Welcome to New York! Haha. This week has been so extremely busy, but so awesome!
To start off, there is this guy here who walks around everywhere on the streets who makes really loud bird calls. He dresses like a bird and I honestly believe he's so crazy and messed up in the head that he thinks he's really a bird. Usually every time he sees us missionaries walking around he starts yelling all the cities in Utah (everyone here thinks we are from Utah...or they call Utah "the factory"....because they pump out missionaries… Haha) and then he starts yelling his bird calls (which sound extremely accurate and quite honestly it scares me how real they sound. Anyways, last week we saw him and walked right past him. He has a bunch of bird feathers in his hair, and had long peacock feathered earrings hanging from his ears. I was in a lighter mood that day and I had heard a lot about him before (I believe I wrote about him before in one of my previous letters), so as I walked past him, I stopped and flapped my arms (like a bird) and said "BIRD MAN, MAKE ME FLY!!!" haha. He got a little too excited and started making all kinds of bird sounds that I've never heard before. There was this guy in front of us who saw the whole thing and was like (and this is extremely edited by the way...haha), "Maaaaan, all this guy has got to do is run up a tree and he's practically a bird." It was extremely funny and it gave us a great laugh for the day. This story explains this place - straight crazy. Haha.
Yankees game - So last Wednesday for preparation day we got to go to the Yankees game. One thing that's interesting is that the stadium is in the middle of the Bronx that's filled with projects and apartments. You would never imagine it to be in a place like this. Anyways, the Yankees lost, but it was pretty fun to go and see!
We have a special stake conference coming up within the next month and they assigned me to play all the music and a member of the 70 is going to be coming! I'm excited because it will be very interesting.
Piano Lessons - A lot of people here have been hearing me play in sacrament meeting and are now asking me to give them or their kids piano lessons. So now what we are starting to do is instead of maybe having a lesson with them at their house, they come to the church, we have a little piano time, and then we finish with a lesson about gospel related principals. It's been very fun and interesting. Just imagine a super hot and spicy Dominican type of personality acting like they have the piano down and then getting super angry when they mess up. It's been interesting to say the least! Haha.
Elder Quinten L. Cook - On this upcoming Saturday, Quinten L. Cook, who is a member of the Twelve Apostles is coming to speak to our whole mission in Manhattan at the temple, and president asked me to sing a special number! Ahhh! I'm pretty nervous to be honest! I never thought I would get the opportunity to sing for an apostle! Haha but I'm very excited as well to feel the love he has as he speaks about whatever it is he will speak about. I feel it will be a very spiritually uplifting day. Wish me luck and pray that I can do all right!
Pedro Reyes - Yesterday, a man we were teaching named Pedro got baptized! He was absolutely so prepared. His situation could not have gotten any better because he lived with a family that was in our ward. So, every time we were privileged to teach him, his sister-in-law was able to sit in the lessons and help us out explaining everything. He moved from Mexico and he is divorced. He has a 15-year-old son who lives in Mexico with his ex-wife, so he feels very alone in life because he doesn't really have any friends and the only family he has over here in the United States is his brother and his family. He works all the time and then comes home to rest. So the only people he really sees are the people he works with, and his family. He really was at a point where everything else has failed him in life, and he was able to realize, while taking the lessons, that this was the only way to true, deep, heavenly, lasting happiness. You could see the change in him as we got to teach him. It's a very amazing thing to watch in someone - when you first meet with them and you can see the deep sorrow and hopelessness in their eyes. Then as you start to meet with them, the spirit starts to change them and their countenance. This change only happens AFTER they start to live in harmony with the things we teach them. What they need in order to even start that change is faith and a desire to have that faith. Well, Pedro truly had that.
Yesterday was his baptism and the whole service went well, until we got into the font. Someone had undone the plug so the water was almost all gone! Everyone was in the room waiting for us to go down into the water, but water is exactly what we lacked! Haha. Anyways, we all got buckets and started pouring water into the font. Well after a while, we decided we had to do the baptism now because the English ward had a baptism as well at the same time. So Pedro walks into the font, and the water was very low. So, I knew right then, getting him down that low was going to be a challenge. So I said the prayer, and then he went down. And as I saw how low the water really was, I realized that I would have to give it some power, so I did and he came up, we were both soaking! I gave it way too much force. Someone in the back even said "¡El sentió eso!", which means, "He felt that!!" Besides that, the experience was absolutely great. He even told us that he felt a change happening in him after his baptism.
As I was sitting there I was just thinking about how, right now, these people are my family. I love them and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to come to know them. Some of these people I have met on my mission I feel as if I have known them forever, and I just had to come out here to find them again. Some of these people I will be best friends with the rest of my life. It's really interesting what happens when you forget about worrying about yourself and get involved with others, and see their problems and try to help them. I've seen so many different people with so many different problems, small and extremely large, and it's amazing to sit there and show them how the gospel of Jesus Christ can fix their problem completely. I've seen time after time how that simply is the answer to every problem we have. It doesn't suspend the problem by only treating the pain felt, it completely heals any problem we have no matter how big or small it is. I'm so grateful that I've been able to see how to apply it in so many situations in life because I've seen how infinite the atonement is as well as the gospel and now I can apply that for the rest of my life. This is great! I love this time I have to serve. Do something today to forget yourself and help another. You never know how much it can help.
Happy Mother's Day as well! I am excited to skype my family on Sunday and I'm so grateful for them in my life :)
Be happy. Smile more.
- Elder Austin Celaya
Pedro Reyes' Baptism
Selfie with Pres. Morgan
Yankee Stadium from my seat!
Crazy shop in Manhattan
Kids I love