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.
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!