Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It Just Gets Crazier (16 December 2015)

When you thought Harlem was as crazy as it got....haha… ah, what a week.

- We are driving along this road in the middle of nowhere at 8:30pm, going 65mph and it’s pitch black.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the car in front of us looks like it gets hit... hard. Then we see fur fly in the air like an explosion. Not just a little bit of fur, but a lot
of it. The car spins out of control and we are left in awe wondering what just happened. So we pull about 100 feet in front of the car. We park fast, run out of the car, and there on the road is this massive (and I mean HUGE!!) deer twitching its way to its death, and in back of the deer was a car that was totaled on one side. We walked our way around the deer and went quickly to the driver to see if he was ok (from the look of the car, it didn't look good)... but thankfully he wasn't hurt too bad. Luckily the deer completely took out the passenger side and not the driver, but the poor guy was in so much shock. The kid looked like he was 20 and didn't know what to do. So we called the cops, calmed him down, and helped him.

- Found dead. So we had a member from our church pass away this week.  We live right next to a university and on the other side of the road and up a distance is our church. Well, this guy was attending the university here and then would go to church on Sundays. Well, rumor has it that he was found dead on a trail hanging by a tree. We kept trying to figure out more about the guy because we didn’t know him well, and we found out that the college was going to have a big memorial for him.  So on Sunday night we went to the college and listened to a lot of his friends and coworkers and professors speak about him. The guy was 20 and truly seemed like a great young man. People were confused about us because here they were amongst all these familiar faced college kids, and then there was us, who just seemed to pop up in the college out of nowhere. It was a great experience to be able to support the guy, even though we didn't fully know him. I guess I'm not in Harlem anymore, but the craziness just seems to follow me :)

- People - The people here are so nice that I just feel rude, especially coming from Harlem where you have to be straight up about things to get anything done there. Everyone here lives in old houses, with lots of farmland and tons of trees. It is like I'm completely in a different mission. I'm having to re-learn how to be a missionary. If you put me in a city with tall buildings and lots of crazy people, I'll know what to do, but this.....I have no idea. Haha. Everyone hunts out here, everyone makes their own homemade food, and everyone seems to be united as small towns. Then occasionally you get your "white trash" families who have 20 people all living in the same house who are all inbred, pack rats, and eat all day. But the towns are great. The other night they were having a Christmas tree lighting/Santa greeting/caroling for this small town. Everyone from the town was out participating—something you would only get in a small town. I love it here. I couldn't sleep the first four nights because of how quiet it is. I really haven't heard silence my whole mission, so coming out here in the mountains feels very odd.

- We do a ton of service here. This week so far we have gone into the forest and cut trees down and cut wood for firewood. We cleaned up a yard and got rid of tons of leaves and got all the scrap wood and burned it in a trash can (see pic below). We unloaded a massive pallet of bags full of pellet fuel for stove fires. Side note – everyone makes fun of my companion and me because we are both from Southern California and have no idea how to work all the burning and heating devices they use to keep their houses warm. They give us such a hard time. We cut up a massive tree that fell into someone's garden and took it deep into the woods. It has been fun and a lot of work. It really gets you into shape though.

- I've been going hard on working out every morning and night. We also have bikes and sometimes we will choose to ride those instead and race to our appointments to get a good workout in. My companion’s dad was a professional cyclist. You know what they say, like father like son, so it's hard to keep up with the guy, but it's great.

- The ward here is a branch and we have about 30 people who go to church. There is this member who is opening a pie shop and she made the most amazing gluten free pie for me. The members are just great! I honestly cannot believe how relaxed missionary work has been. Serving in an inner city my whole mission has been so much harder compared to this. I cannot believe this is how missions usually are.

- I can't believe how much I miss being in the Spanish program. I'm not used to this, haha. There are hardly any people here that speak Spanish. I've only seen two. But one of our members is from El Salvador and she says she has three families for us to teach that only speak Spanish. So tomorrow we are going to visit all three and I'm super excited to do so. I have this goal to talk to everyone I see that looks like they speak Spanish, even if we are driving down the highway and the person’s walking down the road. We will stop the car and I'm talking to the guy. My companion thinks it's odd, but you have to do what you have to do.

- We went to this place called Mohawk Mountain and hiked through a bunch of massive boulders. There was a very nice hotel at the top of this mountain with a massive lake and ice skating rink. We visited it with our mission leader and his family. It was such a challenging but fun hike. Then we had correlation meeting at the top of the mountain. Best correlation I’ve ever had.

- Ex Pro Tennis Player. We are teaching this man named Kenny who was an ex-pro tennis player who unfortunately was unable to continue his career because earlier in his life he had something wrong with his back. The doctors gave him the wrong medicine and it gave him brain damage. The guy is in his 40's, but has to walk with a walker due to what the medicine did to him. He's great though! We love talking about sports and going hard in life. He has a baptism date for next month. We will see how Kenny does.

- I want to share something that was spoken about at the young man’s memorial by his philosophy professor that I have been learning is completely true. He was talking about a concept professed by an early Chinese philosopher. He stated that when one goes out into the world to "find himself," he will never come to find who he is. It is only when he gives himself to others and then creates loving lasting relationships that he finds out who he really is. “Who he is" is the accumulation of all the relationships he has acquired. Who he is has nothing to do with himself. It is only when we turn outward that we find who we are. I used to think that by focusing on myself I'd found out who I was and who I wanted to become. But as I've been here trying to forget about myself, ironically, I feel as if I know who I am and what I want to become in life more than I ever have in my entire life, especially when I was solely focusing on myself. If you want to find who you are, forget you and remember others. I don't know how it works, I just know that it does. The ultimate example of this was Jesus Christ. How so? Here's a video that explains. We find us when we give. He was the true giver.

What can you do to give a little of yourself to someone this Christmas season? Imagine if everyone in the world was focusing on giving instead of receiving. Imagine what the world would be like. We can't necessarily change the world, but we can change ourselves.


Elder Celaya

from the New York Stake "Christmas on Columbus"

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