Archive | May, 2012

Picture Postcards NYC May 2012

31 May

They Were Understanding Me!

31 May
Well, it’s finally summer here in the city! Well, the weather can’t really seem to make up its mind, to be honest. One day it’s rainy and the next day is swelteringly hot. For example, yesterday was pretty hot and then at night it started POURING! So Sister Taylor and I threw on some shorts and went and played in the rain for a few minutes (this was at the end of our day). It was so fun! But the hot is coming back, I just know it. I’m getting a little bit nervous to be out in the sun all day every day, but hopefully I’ll get a nice farmer’s tan. But yeah, the hot is going to be a struggle. W’ll see how it goes :)
So this week we had some cool experiences. The bishop of the ward here is just AMAZING! He came out with us to go visit one family and we ended up visiting with three different families! He’s such a good example of really taking care of others and loving them. He always remembers little details about people and he is just great. Our whole ward is great. We had arranged for a young mom and her 9 year old daughter, Gezebel to come with us to one of our lessons. When we got there, nobody answered the door :( But then cute little Gezebel looks up at me with these adorable eyes and goes, “Do we get to knock some doors now?” It was a very humbling experience, and reminded me that I should always have that kind of an attitude.
Another cool thing– we were walking around by the edge of Central Park, looking for people to talk to, when we came across a few benches full of old, Latino men. Usually when there’s a large group of men like that, they’ll do cat calls and it’s uncomfortable and we just keep walking. But one of the men just said, in English, “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” And that’s all it took. We started talking to him, and then his friend that was next to him hopped in on the conversation. After about an hour, we had talked to 4 or 5 of them, and set up appointments either for us to meet with them or gotten their information to give to other missionaries, depending on where they lived. It was so cool! The best part of all was that Sister Taylor and I were having separate conversations with some of these men, which meant that I had to carry on a convo in Spanish completely on my own- and I did it! It was nuts. I was speaking, semi-fluently, and they were understanding me! It was amazing. The Spanish really is coming more and more quickly.
And then to top it all off, we finally set a baptism date with this cute 11 year-old girl, Yahaira. The missionaries have been teaching her for quite a while, but her mom wanted to wait until she was older for her to decide if she wanted to get baptized. Her birthday is this month, so we were finally able to set a date! We’ve got it planned for the 24th of June. I’m so excited! :)
A quick funny story: We went to meet with this 91  year old woman that our bishop had randomlly met and set up an appointment for us (I know, how awesome right? He really is a gem.) She was on her way out, but before she left, I went to go use her bathroom…. which meant getting around her dog. Let me tell you about this dog. He was a tiny little thing, but he had a smoker’s cough that scared the life out of me, and he was not too keen on me getting to the bathroom. So there we are, me, this hunched-over 91 year old Latin woman with crazy frizzy gray hair, and the dog, Sparky. Or Esparky, as she called him. I try to squeeze in the door, past the lady and her Bronx cart, past the crazy wheezing dog, and Sister Taylor’s in the background cracking up. The lady’s hopping to and fro, swatting at the dog, saying, “Esparky! Esparky, no!” Then turning to Sister Taylor, “He’s twelve years old!” then back to the dog, “Esparky! Esparky!” It was crazy. Dogs on the mission…. let’s just say they’re tricky. We meet some really nice ones that will come up to us and be super great, and then other ones that start yapping like crazy when we knock on the door or come in. The reallly tricky ones are the ones that look nice but then try to bite you when you try to pet them. Yeah, that was fun. But they’re a really good conversation starter! We’ll be walking on the street, I’ll compliment someone’s dog, and then BOOM! The conversation’s started. I really do love dogs, and so it’s great that that love of dogs can work for me out here :)
So I learned a pretty great lesson this week. Or rather, it came up while we were having our weekly District Meeting. I’d kind of been struggling with how to find the right balance with emotions in regards to attachment to investigators. What I mean is, I’d find myself getting really attached to someone and then they turn out not to be interested or just don’t progress or whatever. And it’s a huge let-down! Like my heart hurts just a little when it happens. So I’d been struggling to figure out if I should try to care about them less or wait to form that attachment or what. But then in District Meeting, it came to me: Disappointment is different than discouragement. Of course I’m going to be disappointed when things don’t work out the way I want them to. That’s life. And forming those attachments with people still means something to me, even if it turns out sadly. But I don’t have to let that disapointment discourage me in what I’m doing. Disappointment doesn’t have to lead to discouragement. Hopefully I can start applying that more in my life. :)
I love you all and hope everything’s going well! Thank you for all of your prayers and support.
Love,
Hermana Rogers

I Had My First Real “door-slammed-in-my-face” Moment!

23 May

Hello!
Well, I can now say that I have officially completed a full transfer! (Which is six weeks, for those of you who aren’t familiar- every six weeks we have something called transfers where people change companions or areas). And I must say, transfers are so hard! Luckily I am staying with my companion, but we lost quite a few of our elders. Two are going home and two got transfered to other places. :\ But we got two new ones, so that’s fun, and I’m sure we will all be good friends in no time. I just already miss the other elders we lost. It’s hard to form close friendships with people and then have everything change and have to kind of start over with new people. It will definitely be interesting getting used to having such constant change every six weeks for the next fifteen months or so.
Part of the culture of the mission is to hold a “funeral” so to speak for the missionaries who are going home. I made a RIP cake for them and also sang “For Good,” from Wicked with one of other elders. It was pretty sweet. Kind of sad, though.
In other news, we had a really cool thing happen in our mission this weekend! Elder Rasband, one of the presidents of the seventy, came down and gave a devotional type thing for us. Everybody in the whole mission came, which is really rare. It’s cool because Elder Rasband served his own mission here and was also the mission president of this mission twenty years or so ago. So he told us some really cool stories about how things used to be way back in the day. It was sweet. Also, I got to see Elder Creighton Hardy! He’s been serving up in Connecticut, and so I haven’t been able to see him, but we finally got to say hi! We were in the same freshman ward and I was really excited that we got called to the same mission. (I’ll send a picture next week because the computer I’m writing from right now won’t let me upload pictures). But it was just a really neat experience to see everybody in the mission and to hear from somebody who knows our mission really well.
This last weekend, one of the other companionships in our district had a baptism! It was really great. And Sister Taylor and I started teaching this man named Cesar. He is so awesome! We met him over a month ago and he’s actually come to church a couple of times, but we haven’t had the chance of teaching him until now. It was seriously such a great lesson! He had tons of questions, and he basically told us how he needed to be taught. He was like, “Now, can you share a personal experience with me of how you’ve seen the Holy Ghost in your life?” Haha, needless to say, most people we teach are not like that. A lot of time it’s a struggle just to keep them involved and caring about what we’re saying, but he was totally the opposite. I have really high hopes for him and am excited to teach him some more!
Well, to end on a funny note, I had my first real “door-slammed-in-my-face” moment. It was so hilarious! We were knocking one of the projects and this lady opens the door, takes one look at us and starts shaking her head, saying, “No, no, no, no, no!” and abruptly slams the door. Sister Taylor and I about died laughing. It was great. Usually people just reject us through the door- they ask who it is and then if they’re not interested they say so and just don’t open up. But this experience was just super special :)
I think that’s about all I’ve got for this week. Things are going great. I’m excited for a new cycle and to kind of have some renewed energy. Sister Taylor and I are getting along superbly. I just love her. I love the people in our ward and the people that we’re teaching and all of the other missionaries. I’m pretty sure that a lot of these friendships that I make here are going to last for a very long time. It’s nice to know that even though I don’t have the chance right now to keep up as I’d like to with all of my other friendships back home, that I can still keep making new friends, both with other missionaries and the people that we meet. It’s like that wherever you are in life, I guess. But I just love getting to know new people and learning from them. That’s what life– and my mission– is all about. :) Well, that and sharing the gospel and the joy that it brings!
Hope you all have a wonderful week! Miss and love you!
Con amor,
Hermana Rogers


Just Another Week in the City!

16 May

Hola!

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful women in my life who have been such a great support to me. I hope that everyone’s day went well. It was so great to talk to my family! It super great to hear everyone’s voice.

Not too much new to report this week. Just another week in the city! We taught lessons, although a lot of them fell through… again. It’s kind of discouraging, but then we always find new people to teach, so it’s all good. We went to a member’s house for dinner the other day and he totally made fun of my accent– not that it was bad, he said it just sounded like I was from the south– which I claimed proudly :) He told my companion that her accent was Russian-sounding, so that was fun.

So we’ve got this joke going in our apartment… it’s kind of a funny thing. So one of the members in our roommate’s ward was moving and gave us this huge cardboard cutout that’s life size of an old man holding a Book of Mormon… we think it’s supposed to be Hugh Nibley cause there’s a quote from him on the back. Anyways, we keep putting it in different places around our apartment to scare the other companionship. Mostly I’m the only one screaming…. big surprise there. But I’m including some pictures of that cause it’s kind of funny.

One of the lessons I’m learning more and more as I’m out here is that I really can do anything that I set my mind to. I know this is a silly example, but this morning we played ping pong with some of the other missionaries in our zone. I’ve never really been very good at ping pong, but I played for a good chunk of time and got some tips on how to improve, and since I didn’t give up, I was able to get better! It was the same in the MTC with volleyball, and it’s the same with the Spanish language and everything else. Just because you’re not good at something or it doesn’t come naturally doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. That’s what I’m learning. If I want something badly enough and I dedicate the time to learn it and to become better at it, I can and will improve. It’s a wonderful thing, and I’m really grateful that’s a lesson that I’m learning.

Well, I hope everyone has a good week! Thanks for all of your letters and support.

Con amor,
Hermana Rogers

PS- Thanks to the Dripping Springs Seminary Class and their package/letters! It was so thoughtful and great to receive that.

Picture Postcards- May 2012

10 May

Be Prepared to Run!

9 May

Hola familia y amigos!

Well, this week I officially hit my 3 month mark! I am now 1/6th of the way through my mission. So crazy! I’m sure it’s going to be so fast, so I’m trying to enjoy every day to the best of my ability. PS, WELCOME TO NEW YORK, Sister Jones! I’m so excited you are here, even if we aren’t in the same city. :)

This week, all of the missionaries in Manhattan had the great opportunity of volunteering at the Revlon Run/Walk for Cancer in Times Square! There were so many people there and it was just really cool to be a part of that event. We handed out signs to groups that were running. It was neat to be in Times Square, because usually we’re not allowed to be down that far. On our way back home, my tiny bladder FINALLY did me some good because we had to stop into a couple of really cool stores to use the bathroom– Toys R Us and M&M World. I’m attaching some fun pictures we took as well :)

This morning my companion and I went over to a member’s house to learn how to cook Mexican food (she’s from Mexico, so it was pretty legit.) She taught us how to make Mexican seasoned rice and taquitos. Hopefully I’ll be a pro at cooking Mexican food by the time I’m home. And lots of other types of food, for that matter. I’m going to ask the people whose homes we visit to teach me their recipes and tricks so that I will have a plethora of countries to select meals from.

So, for all of you who have never had the joy of using a public transportation system on a regular basis, allow me to paint you a picture of what you can expect, should you ever move to a place where there is one. First of all, be prepared to run the second you enter the station, because as soon as you hear that sound of a subway– even if you don’t know if it’s yours or not– you run, because if you miss it, chances are you will have to wait a good 10 minutes or so before another one comes around. It’s such a fulfilling feeling catching the subway just in the nick of time, and it’s just the opposite when you just miss it. I usually get my metro card out way before we even get to the station, because I know there’s a good chance I’ll have to make a run for it.

Here are some of the interesting experiences I’ve had on subways:

  • Homeless people entering the train car and making an announcement asking for money. One of these that sticks out in my mind is a man who lost his eye when someone attacked him with a knife a while back. Yes, he did show it to us. That was pleasant. I guess subways are a good place for homeless people to solicit money because everyone is sitting down and can’t escape. It’s different from Austin or somewhere else where cars have to wait at stoplights and people aren’t walking everywhere suuuper duper fast. So good on them for improvising, I guess.
  • Crazy people. This week, an old man decked out in a hat, suit jacket and suit pants (all of different colors, mind you) came in yelling, “Can an old man have a seat? I said, can an old man have a seat?” (Picture this in a deep, gospel-y type voice). I was standing up and felt bad, cause I couldn’t really do anything for the guy. Nobody moved at all. So he goes, “Fine. I’m just gonna sing then.” And then he starts singing at the top of his lungs, “She give me money, when I’m in need…” Classic Ray Charles. Stuff like that happens ALL the time on the subways.

Mostly, my experiences on the subways consist of me trying not to stumble or fall every time it comes to a stop, looking for people who might speak Spanish, while all the while trying to keep an eye out for which stop we need to get off on. It’s like juggling! A couple of times, we’ve accidentally gone past our stop, just because we were talking with somebody or giving them a Book of Mormon. Then we just get off and turn around and take the train back down. Like I said, you learn to adjust. But really, the subway is pretty cool. I mean, it’s dirty and smelly sometimes, and you’ve got to watch out for the puddles in the station, cause you never know what liquid substance it might be… but it’s generally pretty safe and you meet some pretty cool people.

 

I’m just feeling so grateful this week. We’ve had a couple of experiences that really made me look back and evaluate all of the wonderful blessings I’ve had growing up. We met a woman who was getting evicted out of her apartment and had nowhere to turn– no family, no money, and only a part-time job. Another one of the people we met with is here all alone working to pay for expensive medicine that his wife needs. I think about my life and about how even though sometimes things were hard, I always had a roof over my head and food to eat and family that I could turn to. So many of the people we meet are in such humble circumstances or just barely getting by. Some have family that has abandoned them, others have to work two jobs seven days a week in order to provide for their family. Honestly, that’s one of the biggest challenges we have, is finding time to meet with some of these people who literally work ALL the time. I can’t imagine that kind of pressure, or the kind of stress that puts on a person.

 

Luckily, this week, we found a super awesome guy to teach! His name is Carlos, and he has six daughters, and he’s just awesome. We had an incredible lesson with him last night. He had so many questions and really listened and was really diligently seeking to learn. We have another appointment with him tomorrow night (two lessons with the same investigator in one week! It’s a miracle!) and we are just so excited to teach him.

 

Well, that’s about all I’ve got for this week! I love and miss you all. Thank you for your prayers and support! :)

Con amor,

Hermana Rogers


Wearing This Tag is Like a “Talk to Anybody You Want” Pass

2 May

Hola, hola!

Where to start? Another day in the big NYC has come and gone. We had a good amount of interesting experiences this week. We had a mission-wide Sister’s Luncheon up at the mission home, which is something they only do twice a year. We got to ask the mission president questions and we got goody-bags from Bath and Body Works… needless to say, it was a great day. All the city missionaries have been invited to be volunteers at the big Revlon Run event that’s happening on Times Square this Saturday. We’re not usually allowed in Time’s Square, so it will be neat to get to be down there and see all the cool tourist-y sites.

So this week has been kind of frustrating teaching-wise. A lot of our people that we’re teaching have had to cancel appointments or have gone out of town for vacation or things like that. We were kind of bummed Sunday night, feeling like the coming week was going to be really slow and kind of boring. But then on Monday, we had a craaazy awesome day of meeting and finding people! I think we met at least 7 people and got their information to set up teaching appointments and things. PS– talking to people in New York is hard. Not because the people are not receptive, but because there is SO MUCH NOISE here! We’ll be in the middle of talking to someone about a special experience they’ve had with God in their life or something like that, and right at that moment is when the firetruck decides to come down the street, in all of its siren-y glory. So frustrating. There’s always something, some kind of noise. But we learn to work around it– either wait for it to pass or just talk louder. Give you one guess at what I usually do. ;)

I’ve decided that this opportunity is probably the uniquest I’ll ever be able to have in New York, being here serving a mission. Wearing this tag is like a “Talk to Anybody You Want” pass. Because we are automatically and literally labeled as people of the Lord, people don’t look at us too funny when we start talking to them randomly, because they can see it’s part of our “job.” And I ask questions like I never would and get answers that I never could if I didn’t have this tag on. It’s pretty cool.

I had a really neat experience this week. We were standing in the subway station, waiting for the train to come, when a guy in his early twenties approaches me and asks me if I have any kind of religious material I could give him. He saw that I was a missionary and he was looking for some spiritual guidance, so to speak. He talked about how he wanted to get closer to God, how he had tried turning to external sources, but at the end of the day, he just felt empty inside. He wanted that extra strength that comes from a personal relationship with God. I was so happy that I was able to talk with him a bit and although we won’t get to teach him (because he speaks English and we only teach in Spanish), I really hope that he finds what he’s looking for, and that the English missionaries can help him. Those are always my favorite experiences, when people come up to us and ask us for help or guidance or whatever. Another lady stopped us in the street to get us to come and meet with her and her son. A man at the bus stop just this morning approached me and asked me for a Book of Mormon in Spanish! I had one on me, so I was able to give it to him. It’s crazy how many people are watching us even when we don’t even know it. It makes me want to be a better person all of the time!

Quick side note– listen up Dad and everyone else who I’ve ever had to call whenever I’ve been lost– I am now good at directions and navigating. I know, right? We never thought this day would come. But I know my way around the buses, the subways and the streets. It’s like an instinct that kicks in and I know which way to turn. Without even realizing it, I’ve been taking note of my surroundings and I know which way I need to turn. I’m almost a real New Yorker! Haha. Not really. But I’ll get there someday, maybe.

Highlights of the week:

  • The old man who always rides through Central Park with a boom box in a basket in front of him playing the soundtrack from “Annie.” That one definitely made my day.
  • The shirtless, heavily muscled man who picked the middle of the crosswalk (on a concrete stop place in the middle of the road) to do his exercises. He had those stretchy bands and attached them to a big sign and went to town on his workout, headphones on. I saw more than one iPhone out taking pictures… hopefully it got trending on Twitter. It was so funny.
  • The woman we met on the street and talked to who said that she would pray for my companion to meet a nice man to marry while she was here in New York on her mission. Apparently she prayed for her daughter to find somebody too and it totally worked. Sister Taylor put in a few requests (nice, good-looking, etc.) so we’ll see how that goes. :)
  • Teaching a lesson in Central Park! Yeah. That was pretty sweet, not gonna lie.

Anyways. It feels like there are a million and one things that I’m observing every week and I just want you all to know about them! There are so many unique individual things that make up my everyday surroundings and experiences that I’m having. I’m so grateful for all of your love and support and for this opportunity that I have to be here, serving others and learning more about myself and about the great blessing this gospel is in my life. I can’t even describe the peace and strength that I feel from my studies every morning, especially from reading in the Book of Mormon. It really does give me that little kick I need to go out into the crazy, chaotic world of New York City and feel completely safe and completely at peace, and happy. I know that that can be true for anybody, no matter where they are living or what circumstances they are in. The Lord loves us all and wants us to reach out to Him. I know as we do, He will bless us with the things that He knows that we need. I miss you all and I hope that everyone knows how much I love them.

Con amor,

Hermana Rogers