Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Greatest Place in the World

Hey Momy and Gang!

How is everything going! This week has been really good! I have really been enjoying myself :) We had interviews with President Smith yesterday and that went really well! It is always nice just to sit down and talk with him one on one. He is a great guy and you can just feel the love that he has for you when he is talking to you! 

So things are going pretty tough! But it's all good! When Life gets hard we only get stronger! So it is for our benefit! Gisela dropped her baptism along with Jordy! That is just a really long story that I don't feel like getting into! Long story short they will be baptized soon enough! :) So Transfers are next week.. I just have the weird feeling that I am going to be training! :/ We will see! That would be nice, but also a challenge! But to be honest I really have no idea what is going to happen. So I will keep you all posted! Life is going good though! The weather is really nice and I just got done playing basketball. It's always really nice to play. It just kind of helps me feel like a real person again lol! Haha actually I played my first game of street ball last Friday when we had a Blitz ( When all the missionaries get together in one companionship's area and go knocking or contacting.) So we played with these kids here in Harlem! Barely lost and gave them our card lol! There was a big crowd watching. To see 3 white guys playing in the Bronx would probably be pretty rare to see if you were from here! \

(The following is in response to my suggestion that our family might go home to New Orleans next year for Mardi Gras.  I was concerned that if  Mark had just gotten home, the experience might be a little bit too much for a newly returned missionary.  Greg was pretty much in shell shock the week after coming home and attending a Kenny Chesney concert with me.  As it turns out - Mark will not even be home next Mardi Gras - but his response is rather telling!)  
haha speaking of which.. Mom going to Mardi Gras after my mission would be a relaxing time.. I am in the Bronx and Harlem.. I did not serve in Boise like Greg lol! A Kenny Chesney concert would be peace! lol! I see things everyday that would scare the living heck out of you! lol! You would have your hands over my eyes 24/7 lol! So no.. That would not be bad.. I have seen SO Many things! Nudity, Crime, Drunkeness, you name it I have seen it haha! But I cant help but love it here and love the people. I seriously do think NYC is the greatest place in the World! :) ... But at the same time one of the worst lol! I just love the people no matter who they are! They have all just grown up in really hard circumstances! There is just something about this place! Just walking the streets you can feel something... And you don't need to be in Time Square, strolling down Broadway, or laying on the grass overlooking the Statue of Liberty in Battery Park to feel it! I feel it in the Bronx and I feel it in Harlem. This city just has a Beat that keeps on going, and never ends. It really never does sleep. It is always on the move. People here know nothing else. This is home. This is life. The World is New York City to these people! 

Well like I said weather has been nice.. Still like no SNOW! I am really upset! I am just waiting to use those Tank Boots Brother Furniss gave me again! They just plow through things lol!

So Cindy was baptized last Saturday in Harlem. I tried to get permission to got  but I was denied. But it is all good! :) I am just really happy for her! She is an awesome person and I am glad she has taken that step in her life! So we are working hard. Trying to work smart! I think the hardest thing has been that we don't really have very much member support in our area. We have one active member a lesson a week if we  are lucky! lol! 
So did both of the Sister Missionaries get transfered or just one of them?? I am confused. They just got there didn't they?? Yeah Transfers are stressfull.. I don't think I have ever met a missionary who goes to bed at 10:30 the night before lol! It's a long night! Well Elder Burley went home?? Wow.. Crazy! time flies! I wrote a letter to Tyler Nash today! His name is Tyler right?? haha I am going to feel dumb if it isn't... 

Well I love you all very much! But I also love the people here! I miss home, but I am going to miss this when it is gone! I have a year left and I am going to make the best of it! Thank you all so much for your prayers and support! I really appreciate it! :) I hope you all have a great week! Take care and God Bless! 

Love, Mark! :) 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day is the Hardest Day


Well I was not planning on telling you the DL thing. (Elder Mattei is a district leader - he explains a little bit what that entails.)  It happened like 5 weeks ago. So I have been one for like 5 weeks now, so yes it is in Kingsbridge zone! It has been alright, just taking numbers and getting to do interviews. (District Leaders typically receive weekly reports from all the missionaries in their district.  These reports include numbers of people contacted, number of lessons taught, number of people who have committed to baptism, etc.  Another responsibility includes interviewing people prior to baptism to help determine their understanding and readiness.)  Sunday nights are a little stressfull, the Zone leaders have us doing things a little differently, but it is really well and is working pretty good. It's helping us know as a zone and district what is going on with each individual investigator. So it has been good!

Yeah Tre' and I are able to keep in contact. I also email RJ and Jackson each week. Mckeon never responds to me... :/ But oh well not much I can do. Just wish I could hear how he is doing! I miss all of them so much! and I am so happy for them!  (For those who don't know- these are some of Elder Mattei's best friends, also serving missions, 2 in Mexico, 1 in France and 1 in Russia.)

So what happened to Todd playing Lacrosse?? I was really pumped that he was going to play.. Guess that never happened. But that was a cool article you sent me about Mitch.(former hockey teammate)  Thank you for that. Crazy,,, High School seems so far away... I miss playing Hockey so much... :/ There are a lot of things I miss... Ahh! I just want to be a normal kid lol! No j.k. (just kidding) everything is really good.

Valentine's Day is definitely the hardest day of my mission, as far as trunkyness goes. lol! (Trunkyness is a missionary term for homesickness - usually experienced very close to the end of the mission.)  NY is not a good place to be in that regards. Thousands of couples, People selling Flowers, Candy, and stuffed animals all over the place! I could not escape it! Then at night everyone and their Dog making out in the Subways!.. Fun night! Haha! No it really was not that bad. Being with Elder Wilkey has just kind of made me a little trunky I guess... NOT GOOD! I sitll have a year! But I am still working hard!

Gisela is doing good! She does not feel ready for baptism, but she has had some pretty crazy experiences... She knows the church is true! that is for sure! And she wants her and her son Jordy to be baptized! We are still shooting for the 25th, and I am pretty sure it is still going to happen! :) She bore the sweetest testimony.. She told us how years ago she saw Joseph Smith in a dream, before we ever taught her about him.. And when we showed her a pictrue of him.. she just started crying and knew that he was a prophet and God restored his Church through him... She said she could not tell us everything she saw... It was a really cool experiance. It strengthened my testimony so much! uh... Other than all that.. There is not a whole lot to say. It has just been one of those weeks you know?? It was like a roller coaster! A bunch of ups, and a lot of downs! I am just happy that the ups outweighed the downs :) Elder Lewis bought me some cookies this morning so that made me really happy! :) 

And no I have not talked to Nick in a while. I need to write him! I need to write a lot of people actually! Dang it! Tell Granny I got her card and money and I am very thankful! I will write them tonight! Along with Todd! :) And Nash, and Mark, Mike, Jake, and Bryan.. I have a letter for Joel and Brother Lenahan that have been sittting on my desk for weeks! I just need to send them lol! I am pathetic! 

Shoot I almost forgot! Aaron is getting baptized?? (Aaron is a family acquaintance who graduated with Greg; very close ties with various church members - yet another example of friendship and member missionary work! ) That is so exciting! Someone tell him congratulations for me! That is so cool! Good for him! I knew that would happen eventually! 

Well I love you all very much! Sorry if I am a bit boring today! Did not mean to be!! oh and yes! So are we going to be coming back here the summer after my mission?? Because that is what I would like to do! It would be a lot of fun! :) That could be our family vacation! :) Please?!! :) Oh and also.. As you all know I get to go to a broadway play at the end of my mission, I just figured I would ask now since they are fairly expensive if I could use some money and go! I really want to go see the Lion King or Phantom of the Opera.. Probably Lion King! :) 

Okay well Much love! Take care! 

Love, Mark! :) 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February in the Bronx

Hello Everyone!! :) 

How is everything going?? Apart from you all being sick? That really is a bummer! So that is really good to hear about Nicole! I really am so happy for her! She is going to cherish her baptism so much! So are her and Greg still doing fine?? What all is going on with them? 

So I am not sure if I will get to go back for Cindy's baptism! (Elder Mattei taught Cindy in his last area, Harlem) I really really hope I do! I know she said she was going to talk to President Smith personally about it! And I am going to talk to him really soon when we have interviews! So I will probably mention it to him then! But I would really love to see that :) It would mean a lot to me! 

So Cynthia.. she is not progressing. She feels the Spirit a ton! Which is great! But she is not willing to act upon it! I think we might me dropping her sometime really soon :( I hate doing that! i think that is one of the hardest things for me to do as a missionary. I just always feel kind of bad. But people have their agency, and we need to let them use it you know?

But on the other hand, Gisela is doing really well! Talk about a miracle! Uh.. Last week we were on a split. I was with Elder Sayao and we were teaching her. She stopped us in the middle of what we were talking about and just looked at me and said "When you talk I feel peace, as if I am the only one in the world. The Spirit has never touched me like this."  Then she said "It just touches my heart." And she looked at Elder Sayao and said " He has something really special about him." It was very humbling. When we were saying the prayer to leave I started crying. I am just so happy that the Lord has chosen to act through me. I know it was nothing I did. It just really has strenthened my testimony that God really does call us to certain places for certain reasons and there could have been anyone in the world to teach her. And he chose me. I now feel that me getting white washed out of Harlem happened for a reason. Well then she came to church on Sunday and stayed for a Linger Longer  and A Fireside after! 5 hours! I was worried that she would feel like it was way too long lol! But no, she called us the next day and thanked us for taking her to church and knocking on her door! And not only did she love church- both of her kids loved it as well. And that the one that is 12, Jordy wants to be baptized! So they will both be getting baptized on the 25th of Feb! :) She is really quite an amazing person! I am so grateful that I get to play a part in her life! 

So then the other day we were talking with a member in Elder Lewis's ward and she was telling us about problems she was having with one of her kids. I just felt the Spirit touch me and say, "Never treat your mom like that again" So I got on my knees that night and promised that I would never talk to you badly or talk back to you again Mommy! :) It was really cool! It really was like a whisper like everyone says it is! :) I felt so bad for the lady though! :( She does not do everything right, I can see that. But she deserves better than how is sounds like her kid is treating her. If I saw him, I would just be so tempted to knock him right in his face. 

So yeah I got Melissa some gifts. Nothing too big! I really want to send her some flowers though! So I am going to try and find a website that will let me do that! :) But yeah I got the King Cake and the Ties! Thank you guys so much! I really liked it! Its was a little hard, but we still ate it! It was really good! :) Well! Not much more to say! I love you all so much! Thank you for your support and everything you do! Have Greg write me! I have gotten 1 written letter from him in the past 2 1/2 years! lol! Well Much love Take care Bye! 

Love, Mark! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Am Good

What Chrisse is ENGAGED????? No Way!! Ahh! I totally saw that coming! She wrote me a letter that I received my first day in the Bronx. I have still not heard back from her! She totally told me about the guy! Chrisse if you read this write me!!! haha! That's so exciting! Good for her!
Haha okay now that I got that off my chest!
Hello Everyone! :) How are you all doing this fine evening?
So not a lot of time. That is so cool to hear about Nicole! (Nicole is Lindsay's friend who will be baptized in March.)  Send me pictures! I pray for her all the time! I am so happy for her! But things are good here! So to answer your questions mom, Cindy (from Harlem) is getting baptized. :) I am happy for her! She is so ready to make that step in her life! It will make such a difference! I wish I could remember my own better! But I cherish what I do remember so much. Best decision I ever made!
But Gisela has a bap date for the 25th of Feb; also a guy we are teaching named George has a date for the same day! They are both SOLID. George started crying while Elder Wilkey and I were teaching the Restoration of The Gospel. I felt the Spirit so strong. One of the Strongest I ever have. It is such a feeling of peace and comfort! Just a happy feeling, it calms you. There are really no words to describe it. There is absolutly nothing like it! It just overwhelms you :0 I love it so much! :)
So today we went to Costco! Saved a ton of money! :) I was happy about that! We have been working really hard lately. Just trying to work harder and harder every day! I gave my first Baptismal interview in Spanish the other day as well! That was really nerve racking, but the spirit guided it and I understood everything and she was baptized :) It was really cool just to sit down and talk to the girl. Her name is Alma and she is a recent convert of Elder Huerta Luna. Her Baptism was really spiritual as well! Like half the ward was there so that was pretty exciting!
So no packages yet! But I should get them tomorrow! Its Zone Conference so we will all be meeting with President and Sister Smith! So I am excited for that! As well as to eat some King Cake! So Muchos gracias in advance! :) Zone Conference is always nice! President Smith is an awesome man, and I always love hearing from him! I am always like on a spiritual high for like a week!

 Oh okay so I was reading in 3 Nephi the other day! Right after Christ comes and visits the Nephites. It was so cool, and I learned so much from reading the sermon he gave. I read the Sermon on the Mount right after! They just work so well with each other! Those parts of the Bible and Book of Mormon just uplift me so much! I literally feel like he is there, right in front of me teaching me. I learn so much from him! I understand forgiveness so much better now. As well as how to be a better person!
I really just want to tell you Mom and Dad -  Sorry for any trouble I ever caused back home. It was wrong of me, and I wish I could go back and change a lot of stupid decisions I made. I also want to Thank you for always forgivng me and continually being patient with me! It means the world to me! You two are amazing! You have raised me, Greg, Lindsay, Todd, Thomas, and Garrett, as well as all of our friends half the time lol! So many of them say our home was their second homel lol!   We are a Circus for crying out loud! Haha! You guys are the best! I don't think anyone else could have done it! I love you so much for it! :) 
Well! I am good! Life is good! I hope you all are good! Have a great week! Take care! I will try and write more next week!! :) Love you all a ton!
Love, Mark :)
P.s. Keep Elder Lewis in your prayers. His Grandpa just passed away :(
You da best! :)