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