting at home in my closet (shoutout to my cello, which I miss more dearly each day). I am thankful for an investigator who read 2 Nefi 31 and said, "so I see baptism is a commandment of God. We need to talk more about that." (Roughly translated from Spanish to English). I'm grateful for the snow last night and thick coats and elders who stick four-day old carrots in our windshield wipers.

Life is beautiful, as per usual. (Also, that's a lovely movie. Do watch it.)

Blessings, and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Hermana Ally Voss
Our lovely abode.