Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Happy New Year! (Or, in other words, Happy Birthday to Sister Ashford!)

This week we have been teaching Allan Poe a lot in preparation for his baptism in two weeks (January 15th!) and we have been trying to find new investigators and move the work forward here in quaint Mineola.

Me with my cello backpack! #meandmycello

CAMMIE IS GETTING BLESSED! After a complicated situation and calls to President Reynolds, Zone Leaders, District Leader, Presidente Reyes, and the soon-to-be president of the MTC, I am happy to say the daughter of one of our dearly beloved members has received the permission from her father to be blessed when they go to visit their country in March. This is a major stress reliever for me. More progression in this family is pending, but Cammie being able to receive her baby blessing gives me exquisite happiness and joy. I am grateful for the patience of the mother, the faith of the family, and the will of our Father in Heaven for allowing this to happen. Baby blessings may not be a saving ordinance, but the forward-moving progress of this family is a victory.

On Wednesday we were invited in to a Dominican birthday party. We wanted to share a message with some potentials Named Angel, Angel Luis, and Angelito, but we were told when the door opened that it was the mom (Angelita's) birthday. Then Angelita peered around the corner of the kitchen towards the door and we heard, "Pasan! Pasan adelante!" They had several beers around the kitchen table, and they may or may not have been a slight bit tipsy, but we were able to share our message about Lighting the World with Christ's light. They liked our message, but professed their Catholicism and seemed unwilling to change. As we tried to leave, we were told to sit, and a cake was brought out. We then sang to Angelita, ate cake, took videos, and slipped out quietly while more family was entering.

In terms of awkward situations I get myself into, on Tuesday Sister Ashford went to the doctor. While she was getting a hearing test, I was left alone in a two-person, decently small, waiting room with a boy who was studying law at Hofstra and we began to have a conversation. This wouldn't have been awkward in it of itself except the whole time I was thinking, "oh no my companion isn't here. I can't talk to boys. Oh dear this boy's dad is a lawyer for Walmart that makes it worse he could sue me. Oh no I can't even hold a proper conversation the mission really does ruin social skills. His ear drum is perforated I hope he doesn't need surgery poor thing. Can I share the gospel with him? Would that be too awkward? Does he like Jesus? What do I say if he doesn't like Jesus? I only know how to talk about the gospel." It was almost as awkward as when parents leave us alone with children and we freak out a bit and don't know what to do so we slowly walk away from the child or sit petrified until the caretaker returns. The good thing about it being Christmas time is that we can pretty much give anyone we see a card about a Christmas video because it's fairly inoffensive and normally heals any tensions.
Dinner with the Reyes'. (Picture courtesy of Elder Brown)

P.S. Burger's Funnel cake fries.

The Elders boxed our car in this week. They thought they were clever.
Getting ready for the New Years was exciting. Our lockdown in our apartment started at 6pm. We ate P.S. Burgers (I wasn't as fond of the Vienna burger, but the funnel cake fries were better than delicious), we watched a face-to-face with Lindsey Sterling (she is a pretty amazing person. Also, she served her mission in New York New York North, so we were neighbors), I played cello (for one of the last times - I'm turning it in tomorrow. My gratitude is full for what time I did have with the cello), and we played Trivial Pursuit (which just showed me how much I don't know. 'All I know is that I know nothing' has never been so true).

New Years with a Sleeping Companion:

Sister Ashford set an alarm for 11:55pm so we could celebrate her birthday and the new year at midnight. The moment the alarm went off my tired brain thought 'BIRTHDAY!' and I began to sing happy birthday.

"Sister," my companion said, "my birthday isn't for another five minutes."

"Oh, okay." I replied.

Apparently about twenty seconds feels like a lifetime to me because I started to sing happy birthday again in a very tired and not-very-awake manner. "Sister," came the chastisement, "just wait three more minutes."

"Oh, okay. Sounds good," I said.

An alleged forty seconds later my sleep-ridden voice apparently just couldn't wait because I started to sing feliz cumpleaños. Upon finishing I heard no reply but a second later came a "thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven...." I couldn't wait to join in on this action so naturally I provided my voice to the two-man chorus but she counted *so fast.* I mean, she may have had a watch on that counted seconds, but there was no way she was following it because she just blew through it. I was seconds behind in my weary intonation of each number - I had to skip eight, seven, and six all together to catch up at the end! Luckily all ended well and fireworks went off and things probably worked okay in Times Square and I fell back asleep in moments.

Moral of the story: sometimes a half-asleep companion doesn't process much at midnight, but if one wants to be thoroughly sung to, said sleeping companions are quite excellent!

On New Year's Day we met a missionary who returned to say hi named Hermana Welch and we ate a dinner at the Reyes' in which I kind of ate sour cream but then asked for one without sour cream and she was only a little offended so that was good. Also, I pulled a doorknob off a house accidentally. Which was a right shame... I really didn't mean to, and it came off so easily it must have been broken before... but enough with the excuses, long story short I pulled out a doorknob. Oops.
District Activity bowling in Mineola today! It was fun but a bit
pricey. A full thirteen dollars! Yikes.
My pretty fantastic district are only decently okay at bowling.
According to my companion I am "awkwardly adorable" when I bowl.

If you are like me, you quite enjoy setting goals. My goals were centered in three realms: 1. Studies, 2. Personal goals, and 3. Service/relationship goals. I set goals to read through the Bible and Book of Mormon once and thrice, respectively. Also to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish twice. As a personal goal which goes into service and relationship goals, I really want to try to develop charity this year in whatever ways I can and serve my companions and investigators and everyone with whom I come into contact here in New York. I have many other goals, but these are some of the major ones! Goals lead us to action which means we progress. I hope I am progressing every moment of my life here on earth and pray for the strength to do whatever I must to have such success.

I hope your weeks were joyful and you drank Martinellis like us and ate plenty of chocolate. :)

My love,

Hermana Ally Voss

Sunday, January 1, 2017

It's Christmas time in the city!

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas was extraordinarily special for me. As nice as it is to be with one's family on Christmas, being here in New York on the Lord's errand has given me a purpose I don't often have at this time of year. Christmas is often a time of giving, and I reflected on how much I have been given in my life and what I have done with what I've been given. My greatest Christmas presents this year were the opportunity to FaceTime my family on Christmas Day, and the opportunity President and Sister Reynold's gave me to play cello at our mission's Christmas Devotional on the 23rd. (By the way, thank you to everyone who sent me letters and packages, I appreciated them and the sentiments they expressed!) Seeing my family and their smiling faces, observing their life, and being a part of their home for one hour was a treat. I especially loved sharing my testimony, praying, and singing with them. And it was enriched with the sweetness of knowing I can have these moments with them throughout all eternity.
Face timing my darling family!

The Christmas Devotional on the 23rd was a climax of hours upon hours of practicing, performing, traveling to Plainview, and the anticipation of seeing all my mission friends. When we arrived I felt almost wind blown by the amount of missionaries I had served with and wondered how I knew so many. We even reunited Brooklyn Squad with a picture of Elder Weisler, Elder Creager, Sister Gourley and I. (Fun fact: all of us are out of Brooklyn and it's only been 2 months since we were all together there!) I also saw Hermana McDowell who is in the Hamptons now, and took a picture with all three of my beautiful companions.

We all performed fun skits for the devotional. The excellent part of the Assistants to the President being a part of our Zone is that they can interrupt our skit (Santa Showdown) by throwing the white handbook/ white bible/ missionary handbook down on the stage in the middle of our number and yelling, "DO YOU SEE THIS?!?! DO. YOU. SEE THIS?!?!" Which is quite fun. And terrifying. Elder Parrish is a petite 6' 7" which certainly added to the intensity!
Brooklyn #squad reunited! (you have no idea how much happiness that gave me)
All my companions and I!
Hermana Gourley and I.
We learned about our new mission goals for this upcoming year, as well. Our goal is 365. That is, 365 baptisms and 365 temple trips in 2017. It stretches us, but I know through faith, fervent prayer, and action my mission can come together to accomplish amazing things.

In the spiritual portion of the devotional I had the opportunity to play O Come O Come Emmanuel with the brilliant pianist Elder Ivan Garza from Mexico. It reverenced me that I had a chance to touch a cello on my mission. When I sat down, tears poured down from my eyes. I was in amazement of the gift President and Sister Reynolds had given me. Moreover I was blown away by how much everyone had loved it. Sister Reynolds had tears in her eyes when she stood to give her talk. It was a testament to me of how music can bring the spirit and how I can be a conduit of the spirit as a musician. Sister Reynolds spoke on the Christmas Orange, a children's story. The gospel is so sweet if we but surrender a part of the orange we have to give others joy and happiness! As we give of our talents and our knowledge we will be able to bless others in unbelievable ways.

I finished the Book of Mormon this week! It took me 76 days this most recent time - about two and a half months (October 5th to December 23rd). Or seven pages a day. I love reading and praying and gaining an understanding of my savior. He has given me all, and I am glad for the time I donate to learn of him each day. My day would never be complete without reading from the Book of Mormon.

Extra things:

I hit my five month mark! I'm almost a third done with my mission. President said something I loved, 'the mission is a microcosm of your life'. We come into the mission new, inexperienced, and unskilled. We gain knowledge, attributes, and wisdom on our mission that will help us throughout the rest of our lives. I may only be through five out of eighteen months, but what I learn will stay with me throughout eternity.
Christmas Eve Dinner at KFC.

Christmas Eve selfie
"Jump on my back!", "No! Okay, fine...", "Ahh, bad idea..."
"Look Sister, I found a poinsettia!"
My companion tells me I speak Spanish in my sleep, in fact I have full conversations with her in Spanish in my sleep. Basically, I hit the point I've been dreaming of hitting my whole mission (get it - *dreaming* of hitting?! Ba dum tsh). Elder Garza told me he came on his mission knowing zero English and now he only thinks in English. I pray to get on his level with Spanish. One day!

Hermana Ashford went to an ENT and they stuck a vacuum in her ear. If I wrote a children's book about it it would likely be titled 'Hermana Ashford and the Dreary, Ear-y vacuum'.

New York may not have had snow, but the beauty inherent in this time of year shows more through actions than weather. I am grateful to be a part of the great and marvelous work of the Lord here in New York!

My love and gratitude,

Hermana Ally Voss

Merry Christmas!

Another week has come and gone and with it an abundance of new experiences. On Tuesday we went to transfers and, after eating a final meal at Panda Express, walked stoically towards our destinies. She to learn where she would go and I to know who would come.
Cello! I Love Cellos! President Reynolds is my favorite!


As I happened upon the church parking lot I heard an, "HERMANA VOSS!!?" I looked up (my head was hidden in a large and rather furry coat) and lo and behold saw Elder Creager! The amount of joy I felt seeing my Brooklyn trainee comrade was probably unreasonable. Needless to say, he and Elder Weisler received very strong handshakes. And then seconds laters I saw a ball of puffy hair running towards me and a muffled, "Hermana Voss!!!!" It was Hermana Gourley! I definitely winded her with the strength of my hug. It's only been six weeks, but you all really don't understand because it has been *forever*. I hardly remember my time in Brooklyn now. It all feels like a dream.
Transfers when I just found out Sister Ashford was my companion!
I entered the church and received my new companion. Well, I mostly just went up on my tipee toes and looked over my Zone Leader's shoulder to see my companion's picture on the paper and frantically ran to where I knew my new companion was. She is a sweet blonde named Kelsey Ashford from Austin, Texas. She is a good driver (which means more to me than you all could ever know. I've been in over six car accidents now and have a slight fear of cars and drivers. When I was called into Brooklyn I sighed in sweet relief. When I was called into a car area my stomach dropped). And she loves Christmas. Theoretically she celebrates Christmas on the 25th of every month. I'm not positive how that works exactly but somehow she makes it happen.

This week we made a Plan of Salvation board game, we weekly planned for investigators Sister Ashford had never met, we attempted to eat fruit cake, we made snow men, I had soaked feet in tights for a full day, I got us lost in Hempstead a few times, and I successfully guided us to Glen Cove (okay fine, our GPS TomTom helped) and we made it to Port Washington twice! We even found some less actives and taught someone we met at McDonalds two times this week.


We awoke to an inch and a half of snow on Saturday. It was chilly, but we took a brief study break to build a miniature snow man and play in the snow. It really was a winter wonderland. There is something magical about a town like Mineola covered in snow. Hardly anyone was out and about, but those who braved it bundled up like eskimos. It reminded me of a song that used to play on Sister McDowell's thumb drive that said, "I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats with scarves of red tied round their throats." I was even wearing a scarf! It was cream, though.... The snow was light and powdery at first but turned sticky as the falling flakes transformed into less fluffy, wet and icy rain. That was the day that I stepped calf deep into a puddle with flats and tights and discovered I couldn't change and had to live with wet feet for a day. It was a bit chilly, but I didn't mind.

Christmas Fiesta:

The Christmas fiesta that night was buckets of fun, though. From rather interesting santa-related decorations, to every color of the rainbow on our tables, our party was bright and most certainly Hispanic! Better yet, members came, less actives came, nonmembers came, vecinos came, they basically brought everyone but their dogs. Cecilia, the friend visiting Ana from Ecuador, even came! It was crazy and hectic, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. They read from Luke and presented a short presentation of the nativity, just like my family did back home. Then a small choir (that I was a part of) sang '¡Recocijad! Jesús nació' along with Jesús en Pesebre y una otra que me pasa por alto. It was darling, and I loved performing in the choir.
Christmas Party.
The Pleasure of Performing:

Better yet, though, was the next day. I took my cello to church, and was privileged to play Silent Night, the hymn requested by our branch presidency. Performing is really a kind of magic. I love being in front of the crowd and performing. It's stepping out of reality and into something divine. It gives me a happiness beyond that which I normally feel and such a purpose. Simply put, I was perfectly and exquisitely happy.

And a last item to mention is caroling. We spent some time with our branch president, his wife, and Juancito last night Christmas caroling. It was lovely to spread joy through song. Singing is one of my favorite pastimes, and Sister Ashford doesn't enjoy singing much, so forcing her to sing for once gave me a certain satisfaction. After all, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Even more of a blessing was that every single one of the families we caroled for were at home! That never happens for us missionaries! Never. We have at least one appointment cancel every day because someone isn't home.

Christmas Spiritual thought:

Marley in A Christmas Carol: “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

I encourage each and every one of you to 'Light The World' and to conduct the eyes of all those you see to the true point of light and love. That is, to Christ.

I wish you all the most very merry Christmas. May love and peace abide in each of your homes at this beautiful time of year.

My utmost love,

Hermana Ally Voss

A Christmas Present

I found a Maryland Ave!
Most of you won't even believe how crazy my week has been. Exciting, emotional, scary, joyful, and everything in between.

Companion News:

Transfers are tomorrow and I am simply terrified to say that we learned this morning that Sister McDowell is leaving me! She has been in the area for seven and a half months, so it was a wonderful help to have her here with me, but I know this is a change the Lord put in place for a reason. I look forward to the adaptations that are soon to come.

Abnormal Car Problems:

We had a minor car upset this week. That is, a car merged into us. Our car is very much ugly and scraped and missing a side view mirror, but we are fine. We were driving through Garden City in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the right lane and a white van decided it was a good idea to pull over straight into us. There was unfortunately a pole on the curb next to us, so we couldn't pull off the road to avoid damage, so instead the car scraped right against us, trapping our car in between the curb and the van. We called the police, got the police report, and are getting a loaner Chevy on Tuesday for a couple of weeks. And on Saturday, our tire blew on the freeway. It was kind of exciting actually. We were driving from Glen Cove to Mineola on the freeway and our car started to sound a bit like a Harley Davidson. This was slightly concerning, especially when the tire began to smoke. We pulled off and onto a side street and the elders... well, Elder Brown really, helped us change the tire to a spare. We then spent a rather boring four hours at Pep Boys replacing the spare. (The Navy-Army game was on...not that I watched any of it, but good work to the Army.)
Messed up Scotty Corolli. 
Zone Training Pictures.
My favorite Peruvian investigators at church.
Missionary Work:

Our investigators are doing very well. A darling husband, wife, and their son came to church this week. They are Peruvian, and my absolute favorites. They loved church, and look forward to coming again. They have come several times before, but haven't come in around a month, so it is amazing that they have renewed their commitment to church. Allan Poe is trying to live the Word of Wisdom right now, and doing super well! We dropped him off some hot cocoa and angelitos (marshmallows).

Christmas Gifts:

I received a darling package from my family this week that had many presents, a Christmas pickle to preserve tradition, an orange, letters, candy canes, a beautiful advent calendar (literally - an advent calendar of makeup products), and so many other things. How did I receive this? We picked up a call from one of the Assistants to the President Elder Ko saying that they met my dad and were bringing me my package. Which was sweet, of course, because I could have waited to get the package, but instead they brought it straight to me that night and delivered it in person.

Now, for the part that even writing will get me emotional. Immediately after I opened my package, we had a call from the zone leaders. Elder Garza asked if I would be willing to play cello at the Christmas Devotional for the mission. I said yes, very tightly of course, and then hung up because I was already crying. Sister McDowell smiled at me and said President Reynolds had been planning this for over a month. He mentioned it in her interview with him. I couldn't believe it. That he should care so much for me and have such an overwhelming amount of love for me is indescribable. I cannot put into words how much happiness it gives me that he had the thought to give me the gift of playing a cello for Christmas. The next morning I got a call from Sister Reynolds asking what size cello she should rent. I cannot believe their love for me. President and Sister Reynolds are such examples for me. I hope one day to care for and serve individuals around me as do they. I love them so much. So, so much.
Celebrating Sister McDowell's 21st early
Picture of us with our branch president and his wife. A pregnant
woman was taken out of the apartment in an ambulance just before this
picture was taken...
Christmas thought:

"Once in our world a stable had something in it bigger than our whole world." -C.S. Lewis

Christ is the gift. His humble birth is a reminder that no matter our circumstances, we can overcome all through Christ. As we strive to follow him we learn we can become all he wants for us and more.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men!


Hermanita Ally Voss

Tis The Season!

Mineola and surrounding towns are all feeling the joy of this lovely time of year! We have officially begun to await the advent of Christmas, with our advent calendars, Christmas lights, Christmas Campaigns, and overall simply basking in the wonders of New York at Christmas. It's a bit warm, so we probably won't have a white Christmas, but nevertheless it shall still be a grand season.
Me and my darling companion

This will be a shorter update this week because we just went out to Sand's Point Reserve to see some castles and walk along a super cool wall on the beach. Definitely worth the $10 entry price. It's fun to walk around history and spend time with one's district. We picked up shells and rocks, played frisbee, and enjoyed the cool and refreshing day.

Well, first scary thing that happened this week was Hermana McDowell getting hit by a car. It was a rainy day and we decided to park at home. We walked over to a look up for a less active and a car was going by at around 25-30 miles per hour. I was in the middle of the road, and Hermana McDowell was walking in a side road between the sidewalks. One would have thought she would be more safe, but the car turned at the last second and ran straight into her. I stopped (still in the middle of the road) and gaped. She had luckily managed with her quick soccer genes to jump up on top of the car and most of the impact was on her wrist. But still! I was a bit shell shocked. It's hard to watch your companion het hit by a car when you can't do anything. But she ended up alright thank goodness.

Our investigator Allan Poe said his friends notice a difference in him now. He is making so much progress. It is so amazing seeing people change through the gospel.

We were at a member's house whose family friend from Ecuador was staying. And, I am happy to say we now have a place to stay in Ecuador near Quito with the indigenous people of Ecuador! I look forward to one day visiting.
We went out to Sand Point to visit castles today!

We loved the castles!

Funny stories:

Hermana McDowell left her keys in the apartment accidentally so I grabbed them for her without her noticing as we closed the door. Then as we were walking down the stairs I noticed a rather bulky object in her arm. "Hermana?" I tentatively asked. "You're taking your pillow?" She paused, breathed in, and headed back up the stairs. And shook her head and laughed coming back down. I guess it was just one of those days!

But then the next day we got to an apartment complex and as we walked up to the elevator she didn't push the 'up' button as I anticipated. Rather, she knocked on the elevator. I was a bit startled, and a few thoughts entered my mind. Does someone live in the elevator? It *is* a bit ghetto, is knocking on it the only way to get it to open? I then saw the shadow come over her face as she realized what she just did. It, needless to say, was an accident. I'm worried the car running into her had more of an negative impact than she expected.
Name Tags
Gorgeous Sand Point and the famous East Egg from The Great Gatsby 

Burger Fi!


"Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus." -Maxwell

Let the light of Christ into your hearts this Christmas season!

My love,

Hermana Allison Voss