Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hiiiii (22 April 2015)

Hiiiii All!

This week has been filled with miracles and has been such a great learning experience.  Here's a picture with me and an elder that was in my district named Elder Cordon at the Manhattan Temple.


All is well. Thank you, Mom, for the package and the cookies! Elder Lyons says you have mastered the formula mom! Haha. He and I went on a split today and so we decided to take the subway to Wall Street and walk up Manhattan, and anywhere we wanted to go, we went! It was very fun just exploring NYC! It's a crazy place! 

- Still having the opportunity to go to the gym which has been super nice. With all the food we eat you have to try and stay fit! Haha. Yesterday we had five meal appointments in a row and absolutely had to eat all the food! If you don't eat at least two plates, then they get offended and think you don't like the food. Eating until you are sick is something I will never miss off of the mission. Haha. 

- Subway story. There are always people who come on the subways and try to sell things or perform or have stories about how they just got out of jail and are here trying to work instead of doing bad things. Usually they are all garbage, but this week we had a guy who was just plain "real." Haha. He walks onto the subway and he yells "Ladies and gentlemen, THIS IS REAL. I am homeless, I have no home, I have no food, I will steal your food before I take your money, I will steal your woman before I take your money, I will do anything to get food. If y’all have food, I will eat it no matter what it is." Nobody wanted to give him food and he saw a mother giving her kid food and he asked the mom for the food and she said no...and he got super mad and was like "okay, you don't want to feed me? Well I hope the educational system doesn't feed your kids so they end up like me and are homeless with nothing to eat! I hope they DIIIIIIIE of thirst. I hope they DIIIIIE of hunger, and you'll look back on this day and remember me." Then he just walked out of the subway and that was it. Haha. It sounds very unrealistic, but it happened. Stuff like this happens all the time, it's quite entertaining. 

Mouse in class - so a couple weeks ago in the middle of the third hour of church, a mouse came running out from behind the piano and everyone started screaming.  One of the members kicked it and it flew in the air, and then amongst all these Spanish people yelling, someone just starts stomping on the mouse and finished its life. It was a very weird experience. We had one of the people we were teaching there and he thought it was pretty funny. At least that was good. 

Hermana Vega and Julio. This is a family that I have really come to love. I talked a little about them before. Hermana Vega’s husband had three strokes and used to be the man who pretty much ran the church. The strokes really changed him and so Hermana Vega has really had to take charge. He doesn't work anymore, --they have an autistic son (Julio) and they have a daughter named Melissa. Hermana Vega has to run everything now in that family and it's hard because Julio takes all her energy and her time. They are living off of very little, but they still find it necessary to stuff us every time we go over there. We have been trying to teach Julio about baptism very simply because his attention span is tiny and it's been very interesting and honestly fun teaching someone the gospel who is autistic. You have to teach it in a more creative way so he can understand it and so he can pay attention. We then asked Hermana Vega about Julio and what happened to him. He's had six surgeries thus far because he was born with a disease that makes it so some of his intestines don't work. So, he never could eat when he was young because his intestines wouldn't move food through. All the drugs and the surgeries Hermana Vega believes is what caused the autism. Mom, I told her about Janna and she asked if maybe you could send me her email to give to her so they could talk. Please ask Janna. I absolutely love this family! It's a very humbling experience to see how your heart changes and how God opens your heart up to feel for people more than you ever have before. 

- Pedro. His brother is a member in the ward. We go every week to teach their family and we go twice a week to teach Pedro. We have been teaching him for a while now and his desire to find truth is so tuned and strong. He is honestly seeking after what's true. He accepted a baptismal date for May 9th last week and he is super excited about it. We went back yesterday to teach him about The Word of Wisdom. He is such an example to me because he said "I have decided to leave these substances behind completely because it's far more important to be good with God. Because no matter what I do, I will go back to him and I want him to be pleased with my efforts." What great strength for strongly going after that which is good! He met with us yesterday and even asked to have his baptism moved up! So now it's May 5th so his brother can make it. The more I've been opening my mouth and in the moment not knowing really what to say, but relying on the Lord to deliver the inspiration that the people we are teaching need to hear, I've realized this work has nothing to do with us as teachers. It's the Lord’s work and He's the one who changes the hearts. What allows us to have the spirit with us is if we are examples of what we teach. Love goes a long way. When we love others, they want to give it back. It's infectious and the more I've chosen to live the gospel and pray to see people the way God does, the more I feel my heart feeling a small portion of the way God feels about these people. 

Temple - This week we were able to go to the temple and it was such a lovely experience. It is such a spiritual time. There was a young lady getting her endowment and she was there with her family. It was a very special experience for her. The veil to the other side is very thin in the temple and it's truly a place where you can feel the reality of what really matters. It was a very special experience as always!

Tears Of Joy - So I've been blessed with the opportunity of playing piano and the organ for church. A different ward meets in our building right before our church. So, I always play the piano and organ as the old ward leaves and the new one comes in. I decided to switch it up and play the song "Tears of Joy" in-between wards and as I was playing it, this man came up who was visiting from the stake and he thanked me for playing. He told me every time he heard piano that it reminds him of when his mom would play piano to him when he was a boy. He started to tear up as I was playing. I myself felt very humbled by the experience. My companion teared up too and it was very cool. I felt blessed to be able to share some of myself. Thanks mom and Chieko for helping me with music :)

This week I've really been focusing on making my prayers more personal. I knelt down this week with a Book of Mormon in my hand. I prayed with all the sincerity of heart to know if this book was truly God's way. As I asked, a certain and very specific chapter came into my mind. As I read it, it answered my question perfectly as I feel complete joy that can't be described. I felt it with my whole heart. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that we have of it and the more I'm learning about different people, the more I'm seeing this just isn't a church, it's life...it's reality...it's how it eternally is, and we can know how to be successful in every area if we only give our hearts to God. I'm very happy! 

Thank you all so very much :)

Have a splendid week!

- Elder Celaya

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When We Meet God (8 April 2015)

This week has absolutely been a joyful one! I am learning so much and learning the process in which the Lord truly changes us. It's a lot simpler than I have thought my whole life, but I am so grateful for His hand that I am actively seeing in my life.

Last Wednesday - One thing I've notice is it's so hard to stay strong here... especially for those we teach. You feel opposition in every situation here. You feel like a warrior for the Lord. It's a war. Temptation comes everywhere. This place here too is full of evil, as is everywhere but I think it appears here a little more than some other places.

We went into a store last Wednesday (I wanted to get what they call "Bronx pants"...haha. [I’ll attach a picture of what "Bronx pants" look like]) and some woman said excuse me to this man as she walked by and the guy got all mad, and complained to his girlfriend, and the girlfriend said she was going to go take care of her in a very demeaning manner.  So they go over and start yelling, and the woman and the other woman start fighting and then the crazy woman grabs a hanger and starts thrusting it into the other woman's eye and into her face and they were going at it knocking down all the clothes. Then the guy started beating the lady too. Everyone was running and screaming and then it was just me and my companion watching, sitting there. Haha. The girl’s face was bleeding all over and she had scars from the hanger. All because this lady said "excuse me." 

A lot of these people here are full of evil or plain crazy. Sometimes when we talk of the word "evil" it may seem a little funny or it seems non-existent, but when you’re in situations like this, that is the time you truly feel the darkness feeling in the world. A lot of the people who are lost are filled with it. You see it in their eyes, in their countenance. Sometimes I really feel alone and the only hope I have is grasping onto the Lord. I sometimes feel a little bit how Moroni felt...being the only person left who wanted to follow God with some part of the Lord’s spirit, while everyone else was evil doing evil deeds amongst murderers and secret combinations. I have days like this where I see some of this kind of stuff happen, and I feel a sense of lost hope for some of these people. It's a very dark feeling and I know with all my heart the life I want now. I want none of this. It's hard because being surrounded by all this...you begin to lose hope for society. I was standing outside watching all these crazy people running around Wednesday and thought to myself, "I wonder what God thinks about all of his children here that are so lost"..."I wonder how sad and angry He must feel because of the deep love he has for them and the vision He has of their divine potential."

Anyways it put a damper on the day, but it's truly in those moments you come to understand opposition, or the true depth of right and wrong, good and evil. It's during those moments you truly feel how miserable you can be, which allows you to see how beautiful and eternally happy and loving you feel when you embrace God's spirit and His way of truth and light.

Thursday - Thursday at the church, we think someone else got shot again. There were tons of cops and there was a helicopter looking over the area. It was an intense scene. But we are all good :)

Everyone seems to progressing well that we are teaching. 

I am learning so much from this experience. I'm trying to read the Book of Mormon once a cycle which means 13 pages a day. I've seen a huge difference in my life since I've been doing this. I feel more positive, I've been learning a lot about life, and I've felt the Spirit more in my life. Reading that book and applying its teachings really does have a power in it that surpasses all words. 

We have been tracting a lot...most parts of the day...which I'm starting to really like. It's fun because my companion and I just start talking and we have a great time doing it. It doesn't feel like we are tracting and we get to grow closer and next thing you know, it's time to go to the next appointment. We've been able to find some awesome people for the English Sisters. 

Frankie - So Frankie I talked a little about before. He is a Dominican guy who is 32 who has 4 kids under 12 years old. He is such a great guy. We found him by doing a previous investigator look up. So apparently there were missionaries who came by before us and tracted into them. They never came back so we decided to go look them up. Well two weeks ago we were able to teach him about what we do as missionaries and how the message we share can improve your life. Then, this week we shared the restoration. Frankie is truly an example to me with his faith. He is a very fit guy and used to lift weights a lot. He showed us pictures of him back in the day and he was gigantic. He's always taken good care of his body, but this Wednesday he went into the doctors. Turns out he has brain cancer. He told us that he is now going to go into the hospital to take chemotherapy for 30 minutes to an hour each day. He was telling us all about what he found out and after he finished talking, I replied to him, "Wow, that's a very hard situation you are in." He quickly replied and said, "No, I am ok with it. I'm not scared at all. God takes things that we can't handle, and he handles them for us when we truly put our faith in him." He then started saying the following, "You know, I'm 32 and if I live until I'm 33 then I will thank God with my whole heart that he's allowed me to live that old...If I live until 33, then that's great! If I live to 40, then that will of course be better but I'm not scared because I'm going to go back into God's will. He knows when He is supposed to take me, and I know He loves me more than anyone or anything here, so I don't fear. I'm not afraid. I just want my kids to know the same if the time comes that I leave this earth on time in God’s eyes, but pre-mature in man's". What an example of faith! Who more at any moment needs the knowledge of The Plan Of Salvation at that very moment?

We are on a time limit because we are not sure how much longer he has to live. There is a deep impression on my soul to be able to show him God’s plan before he may go and meet God again. He has true faith and I admire his perspective. He knows God. He knows He loves him. He trusts him. He is a great example to me and I'm truly learning that we will one day all fall back into God's hands whether we lived lives doing bad things or lives going about doing God. How is it that you want to meet God? 

I love you all. Search for God. He's there just waiting for you to find him. I promise.


- Elder Celaya
Bronx Pants







Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Flesh Eating, Dog Stabbing, and Cat Killer (1 April 2015)

There is no such thing as a dull week here! How is everyone doing?

This week pretty much all starts with Sunday.

- Church. So I had to play the organ and piano last Sunday and only had a few days to learn the hymns! All I can say is God helped me on that one! It went well. I had the opportunity again this week to play and it was just wonderful. Especially when they sang out "yo sé qué vive mi salvador" (I know my savior lives). It was great! 

- Armando, Jacksiana and Tatí - So we went over to an investigator’s house that we haven't been able to see for about a month. He's the one from Mexico who met with the missionaries in Louisiana. He has two daughters. One 14 and the other 15. Without any notice, they will up and leave their house for 2-3 weeks without telling anyone. They skip school and they won't answer their phones when their dad calls them. Whatever they are doing outside, it can't be good because the area is not the best area. We even call it outer darkness haha.  So we finally got to meet the 14-year-old Jacksiana and she is awesome! She has true interest in the gospel and said she wants to change her life. She was super into the lesson and kept asking us questions and even told us she would make sure that her dad and they would go to church this week. 

A member also had me come into her class and had me play guitar and that was awesome as well.

So first of all a member asked us to come and accompany her and her daughter at their house because they were inviting a guy over who had a lot of questions about the gospel. So we go over, and he looks exactly like Elvis if he would have lived longer. He doesn't speak Spanish and that's all she spoke. We were the translators for a date! It was so awkward! She basically told us to tell him he couldn't come over anymore because she can't be there alone with him. It was so awkward and we thought he was over there to learn more about the gospel, but clearly he wasn't. He was overly nice and for the wrong reasons. Funny thing is, we saw him driving our bus this week after it all happened! It was a very funny experience. 

Jacksiana - So as we were having a lesson with her and her family, we kept hearing a man in the background. Finally at the end he came out, and Jacksiana told us that he was her baby daddy and that she was pregnant. He's quite a bit older than her and the situation was odd and pretty sad to see. I feel bad for her and the baby. So her baby daddy's name is Felix. So we asked her to say the prayer and it was a bit awkward. She kept praying for the "baby inside her" and it was rather odd. It was weird hearing a 14-year-old talk about being pregnant and becoming a mom. But the bright side is who more needs the gospel at a time like this?

It was a bit depressing to be honest. I felt the weight of her trials on my own shoulders. We met with them again this week, and Felix (Jacksiana's boyfriend) was there too. We were able to teach them more and we all gave them a baptism date to work for! Armando (the dad) Felix, Jacksiana, and Tatí. Even though this family is a little wild, I love them! They are just great!

Dominican family - so we are still teaching the Dominican family. Pedro (the father) works as a chef in a restaurant in the middle of Central Park. Yesterday we went over to their house for food and a lesson. We thought he was just going into cook us some average food, but we show up and he is making a feast amount of food! It was the best food I've yet to have on my mission. He's been a chef for 25 years and wow does he know how to cook! It was hard to stay awake during that lesson because I was stuffed and it felt like right after thanksgiving dinner! It was amazing! We had a lesson with them about living prophets and invited them to come to general conference this upcoming week (the time we get to listen to our living prophet speak to us).

Tracting - we have been tracting a lot lately and we had a very amazing, funny, and scary experience. Elder Lyons and I went on a split and we went tracting. We were just about to finish up tracting but we decided to go try another building. As we walked in I felt inspired to go to the 4th floor. We walked up the stairs to the 4th floor and knocked the first door. As we knocked, a lady opened the door very angrily and we began to talk to her. As we told her who we were, she started talking about how her neighbor is a witch and how anytime anyone talks to her, they come out and listen. It was rather odd, but we talked about the hope our Savior brings and we ended up giving her something to go look up. We ended the conversation, and the door closed, and as we were leaving the door, we got a call. I answered it and it happened to be a lady we just tracted into in another building. She told us that when we came up and knocked her door, she told us no, but she saw the card we left on her door (the only card we left on any door the entire time we were tracting) and she said she actually was interested and wanted to know more. That was the first miracle because that almost never happens and God knew we needed to leave that card on her door. So amongst all of this, the lady we just tracted into on the 4th floor was listening to us. We heard her saying "they are whispering they are whispering" and she kept repeating it louder and louder and finally she swung the door right open. She started talking about how she was going to kill her neighbors and how they are ruining her life, and she started to get a little out of hand. As we were talking to her, the super came up and told us for our safety, we needed to remove ourselves from that door. The lady started calling the super a witch and said to not listen to the super, but we did, and as we were walking downstairs, it turns out the lady on the fourth floor "stabs her dog, and has killed her cat," and she also told us that missionaries from another church came by a long time ago and were talking to her, and she "attacked them and bit a chunk of flesh out of one of their necks." We were super confused at this point and we're thankful that the super came and got us. We starting talking to the super for about 20 minutes, and as we were talking, it turns out the super was very interested in the message of happiness that we brought. We now have a return appointment with the super and we are going to go back to start teaching the super. 

We would have never found the super if we had not gone to floor 4 because the super lives in the basement, and the super would have never known we were in the building unless the cops got called (the neighbors of the crazy lady called the cops on us), and we could have never been led to the super if it weren't for that whole experience. God does work in mysterious ways and as I type this I'm still shocked from this experience. All I can say is that God leads us to who is ready to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ if we put in the work no matter how He gets us there. We have been tracting a lot recently and it's really been paying off. I find it fun because you absolutely never know what you are going to get. 

I loved the lesson the sister taught when I had to come in and play the guitar.  She related it to how we can be the Lord's servants if we let Him "tune us" and tweak us and if we give ourselves to him, we can do amazing things. We simply have to give ourselves to him. Obey what he asked us to do and we are promised to prosper temporally and spiritually in this life and the next! Sometimes I don't understand why people don't want to follow Him. Out of anyone or anything, he cares about us most, and knows and has provided a way that will make us happier than we are capable of imagining. Ask yourselves this week what you may need to do to give yourself to Him. He gave himself for us to be happy, now all we have to do is give a little of ourselves. 

I love you all so very much. My love is growing out here on my mission. I love this experience. I'm coming to realize how real my Savior is. I love Him so much and I am so thankful for his hands that carry me day to day.

That same love I share with you,

- Elder Celaya