Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Baptism in Three Days

The life of a missionary is never boring. I learned that on Thursday when we discovered we were, in all actuality, going to have a baptism. As a mission, we have a goal to have a baptism every transfer for every companionship. 6 weeks = 1 baptism. I didn't think it was going to happen this transfer. Oh I of little faith! 3 Days = 1 baptism.
My lovely companion and I

Carlina (name changed) is a beautiful woman with cancer who had been prepared wonderfully by her family members. Two of her children are members, and many of her sisters faithfully attend church as well. She decided that after many years of *almost* getting baptized, and after all she has gone through that it was at last time. We visited her and knew after asking several questions how very appropriate the timing was. After singing the initial hymn, the spirit came powerfully to my heart.

On Friday we did everything for the baptism. After visiting again, our District Leader Elder Brown interviewing her, and asking about the logistics to her family, we made the program, set up times to fill up the font, asked everyone who could have possibly used the font if we could have it in the morning, set up for a Valentine's Day party, and (in my case) cried a bit at the stress of it all.

But it was worth it. When the sun rose, we stretched and got out of bed, prepared, and headed to Little Neck for the baptism, everything went wonderfully. "It works! It works wonderfully!" In the words of our dear Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf. It was a bit complex, because she has several holes in Carlina's body necessary due to the surgeries and chemotherapy. We were wondering how one would submerse her in the water without hurting her, so both of our elders were planning on going into the water to help. She's very frail, so we knew both of them supporting her would help. We filled the water up below her hip height, and it was a warm temperature. Initially (before the baptism), Carlina was in quite a bit of pain. We were all concerned, and wanted for this to be a spiritual highlight for her. We didn't know what to do. But as we began the program, and the moment we sang the song she began to be comfortable.
She looks so sad because this was before, but she was beaming
afterwards! I wish you all could could have seen the change in her

We have new members who moved from Puerto Rico! Aren't they darling?
This is the wife and kids. I love them already!
The baptism went without a flaw. I was so happy to see this daughter of God come out of the water clean, a new person! It was incredible. We sang intermediate songs, and had some talks after the baptism. As a final testimony Carlina's niece said, "Hoy vi un milagro." Today I saw a miracle. She said that the water had made every part of Carlina wet. But when she checked the cloths she had placed to cover the holes they were completely, 100% dry. The skin around the cloths was wet, but the cloths hadn't absorbed a drop of water. Wow. If that wasn't the Lord's stamp of approval, I'm not sure what is.

One thing I wrote in my journal that night were some lyrics from a song in the Prince of Egypt. "There can be miracles when you believe... who knows what miracles you can achieve when you believe? Somehow you will - you will when you believe!"

There was also an amazing Valentine's Day party on Saturday. Hispanics go all out! There was cake, fruit, food of every class, music, dancing, children, adults. Essentially, it was a fiesta. The stake patriarch even came - that's how you know it's legit. I even knew every lyric to one of the songs, 'Vivir Mi Vida' I believe. I felt pretty awesome being able to sing it as well as all my fellow hispanics. We had investigators, less actives, members, future members, etc. come. I loved it. As missionaries it is nice to have fun with all of the members! To relax de vez en cuando. (Even though we weren't relaxed and were hosting the whole time. :) When we danced or such it was because a less active or investigator wanted to bond with us).
Preparation Day Fun.
Fort Totten District activity! Elders Cinturón, Palmer, and Lance were there, too!
:) sadly, the actual fort wasn't open. :(

Overall this short week (I emailed on Wednesday) was amazing and stressful and successful and oh so worth it. Missionary work is incredibly fulfilling!

I found a quote by Gordon B. Hinckley that I very much enjoy and am going to personalize a bit.

“The work in the field was not easy. It was difficult and discouraging. But what a wonderful experience it was. In retrospect, I recognize that I was probably a selfish young [woman] [and still am] when I arrived in [New York]. What a blessing it became to set aside my own selfish interests to the greater interests of the work of the Lord. …

“How profoundly grateful I am for the experience of that mission. I touched the lives of a few... But I have never been greatly concerned over the number of baptisms that I had or that other missionaries had. My satisfaction has come from the assurance that I did what the Lord wanted me to do and that I was an instrument in His hands for the accomplishment of His purposes. In the course of that experience, there became riveted into my very being a conviction and knowledge that this is in very deed the true and living work of God, restored through a prophet for the blessing of all who will accept it and live its principles.”

I appreciate the testimonies of all those around me who daily add to my own. I bear testimony of the truth of the gospel and how it daily improves, perfects, and polishes me. In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.


Hermana Ally Voss

The Holy Temple

The highlight of this week is an experience we just barely had! We were blessed to go with one of our members, Ana, to the Manhattan temple! What an experience!
Temple trip this week!

The session was originally going to be in English (with headset translation to Spanish), but because Spanish-speakers prevailed in the room, we did it in Spanish! Wow. It was amazing. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to properly convey the beauty of that experience. Spanish is a lovely language, and I am blessed to be able to speak and understand it. I was even more blessed to go with a lovely member to help her in her progression towards eternal life. I have never been so impressed by an individual in my entire life. The things she has done for her family, the way she acts, and her very spirit. I wish you all knew her like I know her so you could love her like I love her.

There are no words to express the peace the temple brings. Especially a temple like that of Manhattan, surrounded by city and a crazy atmosphere. And yet, when one enters the Holy Temple of the Lord, all of that noise and rowdiness and excitability is left behind. Peace, joy, and love fill every corner of that beautiful edifice.

As I walked away I wondered. At the mercy of God, at His love, at everything. It reminded me of a hymn, 'Asombro Me Da'. (I stand All Amazed)

"Me cuesta ̮entender que quisiera Jesús bajar

del trono divino para mi ̮alma rescatar;

que Él extendiera perdón a tal pecador

y me redimiera y diera Su gran amor.

Cuán asombroso es que por amarme ̮así

muriera Él por mí. Cuán asombroso es lo que dio por mí."

I am sad to see her leave to go to her country for the next while, but am comforted in knowing I will see her again (on my mission). Her testimony has fortified mine in an incredible degree, and the rama won't be the same without her!

-I also had the opportunity to be a missionary in China this week! We went to Flushing to participate in a Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday. It was stupendous. As with the temple, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We wore bright yellow 'Mormon Helping Hands' vests and we played huge drums as we marched with our LDS banner, and many of us handing out packets with church information and candy. Over half of a million Chinese people attended, which I think is just insane. More watched on TV, theoretically. It was an excellent publicity opportunity for the church and for our Chinese missionaries. Normally we strive for about 100 seeds a week (people to whom we tell the name of the church). That morning alone we probably got upwards of 5,000! I hope our Flushing Chinese missionaries (along with members of my old district) are able to receive investigators and baptize converts from this finding activity.
The Mormons are the ones in the funky yellow vests. :)

I learned some excellent vocabulary from my Chinese friends:

"Wan Ja'mae." Sister Voss in Chino according to Elder Lee. I forget the name Elder Brenkman and the Sister Sun gave me. That one translates to 'yellow' or 'golden' sister. The other one given to me was 'house sister' or some sort!

"Mormon Zhing." -Book of Mormon in Chino.

"Zhing yu qui'la!" Happy new year! The way Sister Reynolds had us remember it: "Sing you! Qui la la la la la la la la."

The environment was insane, I felt like a city missionary again! In addition to just using the subways to go to Manhattan, I might as well be a full-time city missionary! Just like the good old days. I even saw a member of my Brooklyn Dyker Heights ward inside of the temple. who knew Sister Voss was actually a Chinese-speaking city missionary?

Also, we have a baptism this week probably! I've never had anyone basically jump into the font water before, but there is a sister of one of our members who has been taught everything, is repentant, and wants to be baptized! So, she will likely be baptized this weekend! (Y'all will hear more next week!)

-Funny Stories of the week:

I couldn't pronounce Sister Fa'ulao's family names correctly so she mispronounced Nicholas which led us to creat new, ghetto-ish, un-pronounceable names for my family. To demonstrate, my siblings are: Nícholas, Audrin, Mc'kinkin, Willíam.

My parents are May'rin and J'amezing. My momma always told me she May'rin my dad because he was so J'amezing. (Get it? Like, she married my dad cause he was so amazing? You can hold the applause, really.)

"No problem, we will be preying for you and your family." - Text to less active turned hunting party by a typo. Now I know why some people don't go to church! They're worried the missionaries will hunt them their families down.

Apparently I asked Sister Fa'ulao to turn on the lights at 3am when she got up to go to the restroom on Sunday. It made sense at the time... It's not any worse than the three straight weeks in Brooklyn when I got up, prayed, and brushed my teeth at 1:30am. Some may call me overzealous, but I just try to do double my best at following the commandments. ;)

The penultimate Monday we ate Mac and Cheese, which I had decided to buy. We then went over to Ana's home. And she had prepared us food, and it looked beautiful, so naturally we just had to eat it. (Her food is SO good. And she always makes us these herbal teas with pancito). Then we went directly to the Perez home, where we were fed *yet another* dinner. Friends, family, I almost held my own funeral that night. The grinch's heart may have grown three sizes that one day, but my stomach grew four or five. My stretchy-band skirt was so tight I had to slyly hold it away from my body the entire lesson with the Perez family. (Have I mentioned how darling Ana Perez is yet?) It was awful. Food is the struggle of my mission!

Best. Week. Ever. Ana is the one with the yellow necklace, I'm the one
with the big smile and light-colored hair. ;) 

Lastly, I talk about my Temple Ana and my Perez Ana so often Sister Fa'ulao would never have any idea which I was referring to - so we came up with a system. Background: In the Book of Mormon there is an Alma the Elder and Alma the younger so we assigned the same terminology to our Anas. Temple Ana is 'Ana the Elder' and Ana Perez is 'Ana the Younger'. :)

My week was incredible and I wish you all success and happiness wherever you may be! A special shoutout to my brother Cole who is employee of the month, and my cousin Emma who just got married! Love you bunches. Honest, truly, I do.


Hermanita Ally Voss

Mineola, Round Three!

This week was a normal kind of abnormal. Transfers came and I said a sad goodbye to two darling companions. Being in a trio with them was amazing and I am grateful for that wonderful opportunity which I had. But Mineola needs sisters, and so back we came! On the drive to transfers I was worried about just around everything, but when I got to transfers I received a companion, was told I would drive the car (sweet success), and knew that everything would work out. I felt peace, but concern all the same. I was at peace in that I knew Heavenly Father would never give me a challenge I could not conquer. I was concerned because of the thousands of questions floating around in my mind. How was I to take care of Mineola? How would everything work out? Could I do it all? I mean, I knew I would have a companion, but she doesn't know everyone like I do, so a lot is still on my shoulders.
Our only picture this week - Ally's new companion

Setting that all aside: Sister Fa'ulao is my companion. She is from Utah, but her heritage is Tongan. She is very sweet, loves her family, has a crazy culture, is one of those people who will eat whatever is put in front of her (a talent I've yet to develop), has a lovely voice and should sing quite a bit more, enjoys cleaning, and falls asleep within two seconds of her head touching a pillow. From what I understand she has a sister who is her same age but... isn't her sister... on a mission in Mississippi. In their culture apparently giving away children is normal or something like that, so she doesn't know really who are her siblings or cousins instead. I find that a bit odd, but then again, it works for them!

The worldwide missionary broadcast happened on Tuesday which rocked our little worlds. No nightly planning! Extra time on preparation days! An extra half hour in the morning! What has this world come to?

Luckily, even with the changes we had plenty of time to do missionary work. We took a Young Woman named Elisa out with us to knock. She's kind of an incredible person. We love her. While we knocked we were invited in by a couple of staunch Roman Catholics who had some fascinating doctrinal inquiries. For example, some of the questions were: "What is your opinion on the Mary's ever-virginity? Do animals have consciousness? Prove God exists. How do you know God exists? How can you evangelize if you can't even prove God exists?" -Ani and her slightly less intimidating brother Eddie. Poor Elisa had a honest-to-goodness riveting time knocking. Next time maybe things will be less interesting. We also met an atheist last night who went off about how we were preaching war and told us how awful the work we were doing was. That was kind of sad. But to balance it out we met a Jew who asked us if we wanted water, a drink, or needed anything. He was very kind! Jews have just been so nice to us recently.

The most joyful moment of this week for me happened at church. It was wonderful because I was finally able to see my beautiful Mineola members again. More than that, though, when I saw our member Anita who we are taking to get her endowments I was overjoyed. She said that her Branch President interview with her and her husband had gone splendidly. I beamed so wide my face hurt. Better, the stake president came to set apart our new Elder's Quorum president, and he was able to stay afterward to give Anita her final temple recommend interview! She can go to the temple now! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to attend with her next week and I can't believe the progress she has made in all she has done. The atmosphere in her home has always been a beautiful one, but every time we go over I feel a slight shift. It reminds me of a song I adore which states that, "home can be a heaven in earth when we are filled with love." Her home is becoming a piece of heaven here on earth. I saw the smile on Anita's face and couldn't help but cry a bit when I conducted the final hymn in church, 'Families Can Be Together Forever.' She may not be sealed yet, but I read a promise a member once made to her that as she attends the temple frequently, her husband will come back into the fold. Many promises are indeed in the Lord's timing, but as we do our part, the Lord will never back out on his. Temple blessings are beautiful.

Quotes of the week:

1. "Hermana, the whole world can't make pupusas!" -Hermana Diaz when I slyly commented we had to try her pupusas.

2. "¡Sion es *la iglesia!*" -Hermano Molina in Sunday school.

Sister Herrera *turns to me* "¿Sion es la Puebla de Dios, no?"

"Si, pero está bien...."

*hmph* *turns around*

3. "The most important principle is to use agency to serve the Lord wisely!" -PR on the schedule changes.

4. "¡Hermanita, tú no puedes imaginarlo!" -Anita on how she feels to go to the temple. <3

Deeper quotes to ponder:

"The intellect is not the only source of knowledge." -Gordon B. Hinckley.

"For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are." -Clive Staple Lewis.

In these past few weeks I've learned how to know with my heart and I've understood what it is like to hear many things and have to take them from an objective standpoint. Like C.S. Lewis said, what I heard depended on where I was and my character determined how I reacted.

I pray for all of you each day. I can't wait to see what these next few weeks and months bring! Miracles of every kind, I'm sure.

Love, como siempre,

Hermanita Ally Voss