Welcome to another week in The Bronx NY!
This week has had its ups and downs but the ups outweigh the downs a ton! So to start off the week, I went off on a split with our district leader’s companion into their area (when you leave your area and go to their area and do work with one of the Elders in their area, while at the same time one Elder from that companionship comes here with my companion) and it was an interesting but fun day!
He only has 4 weeks in the mission so he is rather new! He had the challenge of taking over the area for a day after only being a missionary for a very short time. We taught this lady a little bit of English or at least tried to. I say tried to because she can't read English or Spanish, and can't write, and so pronunciation was nearly impossible to teach her. It was an experience that needed patience.
- RUSSIAN SPIES - so after that, we got a call from a lady who wanted us to come visit a guy in a hospital. Well, she didn't give us the address, or if she did we couldn't understand her (she was SUPER Dominican). So we now were left to find this guy with no address but a knowledge that he is somewhere in The Bronx in a hospital that apparently is in our area. Well we found this huge veterans hospital. We walked up to the door, and as we walked in, we had to go through security (just like the airport). There were guards with guns and we had to put all of our things into a tray and walk through the metal detector. We made it through ok, but the guy didn't end up being there. So then we left, and as we were walking, the cops stopped us and were quite stern with us. They asked us where we were from and what we were doing there. Turns out they thought we were Russian spies haha. Now remember, nobody is white here, so when they see two tall white guys who looked like they just got off the boat from Europe dressed in big black jackets with scarves around their faces, walking swiftly together, they are going to think something fishy. Haha. It was cool though because after a while we told the cop we were missionaries and talked to him for a few minutes, and after he really tried to help us find this man and kept thanking us for our service. So that was interesting. We never ended up finding the guy, but we found where he lived. The other Elders are still looking for him.
Elder C - so as I was on my split with Elder C, we had a few conversations that were great. As we were walking, there was this crazy guy yelling his head off on the phone about how he's going to get all his guys and kill the guy on the phone. He was saying stuff like "send anybody at me, and I'll take their life and put them in the grave no hesitation," but in a way worse way and along with a big deep bronx accent, which can sometimes be intimidating. The guy was pacing back and forth, cussing and threatening to kill this guy, and Elder C was like, "hey let's cross the street because this guy is crazy." We were walking towards him on the same side of the street, and as he said that, it totally hit me what it was like to be in his shoes as a new missionary here dealing mentally with this crazy environment. He told me he was tired of walking on the streets, feeling like he was going to die or get shot or beat up. It's weird because now when I am faced with someone crazy like this guy, I feel nothing anymore. I don't feel scared, nervous, excited, or worried; I literally feel nothing. You get used to it here and I told him this. Back home people are usually pretty sane--when you see a person like that it's a big deal, but here there are so many crazies that you get used to it and realize that usually it's all talk. Perhaps that's why they are stuck here. Haha. Almost every person I have talked to who is trying to really be successful and raise a wholesome family is trying to move away and out of here. This place would make it so hard to raise a family here. I respect those who have!
Workouts - workouts are going great! There is nothing better than feeling great spiritually, mentally and physically. It's crazy how much the mind, spirit and body are connected. If one of those things isn't healthy, it dulls the other. You have to feel good yourself before you can help others change your lives!
Soup - so I will eat pretty much any food here that the people give us willingly, but one thing I don't understand is this. When they make us soup, they put parts of the animal they cooked in the soup. They put the gizzards in the soup along with bones and even huge chunks of straight fat from the animal. I get so frustrated when they feed me this because they expect us to eat it. It tastes horrible and I just don't understand why they can't give us plain meat without bones or no fat or normal parts of the animal. It's such a lazy way to prepare the meal. Ahh I just don't understand.
BRANDON: Had two great lessons with him this week! I am so thankful to be able to still teach him in my second area! We taught him this week about tithing and fasting, temples, family history work, the priesthood, and obeying the law. It was great! So BRANDON works up at a diner in Yonkers and usually he has Sundays off, so he was planning to go to church this week. Unfortunately he got a call that morning saying he needed to come in and work that day because it was super bowl Sunday, so he wasn't able to make it to church (he has already been three times). His work was going to feed the employees as well and they were feeding them steak, sandwiches and some seafood. Brandon decided to fast that day and he stayed strong throughout the whole day! He said everyone kept offering him food and he wouldn't take any of it. We told him he only needed to fast for two meals but he ended up fasting for 5 and told us once he starts something he always finishes it! What a great example!
Missionary work is very tiring! We are up at 5:30 and go until 10:30 every day nonstop, it’s crazy! I've never had to work this consistently hard and long in my life. It's just two years of flat out go go go go! There are some days where I feel like there is nothing I’d rather do than take a nap at that time - nothing in the world. Plus when I get tired, I forget my Spanish and that isn't good! Haha. It's okay though. You have to just enjoy the work and keep pushing on :)
Today we are going to go to South Manhattan and go explore the city again! We are going to go to Madison Square Garden (where the Knicks play), the Empire State Building, and a few other places. Going to south Manhattan is my favorite! I would say my favorite thing is seeing all the different people. There are tons of people and they are all very different. You see people who are homeless to people who are millionaires walking the street. Last time we were on Wall Street we say Donald Trump’s son. That was kind of cool.
I want to share something I shared in our Zone Meeting this week. This was me talking to the missionaries, but I think it can apply to all of us.
"Because we strive to live the Lord’s teachings and because we are missionaries, I feel as sometimes we feel we are greater than others--that others aren't good enough for us or the way we are living. But imagine if the Savior felt the same way of those who are not as powerful as him? Who are those people? Us, or anyone who has walked the earth. Nobody on this earth is as powerful and great as the savior, so imagine if he felt that way about us? He doesn't. Instead, he came to this earth, ministered with humility and love among those who were considered "worthless" by society, and even died a suffering death, all for us who are far less progressed than the Savior himself. We should be the same around our fellow men. In fact, because we are closer to the knowledge of God, we can greater see our weaknesses. It is when we do not judge others that we can love them for who they are regardless of our standing. It is when we do this that we free ourselves and can become joyful in all things."
The Savior never thought he was any better than anyone. No matter who they were and what they have done, he loved them, and SHOWED them his example by who he was and the way he loved. Never once did he feel above another because he had more knowledge than anyone, nor did he ever teach words he did not live himself. Jesus was usually short of words. He never really spoke unless there was a divine purpose for it. But, what he always did was act like the son of a loving Heavenly Father. Humbly strip yourselves from pride and you will free yourself. I feel like we sometimes become prideful to protect our power, but the Savior was the most powerful being to ever walk the earth and not a speck of pride could be found in him. Love everyone, no matter what they have done or who they have become.
A good test that I've been using this week is this:" If the savior loves them, then so should I." It's super hard for me to apply that with every person in every situation, but I am trying. I'm still trying to strip the pride away from myself as well :)
Con muchísimo amor por ustedes, Les ama mucho y tenga una buena semana.
El Elder Celaya