Thursday January 31st - Wednesday February 6th
As I mentioned last week we are opening a new area in Westchester. We are taking the Northern part of the Westchester 2nd Branch which includes: Sleepy Hallow, Tarrytown, Irvington, some of Elmsford, Dobbs Ferry and Hasting on Hudson!
Funny Story: At this past transfer meeting our mission president was telling us about his birthday experience (January 25th).
The whole mission surprised him (thank goodness for smart leaders: assistants to the president and senior couples who work in the office) with two things. The one the Assistants thought up was to tell our whole mission to each write a letter to president and send it to his house. It was to include birthday wishes and our commitment to lock in truth and lock out the world (something president Morgan has been asking us to do). Therefore, he received about 120-140 letters in the mail! The other surprise one of the senior couples put together. We were to write a message in an email wishing him a happy birthday and mentioning Locking in truth. Then Sister Denison printed them out and all the emails were put inside helium balloons and then locked inside his car! I was not there but he was very surprised. He and some others popped all the balloons to get the messages out. During our transfer meeting he shared what one of the ASL elders had wrote. "Happy Birthday President Morgan! You are now one year closer to living in the presence of your Heavenly Father!" hahaha
Pretty much everything changed after I emailed last week. We are way more connected to the Branch and our area. I still rely on the GPS a great deal lol but that will come in time.
Thursday Jan. 31st:
We got lost a few times haha. We drove to our area to check out Tarrytown and Sleepy Hallow! They are darling towns that are right next to the Hudson River. Seeing our area helped us be excited for the work! Before it was somewhat abstract and not tangible to us, but actually seeing our area was awesome! That night we had dinner with our new branch mission leader. His wife is from Mesa! They have a darling daughter named Sydney and are expecting another girl in May. The Nelson family lives near to us and they have been a great help as we dive in.
Friday Feb. 1st:
We went to the mission office to get some English proselyting materials. It's weird because it's not where I would expect the office to be located haha. It's a suite within a bigger office complex but it's right next to a Banana Republic and some other nice stores. When we first got there and were looking for it I was definitely confused! I also found out a lot of important information about the car we were driving! For example we've been going through the EzPass things without a pass... =P
And we're suppose to be recording our miles in this booklet, and some other minor details which no one explained to me on Wednesday when they just gave me the keys! haha anyways I'm proud to say now that I am no longer ignorant in those areas I have not made the same mistakes. We took longer at the mission office then originally we anticipated because of the education I received about the car policies from Elder Denison.
We then went to our area where some of the elders where helping us find people. We got one referral that we're still trying to get in touch with. We ate dinner at an expensive pizza place (everything in Tarrytown is expensive). Sister Awerkamp has Celiac so we got a gluten free veggie pizza with chicken. After we ate we ended up talking to a family who was there for dinner and taught them a little bit about the restored gospel. The wife spent 15 years in Arizona. She actually went to Gilbert High when it first opened so that was cool. What I've found so far in that area is that even if people aren't interested they are still pretty nice about it, which is not the case for the missionaries in South Manhattan!
Saturday Feb. 2nd:
We went to the mission office because President Morgan wanted to have an interview with Sister Awerkamp. He didn't get a chance to talk with everyone when they were at the mission home so the few others he's been calling in. I think it's awesome that he is talking to all the new missionaries to help them get settled in. I remember that's what I thought would happen with President Smith when I first started my mission. For whatever reason President Smith didn't interview our group. My first time talking to him one on one was three months after I had already been in the field. I think it would have been a smoother transition if I had the opportunity to sit down with him. Anyhow when we went to the office I had a letter from Tristan and a parcel my mom forwarded me from home that a friend from London sent me. It's funny being near the mission office and having some of the office couples living in your apartment because you get office mail more frequent. The majority of the day we spent with the Nelson family (branch mission leader and his wife). Brother Nelson does an excellent job at magnifying his calling! He is really on top of it =) Sister Nelson works with the young women and they helped us identify some of the ward members, their situations and ways we could help, including part member families. I am so grateful they have help us grab a hold of what we are doing here. It was great to talk about our goals and how we hope to help the branch. When we were leaving I mentioned how much I love a certain kind of pen (yes those of you who know me know how much I LOVE OFFICE SUPPLIES!) and also how I needed to get some more of the pencils they had. I may have asked if I could borrow the pencil I had been using when I was there and they said I could have it! Brother Nelson let me take a few mechanical pens and he gave me a ton of my favorite pens!!! I know that sounds dumb but that is like my dream come true! Especially with how expensive pens and pencils are to buy on a missionary budget. Anyways I knew that we were going to make a great team! hahah
That night we had dinner with the Matthews family and they are darling as well! I am thankful Elder McCullum and Elder Aagard have been keeping us in the loop for dinners!
Sunday Feb. 3rd:
We went to Branch council first thing in the morning. Our branch is located in a really random space and it's part of an industrial office. The address I had didn't have the suite number so it was really weird to find. Eventually though, after calling Brother Nelson, we found it =) The branch council is great and President Fillmore is really on top of everything. They are excited we're here and there is plenty of work for us to do! We counted about 45 people total at church including nursery-adults! It's small but it is an awesome group who love the Lord. There are plenty of spaces for us to come in and lift. I am grateful that there is so much that needs to be done for this branch because it makes it really easy for us to be wrapped up and fully engaged in this work. A few people told us that having Sisters in the branch is an answer to their prayers. That makes you feel good! haha
Truly though a lot of the work that needs to be done here to strengthen the branch involves single sisters(young and old) and single moms, thus it is a lot of work that the elders can't particularly do because of rules the mission has about having another male present. Plus we all know Sisters have a special way of touching hearts! =)
It was great getting connected to the branch and we made a lot of appointments to visit people during the week. After church they had our first choir rehearsal! We stayed to be apart of that.
Sister Fillmore told us about a couple in our ward who are wonderful! She explained how they have a really stong desire to go through the temple and how she wants to help them with temple prep. Unfortunately the times they are free is when she's in the middle of dinner and homework with her family, plus she lives quite far from where they are. She asked us about the possibility of us teaching them the temple preparation course. That was perfect because we are 100% flexible to the schedule of others and we're looking for ways to fill our time. She was overcome with joy and her eyes teared up as she talked about what a positive impact we are going to have on this branch.
After we came home from church we ended up stopping by the Denison's apartment in our building because we wanted to say hello. We stayed and chatted with them for a little while and it was lovely. They are a wonderful senior couple who I got to serve with when I was in the Bronx. They invited us to stay for dinner =) While Sister Denison prepared a few things Elder Denison helped us take the air conditioner out of our wall because it was letting in a draft and freezing Sister Awerkamp! It's nicer than in the cities because they have a slot where you can put the AC unit where as in the city you just stick it in your window! hah. It was a delicious meal, wonderful company, and we ended the evening by sharing my testimony of Mosiah 4:10-12 and how that scripture taught me how we can experience a remission of our sins and retain that wonderful feeling!
Monday Feb. 4th:
It was a busy day! We went to our first District Meeting in this area at the Scarsdale chapel. Afterwards we all went to eat at the mall. It was fun to sit and chat with the Sister's we share an apartment with. I love both of them! Sister Dalley (who was in one of Sam's core classes at Paul Mitchell) and Sister Keanini from Hawaii who is like a Hawaiian version of Sister Ortega to me =P
Afterwards we had an appointment with a woman from the branch who Sister Fillmore said could use some spiritual support and strength right now. It was such a joy to visit her and her family. Later at night we visited the couple who wants to go to the temple. They are living in humble circumstances and you can't help but feel the spirit there. They joined the church in Giana and are both working to save up money for their son and his wife to come to NY to be sealed in the temple. We are going to start meeting with them twice a week in the evenings! They only live about ten minutes from us so it'll be easy to work with their late schedules.
Tuesday Feb. 5th:
We visited the Relief Society President, Sister Skousen, to talk about how we can help her and the sisters in our branch. She is such a wonderful woman and her family has written some scholarly books about the church.
We also visited two other wonderful people from the branch! Our schedules are getting busier now that we have a sense of direction =)
Wednesday Feb. 6th:
As for today it is somewhat crazy. We did our laundry after some hassel with tracting down a card to load money on to. There is a lot we want to get done today and so little time. That being said I need to wrap up this email.
I hope you are having a wonderful week!
Sister Emily A. Johnson
I've heard that one of my very best friends Jillian Bacigalupo is getting baptized this Saturday!!! Which is awesome!!! Jill send me some pictures! =D
Saturday Feb. 9th is Brendan's baptism! I will be speaking and I am so excited to see him take the step closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Sunday Feb. 10th I'm giving a talk in chuch based off of Elder Uchtdorf's last CES Fireside "What Is Truth"
- Sister Awerkamp and I always joke with members as they try to learn her name. I say, not your camp, but Arrr (our) camp! lol
- I got a care package from the Elliot Ward Miamaids! Which was awesome!!! I'm planning on writing them thank yous! Hopefully I do that soon.
- Sister Awerkamp by our car! It was really weird driving again after 11 months!
- The four girls in our apartment (Hermana Dalley, Hermana Keanini, Sister Awerkamp and Me)
- Elder denison helping us not have a freezing cold room! haha