First Letter From New York

          SO! This has probably been the longest week of my whole entire life. I feel like I have been out on my mission for at least 2 months, and it is yet to be 3 weeks…. Ahh. First of all, I have received NO mail. Not even from you mom. Not a single piece. That was lame. I am not supposed to give you the address of my place. Its way nice though. We have a workout room, study room, bedroom, and we have our own bathrooms. Oh and our own washer/dryer in the basement.  We just have the upstairs, and have some neighbors downstairs. Packages get picked up about 2 times a transfer by the zone leaders? Which is about every 3 weeks ish. I wouldn’t want to give you the address of my place, and then be transferred without you knowing. Then I wouldn’t get my mail… That’s why everything is supposed to go through the mission home, so when you send a letter from Utah it takes about 4 days to get to New York, and then when it gets to the Mission Office they have to process it and send it out which takes another 2-3 days. So if anyone writes me a letter, you can expect a reply letter about 2-3 weeks after you send me a letter. Make sense? Cool. I can only write letters on P-day though… so it makes it kinda hard. Oh and Make sure to put “Elder Sean Lee” on the letters! There are multiple Elder Lee’s apparently?

Anyways… I went to the Temple in Manhattan!! It turns out that we can go with the ward when they have a temple trip!! And luckily there temple trip was last Saturday! We only got to do confirmations, and baptisms, but it was still way cool! We played some handball in the church (they have a full gym on the 3rd floor). Pretty much I spend around 15-20$ on food a week. I have a bowl of cereal with a banana for breakfast. A ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. And we have about 3-4 dinner appointments per week. But when we don’t have those, I will eat another sandwich. Pretty freaking boring. I got some tortilla shells for this week, just to mix things up. We will see if I can handle that much excitement though. Every Saturday we have dinner at the ward mission leaders house! He is 56, and his wife is 28. He is double her age. They have two kids. A baby, and a toddler. It’s weird. Oh and the best part is the wife’s father lives with them. And he is like 58 ish? Really weird. We ate salmon patties, brussel sprouts, and some weird juice from real berries. They were all floating around in the pitcher. The meal was good though! We went over to home teach a member, and she made this NASTY soup. With every single disgusting vegetable you can imagine. I ate about half of it, and couldn’t do it. She was a “mini-hoarder” and her house was… interesting. I have only tracted 4 houses, and on the 4th house we got in! We taught this lady, and invited her to church but she didn’t show up 😦 There is always next week though!

Sorry I forgot about the first night I got here! We ate dinner at “The Brooklyner”. Tallest building in Brooklyn! It was sweet! Had a gorgeous view, but of course most of us left our cameras in the car. I will have to go back someday before I leave. President and Sister Calderwood are awesome though! So one of the recent converts lives in a halfway house. Essentially he is mentally handicapped. 36 years old! First time I taught him, it was pretty sketchy. Lots of crazy people in that house. Plus he is also very crazy. The guy that owns it looks exactly like Snoop Dogg. Freaked me out at first. OH before I forget, can you send me Courtney Wible’s address???? She sent me cookies in the MTC and I want to tell her thank you! I should probably tell you about my area… I live in “Terryville”. Way out east on the island. It is pretty much like orem/provo. We do have a car though! Everyone out here is from Utah, I swear! Mostly members. We always talk about high schools, or people from Orem at dinner appointments. I have to keep reminding myself I am in New York… The ward here is awesome though! Really good people! I am excited to work with them more! I have a bunch of pictures I will send home soon. (A bunch means like 10-15, don’t get too excited mom). I love you all! Keep emailing, and writing me!!

Love Elder Lee

Come what may, and LOVE it.

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Last Letter From the MTC!

Elder Lee will be leaving the MTC this coming week, so if you would like to write him a letter, please send it to his New York Address. The address Can be found on the contact page of this blog.  Or you can write a letter on the write a letter page and it will get sent out to him.

02/15/13
Hey!! So first of all, you have asked a LOT of questions  but I will do my best to respond to them. Elder Burch is going to the same mission as me, and he is from Boise. Loves basketball, went to BYU-I, etc. Great guy. Sis Blosil is actually in my district! I see her every day, and she is a genius. Really. Great insights, very prepared to serve a mission. All around awesome. For some reason our district is split between New York, and Chicago missionaries. I actually know why now. Divine revelation for sure. I have been blessed enough to help out and talk to some of the missionaries going to Chicago. They have been having a rough time, and I hope I helped them out. Its hard because I know where they are coming from, and used to want to agree and cry with them, BUT they need someone to help them. So that’s what I was there for. Wasn’t really me, mainly the spirit, but still cool to be a part of it all! Basketball is great! We only get gym time a few times, since we are leaving so soon! Our last gym time was on Wednesday! Oh and I am not sick…?  Don’t worry mom!
OH and I got my hair cut today. It was done in like 10 min. Super fast, and I am lookin FRESH as eva! So I bet you anything that in a few years there will be separate MTC’s for sisters and elders. There are a LOT of very pretty sisters, and I can tell its a distraction for the Elders. Lots of “innocent” flirting going on… Our rule as a companionship is basically to never talk to girls, unless we knew them before the mission, or they are in our district. It is just too distracting! Too much to learn! I also would like to know how many prayers are said daily in the MTC… I say about 15-20 every day. At least! It is amazing to be around the spirit so much! I have never felt the spirit so often in my life. I love it! Oh and I found something out. My future wife BETTER know how to laugh, and joke around. Cause if Elder Burch and I didn’t laugh and joke around sometimes, we would go crazy. When times were tough, it made it way easier to get by when we were having a good laugh. I am doing great now though! No problems! I love it here! This is my life now, and I really do love it! Guess what? WE CAN’T CHEW GUM! There are a lot of rules here, and I am trying to follow them all. For instance, no hands in pockets, always button up your jacket, no chewing gum outside of your “residence”, etc, etc. It is annoying to follow them all, BUT obedience brings forth blessings! I can honestly testify of that! Know how I mentioned helping out the other missionaries? One of the first nights, a sister in my district was having a hard time. She asked me to give her a blessing and I did. I honestly couldn’t tell you the words I said, because it was the spirit, NOT ME, but it was amazing! I think it really helped! She cried afterwards, and seems to be doing better. I love helping people!
Jantzen and I will not be on the same plane to NY… No idea why! There are two planes going out that day. It was awesome to hear from Hunter though! I have never really met her, but have heard good things about her! I feel bad cause I couldn’t write her back today, but I will next P-day! SO I had the coolest experience ever. Well so far. We were doing our “TRC” volunteer, which is basically a volunteer who comes in and tells real life experiences to be taught by the missionaries. But before we went in to teach her, I thought it was just a “role play”. She started telling us her story, as we taught her, and started to cry. That is when I realized that it was real. Really real. And from there we went by the spirit. I knew exactly what to say because of the Spirit, and I was crying along with her! Hopefully it helped her. I wish I could see how she was doing. I put her name on the prayer role when we went to the temple. I finally can see that love that the Lord has for his children! I can feel it! It is crazy awesome to be a part of. On a lighter note, I found my ring! It was in my coat pocket… who knew?
OH and from here on out tell people to write me at my New York address… seeing as how I am gonna be there in a few days. Tell people to write me!! It makes all the difference to hear from people! Oh I will leave you with a funny thing I heard in a class. This french guy was telling us about when he first got into the field. He said “After the first 5 days, I got down on my knees and prayed. I told Heavenly Father that if the next two years were anything like the previous 5 days, to just shoot me in the face right now”. HA! We all laughed… and then realized how it wasn’t funny, because that is going to be us next week! I will be fine though! Everything is great! With faith in the Lord, anything is possible.
Love, Elder Lee!!
Come what may, and LOVE it!

First P-day!

HOLY COW. First of all, thank you for all of the packages. They rock. There is literally so much food we can’t eat it all. The fridge is awesome, and we love it. (tell sis whitehead thanks!) Elder Burch is my companion right now, and I couldn’t have gotten a better one. We make a GREAT team. We know how to focus at times, but also know how to have some fun. He rocks.
The MTC is crazy. Ever since I have walked  in the door, until now, I have been busy. Literally. For instance we usually have two classes a day (which last 3 hours each), and various workshops and such. LOTS of study time. Each meal lasts 30 min. So yesterday we had 1 and a half hours of eating, 6 hours of class, and the rest of it study time. Which for those that struggle with math means 8.5 hours. I have learned SO much. But we literally don’t have any down time. The only time that we have to really just sit down is from 9:30-10:15, which usually goes to journal writing and getting ready for bed. I do love it though! The food isn’t too great. Just average cafeteria food. I haven’t gotten sick yet though! We are doing laundry right now, and today we only got half a P-Day!
OH just for future reference to EVERYONE, I can’t write anyone back unless it is on P-day… Which is today (only for the next hour or so) and next Friday  So if you don’t hear from me, that’s why! I LOVE letters. Even if it is only a “dear elder”. They seriously make my day. Tell everyone to write me! I think that is one of the hardest things about this… not being able to contact people. I know I have my comp, but I still feel alone sometimes! Its hard. I can already tell that this is the hardest thing I will ever do
. I am not used to working 16 hour days, especially when I am only averaging 7 hours of sleep. I am tired. All the time. No matter what. Sometimes to the point of uncontrollable laughter… its okay though, its fun. OH and when people tell you that “The days are long, and weeks are short” or whatever… They are LYING. Everything is long. Every part of it. I honestly feel like I have been in here for 2 weeks, and technically its been about… .3 days? Wow. It is so weird to realize that if I sat down and studied preach my gospel, and the scriptures for the rest of my life, I could be busy forever. So much to learn. The first two days were rough. Its so hard. I can’t say that enough. AHH! I know what I am doing is right, and where I am supposed to be, so it makes it easier… but STILL. I can’t believe some people go on mission’s after being disowned from their families. I have so much respect for them. By the way we got our travel information. We have to report to the front desk here at 3:00 am on the 18th of February… Its gonna be a long day. We have a layover in Minneapolis, and then a connection to NEW YORK!! Yay! I am pumped. I am ready to leave the MTC, as much as I love it.
MOM! I love you! Thank you so much for everything… I know that you are crying while you read this, but just know that I am fine! I am so excited to HELP people. I love doing that. And this is the best way to do that! Make sure you get people to write me! Even if it is “dear elder”… It is so easy, yet means so much to a lonely missionary!! Overall I am getting used to everything and loving it. Although its HARD (yes I said it again) It is worth it!! The Lord will bless you for your obedience. I know that’s true. I have already seen that and its only been a few days. I hope everything is going well at home! I wish I had more time, but I only have half hour on the computer, and rules are rules!!! Oh and I want everyone to stop what they are doing, and enjoy life. (seriously, do it for me. I don’t have time to do it… Haha!) There is too little time to get caught up in the thick of things. Life really is a blessing if you make it one!

P.S. Sorry this is so jumbled, I just have very little time, and am trying to tell you everything!
P.S.S. My next P-day is on Friday! So that’s when you will hear from me next!!!

Love and miss you!

Sean Lee

Come what may, and LOVE it!!!

Farewell Talk

The first step on the path of discipleship begins in the exact place where we stand! We do not have to pre qualify to take that first step. It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor. There is no requirement to be educated, eloquent, or intellectual. We do not have to be perfect or well-spoken or even well-mannered. You and I can walk in the path of discipleship today.”

President Uchtdorf

All of us have the opportunity to walk on the pathway of discipleship, it is not reserved for any certain people. Some may be confused on how to start along this pathway! I have come up with a list of certain qualities that all Disciples of Christ should have. The first being Faith.

Faith

Too often we find ourselves forgetting a very important aspect of faith. Action is required where faith exists. I remember at the last general conference when I was listening to Elder Holland speak. He was speaking on the occasion where Peter was approached by the Savior after his resurrection. The Lord proceeded to ask Peter “Do you love me?”. Of course Peter responded “Lord, thou know-est that I love thee”. I began to put myself in Peter’s shoes, and really try to imagine what reaction I would have had to the Lord’s questioning. I figured I would be able to tell the Lord that I loved him, but would my previous actions in life dictate that same response? Was the actions that had taken place, and the actions going to take place in the future aligned with that response I would give to the Lord? That is one thing I love about discipleship, is it requires ACTION! We must learn to be doers of the word, and not hearers only.

There are many examples of faith in the Book of Mormon, and one of my favorites is found in Ether. In Ether 12: 13-18 it reads:

13. Behold it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.

14. Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

15. Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.

16. Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.

17. And it was by faith that the three disciples obtained a promise that they should not taste of death; and the obtained not the promise until after their faith.

18. And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.

It truly is amazing to see the power that faith can bring in our lives! We see faith bringing down prisons, converting, and overcoming death. It is important to note, however,

that miracles come AFTER faith. In Moroni 7:37 it reads:

37. Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

There are many instances I can recall of hearing people around me complaining along the lines of “Why should I believe in a God that doesn’t help, or bless me?!”. Sadly they misunderstand the concept! The Lord can only show miracles in our life AFTER we show faith unto Him!

A couple summers ago I was visiting Florida with my family. For some reason or another my mother and sister did not want to attend “Gatorland” with my father and I. It really was a cool experience though! I found myself surrounded, at any certain time, by over 1700 alligators/crocodiles!! I remember a specific instance in which we were feeding this crocodiles. I couldn’t help but get the picture of Daniel walking into the Lion’s Den, out of my mind! My whole life I had thought that I had enough faith to get by, and did not need to have my faith grow. Boy was I wrong! I imagined being told, one way or another, to jump in this water with the crocodiles/alligators. My first reaction was fear, and I couldn’t picture myself doing it! I realized at that time that my faith had LOTS of room to grow!

In summary, Faith will always require action, we will not see miracles until AFTER showing our faith, and there will always be room for our faith to grow!

Sincere Selfless Service

One of the best ways I learn, is by example. There is no better example of Sincere Selfless Service than our Savior Jesus Christ. Although there are many examples of his Service in His mortal ministry, I will only have enough time to review a few of them!

The first example is found after Christ has fasted for forty days, and has been tempted by Satan three times. After this experience, I could imagine he was somewhat physically, and spiritually drained. In the Bible we learn that Jesus called down angels to minister unto him, and comfort him. My whole life I have been okay with that. I never found anything selfish in the fact that he called down angels to comfort Him after this ordeal! But we learn something very interesting in the Joseph Smith Translation. In Joseph Smith Translation – Matthew 4:11 it reads:

11. …and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and, behold, they came and ministered unto him. (John)

We learn that the Lord knew of the hard time John was going through in prison! Although John was probably having a hard time in Jail, I can’t imagine it was as hard of a time as the Savior was going through! Yet the Lord sent those angels to comfort John, in stead of Himself. It truly shows Christ’s character.

On a separate occasion, we find Christ before he is going to be captured and crucified. He is found kneeling in prayer for His apostles, not himself, even knowing His immediate anguish! I do not think anyone would have found him at fault for saying a prayer for himself at that time, but alas that is not the true character of Christ!

After Judas approaches the Savior, and betrays him, His apostles are mad! I can imagine they did not want the Lord to leave just yet, and wanted Him to stay with them for a longer period of time! One of His apostles is mad enough to cut off the ear of a servant trying to capture Jesus. Immediately following this even, the Savior approaches this servant to heal and comfort him. Knowing full well that this man is part of the men trying to eventually lead Him to death!

As Christ is on the cross waiting to pass from this world, He has only one concern! He is worried about His mother. We find Him instructing His apostles to take care of His mother after he has died.

Although we may never be able to provide the same service that the Savior has, it is important we learn from His wonderful example! I can truly testify that as we participate in sincere selfless service we can live happier lives!

Humility

When I want to understand a term or concept better I try to define it! So I looked up the definition of humility, and it reads as follows:

To be humble is to recognize gratefully our dependence on the Lord—to understand that we have constant need for His support. Humility is an acknowledgment that our talents and abilities are gifts from God. It is not a sign of weakness, timidity, or fear; it is an indication that we know where our true strength lies. We can be both humble and fearless. We can be both humble and courageous.

I love the line saying “it is an indication that we know where our true strength lies”. It is so true! We are not being weak, or timid, but showing to others that our strength is in God! I came across a quote given by Benjamin Franklin saying, “there is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as prides, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility”.

I know how true that can be! I find myself struggling with having too much pride every single day! It can be a challenge to humble ourselves, but it can be rewarding! One of the prerequisites before the Lord can help us is becoming humble. I read this story about two missionaries: They were teaching a married couple about the word of wisdom. They both had been smokers for quite a while. When the missionaries asked them to quit, they agreed! They figured that if the Lord, and the Lord’s church, wanted them to quite smoking they would! The husband didn’t think he would have too hard of a time with it, because he had quite smoking a couple times before and started again after he knew he could quit. He was worried about his wife. Not surprisingly enough, he ended up having a harder time with it! There was a specific night where he felt the urge to smoke so badly, he felt as if there was nothing else he could do to prevent it. His wife suggested prayer! He responded along the lines of “I can do this by myself!”. But after a few more hours found himself on his knees, humbling himself before the Lord! After he did that, he never had a desire to smoke again for the rest of his LIFE.

Often times I hear of people asking the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. Sometimes it is meant to be a humbling experience for us! The Lord WANTS to help us, but can not do it unless we are humbled.

Adversity

I love the topic of adversity, mainly because everyone can relate to it! I have come up with a metaphor relating to the topic of adversity. I want you to imagine that you bought a gym pass. Typically when someone goes to a gym, they start out with lighter weights and work their way up. After weeks of working out, and adding more weight, they become stronger and able to do more! Now imagine that week after week you only lifted five pound dumbbells. At the end of a year, which pattern of working out would help you become stronger and able to do more? This is just like life! If we went through life without any resistance or adversity, we would never see that growth or progression. Adversity is crucial to our lives on earth as it helps us progress.

I love the saying, “a smooth sea, never made a skillful sailor”. We have to remember that adversity can be a BLESSING if we allow it to be! One of the things that has helped me as I have gone through adversity is to remember why I am doing it. It is important to keep the right motivation so we can never forget what we are fighting for!

I remember in 9th grade I attended a leadership conference. The guy in charge started off telling us about a “cost-benefit analysis”. He began asking us to picture a balloon arch on the first day of school. Thousands of balloons, right at the front of our Jr High for all of the kids to walk under! We all were excited about this idea, as it sounded awesome! The teacher stopped us before we got too excited, and explained the “cost” part of our analysis. He asked us what the cost of this activity would be. As we were thinking he listed off some of the things we would have to do. We would have to wake up really early, blow up thousands of balloons, find a way to protect those balloons, etc. The benefit would be having kids walk under some balloons… And after further analysis we came to the conclusion that it would not be worth it.

I use this analysis a lot in my life! You can use it for essentially anything. For instance if someone wanted to quit drinking coffee. All you have to do is chart it out. The cost of quitting could be being groggy, and having less energy as you adjust. The benefit would include having the spirit with us, blessings from heaven, saving money, etc. After further analysis we can come to the conclusion that it is obviously worth it! This method has helped me keep the right motivation as I go through adversity!

In Alma 36: 3 we read “And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day”.

Alma is giving advice to his son here. No offense to my parents, but sometimes when parents counsel their children it goes in one ear and out the other. Alma uses a useful method as he gives examples from his life to support his counseling in later verses, saying, “And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me”.

God will bless, and deliver us from afflictions as we “put our trust in him”.

I came across a really good quote from Elder Holland saying,

Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead.” Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ,they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.

We have to keep that attitude with us! The attitude of “Come what may, and love it”. We will experience hardships in our lives, and it is up to us how we view those hardships. I learned a valuable life lesson from my friend Skyler Smith. One early morning we were at the school to practice for a school assembly. It was probably six in the morning, and as you can imagine I was not in a good mood. I wanted to go back to bed, but most of all I didn’t want to be at Mountain View. Of course Skyler came skipping through the door with his happy attitude. He kept saying this saying, “If you act enthusiastic you will be enthusiastic”!! The first couple times I heard that I was annoyed, thinking to myself why can’t you just stop talking! It is too early! But very quickly I got up and was saying it with him! My attitude quickly changed and that experience went from a dreadful one to a enjoyable experience!

President Uchtdorf says, “It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop”. I truly learned my lesson that morning!

As I was preparing this talk a thought came into my head. I thought to myself “What side will you be on?”. At one point in our lives we will all have to make a decision. Some postpone this decision by saying things along the lines of, “Well if I need the church, I will figure it out later in life”. What these people don’t realize, is that they have already made their decision! By not acting, they have chosen against the pathway of discipleship. You cannot serve two Gods. I can testify that by taking action, your lives will be blessed by our Lord!

I have gotten a lot of questions from different people around me about, “Why are you going on a mission?”. I relate to them an experience I had a few years ago. I was driving with my father and I asked him that same question! He told me that he knew at one point in his life he would need something from the Lord, and he could not rightfully ask Him for anything if he denied his call to serve at the age of 19. That really hit me! If ten years from now I need something from the Lord, could I pray to him after showing blatant disregard to Him? I could not. That is one of the driving factors of my mission!

Another reason I want to go is to spread this happiness. I have never felt happier than when this gospel has been in my life! The best time in my life is when the Lord is proud of me, and the worst have been when I knew he wasn’t proud of my decisions. I know that the people of New York need happiness, and I want to show them the truth! I know I can help the Lord change people’s lives, and I will start with the people of New York!

I am privileged to be able to say I am like a Stripling Warrior! I have been raised by the best mother out there, and will be forever grateful for what she has done for me! She is the absolute best, and I love her!

In closing I would like to share with you the scripture that will be on my missionary plaque:

3 Nephi 5: 13 “Behold I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.”