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