Thursday, June 23, 2016

Don’t Be a "New Yorker" (22 June 2016)

What a crazy week it's been. I've been pretty sick, my roommate went home on an emergency, and every time we walk out the door someone always seems to have something to say -- the "New York way!"

One night we were walking home. We just get off the subway, and we ran into the sister missionaries. We said hi and walked in front of them. As we were walking, there were these two guys holding hands walking in the opposite direction. One of them looks at me and says, "Heyyyy cute thanngg!!!"  And then his partner looks at him and smacks him and yells, "HEYYYYYY, don't you look at him!!" (now this was all said in a very voice-fluctuating type of tone). The sisters behind us just start cracking up and so did we. Very funny experience that I've never had - a guy flirting with me while he already had a partner. It was an experience I had once and thought that would be the end, but we actually have been getting a lot of these kinds of occasions recently.

We had a lesbian couple walk by (same place actually), they started laughing at us and said we were a cute couple. Haha. They thought they were so ironically funny. Right before that, we came out off an elevator and there was this "vote for Adam Clayton Powell" add on the floor (a congressman here who has a street and statue in Harlem). Well, the guy is still living, but the statue makes him out to seem like he's some hero from the founding fathers’ time. My companion was telling me about this, and this lady looks up at us and was like "Yeah, well there's no black statues in Utah" (in a very sarcastic ignorant tone). My companion didn't like that one.

- We had this member call us from New Jersey who happened to be in the same congregation of the man who runs the administration of the hospital here in the area (we had met with him on previous occasions). He called us up and asked us if we could accompany him to a lung transplant seminar. He worked in the subway tunnels here for 14 years and it destroyed his lungs. He was, in fact, telling us a few crazy stories. One time some guy tried to sneak through the turnstiles and this man tried to chase him down and yelled at him, "I hope you get hit by a train and die!" and the guy got scared, jumped into the tracks trying to cross, the train came, and BOOM, he was hit. Our friend said he ran back up to his position real quick haha. He told us, too, how the homeless people live down in the subways and how a man touched something electrical and fried black and our friend had to scrape him off the tracks. He has crazy stories! Anyways, his lungs are destroyed from working down there for 14 years. He needs a lung transplant (both lungs) and called the mission home to get it approved that we go with him. So we went to a 2-hour seminar with about 50 people hooked up to oxygen tubes, having to carry oxygen tanks around with them everywhere they go. The seminar was given by one of the top lung surgeons in the world and was so interesting. I honestly learned a lot about missionary work. It relates to everything -- especially human nature and human patterns.

We are having a baptism the weekend before I leave. We are working with Justin to get him there. His mom and sister were baptized a year ago, and his dad is now getting interested. We are going to work on getting them to the temple to be sealed. That's the goal.

There is a lady we have been visiting in the hospital who is from Philadelphia (4 hours away) who happens to be a member. She fell and now her intestines turned black and partly died, so they had to cut a large part of them out. She has been in pain for about a month now. She doesn't have anybody here who’s family except her sister who works at the hospital as a cancer researcher. Sunday night we needed to sync our area book and therefore needed wifi. We decided to go to the hospital. As we were sitting down a very strong prompting came to mind. "Go visit Diane."  So we walked in her room and she was sleeping. Whenever she is sleeping, we usually just come back.  But something said to wake her up. So we woke her up, and she began to express to us that she wanted to give up, that she wanted to die, and die tonight. We didn't really know what to do or say. We waited for a minute and the words finally came. We were able to tell her that clearly God had not given up on her yet, and that was the reason she was living...there was a purpose, she just had to find it. We spent 45 minutes helping her see the bigger picture. By the end of the night she told us she would fight to the end. It's been amazing to see how God puts you in people's path that you either need or they need you. Look for them. They are always there. I've found the more I'm looking to find those that I can help, the more people come into my life that can help me.

Love you all,

- Elder Celaya

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Do You Know Reality? (8 June 2016)

- Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. Gospel, gospel, gospel -- two best things in the world. Two things I'm addicted to. Good things to be addicted to, too :)

- We talk in Spanish all day. I'm so happy that California is basically a second Mexico or I don't know what I'd do without Spanish on the daily!

- Elder Bennet from the first quorum of the 70 is here all week. We have an 8-hour training with him tomorrow and then another 5-hour one the following day. It's going to be intense!

 - Justin. 17. His mom and sister just joined the church a year ago and we found him in the hospital. He had a series of surgeries and we would visit him each day between surgeries. Now we are teaching him. He has a baptism date for the 25th of June. Such an awesome kid. It's fun to find those that aren't really tainted by the crazy environment here. I have no idea how they stay that way living here. It blows my mind.

- How can we understand, comprehend, appreciate, and value eternity, or something eternal, when nothing in our lives has ever been temporary? Let's say you grow up with your family, they are still here, and you have your school and your job with friends and family. What in that life seems temporary? It's only when something becomes temporary like a death in the family or when you fight death daily with a terminal disease, etc...That is when we see reality, really as it is, and we understand more than we know anything else that death is real. More real than any of us seem to want to believe. Death is the ending of this life. As you meet the end that will also end everything else in your life, this is when you realize what really matters - not much more than that really does. All we can really control, and not even fully is the life we have here. We are still subjected to injustices and bad decisions of others, illness, etc...but at least we try to control it. But then we realize that by ourselves alone we cannot control anything of what follows this life. We don't know how, or even can by ourselves. That's where Christ comes in -- the only one who knows the "how," and He has given us the tools to make death only a passing phase rather than an end. It can only get better. It will be unimaginably better in the next life if we would only let Him change us and make it that way here. I've realized you can teach people this all you want. They may know it's true all they want. But to really find Him personally, on a personal level, it takes lots and lots of searching and work. But oh, is it worth it. He will take you out of this world and bring you to one better. You'll have one foot in heaven.

It's as C.S. Lewis said, "The men who did most for this world were the ones whose minds were caught up in the next."

I love this mission. I'm going to miss it dearly. I've never had to leave anything that's so close to my heart as this.

¡Haz lo que pueda a medida que le falte tiempo todavĂ­a! 

- Elder Austin Celaya

My last transfer. Saying goodbye to Elder Richards.

My new companion, Elder Price. He's from Redlands, CA. It's great - basically our whole zone is from California. Love it!

Cool mall in Columbia Circle