Archive | September, 2012

Well, Hello Kelly! It’s So Nice to Have You Back Where You Belong!

26 Sep

Missionaries!

Dear family and friends,
Well, it finally happened. I got transferred :( It was seriously so heartbreaking when I found out! I’ve been in the area for 6 months, so I thought it might be coming, but I was secretly hoping for one cycle more. Saying goodbye to the people in Harlem nearly killed me! It felt like I was leaving home. These people have become my family. And oh, what an amazing sendoff they gave me! We had another Noche de Hogar, and guess what? There were 40 nonmembers there! No joke! There was like a 2:1 member ratio! How ridiculous is that, right? It was amazing. I started crying during the lesson once the opening song was sung and had a hard time stopping for the rest of the night. But it was really touching because there were other people crying with me, other people who were sad to see me go as well. A couple of the members really went out of their way to make us feel loved! They passed around cards and had people write on them, and I got a few gifts here and there (a scarf, a cupcake, a wallet). It was so incredibly moving. These people have been my WORLD for the past six months and I love them dearly. I will miss them immensely.
But now, I have been assigned to serve in YONKERS! I am super excited to be here. What a cool name, Yonkers. It reminds me of Hello, Dolly! I love it. I’m serving in a trio with Sisters Richey and Major. They’re both awesome, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know them better and working with them. Yonkers is just above the Bronx, so it’s technically considered “upstate,” although I’m told that it’s just like the city, in that there are lots of people to talk to and a good amount of buildings. (People live in apartments, not houses, that kind of thing). So yeah! That’s pretty much all I’ve got to report right now. Lots of changes going on, and I’m sure it’s going to be quite an adjustment, but I’m looking forward to the challenge!
Much love,
Sister Rogers

Me with my English class ladies.

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Last Week NYFD, This Week NYPD!

20 Sep

Hermana Rogers working at the Mexican Independence Day Parade

Dear family and friends,
This week was another one jammed-packed with stuff going on! So last P-Day, we went to Chinatown, and boy was that crazy. So many people! It was ridiculous. I also learned that I’m not as good at haggling/ negotiating as I thought… I’m going to have to do some practicing so I can get all the best deals. But I did a couple of NY shirts and a few things here and there. It was a fun adventure. And I saw the Brooklyn Bridge! Finally. I’ve been wanting to see that thing the whole time I’ve been here!
Sister Aguirre and I also had a cool opportunity this weekend! We were meeting up with President and Sister Morgan at the chapel so that he could conduct a baptism interview for one of our investigators, Alfredo. However, Alfredo’s health is pretty fragile and he wasn’t feeling up to making the appointment. So President took us out to dinner instead! We went to Sylvia’s, this famous restaurant that’s right by our chapel. It’s SOUL food all the way, so I went a little crazy and tried fried chicken with waffles… which turned out to be heavenly. Who knew, right??
There was also a dance this weekend for our ward, and a TON of people from English class came! We ended up having to change the days, so I was a little worried that not many people from English class would come since it wasn’t right after class and conveniently upstairs, like we had planned. However, for a little while there, we had more people from English class than from the actual ward! It was nuts. It was sooo fun and I think I have absolutely, 100% fallen in LOVE with the Latin culture– the music, the food, the friendliness, the dancing– it was all just amazing. I was in awe watching and I didn’t want to leave! I really didn’t. It felt like family. Oh, how I love these people so much.
We also participated in the Mexican Independence Day fair, which was over on the east side in the real Spanish Harlem. There were tooons of people there and we ended up handing out a bunch of english class flyers! Then the fair got shut down when this Mexican gang of drunk men started fighting and the cops came… but we got a lot of flyers out before that, so it was all good!
Last but not least, event-wise… oh, the story do I have. It actually happened this morning, so it’s fresh in my memory. Here’s what happened:
Sister Aguirre and I headed downstairs to do laundry (we have laundry in the basement of our building). We’re waiting for the elevator to come, when she goes, “Do you have the keys?” I say, “No, I thought you had them.” Our door is the kind that automatically locks when you close it. Are the dots beginning to connect? If not, allow me: WE WERE LOCKED OUT. No phone, no keys, no nothing. Just my flip flops on, my hair a mess and no way to get in contact with anybody. We say a quick prayer and get to work trying to find a solution. First we start looking for the super. No luck. Then we head around to the outside of the building and see if we can climb up. Sister Aguirre, who’s a pro at rock climbing, climbs up the side of the building and on to the second-story fire escape (we live on the 2nd floor). I had the bright idea to go in through the window where our air conditioning is. (The air conditioning units here are the kinds that stick out the window). So she goes over and straddles the air conditioning unit– super dangerously, I might add–  and pulls the window up. She starts to crawl through the window, but stops. All I see are her legs. She comes back out, looks at me and says, “Sister, that’s not our apartment!”
My mouth drops open. I take a good look at the building, and realize that our window is the one on the other side. Yes, we’ve accidentally just broken and almost entered. Sister Aguirre freaks out just a little. Trying to get down was also a mess. We had to figure out how to release the ladder on the fire escape, which was an adventure in and of itself. So then while we’re contemplating whether to try climbing up the other side, this lady who lives in our building comes up to us and is like, “Let’s go look for the super together. We’ll get something figured out.” So we go to the lobby of our building and there’s this lady there holding a baby. Somehow we make the connection that SHE’s the one whose window we almost crawled through. “I was in the room and I saw the window creeping up,” she told us, “So I grabbed the baby and ran.” She then informs us that she has called the cops and they are on their way…
So we quickly explain to her what happened and apologize profusely and tell her how sorry we are and that it was all a big mix up. The police officers come and everything’s fine. Nobody’s mad, nobody presses charges, but we’re STILL locked out of our apartment. So then I get the idea to go and knock on the neighbor’s doors above us to see if we can get to the fire escape from their apartment (go from the top down, instead of trying to get to the fire escape from the ground). Nobody answers their door. We run into a guy in the stairway and tell him our situation. He starts helping us, and he gets somebody to open up their apartment! He then volunteers to climb down the fire escape and to open our window and tells us to go wait by our door and he’ll come and let us in. And miraculously, he does just that! We were saved, our prayers were answered, and all was well in Zion. Crazy, right?! Needless to say, Sister Aguirre and I were SUPER thankful that it worked out the way it did and now we are overly cautious with our keys.
Is that enough adventure for you? It feels like I’m living in a book or something. The time keeps going by faster and faster, and I’m trying to hold on to every moment and enjoy it. :) Oh! I ran into Jasmine Palmer this week! Isn’t that great? She and Sister McKinnon and I were all in the same room at the same time. It was like a little Barton Creek reunion. :)
Well, just another week in the Big Apple. Thanks for all of the prayers and support and love!
Con amor,
Hermana Rogers

Sis. Aguirre returns to the scene of the crime.

The Boy Who Lived! (And the Two Sister Missionaries Who Lived Too!)

12 Sep

The Girl Child Who Lived!

Here is a portion of a letter my Mama sent me this past week:

“Hola mi nina,

Life is good here in TX. I am just moving forward with a steadfastness
in Christ. I know he knows me and is aware of my needs. I know he is
perfectly aware of yours too. I had this feeling this week (you know me
and my “feelings”) that you were close to a dangerous situation. I prayed
to find comfort and I had the spirit bare witness to me that you are safe
because angels are near you protecting you. What a revelation. I hope
you know I pray for you often. A mother’s prayers are always heard.”

Here is my letter describing this past week-

Dear family and friends,
Boy, do I have some stories to tell this week! It’s been packed full of some crazy stuff. First of all, Sister Aguirre and I had a slightly almost near-death experience. Here’s what happened:
So we were visiting one of our less active members, Norma. She’s such a doll. We were helping her clean her apartment (she lives in a project building) and she fed us a little dinner and it was all fine and dandy. We were about to start the spiritual thought when we heard a lot of sirens getting closer! We looked out the window and saw a few fire trucks on the street below. We were looking and kind of in awe, and we were like, “Cool, I wonder where the fire is at!” So then we start the lesson. During the lesson, we here these rambunctious voices outside in the hall yelling, “Come on, we’ve got to go now!” Really annoying-like. (You’ve got to understand, especially in the projects, there’s LOTS of yelling like that… so you just ignore it and move on). Then as I was saying the closing prayer, MORE sirens kept coming. Well, we finally say good-bye to Norma, besitos on the cheek and everything, and we open the door and it’s almost pitch black and SMOKY. All the dots start connecting and we realize that OURS is the building that’s on fire! Sister Aguirre gets really pale and starts searching for a fire escape (we’re on the 11th floor of the projects… there isn’t one!) Then she goes to the sink, grabs a couple of paper towels and wets them and heads towards the door. Norma, meanwhile, is saying in Spanish, “No puede! No Puede!” (You can’t! You can’t leave!) But Sister Aguirre is determined. (This whole time, I’m being completely calm– I know, it surprised me too!) So Sister Aguirre goes to me, “Sister, we’re getting out of here.” I was like, okay, yeah, we’ll wait it out, wait for the firemen to come and get us. Everything will be fine. All of a sudden, she flings open the door and runs out. All I hear is, “Sister, come on!” So I fly out after her into the stairway, yelling bye to Norma. We run down the flights of stairs, with Sister Aguirre shouting over her shoulder as she goes, “Hurry, Sister, Hurry!” We finally get out and there’s a gaggle of nice fireman at the bottom, who we end up taking pictures with later.
So… yeah. We survived a burning building! We find out a few days later that the fire was actually on our floor, in the firecase we went down. (The apartments themselves are fireproof as long as you don’t open the door and let any of the fire in… so we would have been fine if we had stayed too. Most buildings in New York are built like that). So it was super crazy. But it was just a huge testimony to me that the Lord is watching out for us! We are definitely protected.
Not even fifteen minutes after the fire incident, we are walking down the stairs to the 86th Street subway station, when who walks up but DANIEL RADCLIFFE. Yep, that’s right, THE Daniel Radcliffe. Harry Potter. I did a double-take when I saw him and pinched my companion, who yelped. Oh my goodness. I freaked out. I saw the boy who lived. It happened. Goodness gracious, do I love New York City.
In other not so crazy news, we’ve had a couple of changes happen in the mission. President has changed the way that we’re going to be tracking our numbers. (Usually we keep track of how many lessons we teach with a member, how many without, etc. so we can track our progress and see where we can improve.) So now the new change is that we’re only going to be counting lessons that we teach with members! This way we’re focusing on getting the members involved in the teaching process and helping us find people to teach. I’m so super excited! Our ward is going to excel with flying colors, I have no doubt.
In other news, Alfredo (one of the Cuban men we met so many months ago) is preparing to be baptized! It should be this week or the next week, depending on how a couple of things go. But super exciting there. And we met this family this week, a mother and her son. Her son, Jose, is blind and 43 years old. When we go over there, Sister Aguirre helps the mom out because she just had surgery, and I read to Jose out of the Book of Mormon or the Liahona or a pamphlet. He is so sweet, and I’m really touched by the time I’ve spent around him. He has so much faith, and he calls God, “Papa Dios.” Such an intimate thing. He’s so great! He even arranged to have someone come and pick him up and take him to a place where they read to blind people, so that he could read the Restoration pamphlet we left for him! He’s just amazing.
I learned a pretty amazing lesson this week– It’s one that I’ve been working on for a while now, but it’s finally starting together. It’s this concept of how the Lord accepts every offering… whatever we can give, He accepts it, and gratefully. It’s one of the best feelings to see people walk into church, especially when it’s someone who’s less active who we’ve been working with, or an investigator, or even a member. The amazing thing is, I’m in this incredibly unique position as a missionary here. I’ve been here about 5 months now, give or take, and I’ve really gotten to know a lot of the members. I love them and trust them, and they feel the same way about me. Because of this, I know a lot about their lives and their stories. So for example, when I saw one of our members come into church late on Sunday, with her (previously) rebellious teenage son, after hearing about the wonderful conversion experience he had in his summer vacation to the Dominican Republic, I was incredibly excited to see them, and it was like a joy that just filled me, knowing the story behind it. Being at church feels almost like a big family reunion. It doesn’t matter how or when the people come, just that they do.
This just makes me think about how grateful our Heavenly Father is with us when we make any effort of any kind! Just think– I only know little tiny bits and pieces of these people’s stories, snapshots that they’ve shared with me, and I am so grateful that they’re there and I appreciate every single offering they give. Heavenly Father– He knows it all! He knows all of our experiences, and He knows exactly what has made us what we are and why we do what we do. He knows our needs, and He knows our struggles, better than anyone else, and in a way that no one else could. So yes, the Lord accepts every offering– so even when we’re discouraged or disappointed in ourselves, it’s comfortig to know that our Heavenly Father knows we aren’t perfect and loves us anyways– and is so happy that we’ve made it as far as we have, and that He’s here to help us keep going and achieve our full potential.
Another week chalked full of learning! I’m so blessed to be here. I’m just trying to soak up every single day and enjoy it, because who knows how much longer I’ll be here in the city for? The weather’s starting to shift, some leaves are starting to fall, and it’s my favorite time of year… what better time to be in the big apple? :) I love you all and am SO grateful for your prayers and support.
Con amor,
Hermana Rogers

Never Forget

11 Sep

Never Forget

Picture Postcards- Sept. 2012

5 Sep

Start spreading the news!

Lemonade Street Party

Dos Hermanas!

That right smack dab in the middle of town
I found a paradise that’s trouble proof
And if this old world starts a getting you down
There’s room enough for two
Up on the roof…

Blurry picture of me talking to people on the bus.

Laboring on Labor Day 2012 in Central Park.

Goofing off in the elevator.

Our zone, with Pres. and Sis. Morgan.

New and old comps and a token Elder.

Companions Rogers and Aguirre.

Me and Sis. Aguirre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Loyal to the CORE!

5 Sep
Image
Dearest family and friends,
Another week down, another week packed with good experiences. We had Zone Conference last Thursday! It was a really great day that started with fresh New York bagels and orange juice and ended with quite a few new changes! President Morgan introduced to us the new theme of our mission: To be Loyal to the CORE. C, for courage, O for obedience, R for reverence and E for effort. The new logo of our mission is in the shape of an apple (because we’re in the Big Apple) and so the “core” is kind of literal! It was super cool. We also now have permission to go to the temple once every cycle if we want, whereas before it was only every other cycle. President also redrew the boundary line… by erasing it! We are now allowed to go to wherever we want in New York City, so long as we are wise. I’m so excited for this new opportunity to explore the city! On my list: Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, Tiffany’s and the Rockerfeller Center. Oh, and in our last couple of cycles in the mission, we get to go to the Statue of Liberty, which is also new. How cool is that? It means a lot to me that President trusts us this much. He emphasized to make sure we don’t go looking for trouble, and that he trusts us not to.
We also had a member blitz this week, on Labor Day! We had 8 pairs of missionaries and 4 members that came with us to blitz! We went to Central Park, set up a table and got to work passing out cards and pamphlets. It was super cool to have the members so involved. I am seriously amazed by the members, especially the women in our ward. They were so welcoming and so loving. One of our ward missionaries, Hermana Rafaela, came to English class this past Friday. Right as soon as we were done, she grabbed the two women that were in class with us (just students, not members) and was like, “We’ve got an activity downstairs where we’re making earrings! Come!” And she wouldn’t take no for an answer. So they all went to the Relief Society activity that was going on and made earrings! I looked around and there were like 6 nonmembers there, and all of them just looked right at home. They were so welcomed and made to feel like one of the group. I’m so blessed to have these ladies for such a wonderful example.
On the down side, I got a little sick this weekend :/ It was kind of a bummer. Luckily I was able to snap out of it pretty quickly and was good to go on Monday, fresh as new. And another tender mercy– Mario, the recent convert who gave me the socks last week, pulled through and surprised me yet again. He got me a bag! It’s crazy, because my backpack just broke and I’ve really been needing a new one. And he randomly, out of nowhere, got me a bag. It’s got a ton of pockets in it and it’s absolutely perfect! I was so touched, I wanted to cry. He is just the sweetest man in the world. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such kindness and generosity from these wonderful people.
Here’s something I learned in my studies this week:
  • Jesus, while teaching the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 and 6) teaches us that we need to love everyone. That’s not new, I knew that already. But this week, when I was reading and studying, I realized that when Jesus tells us to love everyone, even our enemies, he’s acknowledging that we are going to have enemies. The deeper doctrine that he’s teaching is that we shouldn’t expend our efforts in trying to make everyone love us, but to just love everyone we come in contact with. This really hit me hard, because I feel like a lot of times it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to please everyone and making everyone around you love you. Jesus teaches us that we need to focus on loving others, not on doing things that will make them love us. We will never be able to please everyone! That’s just a fact of life. We never will. There will always be people who aren’t our biggest fans, in one way or another. However, that is out of our control! What is in our control is how we view others. I just thought that was really cool.
So yeah… that’s about it for this week. I’m learning a lot, as always. Man, this mission thing really brings out your strengths and weaknesses, I’ll tell you what. But it’s a great environment to learn to change and improve, because things are ALWAYS changing. :) And I’m doing my best to learn something new every day. I encourage all of you to do the same! That’s how we get the most out of life.
Love you all!
Hermana Rogers