Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I Dare You with Love (24 February 2016)

Hello Everyone,

What a weird but awesome week we have had here.

- Got pretty sick this week. Still fighting it.

- Working out every night hard. Yoga in the mornings. 

- We did a look-up of a person who had supposedly been looking into the church before. He oddly let us in and talked about how his brother lets us sleep at his house. We were super confused, and he then told us that his brother was very high in our church. We did not recognize his name, so he said he was going to have him come over. Wasn't home, so he called him. We told him our names and that we were new in the area and that we were trying meet the members. We told him we were from New Paltz, and he said that it was impossible because the New Paltz missionaries don't cover the area where he lived (we were in a different town). We told him we did, and he asked us what our "area cards were"? Well, come to find out, he is a Jehovah's Witness, and we got so deep into it not knowing that they were such that we had no way of backing out of it. So, we pretended like we were JWs. Quite a funny experience. We left a Book of Mormon on his porch so he probably knows now who we are. :)

- Right after the experience above, I was driving 50 in a 30 MPH zone (I thought the speed limit was 45) and got pulled over by a cop. He asked where we were coming from, and we told him we were missionaries from our church just coming home from an appointment. He asked me if I have ever gotten a ticket in New York, California or anywhere in-between. Said no. He looked at my name tag, thought for a second, and then gave me back my license and told us to be careful going home and to keep up the good work. God is good. That would have been a $300 plus ticket :)

- Last week we went over to a member’s house to have dinner with them. Within the house is an older man who is not a member of the Church. Well, 25 years earlier on that day, his wife had passed away. He was lonely, and you could tell he missed her. The head of the household asked us if we could go and pray with him. We did, and then we started to learn more about his family. We talked and ended up teaching him that he CAN be with his wife again, and we shared how he can. We taught him the plan of salvation mixed with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We invited him to be baptized on the very first contact and he said yes!  By the time we finished the lesson, we had to go to our next appointment and never even got to teach the family. But God knew why we needed to go over there, and it was for this man. Well, this week we went over there, taught him the restoration of the gospel, and he is now on date to be baptized the 2nd of April.

God is a god of miracles, but he gives us this life as our playing ground.  This life is a training.  God never leaves us, we leave Him, and as we try to get closer to Him, He will guide us through this life perfectly.  Don’t think it can happen?  Try it.  I dare you.

I dare you with love,

- Elder Celaya

Thursday, February 18, 2016

God sees the Divine Potential of Those Who Struggle (17 Feb 2016)

When you come to start to know God, you start to see the DIVINE potential of others. There are moments in life where you feel comfortable and think you do not need God. But there are moments in life that are deep and extreme reminders that we indeed do need Him.

I feel like my life right now is surrounded by addicts and their struggles. It's been crazy. In this area I’m in we are teaching a lot of drug addicts and alcoholics. In fact, out of all the people we are teaching, only one isn't an addict. It's so sad to see the craziness it causes. One of the people we are teaching was in a coma for four days in the hospital because he overdosed on Morphine. He did it again the other day, but didn't end up in the hospital. We were over there when he did it and we had to deal with that, trying to save the guy's life. We have been trying to get him off of it. 

We are teaching this other guy who was in the military. Decided one day to take on his captain in a fight. The captain beat him to a pulp. Doctors gave him pain meds and he got hooked. Got to a point where he was taking 6 vicodin a day, 5 morphine, and 4 other medications (8 each) that were pain meds, but his biggest drug of choice was heroin. Nuts right? He was homeless for 10 years living on the street that has the highest murder rate in the entire nation here in NY. Well, he has been clean of heroin for two years. We are working getting him off alcohol and cigarettes now. 

We are teaching another guy who used to be a crack addict and a hard core liquor drinker. He has to have a bottle in his hand every second of the day or he physically cannot handle the way his body rejects being sober. We got him off liquor and he’s just drinking beer (about four a day). He has a wife, two kids (16 and 9), and grew up in Yonkers. He's a grown man, but calls us whenever he needs help. We went over there the other day and he took us into this laundry mat where his wife works. He cried his soul out to us, saying he felt like there was no way out and that he wasn't a man anymore. 

These are just a few people we are teaching. I don't know why all we teach are people with suicidal thoughts and drug habits, but it's teaching me a lot. Like a ton. I have learned not to judge anybody. In fact, when we were teaching this guy, he said, "I feel like I have failed, have no potential, and that I am not a man anymore." I looked at him in his eyes as he was sobbing, a little confused about what I was feeling. I felt an overwhelming love for him. A love like I have never felt before. And I sat there for a minute as he cried, looked up at him and said, "Pat, I don't know why, but I feel an overwhelming love for you, so intense I have never experienced anything like this. I barely even know you. I don't think what I am feeling is the love that I have for you, but just a small piece of the love that God has for you." It was such a cool experience to feel that. I've seen, as I’ve prayed for it, God giving me a little bit of a vision of how he sees these struggling people...their divine potential. It has been amazing.

I never would have thought two years ago this would be my life. It gives you a different perspective than you can get anywhere else because you are 100% disconnected from the world.There is no TV, no news, no phone, no internet, no calling friends ... all you are left with is yourself and the promptings of God. It truly gives you a vision of HOW THINGS REALLY ARE.

A bit of bad news... we got in an accident two days ago. It was snowing a lot, and we slid across the road and hit the curb really hard. I hit my head on the top of the window, but luckily neither of us were hurt. We destroyed the wheel and the rim. We had to take in our car all day yesterday to get it fixed. It's like new now, though :) I guess that is what you get by giving two California boys a car in snow. Believe me, I know how to drive in snow—the members ALWAYS teach me because they know I’m from southern California. There was just nothing I could do in the situation that we were in. It could have been a lot worse.

Ugh, it was negative 5 degrees here on Sunday, 10 degrees on Monday, and 59 on Tuesday. Makes no sense, right? It was snowing super hard 2 days ago… we woke up and it’s 59 degrees! Haha, gotta love this weird weather.

I hope you are all doing alright.


- Elder Celaya

It's snowing!

Zone Conference Feb 2016