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