Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Paltz Week 5

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).


Elder Helvey

 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!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Paltz Week 4

Checking in from beautiful New Paltz, New York! I've been here for about a month now and things are continuing to go great!

First off, I have some exciting news. I received a phone call from President Morgan late Monday night and he called to let me know that MY BRAZILIAN VISA IS HERE! The church has obtained my visa from the Brazilian government and is shipping it to the mission office in New York. I am scheduled to fly out of New York on September 30th!! That's really all I know for now. I was very surprised because I had expected to be here for quite a bit longer. I am very excited to get to Fortaleza though. At the same time I love it here in New Paltz and am pretty sad about leaving the people here. In the short time I have been here I have developed such awesome relationships with the people we have been teaching and the members of the church here. I will definitely miss it! I have loved my time here.

This week was great! Last Wednesday we went on a hike with some members from the branch and it was awesome! It was a fairly difficult hike with a lot of big boulders and rocks but it was incredibly beautiful. Today we are going to visit West Point and are being led on a tour by a member of the church that works there so we are very excited about that!

We started teaching Joseph this week. We met him last week and I briefly said something about him. He is awesome! He is 27 and originally from the Dominican Republic and just moved here to the New Paltz area from Florida a few weeks ago. He was so excited to meet with us and we have had great experiences meeting with him and teaching him. He told us that he feels like the Lord has prepared him to accept the Gospel now at this time in his life. He is amazed at what we teach him and truly loves reading The Book of Mormon. He told us that he knows this church is true and we asked him to prepare himself to be baptized on October 12th. He said he would and is very excited! It has been so good to meet with him and to feel of his deep desire to grow closer to Heavenly Father. It was awesome to know that the Lord had prepared him for Elder Atwood and I to come in contact with him at this specific time in his life.

Our Book of Mormon class on Thursday night went great! There were 8 people total there, including Joseph and Sarah (who is also preparing to get baptized). It was an awesome experience to read from the Book of Mormon out loud with others and to discuss it as we go. It was great and we look forward to it again tomorrow!

We also continued to meet with members of the church that have not been coming and we've had some awesome experiences with that. We met with Zelbert yesterday and he is doing well and continues to learn more about the church and the Gospel. It's always great to spend some time with him. He was very excited about me getting my visa to go to Brazil. We also met with Donald and had a great visit with him and beat him twice in the game he invented. I think I wrote a little about that last week but he created a game that is a mix between chess and checkers and we beat him two games in a row! It's fun and he continues to learn more about the Gospel but his progress is slow. Great guy though and he loves having us over. We've met several people around New Paltz this week that we are excited to start teaching as well.

The work has been truly amazing these past 2 weeks. It has been incredible to see the Lord's hand in this work. He is very much involved in it, indeed it is His work. I just feel lucky to be apart of it.

I hope all is going well for everyone. Thank you all so much for the support and love. I love you all!

Until next week.

Elder Helvey

P.S. Rumor is that this Saturday is the big BYU vs. Utah football game....GO COUGARS!!

We went hiking last week on our P-day and this is a picture of me at the top of the tower 
at the top of Mohonk Mountain. That building is a nice resort up there. 
If it was a little clearer you could see the city of New Paltz in the distance. 
It was an awesome hike. Such a blast!

Me in front of the "Welcome to New Paltz" Sign

Me in front of the Hudson River!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Paltz Week 3

Hey everyone!

First off, my companion, Elder Atwood says "HI!" to everyone! This week has been AWESOME! We have had so many great experiences and we have been greatly blessed. First off, last Thursday night we drove down to Scarsdale, New York, which is where the Mission Office and Mission Home are. We stayed the night in the mission home with 4 other Elders because early the next morning there was a training. About 40 missionaries came from all over the mission to come to the training. It was for all the new missionaries and their companions. President Morgan gave us training and it was just an awesome day filled with from him and other leaders in the mission teaching us and training us. I learned a lot and it was great instruction on how to be a better and more effective missionary. It was also great to see Elder Larkin from my MTC District. We ate lunch together and had quite a bit of time to catch up. He has been serving in the Bronx and he is loving it so that was fun to see him and talk for awhile.

Anyways, back here in New Paltz has been great! Elder Atwood and I decided that instead of running to the church every morning at 6:30AM for exercise which was 2.5 miles, we decided to walk down to the basketball courts like two blocks away from our apartment and play basketball in the morning. Of course, since it is 6:30AM, we are the only ones there but we have fun shooting around and such. So that has been a great way to start our days! We have also been biking A TON so that has been quite a bit of work. Especially in this hot and humid New York weather. But it has been awesome!

This week we had two great visits with Zelbert, the professor from SUNY New Paltz who speaks Portuguese. He seems to really like meeting with us and loves what we have been teaching him. He is awesome! We look forward to meeting with him again and he told us that he was going to surprise us and come to church but said he couldn't this week because he had to pick some friends up at the airport, but he really wants to come. So we are looking forward to that.

On Sunday at church, Elder Atwood and I spoke. I think it went really well. I talked about the sustaining power of faith and how it can strengthen us in times of trial and difficulties. And I of course related it to missionary work and urged the members to share the gospel. Elder Atwood gave a great talk too and so we felt happy about it all.

Ariel, a 20 year-old less-active member, that we have been working with said he'd come to church on Sunday but didn't show up. So Elder Atwood and I went over to his house to talk with him. With him at his house was his friend Joseph. We talked with him a little bit and he said he wants us to come over and teach him. He is in his early 20s and seems very excited and eager to find out more about our church so we are excited to meet with. We have a visit schedule for tomorrow with him. We came over later and met with Ariel and had an awesome lesson with him and a great discussion. He seems very excited to start coming back to church. He is awesome!

We also came across an old man out and about this week. His name is Donald. We had a brief interaction with him at the store as we were getting milk, just really in passing saying hello. As we were driving away, I looked in the window of the store and he was just sitting at one of the tables with his head in his hands. We drove off and we were almost back to our apartment (about 5 minutes away) but that image of him in the window was still replaying in my head. I decided to turn the car around and go back to the store, much to my companions surprise haha. We arrived back at the store and he was just leaving and getting into his car. I approached him and starting talking to him and explained what we do as missionaries. He invited us to call him and set up a time when we could come over and talk to him more. We called him the next day and visited him. It turns out he actually was a professor down in Brazil and he and his wife both speak Portuguese. We conversed a little in Portuguese. We taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. We also played a game with him that he invented which is a mix between checkers and chess. Anyways, it was great and he is excited to have us return. It was such an awesome experience!

We also continued to meet with Sarah this week at Sister Menzer's home. It turns out she is actually 19 (we thought she said she was 16), but anyways she seems to love meeting with us and learning more. We taught her more about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and had an awesome lesson with her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She expressed a desire to be baptized so we are very excited about that. Her cousin, Ariel (the one I mentioned previously), was there and participated well in the discussion and of course their grandma, Sister Menzer was there as well and it was great to have her. She is awesome! We also brought an active member from the branch with us to teach. She is 19 and headed on a mission to Brazil in November and she did great. It was an awesome experience to be with all of them last night!

Also, Elder Atwood and I are starting to hold a Book of Mormon class at the church building every Thursday night. We have many people we come in contact with that are interested in learning more about the Book of Mormon and also members that want to have a class so we are looking forward to that.

Overall, it has been the best week of my mission so far! It has really just been great. We continue to work hard and the Lord is doing some awesome work here in New Paltz, New York!

I hope you all are doing well and thank you for all the support.

Until next week.


Elder Helvey

 We went over to a members house this week and picked apples in her apple orchard!

We have been biking quite a bit this week! I get pretty tired
 (as you can see from the second picture, we take occasional breaks). 
It has also been pretty hot and humid so that hasn't made things better. It's been good though!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New Paltz Week 2

Hey everyone! Well another week has gone by here in New Paltz, New York and things are going great! We have spent much of the week visiting members of the New Paltz Branch that have not been to church in a long time. Elder Atwood and I have had some great visits with many member families and part-member families. We have also continued going door to door and talking to people on the streets and inviting them to hear our message. We have had little success in this area but we continue to work hard and we stay positive. We have done a lot of walking and trying to contact people this week and I have been very tired. When we get home at 9 each night we plan and prepare for the next day and I go right to bed, usually sometime between 10-10:30. I fall asleep almost immediately and when that alarm goes off at 6:30 the next morning I feel like I haven't slept at all. Man, I have been exhausted! It's good though. We are working hard at meeting new people and also strengthening the members that have not been coming to church.

We visited an active member this week named William. He was taught by the missionaries and baptized about a year ago. He is blind and he is awesome! While we were there he wanted to play the piano for us and have us sing along. He played about 5 or 6 hymns from memory and we sang while he played. We all loved it! It was awesome.

Also, we met with Zelbert Moore yesterday, the man I talked about that came up to us last week while we were sitting on the bench. He's very friendly and we had a great lunch with him. He has some awesome stories and loves discussing anything and everything. Especially loved talking to me about Brazil and learning Portuguese, so that was fun. We are going to start teaching him this week and we are looking forward to that.

We also have someone new we have started teaching! Her name is Sarah and she is 16 years-old. She just moved here from Georgia to live with her grandma. Her grandma is a member of the church, Sister Menzer. I might have mentioned her last week. Sister Menzer is awesome! She loves having us over and is very happy that we have started teaching Sarah. We have also been meeting with her grandson, Ariel, who lives in the house as well. He is a member but hasn't come to church since he was a boy, he's now 20. So that is all going well and we are very excited to continue meeting with them.

We visited an awesome member couple that is in the city of Kerhonkson, New York which is the farthest city in our area. It took us about 30 minutes to get to their house but man it was a beautiful drive with some awesome views. It is beautiful here in Upstate New York. We see a lot of wildlife every day. Deer, hawks, snapping turtles, snakes, possums, raccoons, rock-chucks (I didn't know what those were haha), and we even saw a mountain lion (no joke)! It's been awesome to be in such a pretty area.

Elder Atwood and I decided for our morning exercise that we are going to start running to the church and back. It is about 2.5 miles round trip and I haven't run in quite awhile so it's pretty rough. But it's a good way to start the day!

Also, Elder Atwood and I are speaking in church this Sunday so that will be exciting!

Anyways, that's all I have to report on for this week. I am doing well and continue to work hard, and am quite exhausted at the end of each day. I hope all is going well for everyone. Thank you for the love and support!

Until next week.


Elder Helvey

Me driving and eating a fresh New York apple that we bought from a fruit stand on the side of the road

Elder Atwood (the bomb!!) and me

Chris (a boy the two other Elders are teaching) and me