Hello from Staten Island!!! Yep, I am currently serving (and will probably be serving for a few months) in Staten Island. It's an awesome place! Full of hills, parks, people, and businesses. And an amazing view of the ocean and city! Sister Jorgensen (my great companion and trainer who will be coming home to Provo in June) and I are the only English sister missionaries on this island. They haven't had sisters here for years and the bishop and people have been praying for us. They welcomed us with love and dinner (we get fed a lot) and we are so excited to start working with them! There are tons of less actives in this ward so that's been our main priority this week. We have met quite a few people already so it's been busy and I love it! So big news... I am an official New York City driver!! What?! haha it's actually not as bad here as it is in Brooklyn and Manhattan but there are still a lot of random one way streets and crazy stop light rules.. Like you can't turn right on a red light between 9-4 Mon-Fri... weird. But I love driving! We luckily have a GPS or else we would probably be completely lost. haha I may need one of those when she goes home...
So one thing our mission president wants us to focus on is the people who were helped by the Mormon Helping Hands during Hurricane Sandy. Friday we visited a few of those families (members and non members) and I was amazed at how humble and grateful they were for the help they received. Some of the stories are devastating. We are continuing to provide service to those who are trying to clean up and recover. We have also been directed to ask if we can pray for their home and their family so we were able to offer a few blessings on their homes and it was such a tender experience. I know there will be a lot of investigators and strong members because of this tragedy. On Satuday before conference we cleaned up a home that was right on the beach (gorgeous view!!!) and the man offered us some chocolate and cookies. Some of the elders ate the chocolate and then found out it had brandy in it.... ha! so funny!!!
Our apartment is really cute, it suits New York very well. I am going to try to send pictures to you today if I can figure out how to do it haha we live close to an area called St .George! But it's not at all like the St. George I am used to haha it's really windy here but the weather hasn't been too bad so I'm not complaining! Like I said, we have and will be fed a lot here haha the district leader and zone leaders here are awesome! They set appointments up for us all the time. We had dinner given to us for the first three nights. Filipino food (is that how you spell it?:)), fish, and chicken pasta just like the one you make mom! (of course not as good though:)) My companion found out she can't have gluten so I'm trying to help her out with that haha sadly, there are bagel places pretty much on every corner! I saw one yesterday called MnM Bagel and Deli.. I may have to try it out:)
Just in case you think I am having too much fun I will share with you some spiritual experiences that have happend this week. First, my mission president is truly inspired and called of God. His power and motivation is contagious. He is incredible. I really can't describe him any better than that. He has encouraged all of us to become forever changed. Not just til we finish our mission but to experience real growth always. That is my goal as a missionary. I struggled at first because I wanted to experience that so badly but I wasn't letting the Lord do it. He humbled me very quickly. On Thursday, I was trying to study and learn but something was in the way. I don't know what it was but as we finished out zone meeting I was prompted to recevie a priesthood blessing. I fought it, but was reminded from a letter Elder Brown had written me that said "Take advantage of the priesthood. If you are in need, don't hesitate to ask for a blessing, your faith in it will bless you." As we were driving home the Zone Leader called to ask us a question about something. I knew that that was my last chance. So I asked for a blessing. They didn't know what was going on and I can't really describe it either. But the first thing that was said was "We give you a blessing of comfort and of joy." The word joy was exactly what I needed. I have been filled with joy in the last few days. It has come through the Priesthood, through truly feasting upon the words of Christ, praying more sincerely, exercising and studying more on faith, repenting every second I make a mistake, and remembering who I am and whose I am. I pray the happiness you feel for the gospel is contagious, we have the most hopeful, peaceful message! I pray you are putting a missionary tag on your heart. Member missionary work is KEY. My vision for my mission has grown tremendously. I am striving to work diligently, humbly, and patiently everyday so when I am finished with my time here the Lord will accept my work and accept me as His own. I desire to become more like Christ and know that that is only possible because of His Atonement. I stand all amazed at the love He gives me daily. I am truly blessed to be apart of the greatest service one can give. In 25 words I want you to know.... Jesus Christ lives. His gospel is the way back to our loving Heavenly Father. Pray. Study. Love. Bloom where you are planted. I love you.