Friday, April 29, 2016

Is true change even possible? (27 April 2016)

- Wow. Dominican Heights! Our area is literally a mini Dominican Republic. It's crazy. It's filled with Dominicans on the streets. What's even greater is when they see a couple tall white guys speaking Dominican Spanish. They love it. Speak Dominican Spanish around English people (which, in fact, I do...all the time, because I love Spanish that much :), and you'll see the most confused faces on earth.

- We speak Spanish here all day now.....well honestly it's more like Spanglish. EVERYONE here speaks Spanglish. They will literally have full-on conversations in two languages. For example, one person will speak in Spanish, the other in English in the conversation, and on other occasions one person will speak one sentence or paragraph in Spanish, the other in English. For example, "yo trabajo en ese ‘building,’ pero tengo que salir porque tengo una ‘appointment’ a las cinco." Which, besides the two words you already know, translates to "I work in this building, but I have to leave because I have an appointment at 5." Haha – awe, good old Spanglish.

- We give service every Tuesday and Friday now helping serve food, and we are also going to give piano lessons to the folks more mature in age. This is going to be interesting.

- I have been contemplating what solidifies true change. Almost everyone we talk to and work with is willing to change, but then once they start to do that, they fall back with where they were and fall into complacency. Change is extremely hard to solidify. But I've realized that change isn't so much an event. But a process. It takes time and major effort. There's nothing better than to see someone change their very lives so they can come closer to God. Those people have a light about them. They have a happiness to them that the rest of the world seems to truly want. There's this lady whose name is Brenda. She operates the elevators here in the subway station. We've become great friends with her. Para que sepa (just so you know), Brenda is this bigger African American woman in her 40's from, I believe, the Bronx. Haha. Enough said, no? Well we talk every time we see her and she is the most outgoing lady in the world. The other day the elevator was packed full of people (about 30). Brenda starts telling the entire group of people in the elevator the following: "Oh my gosh, would you look how handsome these fellows are?! Always so clean cut and nice and wow, I just can't believe how nice they always are and always happy. They are always bright and have a light to em'. I don't understand how they can always be so happy! I want that in my life! If y'all want to be happy, just talk to these fine young gentleman because every time they talk to me, my entire day be flipping around." What a great lady. It's amazing to see how people want the light and deep, eternal-based happiness we have been so blessed with that so many people don't enjoy in this life. To see someone stuck searching for something more and then see them discover the "more" and how their entire being changes when they begin to do the There is nothing better. I love this work. My heart is filled with love for these people. Oftentimes I feel as if I love them more than they do themselves. That's when I realize it's not my love I'm feeling, but a tiny little bit of how God feels for them.

- Missions are the greatest thing you could ever be a part of. They are extremely hard, but so worth every difficulty. It makes the joy that much more sweet.

- Serving in these types of areas is very eye opening at times. It's sad to see so many people living the types of lives they live here. Most people here are not happy and they will let you know, too. It's a tough group of people, but ironically they make it that way on themselves. By their desires and their choices. Many people think that our reality is controlled by outside forces (family, religion, government, school, friends, etc.), but truly our reality is controlled by our own choices. Choices in this life are so critical. Every choice we make either changes us for the better (to become more like Christ), or it changes us for the worse. As we solidify CHOOSING the right, we will solidify the change within us for good. We teach this guy who was going to be so successful in life. He is 6 foot 8 inches. He was the #4 basketball player in the nation as a high schooler. He had a full ride to Syracuse University to play ball. He got into heavy drugs, started running on the streets, got a girl pregnant and has fallen into a few other things. He lost his scholarship and now dives into the pain of his current reality in drugs. We have been teaching him and trying to help him change his life. We have been trying to get him to come to church, but turns out his girlfriend stabbed him on Sunday so he couldn't come. It's so sad to see someone who really does have potential choose to throw it away. Choices truly matter. Every little one matters. What is amazing to see that even though he's so far gone down the wrong road, the atonement of Christ can heal it all, IF HE LETS HIM, not by mere grace alone, but by repentance.

- The Atonement heals all, but only IF WE LET IT.

Si yo hubiese sabido de que lo que elegimos determine nuestro éxito en la vida, hubiera cambiado todo más temprano en mi vida. Yo amo a la misión y todo de lo que se aprende. No quiero estar in ningún otro lugar en todo el mundo. No hay un otro lugar mejor esto -- el servicio del Señor. (:

- Elder Celaya

Inwood District

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