Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Off to Queens with a Name Tag in Hand

Good Morning, Good Morning!

Well it has been quite some time since I have heard the fateful words: "Sister Voss - Out." But they have been said and I am incredibly sorry to be leaving my beautiful family here in Mineola. I will miss them all terribly and am sad to go.
A bit of graffiti
Don't tell anyone that I know, but I figured out that my new area is almost for sure going to be Rego Park, Queens, New York. ;) I am so psyched! And my New companion is almost for sure going to be *drumrollllllll* SISTER MCDOWELL!!!!!! :D My happiness is so full that I have no words. She meant a lot to me as a companion before and getting to serve with her again will be so incredibly perfect.

Yesterday church was basically just a funeral for Elder Rogers and I. We were asked to share our testimonies in church. Everyone who needed to be there was there. Even Fanny came. :) This branch of Mineola have become my family. I love the families here and they have really expanded to become my family. I cried quite a bit and for the first time on my mission had trouble sleeping in anticipation of what I heard on the phone this morning.
Some of my cute branch
District funny picture
Goodbye Elisa!
The District
Me and the Ramos family
Old Westbury Gardens for the win!
I was worried I would stay, and worried I would go. I didn't know what to think, and I just wasn't sure about anything. Needless to say, I now feel such a great peace and am excited to continue on in my adventure here in New York in my new area. Life kind of works out perfectly when you follow the Lord, doesn't it?

This week has been goodbye upon goodbye and I shan't make you bored with all the lovely dinners, and cute detalles, and beautiful gestures people have made. All I can state is my gratitude. The Lord knows me and prepared my final week here in Mineola to be an amazing one.

I have held baby rabbits, taken pictures in front of cool graffiti (Okay, murals. It's never cool if it is illegal.) We had our final district meeting and made our transfer predictions. Sister Chung is staying, Elder Rogers is out (maybe he'll even follow me to Rego), Elder Rigby (the dear) is staying, Elders Grande and Cintron are out, and Elders Lance and Merrell are in!
Us and a cute mural.

And it's even a baby bunny which is better...

We had a Memorial Day picnic today which was amazing. I said goodbye to all of my favorite Mineola families. <3 And tonight I say goodbye to some more.

I am humbled for the opportunity to serve in my new calling. [Dad note: Allison was called to serve as a Sister Training Leader] From the moment I was called I felt the burden placed upon my shoulders.
A leadership call with President Reynolds. :)
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Have a splendid week, I am off to pack!

My love,

Hermana Voss

For the Family is of God

First off: tour recommendation. Old Westbury Mansion in Old Westbury, New York. It is GORGEOUS. I legitimately felt as if I was in Downton Abbey. The nice thing about Old Westbury Mansion is that you can tour inside the mansion as well as walk around the grounds. It was raining, which made me feel like I was inside Pride and Prejudice in the dramatic scene where Darby walks towards Elizabeth from the field. Or the scene where she is on what is essentially a tire swing and turns around approximately fifty times in the pouring rain (which is guaranteed to make even the strongest-of-stomach viewer a bit nauseous). Also, there was a private luncheon happening inside the West Porch and everyone was all dressed up, so that added to the ambiance.
Old Westbury Mansion

The Mansion took three years to build and the detail-work is simply unfathomable. Almost all of the furniture and paintings are original, as well. As we walked into the red ballroom I could imagine being dressed up and waltzing around the ballroom. And, as Sister Valverde mentioned, walking around the gardens with a suitor. The wallpaper was authentic and breathtaking, and the molding and woodwork are so intricate that in some parts it took over two years to carve. The private library has fake book spines that open to a compartment where a Stradivarius and Guarnerius violin were once stored.

As amazing as the house is, the gardens are even better. We posed as fake statues, walked into children's playhouses, looked inside a thatched cottage, saw beautiful ornamental onions (please look up ornamental onions, they are truly the most beautiful bunch of flowers), walked through puddles, saw bearded irises, walked and ran down staircases and through lawns, and thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air.

If you ever have the fortune of visiting Long Island, I highly recommend a stroll through Old Westbury Mansion. Also, they sell darling maps of Brooklyn!

This week was lovely in other aspects, too, of course. We were able to have six members present at our lessons this week which was stellar. It was a lot to coordinate, but luckily a missionary in our ward returned from Kentucky on Wednesday, and we have some future missionaries who always are willing to go out with us. We were able to find many new investigators, and to get in contact with several investigators with whom we had lost touch. The work is going well here in rainy Mineola!

Well, that's another point to touch on. *Today* it is rainy. However, yesterday it was cold (50°-ish). And two days ago it was 96°. The day before it was humid beyond all imagination. I'm not entirely sure how God determines weather but here on the especially excellent East Cost we get everything!

Also, we had exchanges last week! Sister Valverde and I were very experimental and ate some Thai food at our exchange follow-up. It was okay... I think. I'm not sure quite what I think about curry. It's alright, I suppose. We also did some knocking and ran into a lady who had accidentally held a poisonous dart frog in Costa Rica and didn't get hurt at all! Well, we didn't actually run into her. We just talked to her - to clarify.

This week was my 10-month anniversary on May 20th which jus happens to be MY DAD'S BIRTHDAY! A big birthday shoutout to the most guapo dad you ever could find.

Also, on Tuesday I talked with my family! It was amazing. I realized when I was talking to them that all I really needed to know was that they were okay and doing well. :) And they are, which is a relief. Also, they were on a vacation in Denmark and even my grandpa was there, which was amazing to me. He has meant a lot to me my whole mission through, and I did not anticipate seeing him so it really was touching for me to see him there with my family. I love my family, and miss them all an awful lot. It is wonderful that they support me here on my mission. I am grateful to them and for them.

I love you all and hope this next week is a splendid one full of fascinating gardens and the spirit of God.


Hermana Ally Voss

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Benjamin Rabbit Couldn't Have Had a Better Week! (And Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail for that Matter)

Hello Beautifuls,

We had the privilege of having a Mother's Day party for the branch which was very sweet. One of the members bought roses for all of the moms in attendance and there was cultural food, Latin music, and Hispanic people. I am always so happy to spend time with the amazing members we have.
Skype home in the Netherlands was a bit blurry but very necessary and I loved it and them so much.
Also, I loved it because it gave me some time to reflect on the wonderful mother I have. My mother has always been there to help me through everything, and I love her so much. The missionaries were asked to do a special musical number at the party and we sang two lovely songs, which read:

"Mother, I love you; mother, I do. Father in Heaven has sent me to you. When I am near you, I love to hear you Singing so softly that you love me too."

"I know a name, a glorious name, Dearer than any other. Listen, I’ll whisper the name to you: It is the name of mother. Mother, so tender and kind and true, I love you, I love you. Mother, so tender and kind and true, I love you."

It's true! Mother's are amazing. I saw it in my home and I have seen countless courageous, determined, caring mothers here on my mission. What an amazing calling is that of a mother! And even more amazing that it is a calling from which one will never be released.
Mother's Day party with cute little kids.

Getting to see my mother today (Tuesday the 16th) was even better! And my whole family (+ Hannah + grandpa) for that matter! I felt such peace. It surprised me this time that I didn't cry, I just felt at peace during the call. The call didn't have to be super long either - I saw they were all doing well and were happy and that was the most important thing for me. I loved seeing Will jump on the bed and show me his dragon, and Cole pull out the wizard wand he bought. They were happy and healthy, how much more can a missionary hope for their family?

Sister Chung is doing amazingly, as normal. Her bright spirit and friendly demeanor can lighten anyone's bad day. She makes the best out of every situation and has the prized ability I have not yet obtained of being able to laugh at oneself when everything goes wrong! She is a ray of sunshine on cloudy days.

Chistoso stories (the funny part):

Story one: Well, there is a member family that has had a bunny since about Christmas. This bunny is very good at getting lost, and sometimes the bunny is lost for a week before the family finds it. As we were driving to a dinner appointment at their house Sister Chung said: "is that a rabbit?" The car jerked to a stop as I looked out the window and said, "Roger rabbit?"

I pulled over and we called the family at which point one of the young men in the family rode a bike over to our location and a bunny hunt ensued. Most of you think your Easter Egg hunts are exciting, but hunting the bunny is infinitely harder and gets you a lot more exercise. We wildly ran around hedges and bushes, ran across streets and stuck our heads under cars as Roger ran from place to place.

At long last Roger, hopefully tired (we were), stopped under a car. I stuck out my hand to coax Roger towards me. Luckily, he fell for it as I began to stroke his coat. A crowd was gathered from interested neighbors whose plants and flowers had been devoured by said rabbit. There we cheers and applause as I grabbed him around the middle and triumphantly held the rabbit in my arms. He's probably lost again given this was on Wednesday, but for the time being he was safe and ready to be a house bunny again.

Story two: In mission cars if we ever want to back out the non-designated driver must get out of the car and stand behind the car to back the driver. My way of combatting this in church parking lots is just never parking correctly and parking across several spaces so that I can just go out straight. Sister Chung finds this hilarious because it generally ends up that the car is in obscure spots in the parking lot depending on how I feel each day. (Don't worry if anyone is there I park normally but typically no one is).
Fanny's birthday was last week so we took a picture. :) 73 years young.
A little Hispanic girl picked flowers for us, which we really enjoyed and thought was sweet.
Hermana Bejarano makes amazing food! :)
I'm not really sure if I was trying to fly in this one or what...
Corie took us out to eat and it was really sweet. <3
Tender Mercy: Sister Chung and I were knocking this last week and ran into a lady who needed help moving things so we enlisted the help of the Elders and we all went over and helped her. Her name is Corie and she is a complete darling. She took us out to eat pizza at a cute local Mineola place afterwards called Barosa. She really showed so much kindness towards all of us and even offered to make us quilts for our help! And then we went back yesterday to move some more things and she took us out to another really nice Garden City restaurant called Leo's. My cheeseburger was delicious and I highly recommend Leo's to anyone who wants to visit it!

Mostly it was a joy to see her so grateful for something that was so miniscule to each of us. We love serving and helping, but for her it meant so much which was beautiful.

I love you all, don't do anything too crazy this week. ;)

Warm Affections,

Hermana Ally Voss

I Need My Own Light!

Hello Family and Friends,

You know, it is awfully hard to find unique and original things to write about when one has been in the same area for seven months. I work hard trying to find original things to write about. The part that matters the most to me is that our investigators progress and that the branch does well. And it seems we are succeeding in that, which is good.
District picture! I'm not sure what is happening with Sister Chung's hair but it looks cool.
I guess this week the main original thing we did was try to find investigators through sports. Meaning, we played soccer with Hispanic children then chatted up the moms and got appointments set up to teach the gospel. In addition to being a very good workout, it seemed to be fairly effective as well. Also we learned that when little brothers were rude to their older brothers the response of said older brother was, "you're adopted."

Also at Noche de Rama (which is like a Family Home Evening for the branch) a member brought several nonmember children and wanted them to have fun so we played an awesome game called Canasta de Frutas. Essentially we are all secretly named a fruit and someone stands in the middle and names two fruits, who have to switch seats without the person in the middle taking one of the seats. BUT if the person says "canasta de frutas" then everyone has to switch! It was super fun.

This week I went to the eye doctor. I was worried that it would leave me blind and I wouldn't be able to drive or anything but I was happily surprised. I looked a bit like an alien, but nothing worse than that. I also had to wear sunglasses all day. I left the doctor at about noon and just looking at the light outside was awful. I felt like I was the wicked witch of the West and the sun was burning me.
They dilated my eyes and I looked like an alien.
And today we played mini-golf! It was super fun and I was with all Hispanics which was fun (we divided the district into two teams) and I proved the American-ness of golf. On my team. I was also probably the only person on my team who took it seriously.... Alas. I didn't even lose out of all of the Americans! Yes.
Mini-golfing! I proved golf is an American sport in our team of all Hispanics and I. :) 75 isn't bad, right?
Hispanics are great! Two thumbs up!
The Regional Conference for America Northeast was this last Sunday, which was fun. It meant we got to go to Freeport. Also, Elder Oaks presided over the conference and we learned a lot about member missionary work, repentance, and light. "I need my own light!"

Happy cinco de Mayo, Happy Anniversary to my parents (may the fourth be with you), and a very beautiful and Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all other mothers out there!
Personality is what matters, right?
With my favorite future missionaries <3
My favorite couple is turning 78 and 70. Guess who is older!
"Lastly, how do I think you may become great women? You should cultivate and employ generously your noble, womanly instincts of care and mercy, first to your family and then to others. May you always hunger and thirst after righteousness within the framework of the revealed gospel of Jesus Christ. May you have an eternal perspective as you go about your angelic cause of doing good so that it will not only lead you to become great women but ultimately to become queens in the eternities." -Faust

I am so grateful for my lovely mother!

Have a wonderful week,

Hermana Ally Voss