Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Paltz Week 1

Hello all!

Well it has been a week since I arrived here in New Paltz and I am loving it! The city of New Paltz is a small little city in Upstate New York and our area actually covers many other towns and cities around it. It's a pretty big area so we have a car that we share with the two other Elders in our apartment, Elder Montierth and Elder Edwards. We also have bikes and we do a lot of walking. Since Elder Atwood and I are the new companionship in the area we spent this week getting to know the Church members in the area and doing a lot of tracting and street contacting. There is a small little Branch here in New Paltz with about 40 members that come to church every Sunday. The members take really good care of us with having us over for dinner and stuff and I have really loved getting to know them. There is also a senior missionary couple, Elder and Sister Howes, that live in the same apartment complex as us. They have had us over for meals and desserts a few times this week and they are the nicest! Elder Atwood and I have been working hard to find people to teach and also to visit members that are not regularly coming to church or have not come in years, and there are a lot of them!

On Monday we went through the branch list and called every family on it and tried to set up appointments to visit each one of them. So we have many appointments here in the next two weeks. A lot of the families are part member families and we are looking forward to meeting with them and get to know them and inviting them to come back to church. That will be our primary focus here for the next few weeks. There are 150 total members on the branch list so it will be a lot of work but we're excited!

What we typically do when we visit a members house or a part-member family is then go tracting in that neighborhood. We have knocked on many doors this week and most everyone has been very kind to us. Elder Atwood and I have also done a lot of street contacting. There is State University of New York, New Paltz right across the street from our apartment that just started school this week and we have done some contacting there, but mostly we have been talking to people in the downtown area, which is about 3 blocks, very small.

The weather has been mostly hot and humid, but also we have had some thunder and lightning storms with some rain so it's been a mix. One night after we went and gave someone a blessing we had to walk for quite a bit in the pouring rain. It was so dark too and we couldn't really see where we were going but it was a fun adventure, but we were pretty wet. New Paltz and the surrounding towns and cities we visit are quite rural. Very very small and everything is surrounded by trees, and trees, and more trees. It's beautiful here! And Elder Atwood said that when the leaves change colors in the Fall it is going to be amazing. Elder Atwood is great! We get along very well. He is from Payson, Utah and grew up on a ranch and is a bull rider. Actually he has broken multiple bones bull riding, including his femur bone when he got bucked off once and the bull stepped on it. Crazy! Anyways, he played football and basketball in high school and went to a year at BYU before his mission. He has been on his mission for 15 months. He also, of course, is in love with country music so we've been having fun singing some songs throughout our days, much to the dismay of the other Elders in our apartment haha.

So our daily schedule is wake up at 6:30AM and exercise, eat breakfast, shower and get ready for the day until 8AM. At 8 we have personal study time for an hour which has been an awesome part of my day. Then at 9AM Elder Atwood and I study together, typically to prepare for whatever lessons or visits we have that day, and then also we are doing the 12 week training program. Since he is training me we have and extra hour to do that, so two hours total of companion study. Then at 11AM I have an hour of studying Portuguese which is awesome but sometimes can be hard to focus, but Elder Atwood and I actually often do it together so he is learning some Portuguese too! Then we eat lunch at noon and get out there either to visit a less active member, visit a potential investigator, knock doors, or street contact. We have been keeping pretty busy so that's good but we don't have anyone we have started teaching yet. But we have met a few people that are interested and we are visiting them in the next few days here and have appointments set up for most of them.

One cool experience this week was on Thursday night, my first time street contacting, we were downtown and we sat down on a bench and Elder Atwood was kind of explaining how we approach people and start talking to them. As we were sitting there, up walks an older tall black man, who has this big smile on his face and he comes up and says in this excited and friendly low voice, "I can't believe it! I can't believe that you guys are sitting here right now." We shake his hand and he explains that he is very happy to see us because he just got back from a trip to Brazil where he spent 10 hours on a plane talking to a missionary that was on his way home from serving his mission. His name is Zelbert and he's actually a professor here at the college. He was very excited to hear that I will be heading the Brazil as soon as I get my visa and we spoke a little Portuguese. He actually travels to Brazil often because he teaches Brazilian history. He is very nice and says he would like to meet with us sometime, so we have an appointment with him this week as well.

Anyways, things are going well here and I am happy. The members are very kind and we have already made great relationships with many of them. It has been so great to read from the scriptures wherever we go and share a message about Jesus Christ with those we come in contact with. I am excited for the upcoming week because we have many appointments lined up and it will be good to interact with more and more people and help them come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Thank you for the love and support from all of you. I hope you are all doing well.
Until next week.

Elder Helvey

This is me on our balcony at our apartment. Our apartment is on the second floor and we have a sweet little balcony. Beautiful view of the trees. there is a family of deer that live right there and there are two little baby deer, so cute! we see them everyday. We also have seen some awesome birds, including a big hawk that sits up in the trees and then swoops down and cacthes mice.

We were walking on the road and came across a beatiful field of sunflowers. It was rare to see an open area with no trees. It's beautiful here though!

My companion, Elder Atwwod. He's the man! We were admiring the scenery for a second on this bridge and we spotted some big fish in the river. We are thinking about going fishing one P-day!

We caught a snake while we were tracting in a neighborhood! haha not really, it was already dead, but we had fun.

This is the college here in town, called State University of New York, New Paltz. It is right across the street from our apartment complex. It is by far the biggest buildings around, for miles!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New York!

Hello from New York! 

Well I left the Provo MTC at 3:30AM Tuesday morning and arrived in White Plains, New York later that night. My Mission President, President Morgan was there at the airport with a couple other missionaries to welcome us. After getting our bags and everything we headed to the mission home which is in Scarsdale, New York. We got there and Sister Morgan had prepared a very good home cooked meal! Turkey, stuffing, corn, yams, mashed potatoes, etc. It was awesome! In total the New York New York North Mission welcomed 21 new missionaries so it was a pretty crowded house last night. After we all ate we had a testimony meeting and we all got to share our testimonies of the gospel and why we are on a mission. It was such a cool experience to be with 20 other missionaries that are just starting their missions as well. There are 7 of us missionaries that are here in this mission waiting for our visas but all the other missionaries were assigned to New York New York North originally. President and Sister Morgan are awesome!! They are from Sandy, Utah and they have been here for 1 year. Elder Larkin and I helped out around the house moving things and cleaning up and we got to spend sometime just relaxing with both of them also. They are the nicest! We stayed there last night at the mission home and transfers for the mission were today.

We spent the morning at the mission home, eating breakfast, studying, and taking pictures and then we all loaded up and headed into New York City. There were two transfer meetings. The first one was for all the missionaries that were serving in the city. We arrived at the Kingsbridge LDS Chapel in the Bronx and there were about 120 missionaries there. It was awesome to be in New York City! Everyone received their assignments and President Morgan spoke. After that, those not serving in the city headed to Upstate New York for the second transfer meeting. That included me, so we arrived in Ossining, New York and there were about another 120 missionaries there at that LDS Chapel. We all got our assignments and headed on our way.

I got my assignment to serve in a little city called New Paltz, New York. My companions name is Elder Atwood and he is from Payson, Utah. I've only been with him for a few hours now but he seems super awesome and I think we're going to work well together. I just arrived in New Paltz about 2 hours ago so I can't tell you much about it yet. But it is in Upstate New York and I think we're about 3 hours from NYC. It is pretty rural here and there are a lot of trees! We share an apartment with two other missionaries so that's fun. Before today there were only two missionaries serving in this city so now there are four.

I don't have too much more to report on because I just got here but I am very excited to start working and think I am really going to like it here. I hope everything is going well for everyone back home. Thank you to everyone for their support and love.

Until next week.


Elder Helvey

(New address is on the right side of the blog)

Kingsbridge LDS Chapel in the Bronx

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 6

Well today is my last day here at the MTC! I leave tomorrow morning at 3:30AM to head to the Salt Lake Airport. I then will fly to Atlanta and catch my flight to New York, New York. I am very excited to be temporarily reassigned to the New York New York Mission! I have loved my time here at the MTC but I am so ready to go! Most missionaries from my district left early this morning (2 are heading to Brazil and everyone else is going somewhere in the U.S) so there's just a few of us left.

This week has been a good last week. First, on Tuesday I sang in the MTC choir again for the Tuesday Night Devotional. We were told that the devotional would be broadcasted to all the other Missionary Training Centers in the world. We didn't know who would be the speaker because it is always a surprise but it ended up being Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles! It was an amazing experience. Our choir song was "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth" and it was awesome to sing that song at such a special devotional with about 1,000 other missionaries. Elder Scott shared with us stories from his mission and also talked about the importance of prayer and patience. He said sometimes the Lord gives us struggles and challenges because that's what makes us grow and develop. He also addressed just the missionaries who are learning a new language and motivated us to keep on working hard and the Lord will bless us and we will be able to learn the language. I know that this is true because there is no way I could have learned as much as I have here in 6 weeks without the Lord's help.

I feel like I have plateaued just a little bit with the language this week. Also, with the excitement of getting reassignments there has been a lot more energy in our district and a little less focus on learning the language. But I continue to work hard at it, but it is frustrating at times. I am still working on conjugations, and I know them all but it's sometimes hard for me to apply them in the correct ways. I know over time that they will come more easily as I continue to work at it.

Yesterday was our last Sunday here so typically the Branch Presidency picks two missionaries from the leaving district to speak. They just announce it over the pulpit seconds before you are supposed to speak. I don't know if I've explained this but everything is in Portuguese for us here! Including all of church, so we have to speak in Portuguese. Anyways, much to the relief of the other missionaries in my district I was called on to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. I was a little bit nervous because the missionary that spoke right before me was super good at Portuguese and she had only been here for like 3 weeks. Anyways, I got up and shared my favorite scripture from the Book of Mormon, Ether 12:27, and talked for about 5 minutes about it and how we can become better people through Jesus Christ and His Atonement. There were times where I would start my sentence and then not know how to say a word and kind of stumble through it but I think I did okay overall. We also sang a musical number as a district in Sacrament Meeting. We sang a song called "I'll Find You My Friend". It is a really cool song directly about missionary work.

Last night we had a devotional and a former BYU Football player came and talked to us about his missionary experience. His name is Vai Sikehema. It was awesome and a great way to end my experience here at the MTC!

Anyways, there's not much else to report on this week. It was a great last week and I will miss many things about the MTC but I am very excited for New York! I hope everything is going well for everyone. Thank you all for the support and love!

Until next week.


Elder Helvey

 Reassignment Letter!

 Me with Elder Shreeve, Elder Barnes, and Elder Nielson (Elder Shelton's and my roommates)

 Elder Larkin and me. He is also going to New York New York North Mission 
and eventually Fortaleza as well.

Said goodbye to my Portuguese teacher, Irmao Whitaker this morning

 Irmao Hickman, my other Portuguese Teacher at the MTC

Here is a picture of my old roommate Jose and me. He teaches Spanish at the MTC.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Visa Waiting - I'm going to.....

Well since I do not have my Brazilian visa yet, I received a reassignment to serve somewhere in the United States. I will be serving my temporary assignment in the NEW YORK NEW YORK NORTH MISSION! And dang, am I excited!! I will be a missionary in New York City! The mission includes Manhattan, Harlem, the Bronx, Yonkers, south New York state, and a little bit of west Connecticut. I will leave the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday at 3:30AM to head to the Salt Lake Airport. I will arrive in New York later that night, flying through Atlanta. I am beyond excited! I just wanted to let you all know of the good news. I will keep you updated! Thank you all for the continued support and love!


Elder Helvey

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 5

Hey! Well my time here at the Provo Missionary Training Center is quickly coming to an end. This is my last week and although I have loved my time here, I am very excited to go! I had another great week and everything is going well. Let me first start by thanking everyone who sent me packages, letters, or DearElders on my birthday last week. It was so fun to hear from all of you and I had a great 20th birthday.  Every Tuesday we all walk over to the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University (just right across the street) to attend a Missionary Devotional where someone comes and speaks to us. I walk over early with the initial surge of Elders and Sisters to sing in the choir. Last Tuesday, on my birthday, while waiting at the back gates to walk over I ran into Elder Wolfgramm which was a surprise because he is not even on this campus but it worked out that he and his District decided to sing in the choir as well. So Elder Wolfgramm and I walked over together and sat next to each other to sing in the choir and throughout the Devotional so that was fun. Who would have thought he and I would ever be singing in a choir together? We both thought it was quite funny. My best birthday surprise was when I was walking over to the Marriott Center and I recognized a familiar face sitting on the steps on the way. It was my brother, Michael! He totally surprised me and it was way fun to see him. He walked with us for a little bit and then we took a picture together and we both went our separate ways. It was quite a shock to see him there and it was so good to just spend a few moments with him. Thanks, Michael!

My companion and I had another opportunity to Skype a person down in Brazil this week. We were lucky because we called a member who lives in Fortaleza, Brazil (my mission!). Her name is Leje and she is the sweetest lady. We talked with her for about 30 minutes and it was such an awesome experience! It was difficult to understand her initially but as the call went on it became easier and although I didn't know every word she said I was able to piece together what she was saying. She was able to understand us as well. We read scriptures with her and we discussed how to draw closer to God through prayer. It was such a cool experience to talk with someone from Fortaleza and truly a miracle that in just 5 weeks I am able to communicate in Portuguese. The language is progressing smoothly and this week I have really focused on conjugations. All the different conjugations is something I had kind of been avoiding these last few weeks because there are a lot of them and whenever I tried to learn them I would just get overwhelmed. But this week I decided to just learn them! So I studied and practiced the verb tenses and endings for all the different forms and it actually wasn't too hard at all. I mean I'm no expert yet but I have memorized all of the them and now I just need to continue to practice them in conversation and use them in the correct way. It has been a great week for Portuguese also because Elder Shelton and I had a companionship goal of only speaking Portuguese for one whole day and that went moderately well, and then as a District we have had 3 days where we are only allowed to speak Portuguese. Sunday was the best for that because we were fasting from food (for the health of the missionaries in our District, we have had a ton sick!), and we also decided to fast from English. So there was a lot of Portuguese spoken within our District this week, and also a lot more silence haha.

Oh! Also, exciting news. Two Elders in our district received their Brazilian Visas this week. Both went through the Brazilian Consulate in Houston, Texas. Although there is an Elder in our Zone who received his and he went through Los Angeles (which is where I went through). I have not received mine yet, so this Friday (in 3 days), on August 16, I will receive a re-assignment to go somewhere in the United States while I wait for my Brazil Visa. I am very excited to find out where I'll go! This past week the missionaries in our zone got re-assigned to California Fresno, Montana Billings, Utah Salt Lake City South, and Tennessee Nashville. During my stay here at the MTC I have heard of missionaries being reassigned to every part of the United States so it really could be anywhere in the country. So I am excited for that and will keep you all updated.

This week two Elders in our District became the Zone Leaders so they are the missionaries in charge of about 90 missionaries here at the MTC. One of them was really sick the entire week and actually had to go to the Emergency Room one night, but he is feeling better now. But the other Zone Leader asked me if I would go with him to be his companion throughout the week whenever he had to go take care of things as a Zone Leader. So each night we would visit each of the Elders in our Zone and ask them how they are doing and see if they need anything. It was really fun to interact with so many of the Elders throughout the week each night as we would go and check on them. I always enjoyed going into each room and hearing stories from them and just how excited they all are to be here. It was great! On Thursday, I had the opportunity to go with Elder Phillips (the Zone Leader) and do an orientation for 30 new Brazilian speaking missionaries that just got to the MTC the day before. It was so cool to be with them for several hours as we met with them and got to know them and made them feel more comfortable here at the MTC. We ended the orientation by giving them a tour of the campus. It was a really cool experience.

On Friday, Elder Wolfgramm came over to the Main MTC Campus to spend some time together and to say goodbye. He left yesterday morning for Phoenix, Arizona. It was fun to see him one last time and I am so excited for him. I know he will do a great job!

Well that's it for this week. It's crazy to me that this is my last week. I have been here for quite awhile and have become quite used to it. But I am excited to receive my temporary re-assignment and to leave. I hope everything is going well for everyone and thank you for the continued support and love.

Until next week.


Elder Helvey

With Elder Wolfgramm

So fun to be surprised by Michael on my walk to the Marriott Center on my Birthday!

Saying Goodbye to Elder Wolfgramm for 2 years!

Elder Shelton and I on our P-day in front of the Missionaries on Bikes Statue

Here's the picture you all wanted of me in my Crocs and Dress Socks!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week 4

Hello again from the basement computer lab in Building 18M at the Provo Missionary Training Center! I have now been here for 4 weeks and I am really enjoying it. This week was quite eventful. On Thursday we had the opportunity to Skype with local Brazilians and to talk to them in Portuguese. My companion and I skyped with an 18 year-old Brazilian for about 45 minutes. He was skyping us from Sao Paulo, which is where he lived but he was born right near Fortaleza, Brazil so he was excited to hear that we would be going there. He is a member of the church and just graduated high school and is preparing to serve a mission. It was an awesome experience to talk with someone in Brazil in Portuguese, although it was a lot more difficult than I had thought it would be. I quickly found out that I can't translate everything in my head as he talked because he would talk so fast and then say a word I didn't know and I would get stuck on it and then forget to keep on listening to him. But as the skype call went on I was able to understand him better because if I heard a word I didn't know (and there were plenty), I would just skip it and translate in my head what I did know so I was able to put together words to assume what he was saying to us. That was a fun experience and we will do that again this week so I look forward to that.

Another fun thing that happened this week was on Friday I was in the gym and while I was playing volleyball I hear a very familiar voice yell "Cameron!"  I look up to the second floor that looks down on the gym and it was none other than Elder Solomone Wolfgramm! I was super excited because I had been trying to find him since he arrived on Wednesday but it turns out he is in the West Campus so he won't be here too much (I'm on the Main Campus). He came over for his P-day to get some things at the Bookstore and then he said he was walking around trying to find me and it just so happened that I had gym at that time. If I had been in my classroom which is where I almost always am he would have never been able to find me. It was so fun to see him and spend about 30 minutes with him. He is doing really well. He is the District Leader of his district and seems to get along really well with his companion as well. We decided to meet up again this Friday and I'll hopefully get a picture. He leaves next Tuesday so it will be fun to see him before he goes to Phoenix.

Also, my companion, Elder Shelton, has been really sick the past few days. On Sunday he had a really bad fever and his temperature got up to 104 so he and I had to go to the Intermountain Instacare in Provo right near the Hospital. Like right across the street from Provo High School. It was really weird to leave the MTC and on the drive there (MTC Security Van) we passed by the empty Helaman Halls and I also caught a glimpse of Michael and Annie's Apartment so that was fun. I thought of asking the driver to honk as we went by but I decided not to haha. They gave Elder Shelton some medicine and told him to stay in bed until his temperature went down. It was a bummer that Elder Shelton was so sick but it was a fun little adventure we had traveling outside the MTC. It was weird to pass by places that are so familiar to me since I was here all last year, because the MTC is so isolated. I really like it here at the MTC though! Because Elder Shelton has been so sick and having to stay in bed I have spent a lot of time just studying in our room. But the other Elders in my district  have come and replaced me to stay in the room with Elder Shelton a lot too so I have now been on splits with each Elder in my district which was kind of a cool experience.

Sunday Night we had the weekly Sunday Night Devotional and it was awesome! Jenny Oaks Baker, daughter of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, came and performed and talked to us. She is a very successful violinist and she played songs and then would talk to us in between them. My two favorite songs she played were "Amazing Grace" and "I Know that My Redeemer Lives". I have never heard the violin sound that good! It was amazing! It was also awesome because she had her four kids perform a song for us too. Three girls, ages 10, 8, and 7 played the piano, cello, and violin, and then her youngest, a 5 year old boy, played the classical guitar. They played "I am a Child of God" and it sounded so good! So I really enjoyed Sunday Night.

Sister Whitlock departed for Russia early this morning. She stopped by my classroom last night to say goodbye. She was very excited to go. I am also excited for her and it has been fun to have her here over these past 4 weeks. She had been here for 9 weeks total so she was excited to finally leave!
It's also my Birthday today so that has been fun. 20 years-old? That's crazy! My district sang happy birthday to me in many different ways (including Portuguese) this morning as we walked up to the Provo Temple grounds to do some personal studying outside the Temple. That was fun and I really enjoy spending so much time with all of them. They are an awesome group of people! Also, thank you so much for everyone who sent me packages and letters for my b-day. I saved them all for today and just opened them all before coming here and emailing. I loved everything and feel so lucky to have so much support from family and friends. So thank you!

Well, that's pretty much it for this week. My Portuguese continues to get better and even though it's really hard to stay focused and enthusiastic about it sometimes I try my best! I just have to remember to take it day by day and that it takes time and patience to learn a new language. I thought about writing some stuff in Portuguese this week but I can't figure out how to do accents on this computer and stuff and I also only have so much time on the computer. Thanks for your continued support and love!

Until next week.


Elder Helvey

 Picture of My District and me in our Classroom (where we spend pretty much all our time)

Picture of me in my p-day attire right outside my residence hall (notice the crocs haha)

Thanks for all the birthday stuff Mom! We had a mini party in my room with the Elders in my district.