Hey everyone! Well this has been my fifth and final week here in New Paltz, New York and things have been great. Last week I had mentioned that I was going to go see West Point. We got a tour from a member of the church who lives there and it was awesome! So much history there and it was cool to see and hear about it all.
We had some great lessons with several investigators and less-active members this week. Unfortunately, out of the 4 people we expected at church only 1 of them came. We of course visited each one of them later that same day and were able to talk with them about why it is important to come to church. We talked about how "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven", which is of course part of the church hymn, Praise to the Man. Of course for a few of these people attending church will be a sacrifice but we testified that as we sacrifice things for the Lord, He will bless us. It was great to see their desire to come to church and we expect to see them this Sunday.
We were able to give service to a few members from the ward this week. People are getting ready for the winter here so we have been busy cleaning garages and sheds, reorganizing winter tools, chopping and piling wood, etc. It has been good to work alongside members and help them out. I am going to miss many of the members here in the New Paltz Branch. Over the next few days several families are having us over for meals because several families have said they want to give me one last American meal before I head to Brazil. We also volunteered at the county fair here in New Paltz this week. Elder Atwood and I were crossing guards so that was fun to get some interaction with the community and to help out at that.
Our Book of Mormon class was awesome this week! Last week we had 8 people there and this week there were 12! That has definitely been one of the highlights of the week. We had a great group and we love reading, discussing, and learning from the Book of Mormon. Oh, I forgot to mention, I think it was like two weeks ago, but Elder Atwood and I had to bike home from the church after our Book of Mormon class one night in the pouring rain! It was super stormy! Wind, rain, lightning, thunder, and all. By the time we got home we were soaked but it was good. Anyways, so yeah, Book of Mormon class has been great!
On Tuesday, we drove down to Scarsdale, New York for our mission conference. Elder Bruce A. Carlson from the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy was there and it was awesome! Shortly after we arrived at the church, Elder Atwood and I were sitting at one of the tables in the gym eating our bagels for breakfast. Elder Atwood left to go get a drink and so I was sitting all by myself and up walks this older looking gentleman. I figured he was one of the senior missionaries and we started to talk. I put out my hand and said, "I'm Elder Helvey." He shook my hand and said "I'm Elder Carlson". I was quite surprised and felt kind of bad I didn't know that he was Elder Carlson from the Seventy. But he was very friendly and kind. He sat down right next to me and we talked for several minutes. He is awesome! He was a 4-star general in the Air Force and got called to be in the Seventy in 2009. I told him that I was leaving for Brazil on Monday and he said he was very excited for me and wished me the best. It was really awesome to talk with him for as long as I did. The mission conference was awesome and it was so great being taught and instructed by both him and his wife and of course President and Sister Morgan as well. About half way through the conference they announced that we would now be privileged to hear the testimonies of a few missionaries. The Assistant to the President got up and said "we would first love to hear from Elder Helvey" and then named about 5 more missionaries that would follow me. I was quite surprised and caught off guard! But it went well and I feel so lucky that I have been able to be here in this mission while I have waited for my visa. I know the Lord called me here for a reason and that reason has become clear to me through the amazing experiences I have had here. I am sad to leave New Paltz and the people I have grown so close to during my short time here.
Yesterday I was able to spend my last P-day in New York City! We got up at 5AM and caught the train from Poughkeepsie (a nearby city) into Grand Central Station. We had a great day! We saw Times Square, Empire State Building, Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Central Park, and many other things. While we were near Ground Zero a member of the Church who was walking by with her little baby in a stroller stopped us and offered to take us to lunch. It was so sweet! We went to a really good burger place called Shake Shack. We ended our day by going to the Temple and of course, that was awesome! It was fun to be in New York City, riding the subway, and being able to see everything. I took a ton of pictures and it was a great last P-day to have here in New York. What a great way to say goodbye to America for almost 2 years!
Well this is the last update from New York. I have absolutely loved my time here and I will miss it a lot. But I am very excited to get to Brazil. Being in Brazil has been something I have thought about a lot since the time I opened my mission call back in February. It seems a little surreal that I will be there in a few short days. I fly out of New York on Monday evening. I will fly to Atlanta, then Sao Paulo, then Fortaleza. I can't wait! Thank you all for the love and support that I have received. I hope all is going well for each one of you. Until next week (from Brazil).
All the missionaries in my zone with Elder and Sister Carlson and President and Sister Morgan.
Times Square, New York City!
The Freedom Tower in the background. It is under construction but it is the tallest building
in New York City - built right next to where the Twin Towers used to stand.
Me with the Statue of Liberty in the background.
The LDS Temple in New York City!