Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mission Experience

Elder Jeffrey Griffiths
New York New York North Mission
September 5, 2012 - August 6, 2014

Mission Experience

As my time to serve a full-time mission has come to a close, I have been filled with profound gratitude. My experiences out here have not been easy, but they have helped to mold and shape me and give me good direction on the path to perfection. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I hope to express just a portion of my gratitude for the opportunity to serve a full-time mission as I write out my mission experience.
Before the mission even began, my stake mission preparation teacher drilled into my head that it was not going to be "my" mission. Elder Holland often reminded me in the Missionary Training Center that this service was not going to be about me. I anticipated losing myself in the work. As I learned submission, humbly giving up my will for the will of Heavenly Father, I came to have an abiding trust in Him, knowing that this is indeed His work. I have come to see that He is guiding us all to be where we need to be in order to fulfill His great purposes. Heavenly Father is "able to do [His] own work" (2 Nephi 27:20), yet He blesses us with the privilege of working along side Him to learn and grow ourselves. I now know that the mission best benefits us and best changes us as we seek nothing for ourselves. That is definitely a hard concept to get down, and I still have not yet perfected it, but I know that life will be the same too. I have learned so much, and I am so grateful to have learned from the get go.
At the beginning of my service as a missionary, my trainer helped me to see the value in developing friendships with other missionaries. At the start, I was not social at all. When it came time for district meeting and other gatherings of missionaries, I didn't want to talk to anyone- I just wanted to get out and get to work. I would get frustrated at Elder Topham for hanging out and spending time talking to the other missionaries. One day, however, I remember walking along Broadway on our way to do service, and I asked him what advice he had for me. He told me to be a social butterfly, to talk with those missionaries around me. He said that I was a pillar that others could lean on, and so when others are around, I shouldn't be studying or doing my own thing, but I should interact with others.  In that moment I started to realize that the value of our testimony comes as we share it, and missionaries are included in those that we "invite to come closer to Christ." I have tried to live by those principles throughout the entirety of my time here as a missionary, and I have seen great blessings from doing so. The love that I have developed for other missionaries with whom I serve has been one of the most rewarding things out here.
As a leader, loving and serving the other missionaries has been incredibly uplifting. I learned that love is often spelled T-I-M-E. As I have spent meaningful time with and on the missionaries under my stewardship, my love for them has increased, and their trust in me has increased as well. As a district leader, I made sure to call my district members every night, and more than call them, I sincerely checked up on them to see how their day was. Some days I had to go through the motions, but I felt as though that consistency made the members of my district trust me and I was allowed the opportunity to help them out often. I was told in person and told through notes that I had gained the trust of my district members, and because of that, we were able to work well together. I also tried to make sure that when I was around my fellow district or zone members, I was talking to them rather than doing nothing or studying or anything else. Through that, I was able to keep tabs on people and make sure that all was well. I am planning on taking these principles to my family. I hope to spend time with and on my wife and kids to show them my love for them and to strengthen our relationship.
Learning the difference between administering and ministering has helped me to become more like Christ. I was helped a lot by other missionaries and through study to understand that administering is doing your duty, keeping things running and so on while ministering is more of a nurturing role, helping to take care of the needs of others. Knowing the difference has made me strive to be an administering minister, making sure things are going as they should, but to the end that people's needs are being met. As a leader I have tried to take administering opportunities, such as leading meetings, conducting exchanges and doing the weekly call in report and tried to turn them into ministering opportunities. I make them personal. I take the time to get to know concerns, the struggles and even the victories, and I was able to address the needs and acknowledge and build upon the good. Heavenly Father helped me to purify my desires to make me care more about the wellbeing of those in my stewardship rather than how I was viewed or the glory of my position. Because of that, I often times was led by the Holy Ghost to know what was going on with those I led, which helped me to better minister to them. Ministering is now one of my favorite things to do, and it is a big thing I will take away from the mission.
Being with a companion 24/7 has been often bitter, but often sweet. I have not been close with many people during the course of my life, so suddenly having to work with one other person in a very close way has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. I have, however, learned a ton from working with a companion. Communication is key, and when we cut off communication, we start sinking. Letting each other know what we are thinking is good so that no assumptions are made, rather, all is out in the open. I have a hard time confronting issues, and I am still working on it, but the mission has helped me to be better at that, which will come in handy in marriage. I also learned a lot about deference. Often, I did not want to do what my companion did, but I submitted to his desires out of love and respect for him. Maybe things did not turn out as well as they could have (more than likely, they turned out just fine), but what mattered was that we were working together and yielding to one another as we recognized our equality in decision making. I also have realized that understanding one another is essential. I had one companion in particular that I did not get along with. After being counseled by my district leader, I took time to get to know his past and learned that he had had a rough life. That increased my love and compassion towards him. It didn't justify his misbehavior, but it helped me to understand where he was coming from and have the patience to look forward and see to where he was going. I feel good when I feel like I am understood, so I strive to understand others, particularly when I don't agree. Serving my companions has been a great way to build my love for them. I love to make their beds, wash their dishes and shine their shoes. I found that when I was frustrated at my companion, if I took time to write a note of appreciation and looked at the good in them, it boosted us both up. I am grateful that even though I feel like I have not had a picture perfect companionship, I have come away as good friends with practically all of my companions. I know that marriage will be tough, but very rewarding and I am grateful for what my service has done to prepare me for such.
My depth of love for the members and nonmembers has increased a ton during my service as a missionary. I recently read from a journal entry around the start of the mission about my frustrations with the Spanish culture, about how relaxed they are, the lack of punctuality and about their desire to have us over for long periods of time. I have come to love my fellow Spanish speakers and have found their great love and service for others. They often times receive so little but are willing to give so much. They are so willing to serve us as missionaries to the point that they take offense if we try to take their dishes to the kitchen even just to rinse them. I have never been so appreciated as a representative of the Lord and received so much respect for my calling than I have in the households of Latinos, members and nonmembers alike. They always offer us something to drink, something to eat, and their hospitality has been a blessing to me. I hope to emulate their love all throughout my life. The English speakers have been great too! We are treated so well and I am grateful for the friendships with which I have been blessed. I know that as I have prayed with all the energy of heart, I have been possessed by charity and that has driven me to work harder and more with the Spirit than anything. I look forward to coming to love all around me, wherever life takes me, as I have learned to do here in New York.
One of the biggest ways in which I have grown is by gaining a broader perspective. My experiences out here have helped me to look beyond the moment, to see in the past and into the future. I have been able to see God's hand in my life and in the lives of others. Such has helped me to have greater faith in Him, and hope that He will pull through, because He always does pull through. I have seen evidence of that through many experiences including being at the right place at the right time to have a door opened to go into a building and find a completely inactive family, being led by the Spirit to drive way out of the way to visit a member who was extremely sick without us knowing, and many others. I know that God loves us and that He is providing means for us to be happy in the end, and even in the moment. We all have the same potential and so as we look ahead and see that potential rather than being out down by our current problems, we can move forward with our heads up in the air. I am still working on holding on to an eternal perspective in the moments where I am tempted to let my emotions rule me, but I have made great improvements through he course of the mission.
During the course of the mission, I have been blessed to develop a way of living that is more in tune with the Savior's teachings. Consecration does not touch on how we should live for the time we are in full service as missionaries. We should continue to live our lives afterwards as we have here. Realizing that was a great instance in the mission. I am now determined to study my scriptures, go to church, pray often, talk out things with my wife and work as equals, talk to people around me about the gospel, serve others, give of my time to help them, and many other things. I have realized that knowing the gospel and living the gospel are two different things. I am on the path to better live the gospel. I have not perfected living the gospel, but I am starting out a life of good gospel living. I know that by living daily the principles of faith, repentance, covenants and listening to the Holy Ghost, we endure to the end, changing for the better every day. After two years, I am sure there are things that I habitually do now that I do not even recognize as coming from the mission. I am grateful that the mission did not only change me for this time, but has changed me forever.
As I have been specifically set apart to represent Jesus Christ, I have come to know Him better and have become more determined to follow in His footsteps. Through the process I have not come to understand the depth of the atonement, but I have come to understand just how much I do not understand the depth of he atonement. My experiences have figuratively brought me to the edge of the endless abyss that is the depth of the atonement and allowed me to look down. I have never seen the bottom, and I doubt I ever will be able to do such. As I have represented Jesus Christ, I have been brought to my knees. I have felt judged to be a thing of naught because of the iniquity of the world (1 Nephi 19:9), yet I know the Savior received even harsher and less just judgement from others. I have felt tired and exhausted and still had a work to do, although He had it much much worse. I have suffered similar experiences to others and been able to help them through trials, but I have never suffered through what was necessary for the Savior to have the perfect empathy that He has with all of us. I cannot begin to comprehend the Savior's experiences on the earth. Getting the slightest taste has helped me to know how to better handle those situations, looking to His example of loving kindness and long suffering, dedicated service and pure motives. I will miss representing Him and learning more about His character. I am so grateful to have been able to have those experiences.
Learning is one thing I have come to love even more deeply out here in the mission field. I have always loved to learn new things. School was a delight, not a dread for me. Being here in the school of life has helped me to realize the value of learning from experience. Learning to love to learn makes life a delightful journey. That includes loving being humbled, loving being corrected and even chastised, not because the process is pleasing, but because the end result is desirable. As we learn, we become better people and better instruments in the hands of God. As I have been in the pits, due to the mistakes of others, unfortunate circumstances, miscommunications, and of course my own pride, I have been lifted out by the grace of God to a higher lever of understanding and ability. I love to learn and when those trials come, I now can look assuredly for the lessons I need to learn and have hope that nothing can bring me down and keep me down.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission. I am grateful that my experiences have been of benefit for this time and will continue to be of benefit for the rest of eternity. I have realized that the mission has not been so much about reaching a destination, rather it has been a process to get on a forward moving path. I feel that as I am now on that path, I will reach the destination of eternal life, so long as I do not willfully rebel against what I have learned. Gratitude fills my heart. I love the mission and know that after giving comparatively so little, I have gained so much.
I will wrap up with my testimony:

I know that this church is the church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. I know that it contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which can truly change us. I know that we have the proper authority on the Earth today, originally restored to Joseph Smith. I know that he was a prophet of God and an instrument in God's hand in bringing about the necessary restoration. I know that the line of authority has continued to this day and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and that He leads us under the direction of Jesus Christ. I know The Book of Mormon is the word of God and has helped me grow closer to Christ better than any other book. I know that God loves us, that He always has and always will. I know that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. I know that Christ not only died for us but lived for us too, using every moment of His life to ensure that we would have hope of eternal life. I am grateful for that. I know that as we live His teachings, we can live once again with our Father in Heaven, with Jesus Christ, and our families forever in a state of pure joy.  

In Closing

Well, I thought I would wrap things up here, make sure there is some good closure.  This past week was great!  Nothing too dramatic or crazy, but I am a-okay with that.  I talked it out with many other people, mainly missionaries, that I didn't want to have a sprint to the end or anything out of the ordinary.  I need to maintain a good pace rather than go home and crash. I felt as though I had done well at giving of myself throughout the past twenty three months and didn't feel the need to give a little more. Maybe that was a sin of complacency, but what is done is done, and I feel happy.

Thursday we got to go to Queens!  We went down to Grand Central and took the 7 train over to have a combined Mission Leadership Council with the New York New York South Mission.  It was a blast- I enjoyed interacting with and feeling the enthusiasm of the South mission.  I feel like a lot of time we were so isolated in our own little mission, so getting exposed to them and their culture was great!  That experience reminded me of how much I like to meet new people and interact with them, not having any pretenses of who they are or what they are like.  I look forward to doing that at school!

There were a lot of goodbyes said over the course of the weekend. I was grateful how smooth it went, though.  I feel like in a Spanish ward or branch when you say you are leaving everybody wants to do something big or special for you, but here it was nice in that people were more like "Good luck!" or "See you around!"  I guess I just don't like the special attention or whatever, so it was good.

Monday was a great day!  Zone meeting was executed well.  We felt good about it at least.  Later as we were heading to the church for the ward family night, a young man approached us at a bus stop and just asked us about our beliefs.  We talked with him and kept talking all along the bus ride.  Somewhere along the lines we invited him to come along with us to the family and he said sure!  Having him agree to come on the spot like that was awesome!  I don't think I have ever seen someone spontaneously decide to come to an activity or church or anything like that. Just a testimony that asking a thousand strangers to come to church is worth it for the one that says yes. An unrelated tender mercy from that night was that Elder Jensen, one of my best missionary friends, called us to give us a referral after we had planned. I was able to talk with him and say a good see you later. I know that wasn't coincidence and that Heavenly Father often blesses us with the little things to let us know that He loves us.

Tuesday was one of the most stressful days of my life. I had many things to do- transfer stuff from my iPad, mail some packages, finish cleaning and packing, write some last minute notes, etc. all before the cut off of about 4:15 P.M. when the assistants would be picking me up. We planned it out so that the timing of everything would work out well.  Then real life started happening.  Everything from us not having the right keys to get into the clerk's office to my iPad not wanting to transfer pictures to the train running express to the end of the line and so on happened and caused me to be super stressed by the end of it all.  Of course the end of it all was essentially a complete relief of that stress and much more stress that I had felt over the past two years, so that kept me going.  But anyways, I vocalized my stress with my roommates, Elder Schneider and Elder Christensen and they helped me to walk through it and see that there was something to learn.  Practically all of my stress was related to getting to places and getting stuff done on my time scale. The two of them talked about how when things were hectic like that, it was usually because things were on God's time scale and He always gets us to where we need to be when we need to be there.  I realized that in stressing out so much, I was holding on to my will and not submitting to His.  I wasn't trusting that He was in control and that all would pan out. Stress isn't bad, but that day it had turned into distress.  Stress should be enough to motivate us to do what we can with what we control, but when we get anxious over things that we can't control it is an unnecessary emotional burden, and for me in this case it was a lack of faith.  Those experiences helped me to internalize things I had been learning over the course of the mission.  I am just super grateful for the opportunity I had to learn until the very end.  I hope to do the same with life- endure to the end learning, everyday.

The assistants came and picked me up and took me to the mission home.  There we had a great time!  We relaxed and socialized for a bit, ate some dinner, had a great testimony meeting and then just had a good time with one another- one of the most fun nights of my life.  The next day we woke up and headed to the airport. I was anxious to get to the next step- get on the plane, then get in the air, then touch down, then get on the next plane, then have that one touch down, then have the train get to the right concourse, then have the escalators get to the top. I was a little frustrated that I had to have a connecting flight in Boston- how does that make any sense?  Heavenly Father, however, showed me at least part of the reason why that happened.  As we were taking off to go to Boston, I had a strong desire to see the New York City skyline.  Everybody does, right?  So I looked out and didn't see anything.  I said a small prayer and then I thought I caught a small glance across the way out of the other side's window. I was going to be content with that, when all of a sudden, we come to the end of our turn and headed directly towards Boston.  I saw the city perfectly.  I worked my way from south to north.  I could distinctly see downtown and midtown, central park, and then I looked up to the Bronx and I could see where the botanical gardens are and the bronx zoo, Pelham Parkway, Van Courtland Park and so on.  I started to visual where the people I had come to know and love lived. As we moved further along, I looked up the Hudson to where I imagined Newburgh would be. Saying goodbye become that much more of an emotional experience as I left all of that behind.  I teared up a little (and I am not one to cry) as the city faded away. I think that is when it hit me that my time was done.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to serve.  I am going to close with my mission experience in the next post.  Thank you for reading this- I hope that I have done some good for you.  I am going to start up a new blog wherein I continue to talk about what is going on with me and what I am learning so please do follow me at:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The End...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Today is my last day here in New York as a missionary. I am full of gratitude for the experience I have had out here- I wouldn't trade anything in the world for it. I am grateful for all of the people that I have met during my time of service and for all that have supported me and looked after me during the past two years. I want to bear my witness that this is the Lord's work. I know He has a hand in the lives of all of us whether we know it or not. I have seen Him guide me personally to help me to get to where I need to be at just the right time to help others out or to be helped myself. I know He loves both you and me and that He wants what is best for us. Sometimes seeing how hardships benefit us is difficult, but I know that all is intended to make us better in the end. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints contains the fullness of the gospel and the proper priesthood authority on the Earth. I know that through the gospel ordinances done with that authority, we can be truly happy in this life, and return to our Father in Heaven in the life to come. I know that we have a living prophet on the Earth, Thomas S. Monson, and that his council is of great value to all. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and an instrument in restoring Jesus Christ's church to the earth again. I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of God- it has helped me to gain a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to true happiness, now and forever. I know that Jesus Christ not only died for us, but lived for us too, spending every moment to ensure that you and I could have hope of eternal life. I know He suffered for not just our sins, but for our infirmities, sicknesses, afflictions and all that we have to go through in this life, and I know that because of His perfect empathy, we can received help from Him as we ask. I know He loves all of us and declaring that for the past two years has been a wonderful experience. I wish all the best of luck as a I depart! Thanks for everything and God bless!

Hoy es mi último día como misionero de tiempo completo aquí en Nueva York. Estoy bien agradecido por todos que he conocido en Harlem, en el Bronx, en Newburgh y las otras personas que he conocido. Gracias por apoyarme y ayudarme a tener una buena experiencia al servir El Señor. Yo sé que ésta es la obra del Señor y que Él la guía. Fu. . Sé qué el Señor nos ayuda a aprender lo que necesitemos aprender aunque sea difícil para nosotros. Sé qué las escrituras son las palabras de Dios y que ellas nos pueden hablar como sí fuera nuestro Padre Celestial sí mismo. Sé qué hay poder en la oración. Siempre recibo consuela suficiente para continuar mediante mis pruebas y se que es así porque Dios nos escucha y nos cuida. Sé que al asistir la iglesia, renovamos convenios con Dios y por eso vivimos el Evangelio de Jesucristo. Sé qué el evangelio tiene el poder para cambiar nuestras vidas si permitimos que nos lo haga. Sé qué la iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días es la iglesia de Jesucristo en el mundo hoy y que ella contiene la plenitud del evangelio con la autoridad del sacerdocio. Sé qué José Smith fue un profeta verdadero de Dios y que Thomas S. Monson es un profeta en el mundo hoy día. Sé qué El Libro de Mormón es de Dios y que nos ayuda a verdaderamente acercarnos a adiós. Sé qué Jesucristo efectuó la expiación y que por medio de esa he sido consolado, fortalecido y cambiado y sé que este poder está disponible a todos. Se qué Jesucristo vive y que Él nos ama a todos. Sé qué todos tenemos esperanza gracias a Él. Estoy bien agradecido por esta experiencia porque ha sido maravillosa. Gracias por todo y que Dios le bendiga!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

This Is It!

Hello all!

Last letter- that is interesting. I can't say that I never thought I'd get to this point because time inevitably passes. But it is weird being here. I am excited to get home, but grateful to still have time to serve. I hope to make the most out of the time I have left.

First off, trio life has been fun and interesting. Elder Linton is super chill and easy going and willing to take upon himself whatever he needs to do. That had been a blessing for sure! And trio life is good- you can just bounce off of each other and work even better with an added set of dynamics. The only weird things about it are first off that I haven't gotten to know Elder Linton as well as I would if we were just together, and that I am in a weird spot where I am finding the balance of still helping out while allowing them to see how they are going to work together and run the area and zone. I don't want to not do anything, but I don't want to hold them back from doing what they are going to be doing. But I have been happy and we have had a good time, so things are good!

Wednesday, after going to both transfer meetings (that was pretty draining) we went to Mamma Gladden's house. She is  less active that lives on the border of Yonkers, way up in our area that we found about three or four weeks ago. I had heard her name before, and so we were excited to find her. She loves missionaries! Haha she has offered to feed us once a week and she is very possessive of us, doesn't want us to cancel on her for anybody. So we went Wednesday and had a good dinner, we went and did service for her on Monday and she fed us and then tonight we are going again. She makes good food and is awesome and she seems to be lonely too, so we don't mind going over. She knows she needs to go to church, and so she will get there soon. She is from Antigua in the Caribbean and has been a member since the 80s. She is awesome and I am grateful for her. I definitely want to go to the Caribbean at some point after working with Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, a couple Cubans. Jamaicans Antiguans and others. They are great people!

Thursday we did some planning. We had some stuff fall through and so we were going about with back up plans and a succession of two or three people came to mind to go visit in the area. They weren't there, but in the process of looking for them, we got to a place to meet a guy that wanted a bible. We talked with him and set up another meeting. He is solid! It is still awesome to see God getting us to where He needs us- He works in mysterious ways. Afterwards we went to the Riveros- they are Dominicans and there home is like heaven on earth. They are so pure in a way that is hard to describe. And it turns out that she speaks Portuguese and a little Italian so we talked a little.

Friday was a weird/nice/crazy day. Pretty much what happened is that our ceiling caved in in the bathroom and somebody had to be here while they fixed it up and made sure all was well. Elder Meek, another missionary in our zone in a trio, and I, being "expendable," just ended up chilling at our apartment until about 5:00 while stuff was being done. It was like a sick day where no one was sick. I appreciated it though because I haven't had a chill preparation day for about cycle-always something going on, so it allowed me to just knock some stuff out I needed to do. I updated our map on the wall, organized some stuff for me going home, talked with Elder Meek and we played bananagram, and just had an interesting chill day. We didn't have a phone, so that made it interesting. We couldn't meet up with our companions so we just tagged along with my roommates Elder Schneider and Elder Christensen and went up to Riverdale (Northwest Bronx) to teach a blind guy named Kevin. On the way back, a lady hopped on the bus and sat down right by us, a lady that I had just talked to the night before. I remembered what she had talked about, mainly her job, and so we had a friendly conversation and talked a little about the plan of salvation. Seeing her twice in a row was no coincidence, so hopefully something comes of that! We will see. Just another opportunity to see God working here.

Saturday the big thing was a baptism. The sisters in our ward were working with someone and then she had to go to the Spanish ward because she works Sunday afternoons and she speaks Spanish, so she last minute got baptized into the Spanish ward. With that, many of us from the English ward still went. I got to translate a little bit and I felt the gift of tongues working in me, making my Spanish a little more smooth than it should have been after not speaking as much recently let alone translating. It was a great baptism and great turn out.

Sunday was normal church. We had to change the monitoring system thing on our iPads, so we had to take about an hour and a half to have a conference call about that, and then take the time to do it so that we could help our zone do it. Administrating stuff- got it do it. So yep, did indicators, then went to bed.

Monday was good! District meeting was weird because we just spent like an hour going through with everybody helping them to change their iPads over. Looking back at my journal, looks like the highlights for the day were seeing two squirrels fall out of a tree and then having both a lunch and dinner appointment (mama gladden and Lisa Ponce de Leon). We started an exchange that night though- since we are a trio we knocked out two district leaders at once.

So that meant on Tuesday I went with Elder Encarnacion (the Dominican missionary!) and Elder Kerr (new missionary- came out a week ago) at the same time in my old area in concourse. That was unique because usually exchanges are one on one, but I kind of got to sit back and watch them work with each other. They are awesome missionaries with good attitudes. Pretty much everything fell through, but we kept chugging. By the end of the day we had taught five lessons. During former lookups, we were able to find an investigator that Elder Longmore and I found knocking when I had been out in the field for about four months. That was cool- they picked her up as a new investigator. The day was good and it ended with us having dinner with one of my favorite members- Josefina Lopez. When we come back and visit, she will be happy to feed us, and she cooks well! We headed back to unexchange and got back super late, so a Elder Encarnacion and Elder Kerr slept on our couch.

Today has been good. Just relaxed. The city will always be here, but not with these missionaries so we are just hanging out- we are in the botanical gardens. I love it here- nice and peaceful. The rest of the week is looking to be fun. Tomorrow we will go to little Italy to eat and then do some Italian street contacting for my birthday. Friday we actually get to go to queens for a combined mission leadership council with the south mission. That will take up the whole day. There is a baptism Saturday, church Sunday, zone meeting Monday, then Tuesday I will be heading to the mission home in the early afternoon. Crazy crazy! But it will be good! I am grateful for the time I have had out here and I am excited for a new adventure!

Thanks for all the love and support! You guys are great and I hope you have a great week! See you next week!

-Elder Griffiths

Wrapping Up!

Good afternoon!

Today was pretty draining! We woke up early to do laundry (and I have been exhausted lately so that was no fun) and then off to transfer meeting. After the city transfer meeting we went up to the upstate transfer meeting. It is tradition to sing "Each Life That Touches Ours" with the "dying" missionaries up front so that was interesting being up there standing. I am drained after all of that, but I did love seeing all the other missionaries. It hasn't hit me yet that I won't be seeing a group of the other missionaries like that again as a part of it. I guess that is because of the two week difference, but that two weeks is going to fly! There are a lot of things to do, so I will just be busy busy! And I have felt that great things will happen in this time so I am determined to make the most of it! Should be good!

I am sticking around in the same area. We have another companion, Elder Linton. He is awesome and I had a great experience being in a trio in Newburgh so it is just going to be a party! We have a lot of good going on. Let me tell you some highlights from this past week...

Thursday we went over to Rafael's house! It was his birthday on the 15th so we went over to Hermana Nuñez's house and she made "la bandera"- chicken, rice, beans. It was good and good to be back over there visiting them. He is doing well,enduring to the end!

Sunday I got to bear my testimony in French at a members house. They are from Togo where they speak French and I was able to bear it decently well. Elder Kia took a short video so maybe I will try to send that to you. I feel good with what progress I have made with French. God certainly has blessed me.

Monday was sweet- one of the most uplifting days of the mission. First off, went to district meeting and it turned into my funeral! A missionary funeral is something that is sometimes done for missionaries going home- they say nice words and kind of treat it like a funeral, it's funny! I had no idea they were planning on it- they wanted to do it before the transfer so that all being transferred could be there. It was uplifting seeing what sort of influence I had on my fellow district members. Afterward district meeting and stuff, I had a good chat with Elder Ross. He came into the mission when I came here to this area. We have been good buddies and I have just tried to give him all I could, share with him my experiences and thoughts and he gladly took them. I just felt moved on by the spirit to talk about some very specific things and it was a good moving conversation. I just loved being used as an instrument in God's hands. And a Elder Ross and I will be tight for life! I am already planning on going to his home coming talk in green river Wyoming in March 2016. Later we had a couple of good lessons then went to the Merkley's house. He is our bishop and it is just him and his wife. They are younger, about 30 years old and they are solid. You can definitely feel the spirit in their home, and they are great examples of how we should live our lives. They talked about how they met and their story which was really good to hear as I prepare to come home. He suggested to me to not make any big decisions within three months of coming home. Seems like everything is pointing to just easing into things, taking them as they come. I will just pray, read my scriptures and go to church and life will be dandy!

Everything else has been good. I am just full of gratitude. There is still work left to do, so I look forward to that. Just pray for me that I will have he energy to keep chugging because I am tired. But I am just going to crank it out until the end of the marathon! ETTE!

Thanks for the support and have a great week! Love you!

-Elder Griffiths

July Pictures


July 16, 2014

Good morning!

We got an early start this morning so that I could get to the temple at 10:00. My crew is going with all of the missionaries that are returning in a week so this will be interesting. I am told that President gets up and tells us that we are done pretty much after the temple, so I don't know how that will work with me having three more weeks left. Haha guess I will find out shortly.

This past week was good! One of the highlights was that Denis, an investigator of the sisters got baptized and confirmed. She was a media referral from our area, so we handed her off to the sisters immediately, and they worked with her and got her baptized ASAP! She is awesome- she has a great testimony and is committed to fellowship others already. We went over Sunday and had a feast- it was a great dinner and she knows how to cook.

Last Friday I went on a exchange with Elder Garibay, district leader of the Kingsbridge 1st Spanish district. He is Mexican but was originally called to be in the Portuguese program. He also wants to learn Italian so we spent the split bouncing English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian off of each other- I love that! He is a great missionary, always very well composed, never noticeably frustrated or uptight. I asked him how he does that and he explained that an eternal perspective helps him. Whenever he would be tempted to be mad or anything, he simply asks himself "what would Jesus do?" (His name is Jesus so that makes it funny). Anyways, it was a good reminder and is a simple practice that will help me in the future. It was a good exchange- I enjoy exchanges.

Yesterday it rained a ton- you probably saw my facebook post. If we would have been in pros, I would have been ticked, but luckily we were just coming from service, so we had a great time splashing in the gutters, bouncing around all over and so on. It was a really bad downpour. We enjoyed ourselves, though, and then were able to clean up well. It made for a fun day, but then we found that our phone disappeared. We went looking for it, and we found it, but it was damaged and still won't start up. We will have to get a new one, but we still had a good time.

Yesterday we went and visited a relatively new investigator. He was a media referral and his name is Kevin. He lives in a nursing home because he was shot in the head a few years back. He survived, but wasn't left in the best of shape. He can still think and talk and do all those things well, he just has a messed up skull and can't move one side of his body as well. He likes to talk so we haven't been able to get a solid lesson in yet, usually just a brief scripture before we have to run, but we are looking forward to working with him and helping him however we can.

One of the things that happened about two weeks ago now was mission leadership conference- I didn't really say anything about it because I was a little shot after the play. Anyways, it was great! We had a lot of changes presented to us- our definitions for key indicators changed to be that which it says in Preach My Gospel, we are now allowed to and encouraged to use different applications that the iPad has like calendar, reminders, etc instead of having to use the area book/planner app (which is awesome because the area book/planner app is super slow and glitchy). We also are now teaching lesson five to investigators before baptism and we will handle recent converts a little differently after baptism- we will still remain in good contact with them and be in charge of getting the post baptism lessons to them. With all those changes, a big theme of ours when we planned out zone meeting was to be willing. We are out here in the mission field at a time of great change. A few of those changes that have occurred while I have been out are change of age, change of wardrobe, change in email policy, iPads, Facebook, skype, other hastening efforts, and a lot of other things here and there. It is quite the transient time and it can be frustrating at times because of the learning curve- trying to get used to things and get an idea of just how things should be working out. So we talked about how we need to be willing to work with those changes as they come and make the most of it- we are the pioneers in the mission field setting things up for how they will be done until the second coming. These are exciting times!

One thing that President emphasized that I have been thinking about lately is being a representative of Jesus Christ. I realized that by being a representative of Jesus Christ, I have come to know Him better and I have come to understand the atonement better. Inevitably, as we as missionaries represent Him, we have to pass through things that He went through. We are rejected, we have to suffer through experiences with those people with whom we work, we have to be tempted and many other things. Doing so, has helped me to appreciate what He did. I don't understand the depth of what Christ did- I feel as though these experiences more so have brought me to the edge of an abyss and allowed me to look down and see just how deep His experiences are.  That makes me want to be a better person. For example, as I am rejected by people on the streets, judged to be a thing of naught by those around me, I can look to Christ and get strength from His example. He out of anybody deserved the least to be judged as a thing of naught ( 1 Nephi 19:9) but He got hit the hardest and was still able to treat people with love. He is so awesome and I am grateful to wear his name on my chest. I look forward to more time representing him!

One more thing- I have drawn great power from memorizing scripture on pondering on that scripture throughout the day. I have found that doing so helps virtue to garnish my thoughts, and helps me to keep a good attitude when I am tempted to give in to negative thoughts.
Memorizing scripture helps me to hold on to that hope that I have through Christ. Plus I heard it will help me to memorize stuff for ochem, so there is an added bonus! So give it a shot, you won't regret it!

I just got out of the temple, and am picking up where I left off. The temple was great! It was weird because I still do have three weeks left, but going there just gave me all that much more of  a determination to finish strong and make the most out of what time I still have. An RM there told me to take advantage of being a representative of Christ by talking and smiling at as many people as possible. They might not have the opportunity to see or talk to a representative of Christ like that, so we have to take advantage. I feel nothing but good about the next few weeks. It might fly, but I will make the most out of it as it does!

Thanks for the love and support! Have a great week!

-Elder Griffiths


Good Interview

July 9, 2014

Hello all!

Another good week! Things are getting hot, though. We are to the point where it just doesn't matter what things smell like- people, houses, etc. you just deal with it. Haha just one of the pluses of serving in the Bronx.

One of the highlights of the week was interviews. President was cranking through them- he knocked out all the missionaries in the Bronx in one day- there are about 50 of us here in the Bronx. I went last and he was right on schedule so I didn't get a lot of time in with him, but he said that we would have a good talk at my exit interview in a couple weeks. It was still good talking with him
though- he told me I would be staying in Kingsbridge for my last two weeks, so that was good to know. We will be in a trio. He said some good encouraging things and expressed his trust in me. That was a good pick me up and will help me to keep chugging!

Just got out of Wicked (I've been writing this piece by piece throughout he day. That's the blessing of iPads). It was incredible! I loved it more than I can express. Everything was done so well and it is pretty deep, lots of good things to think about. If I have money June day, I am totally going to become a theater goer. It really drew me in. And i feel like I processed things differently than I have in the past- it is the first thing I have seen since august 2012- so I looked deeper into it and thoroughly enjoyed analyzing the major themes and motifs that I was able to see. I loved that too. And seeing other missionaries. I just loved it all, good experience.

My brain is fried at this point. It has been kind of a long day and I don't have much time now. But things are going well- hopefully I will get off a better letter next week! Thanks for he support and have a good week!

-Elder Griffiths

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Breaking Barriers

Hello All!

We are getting ready to go the Yankees game, so I will try to get as much off to you as I can, but forgive me if my writings are limited today. But here is part of what happened last week...

We went to he beach as a zone for p-day last week- it was fun! We played football, ultimate frisbee and hung out. The beach is nice and induces a feeling of peace, so it was a good getaway for all. After going for twenty one months without having my feet exposed to the sun, however, they got sunburned. It was a weird sensation, having the tops of my feet burnt. Luckily it only lasted a day so walking wasn't too bad. But it was still fun and I am coming home with a decent missionary tan. Haha

After the beach, we actually had to go to the other side of the Bronx to the other zone, Olmstead. The Spanish district leader was baptizing somebody and the Olmstead zone leaders don't speak Spanish, so we had to do it. We got to see the other side of the Bronx, the other chapel, and it was good. We ate at cross Bronx pizza, where they sell slices of pizza that are massive. I got a picture of it, but I think it is on my camera. So yeah that was cool.

Thursday, we were on our way to a dinner appointment and eventually our whole district ended up on the same bus (tends to happen when we have the same destination for the same time). I was sitting across from Sister Westlund and she signs, so I decided to sign to her a little to practice and get better (she had a deaf friend at home and so she at one point was fluent at ASL). Anyways, after a little while we noticed that a lady sitting next to Sister Westlund was watching us intently and so then I asked if she signed, to which she answered yes. I asked if she was deaf, to which she answered yes. We got excited, but then she moved as though she was getting off the bus, and get off she did. We were able to sign a couple of things to her, but nothing too deep. But it seemed to make her happy that we were signing and Sister Westlund did point out that she saw our name tags. It was cool because that was the first time I ever met a deaf person and almost contacted them. We will keep on practicing so the next we will get her video phone number or something.

We had a linger longer Sunday after church. It was sweet just being able to mingle with members with no worries of having to do anything, be in our seats or anything. I love talking to the members and it made me realize how important that is that we do mingle and get to know those with whom we go to church. We can be of real strength and support to one another, and we often show our love by spending time with each other. That is why ward activities are so important. So I loved that!

I went on a split on Monday with Elder Encarnacion, the missionary from the Dominican Republic. Haha it was fun spending an entire day with a Dominican- he is super smart and has English down well enough that you can ask him any question about Spanish and he knows what you are talking about. He is serving in my old area in Concourse, so that was fun too- we went and visited Rafael, had a nice lunch of sandwiches. We talked to a lot of people on the street and had a good time. Splits are sweet! Elder Encarnacion is great!

Here is my report of French for the week- had a couple of cool experiences. First off, with Elder Encarnacion, we were on an elevator and we talked to a lady. We found at the she was from West Africa and so then I asked if she spoke French. She did, so we talked and it really opened her up. That is why I like to learn the languages- it opens people up to hear their native tongue and so she was a lot more willing to listen to us. She asked where our church was and it was great! Yesterday, we were at the church, and the Spanish district was doing church tours. They ran and got me saying that there was a French speaker, so a sister in the zone that speaks a little and I gave her a tour. We talked about Christ and invited her to come to church Sunday. She agreed and gave us her number too. Between our broken French and her broken English we were able to figure things out. It was sweet and I hope to continue to have similar experiences.

So things are great! I am loving it! Time is flying, so I am just trying to hold on! Thanks for the love and support- I will talk to you next week!

-Elder Griffiths

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Banana Splittin'!

Hello all!

This week has been great! Seems like it always is, so sorry if that gets a little old hearing that. It seems like this week hasn't been terribly eventful, so we will see what I can come up with to tell you about...

First off, this past week has been tough physically for me,for whatever reason. Seems like I started off last week with a couple of not full nights of sleep, so that knocked me down for the next couple of days. I feel like I have recovered now, but sometimes those administrating duties can get in the way of getting to bed on time. And lack of sleep just seems to hit you doubly time out here. But whatever the trial may be, it helps you to learn and grow. So hopefully now when I am going through grad school, trying to support a family and all of that, running on a far less than full tank will be a little easier! Haha - I won't think too much into that now.

So on Saturday, I was on an exchange with Elder Meek. We came out together and will go home together, so it was cool being with somebody at the same point as I am. He is still pumped for the rest of the mission, so that helped me to get pumped. I learned a couple of good things from him. First off, we were walking around just talking, and out of curiosity, I asked him what he did to get through harder days. He took me back by what he said- he said that when a general authority came and visited the mission last year, he said that if we are doing everything right, we won't have bad days. At first that put me off and I was thinking that wasn't true because trials come whether we are doing good or not. As I thought on it, though, if we were perfect like God, we wouldn't have bad days indeed! Even if bad things happened, we could handle them perfectly, and know that things will be okay. When we have a bad day, it is just a reminder that we are human and not perfect, so we should look for those ways to improve. I am trying to better apply that principle now. The other learning opportunity happened as we were at our dinner appointment. It was with a part member family- the kids are all baptized, but the mom and dad aren't married, so they can't get baptized now. We told the story of the rich young man as found in Luke 18:18-23,27 and talked about how we need to give things up to follow Christ, even if we don't want to. We were hoping to focus it in on the mom to encourage her to keep trying to get married to her "marido" that doesn't want to get married to her. A different need came out, however, as we talked. The son, Christian, didn't see the point of seminary. After doing a little digging, it turns out that he just doesn't like missing out on sleep, and at that point I was on the same page with him, feeling lack of sleep. As we talked it out, we were filled with the spirit, and I learned something big- those are the best lessons. We talked about how when we go to seminary we make a short term sacrifice of sleep in order to get something more long term, like a good knowledge of the scriptures and how to study them. When we choose to give up those long term things, for short term pleasures, like sleep, we put ourselves in a position to be regretful. On the other hand, as I thought about it, the sleep that I lost to go to seminary is not affecting me where I am now, but what I learned in seminary has blessed and will continue to bless my life. I don't regret losing that sleep, but I would have regretted not having what I did gain from seminary. The gospel is often times about giving up what we want now for what will help us in the future. We need to keep in mind when we act whether we are sacrificing the long term objective or short term objective. We should always shoot for the stars! Elder Meek is great and I enjoyed being with him.

Yesterday I went on an exchange with Elder Christensen. He is a new missionary, came out two weeks ago, and we live with him. He is from Fort Collins, CO, which is north of Denver. He is great! He is a little bit older, so I just tried to feed off of his knowledge. We talked a lot about how the mission isn't just for the mission, how the things we are learning out here are for real life too. If we work on something to get it down just to be a better missionary, then that will only be of value to us, to those around us and to The Lord for the short time we are in the field. For a train ride up in to the top part of our area (everything fell through so we hit up some less active look-ups in the most inconvenient to get to part of our area- I love less active look ups. We found out a lot of good stuff, so it was productive too!). We talked to a couple of people, but spent a good chunk of time talking to one another about family. It helped me to better plan on how I want to interact with my family, based on experiences with my fellow district members and zone members. Leading is an interesting thing because you have to lead a group of individuals. You have to fulfill the needs of the group as a whole, and at the same time help out those individuals. Two things I plan to do is spend time with the family as a whole and spend time with each member individually. Love is often spelled t-i-m-e, and as we spend time on and with those that we love, we can demonstrate that love. Family home evening is great because not because you learn and apply profound doctrine, but because you spend time together, which increases trust within a relationship. I hope to take other times, even spontaneous times to spend with the entire family. At the same time, I hope to start from the get go with little one on one outings that let me know how each individual is doing, kind of like an exchange out here on the mission. You have a good time with them, you get to know them and you offer up your help how you can. I love that. And notes of appreciation to other missionaries help not only them, but almost more so me. I hope to keep that up. I plan to write a nice letter to me, five years down the road, talking about that, how to be a good member missionary and so on, because I feel like I have learned a lot that I won't be able to apply right off the bat. But yeah it was a good exchange, I love Elder Christensen and am looking forward to more time with him! I also realized that there isn't a single person that I have gotten to know on a deeper level that I haven't just thought was awesome. That is why Christ loves us so much because He knows us! If we have a hard time with anybody, we should do what we can to get to know them.

It was a good week! Lots of other good things happened. We had a dinner at the Johnson's house. He is from Jamaica, she is from Costa Rica and they are one of my favorite families. They make super good food- the best macaroni and cheese around! Her mom was there- she is not a member and does not speak English, so I talked with Elder Kia and decided to translate the lesson for her rather than participate in the lesson. It was sweet- she really enjoyed it and the spirit was there strong and my Spanish is still there.

I can't think of any other things that happened at this point, but the mission is still great! We are going to the beach today on the east half of the Bronx in just a little bit- that will be interesting.

Anyways, I appreciate the support and love from back home! Keep praying for me, I need all the support I can get! Have a great week!

-Elder Griffiths

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Do Your Duties, Learn Some Lessons

June 18, 2014

Hello all!

The mission ups and downs keep getting bigger and bigger, more frequent and frequent! I feel like things just keep getting more and more profound, which is good! I am learning a ton, and my experiences are filling me with gratitude and more gratitude. The days are flying, so I am just trying to hold on how I can. Anyways this week has been a little crazy, so I will give you a couple of experiences and what I learned...

The biggest thing all started for us on Monday. Basically, a companionship in the zone, after transfers, was not getting along at all. After communicating with them a little, and hearing from their district leader that something was up, one of them wanted to talk to us and so we talked to him and then the other one immediately after district meeting. We decided that talking to president would be the best, so one of them called him. He came about two hours later to talk to both of them. He wanted Elder Kia and me to be there partially to talk about their area and partially so that I could do a little translating for one of the missionaries that did not speak English as well. Anyways it was determined that we would split them up, Elder Kia going with one and myself going with the other, until President knew what sort of an emergency transfer could be made. So I packed my stuff and went to their area with the missionary that had just moved into the area, kind of an emergency exchange. We went about our business, he was able to pack his stuff, and then we got word that the switch up would be made Tuesday evening. It was an interesting experience, and now that I have all that down, I will tell you what I learned.

1.  Substances don't help us to deal with problems. The apartment I went to recently had a missionary living there that got a package every week full of candy. Feeling a little weird about the whole situation and lacking sleep after indicating numbers Sunday (we got to bed after midnight), I ate some candy. I normally don't eat candy, so any candy for me is a lot of candy. It made me realize that I felt like doing nothing after eating it- it didn't help at all. After talking to people out here, seems like a lot of people turn to alcohol and drugs and stuff to forget about their problems, but not only does it not help, it creates other problems within itself. I feel like I tasted that in a weird way, so that was interesting.

2. We need to control our emotions, not be controlled by them. Some of the things one of those two missionaries said were super dumb and ticked us all off. We were tempted to just throw down on him and tell him how things really are, but luckily we didn't. We stopped and took our time to listen. We expressed our love for him and then tried to help him see what he can do better. So much better is it to act than it is to react. We we can govern our emotions rather that be governed by them, we can use those emotions to help others rather than hurt them. Sometimes we need to take a step back from a situation, say a little pray and then act according to how he would act. President Morgan did a good job of that as he talked to one of the missionaries that needed a little help with translation.

3. We cannot change people, but as we minister to others, by our example we can help them to invite the Savior into their lives to change them. Lots of people aren't even looking to be changed and if we dive in and tell them all their faults, they most certainly won't want to change. God can change people. We don't need to worry about bringing about that change- it is not our stewardship. We can invite them to change, but they have their agency to choose. That being said, the best thing we can do is give a good example. Kind of tying back into the last point, we need to love them because we want to and because it is what Christ would do, even if they don't love us. Act, don't react. With that, if they slip up here and there, we encourage them and continue to love them instead of getting frustrated or reprimanding them. We serve them and help them however we can, unconditionally. Through that, "...they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (3 Nephi 12:16) Because of who we are, others should want to get to know Christ better. They will ask for help and then we can provide it for them. That is the ideal. Correction should still come as is necessary, but as we are acting the part of a disciple of Christ, it will be taken so much better by those in our stewardship.

All in all, it was a crazy experience, but I learned a lot. I am grateful, not that it had to happen, but that we all learned something from it. The process of learning isn't always fun, but the end result is glorious.

Just a couple other cool points- we had a good turn out for church! God was gracious to us and we saw three less actives there that hadn't come in a long time- one of them in fifteen years. His name is Norberto. God was gracious to us and them for allowing that to happen. Another thing- I carried a conversation decently well with a little Italian lady at a bus stop. I know I share almost every experience I have about speaking other languages but I guess it is because it is exciting for me and helps me to be accountable as I continue to learn. Another thing- I have been getting plenty of food lately! We went through a little famine- not a lot of people on he dinner calendar, but things have picked up and we are working more with members and reaping even more benefits than just a full stomach.

Things are great! And I am sure they will just get better! Keep praying for me- I need it! You guys are awesome and I hope you have a great week!

-Elder Griffiths

Learnings and Doings

June 11, 2014

Hello All!

Happy Transfer Day! I am pleased to inform you that I will be staying put here in Kingsbridge with Elder Kia! I am not off the hook yet for getting transferred- it sounds like those two weeks after this cycle I could be moved somewhere. We will see though. Anyways, I am happy to stay because there are great things going on here. Let me tell you about a couple of the cool things I have been learning and doing.

First off, bartering. We went to China town and there was a sister in our district that was hoping to buy t-shirts for birthday presents. She wasn't sure how to talk down the price, so I gave a shot at what I had been told worked and what made sense for me. I did it with a belt buckle that was being sold for $15. I got it down to $8 but I didn't actually have the cash to buy it so he got mad at me. I feel kind of bad about that, but I learned how to barter. That might come in handy later down the road.

Installing ACs. No apartment here has central heating and air, so you have to install the window units, which includes putting a brace in to support the unit. The sisters in our district/ward (there are four of them) needed to get theirs put in and we were asked to do that, so we went over Friday and did. So I can put an AC in window now, I guess. They had to go before we got it done, and they had made some waffle mix for us to make waffles, so we actually ended up chilling there and eating lunch in their apartment. Kind of a funny experience, just chilling in their apartment and eating lunch. No worries- we got pictures!

On Saturday we had an APF as a zone. The Concourse district was in charge, and so as a part of it, they got a giant piece of plywood and painted it to look like The Book of Mormon. You can see it in my profile picture. A group of us went and did bus contacting and eventually joined everybody else as they did  street contacting. We saw a lot of success- we handed out over sixty copies of The Book of Mormon and taught quite a few lessons. And now we have a giant plywood Book of Mormon. Haha it was fun and really brought the zone together. I will try to send off a picture.

We had a district lunch/rap battle. I wish I could figure out how to send the videos- they were good. I wrote a Regatone, Spanish rap and it worked out well. Haha it was a lot of fun and brought our awesome district together even more, hopefully we will keep that unity up next cycle!

Every Monday night, we have a Family Night with Lisa Ponce de Leon and her family. She was baptized in September and her kids have been baptized one by one until her last, Xzavier was baptized in May. We have been trying to get them to be more and more independent, particularly with doing FHEs. The Powells, the senior couple in our ward, made them a chart for FHE, and so last week we gave them the assignment to do it all themselves. We came and had a great time and they did awesome! They did it all by themselves and it was so much better than we have done for them in the past. We are looking forward to a good one next week too! I also gave a long sleeve shirt and a pair of black paints to Xzavier to wear to church because he doesn't have any and I won't be needing mine too much in the future- hope that was okay. But yeah, the most important part of family night is just that it happens!

One of the highlights of the mission for me happened this past Sunday. I was sitting in testimony meeting for our ward, next to our investigators when one of the missionaries from concourse and the first counsellor in the bishopric came and grabbed me out of the meeting. They took me to their priesthood meeting where Rafael was being ordained to the office of an elder. I got to stand in on the circle and it was great, getting to see him from he beginning to that point. Now we just have to get him to the temple before August!

I want to bear testimony of scripture study. I had a powerful experience Saturday, I believe. I had been feeling down and not sure how to handle certain situations and I needed a big pick me up. I went into studies thirsting after knowledge from God, having faith that I would receive guidance and direction. I tried to prepare myself well, getting ready in a good timely manner, and then I prayed in faith, asking for direction. As I listened back during he prayer, certain scriptures and topics came to mind, and I was guided in my studies. I learned that I needed to work on Charity, not just love, but having Christ's unconditional. If somebody doesn't like me, usually my instinct is to just ignore them or whatever, but I need to figure out how to love them regardless of what they think. It is the difference between acting and reacting. Acting is always the best. But yeah, moral of the story is that when we study our scriptures while thirsting for knowledge, wanting to learn, having prepared ourselves to do so, we can see ourselves changing as we study and ponder. I saw that Saturday for sure, and have been trying to keep that up daily.

Something I have been thinking about lately is how one of the greatest challenges of life is figuring out how to use the time that we have. God seems to have purposefully given us too much to do in what little time and it is super frustrating at times. But as I have pondered on it, I feel like it is just a test of our character. Will we do what is right? Will we build our lives on a basis of at the very least doing what God would have us do, or will we put it on a sandy foundation of doing those things that don't matter in end? I am trying to think about that and how I use my time out here, and I invite you to do the same!

Last thing- I am eternally grateful for the experiences that God gives us to get a small taste of what the Atonement feels like. I have learned so much from them. I know that the depth of my experiences is infinitely minuscule compared to His, but those experiences help to point me in the right direction, if that makes sense. One experience that I had was working for domino's specifically on the Fourth of July. We were down some drivers and delivering everything late. I was stressed out and frustrated at management for not keeping more people on. People were frustrated,  and as the delivery person, I received the brunt of that.  At one point, I remember kind of crying out, "This isn't fair- I didn't even do anything to deserve this!" At that point, a voice came to me and said, "It is no fun, huh?" And it hit me that Christ out of anybody has reason to complain about taking the blame- He did nothing to deserve anything bad, yet He took it all. He never complained and that directed me towards the depth of feeling in one aspect of the Atonement. I have been having other similar experiences, and I feel like maybe it isn't the experiences that are coming, but mine looking for those experiences. It is kind if a perspective thing. So I challenge you to do the same! Look at life from Christ's perspective- it will help you to become a better person, I promise.

That is a ton. Writing has been good though. I hope that the things that I write will be of value to someone, whether it be now or in the future. I am just full of gratitude for the experiences with which I have been blessed over the course of the mission and I am grateful that I still have plenty of time to have some more! Thanks for your prayers and your love and support. I don't directly see them, but I know that they are there, so thank you for all that you do! You guys are great and I hope you have a wonderful week!

-Elder Griffiths

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some Grateful Points

June 4, 2014


How is it going? Things are good here in the big apple. Time is flying, so I am buckling down and trying to make the most. Next week is transfers, so we will see if there are any changes here. Today we are heading down to the city, so I am limited with my time to write you, so to give you a good idea of some of the happenings of this week, I am going to write down the things for which I have been grateful (I write down at least one a day, sometimes more, to keep an attitude of gratitude. It is a refreshing practice that I would recommend to anyone).

Wednesday- 1. Garren said hey- he is our recent convert and it seems like he had been going through the motions because of his mom, so we hadn't had a personal relationship with him too much, but he went out of his way to say hey to us as we were walking by a store he was in. It was sweet! 2. Gatorball- we played a super fun game called gatorball for pday and our whole district really enjoyed ourselves playing that. 3. Good contacts in camino. We were able to teach two lessons on the bus and train, even though it was pday. We consider a bus or a train contact a lesson if we can teach a principle, extend an invitation and have e expectation of meeting again (aka get their contact info). It was cool doing that in a pday- preparation day is still the Lord's time.

Thursday- 1. good uplifting trainings! We had a mission conference as a part of a mission tour done by Elder Snow of the seventy. He talked along with the leadership of the mission. He also did a little q/a session with some of the leadership afterwards, and one of the biggest things that I got out of it is that when we are leading others, we should have a vision from God of where they can go and help that become their vision as we love them and minister to them. I love conferences- they are great! 2. Sister McLoud, Garren's mom, brought us some Chinese food for dinner. I am always grateful for a good dinner!

Friday- 1. We did service at a members house, Sister Burke-Kaalund, and she fed us hamburgers and hotdogs and ribs- I loved the ribs! We helped clear out her yard of weeds and other unwanted things (there are people in the Bronx with yards believe it or not). It was fun being out in the sun and doing service. 2. Found a lot of needs of others. We had the opportunity to talk to a lot of the zone members through various interactions and we were able to find out some of things they are going through and working on. The problems aren't solved, but it gives us a better idea of how to minister to them. 3. Finished the map! We have been working a map of our area with all the media referrals, active members, less actives, investigators, people we don't know on the ward list, etc. That will help us to plan more effectively and have specific back up plans. When we plan, God blesses us. When we plan specifically, God blesses us abundantly.

Saturday-Sister Phillips- went to visit her and it was good- she is a great member. She has a great testimony and a heart full of love. She is the gospel principles teacher, so we get to work with her at church

Sunday- 1. Rafael got sustained to be ordained to the office of an Elder! We had Stake Conference and he was there since I am obviously in the same stake as Concourse. Now we just need to get him to the temple, hopefully soon so I can go too. Being able to see the full circle of things is such a blessing. 2. Stake Conference was help up in Ossining, which is getting up to Newburgh (outside of the stake- needed a big building since a Seventy was coming to call a new Stake President). We rode a bus up and I got to sit by my buddy Elder Richards (lived with him for my first two cycles in Concourse). He has always been a great influence for me so it was great sitting together, having some good laughs and building  each other up in our trials. I love him and am grateful I had that opportunity.

Monday- Good zone meeting. We planned on talking a lot about goals and accountability. We had hoped the zone would come together and talk about an awesome unifying goal to help each other stay on top of things. Instead, we talked about how unity needed to start at the companionship level, which is exactly what the zone needed. We set stuff up to gain that comp unity and also reemphasized the importance of companionship inventory and open and honest communication. It was awesome, and rather than setting some goal that a few people were on board, we set up to build a great foundation for the future. Open and honest councils always bring the best results.

Tuesday- 1. Mexican restaurant- we went to a Mexican deli. I got a torta, Mexican sandwich and it was good and cheap. Can't go wrong with a good dinner! 2. Elders Lewis and Nelson- we went to drop off mail for Concourse, but the district leader wasn't home, so we dropped it off with Elders Lewis and Nelson, both former companions in Newburgh. They live in the apartment in which I lived when I was in Concourse so it was an all around good reunion. Elder Lewis and I have lived in all the same apartments, except he hasn't lived in the one I am in now. Fun fact! 3. ARP- we invited a couple of people to the addiction recovery program that we have every Tuesday night. One of them came, a guy named Javier, so I sat in on the class. It was good and uplifting- I love that program. It is very inspired. 4. Humbling French experience- got on the train heading up to do some media referral look ups. There was a lady there speaking French so after making a resolve to speak as much French as possible, I started speaking. Usually they speak a little bit of English but she spoke no English. I got a little out, and got a little back, but not enough to make too much of a difference. But more reason to practice! Good humbling experiences help me to be motivated. Today I also tried to talk to some people on the train heading down to union square, but they spoke English and helped to clarify a thing or two that I had questions about.

So yep. Those are some of the things for which I am grateful. Didn't really cut down on the email, but hey it kept me focused! Things are going well! Life is good! Thanks for the love and support and have a good week!

-Elder Griffiths

J'ai Parlé France dans le Autobus

May 27, 2014


Another good week! We had a baptism- Garren. He was excited to be baptized- it took a little to get him under. The water went down a good bit after we had filled it, he is a big guy and he is afraid of water. But Elder Kia was able to get him under finally. It was a good service, and a man named Steve Jackson was baptized too. We were walking home with our roommates from the church one night and some guy said "Hey Mormons!" We stopped and talked to Steve who turned out to be somebody who was meeting with the missionaries in Toledo, Ohio and had been taught everything. Our roommates, Elder Schneider and Elder Johanson, took in teaching them, and they got him baptized in a week and a half pretty much. It was one of those sweet miracle baptisms! So the work is good!

So here are the cool French experiences for this week! One of my plans, and kind of a goal within itself, was to hand out two French copies of The Book of Mormon this month. This past week I had the opportunity to do that- we were coming home from a dinner appointment with a member that speaks French from Togo. On the train, a couple of guys hopped on and started speaking French themselves, so I spoke a little French and a little more English and gave them Le Livre de Mormon with our number in it. Unfortunately they hopped off before I could grab their contact information, but they seemed touched. It is cool being able to see how goals make us better instruments in God's hands. On Saturday, I had another experience, where we were heading to a dinner appointment, and Elder Kia started talking to a lady from France. I then talked to her almost the whole ride there, throwing out what I could about Joseph Smith in French, and filling in the gaps in English. After she got off, I talked to a lady that had approached us before getting on the bus who was a member from the Olmstead ward, so I spoke in Spanish. I found out that she found the church in Italy, so I started speaking Italian to her and I hung in there pretty well! God has blessed me with the gift of tongues and as I have sought to use it to help others come closer to Christ, it has grown. I was able to speak four languages on a single bus ride- that's pretty cool and it is great evidence that God is involved in this work because I couldn't do it without Him. Those things get me pumped!

This week, I have also been grateful for the opportunity to minister to others. It seems like when I am down, the best way to get up is to lift someone else up. When others are going through a hard time, I think just taking time to listen to them, but not push them to talk, let them talk to you. Trying to relate to them, helps too, and then just following the Spirit for words of comfort. Looking for opportunities to serve in little ways are good too. I love that about being a leader, being able to be more involved in ministering to others. It is great!

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers! You are awesome and I hope you have a great week!

-Elder Griffiths

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cultural Experience in the Bronx

May 20, 2014

Hello all!

Welp. Don't think I will be saying much this time- we are down at the temple about to go into a session. But this week was good! I will hit some of the highlights...

Friday morning we went to go do service at the Antwines, members that were moving out (he is a pro wrestler- no worries, I got an autographed poster). Doreatha was going to drive the truck- there was a miscommunication though and it took forever for them to get there.  In the meantime, we were super close to little Italy and we went there- that pumped me up. I talked a little to some people and it was good. I feel like Italians don't always get pumped when you speak their language like Spanish people do. Sometimes they do. But it definitely pumped me up. Go Italy!

Saturday night we had a culture extravaganza in New Rochelle as a stake activity. Doreatha went and had a great time. And so did we!  They did some good dancing and had some good food afterwards, and it was dandy. You should ask Doreatha about it!

Yesterday I went on a split with Elder Meek. We came out together, but haven't served together until now. It was good! We had a good time, learned and grew together spoke Spanish, and yeah it was uplifting all around. I think one of the coolest things was hands out a copy of The Book of Mormon in French. We we're doing church tours and a person came by that spoke French. I could kind of understand, and so I got enough to give her Le Livre de Mormon that I had on hand ( I am trying to carry one at all times nowadays). It was cool! Hopefully I will have more experiences like that.

One thing I have been trying to put into practice is the principle of a council. Working together and acknowledging that disagreement, when handled properly, brings about the best result. I used to approach disagreement in a different way- I avoided it because I always felt mad when I would argue, but experiences out here have led me to step back and listen to the other side and work together when those disagreements come. You have to be humble, you have to be patient, and you have to genuinely want to understand where the other person is coming from. That can be tough, but it brings about the best results- maintaining a relationship, good and balanced decisions, etc. Elder Kia and I don't always agree, but we are grateful for that because we have been able to have that much more of well rounded decisions, and on top of that we love each other! It is great!

Things are great! Thanks for the support and I hope you have a great week!

-Elder Griffiths

It Was Mom

May 14, 2014


Another good week come and gone! Things are starting to heat up- there was no mercy period- it was cold, then cool and wet and now it is getting super hot. But life moves on! We are just bracing ourselves because the Bronx just smells bad all around during he summer- haha

Anywhoo, this week was sweet! Lots of good stuff! First off, Xzavier was baptized! There was a lot of good ward support, and Elder Davidson came up from his area in Hunt's Point (south Bronx) and it all made for a great baptism. Right before the baptism, we had a cool Zone APF where we split up into three groups and hit some of the more crowded intersections in the Bronx- Fordham and Webester, Fordham and Grand Concourse and down on 161 by Yankee Stadium. We asked people why they were grateful for their mothers and then had them wrote it down. We posted it on Facebook on a page called "it was mom" for all to see. It was a good event- we didn't find a ton of people, but we planted a lot of seeds and boosted our zone unity for sure. Saturday was a busy, packed day, but it was good!

Cool thought about goal setting that I have experienced recently.
Often times we get disappointed when we don't reach a goal. I have come to see, however, that sometimes setting a goal is a necessary means to bring about a different but still good result. For example, yesterday on a split with an awesome missionary, a Elder Schneider, we were about to get on a longer bus ride to go see Doreatha. We had one more Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet that we hadn't handed out while street contacting, and before getting on the bus, we set a goal to teach that lesson and give that pamphlet out. We planned to sit strategically so that we could talk to someone and we planned to open our mouths. We went forward with those plans and talked to a family for most of the ride over there. It wasn't about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we didn't give them a pamphlet, but we did have a good uplifting gospel conversation that was hopefully what they needed. We didn't reach our goal, but we gave God something to work with and for that, he used us as instruments in a His hands. As we set goals, we might not always achieve them, but we should be nothing but grateful for what He has allowed us to do. As a missionary, if we only teach 6 lessons while shooting for 26, we still have to be grateful for 6 opportunities to change a life. So set goals! Make plans that demonstrate your faith that you can achieve them, and do all you can to get there, and then be grateful for whatever happens.

Nothing else comes to mind right now to talk about. We are about to have a zone activity- volleyball here at the church. Things are great- thanks for all the support! Hope you have a great week!

-Elder Griffiths

Ups and Downs. And Ups. And Ups.

May 7, 2014

Hello all!

This week had its ups and downs for sure. Luckily, in the context of the gospel the ups are always a lot bigger than the downs. I think a lot of the downs just came from a combination of making transitions/taking over the area/preparing for zone meeting/trying to squeeze in monthly planning/depending on public transportation/a ton of cold rain and other little stressors here and there. I had some humbling moments, but now that that is out of the way, let me tell you of the much good that came!

First off, being with Elder Kia is great! He is full of faith and knows his purpose out here. At the same time, we are having a good time doing the work- we have been setting fun goals in addition to other goals. For example, work in telling a joke during a contact, slip a nice note into another missionaries pocket, choose a baseball team and contact everybody wearing that team's hat, etc. Doing such keeps things from being mundane and has pumped me up when I am feeling down. He is great and we will have a great cycle or two together!

We set four new baptismal dates for people to be baptized by the end of the month. One is Xzavier- this story is awesome! I am just going to copy and paste from the zone Facebook page...

Elder Kia and I went to our investigator Xzavier's house last night. Xzavier has been putting off baptism for awhile now, so we decided to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to him and his family. His family is kind of crazy, but one by one they went off to do their own things leaving us with Xzavier and his mom and so we talked out baptism with him. Elder Kia popped out the calendar and pointed to May 10 to get my approval. He didn't know that Elder Davidson and I had planned out everything, after last Zone Meeting, to get him to be baptized on May 10. We already had it all planned out, and I was barely holding on to that idea of Xzavier getting baptized on the 10th, but we went for it. We exercised our faith and watched the Spirit work in him to get from saying "maybe" to "possibly" to "I might" to "I am going to do it!" He is getting baptized in  a week. I know that because we exercised our faith as we monthly planned, and kept going with that plan, God blessed us. I know that we will be able to expect that in the future and we hope all of you can build your faith off of the experience with which God has blessed us.

Just for some more context, Xzavier is a fifteen year old and is the last nonmember in his family. His family is great and I actually was in a lesson with them a year or so ago before any of them were baptized- I was on a split and we went there. So that was a miracle for sure! And then Garron is a twelve year old son of a recent convert- his mom was baptized in September last year. He agreed to be baptized on the 24th of this month, and is still feeling good about that. We also committed another son of a recent convert to be baptized and the 24th. We had a powerful lesson with the spirit present. Better than us giving a logical argument on why he should be baptized, we testified and let he spirit give him the hope that he needed and resolve the concerns that we can't see, and so he is on board. We also had a lesson with a guy named Jovan- he has come to church twice now independent of our efforts. We talked with him and it was probably the weirdest lesson I had- he claims to be the Messiah preparing for his second coming. Typical story from the Bronx... But we know and have faith that God can help him to understand things and can change things and set them straight in his mind as he is taught true doctrine, so we set a goal with him of the 24th of this month, and a return appointment for Friday. I have been tempted to deem him as crazy and move on, and have repented of already having done such, but I know that he is a son of God who needs some direction in his life. He also is a lot more humble than the other self proclaimed Messiahs that I have met or heard of out here. So yep :T Those are the people we are working with. Things are exciting! We are shooting for five baptisms this month, so pray for Xzavier, Garron, Bentley, especially Jovan, and then  a miracle!

Things are good! Chugging away at goals. I haven't had as much time in the past week to work on the French, but I still had a couple of opportunities to speak it- a couple contacts on the bus, members on Sunday at church and then a senior couple that inspected our apartment both speak French (I could understand them pretty well, but when I was beginning to learn Spanish I understood white people a lot better than natives). This week I should have a little more time (usually I take a little time at nights, during breakfast/lunch and a little bit of language study when I actually have language study- not the priority since I'm out of the Spanish program I guess). And then less active work is going well- Doreatha came to church this week for the first time since I have been here. She is a tough cookie sometimes, but I am excited for you guys to meet her, in about a week and a half now, huh? She is excited to go to the Lawrenceville Ward, so that will be good for her. Things are great- I love the mission!

Thanks for the support and prayers! You guys are great and I hope you have a good week!

-Elder Griffiths