Merry Christmas!!

Wow another hectic week…

It has been so fun though. THANK YOU. That is all I can say to everyone who donated money to help these families out here for Christmas. We have been planning and shopping and wrapping until we could wrap no more. Our district has been loving it. We wrapped almost 200 presents!! We are going to make these families ham dinners too. It will probably be the best Christmas ever. We are excited to surprise them.
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All of that Christmas stuff has been consuming most of our time, but it will be well worth it.
We have a huge mission wide Christmas conference! We are going to meet up on the 24th and listen to a ton of musical numbers, and review how the year went. We are really excited. I am mainly excited for Sister Calderwood’s hot chocolate… it is so good.

We are really busy with this week, and I don’t have a whole lot of time today! I do hope everyone has the best Christmas this week. My mission has taught me so much, but one thing stands out. Life is best lived in the service of others. It really feels good to do things for other people. I know I keep writing about this, but it is so true. Anyone that reads this… I am issuing a challenge. Think of something creative to do this week for someone else. Something that is unexpected, and could put a smile on their face. It can be anything.. Just do it. There is only one catch… you can’t tell anyone that you did it. I have learned that if you serve for a pat on the back, that is the only reward you will get. Good luck, and happy serving!!

Merry Christmas!
Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!
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Pio! Pio!

I hate to disappoint, but this week was not as eventful as last week! No out of the country excursions to report on! It was still a good week though. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had transfer calls. I will be staying in Belle Harbor for another transfer! I will be getting a new companion though. I won’t be in a trio anymore, that will be kind of strange. I really like the trio life… Ahhh oh well. Time for a change!

We ate food at this delicious peruvian restaurant that we love. It is called Pio Pio! If anyone is ever here, you should make a stop. This is just a side note, but I love it enough to give it a shout out!

I went back to Terryville for an exchange! It was fun to be back in my old pad. I was able to visit some people that have dropped off, and help them get reconnected with the missionaries there. We visited a member down there and showed “He is the Gift”. We asked his family how many people he thinks his family can show that video to before Christmas… and he said 100!! He is a stud. It is exciting to see other people getting involved in missionary work. I had a great exchange back in Terryville!

We had a great service project on Saturday!! An older lady in our branch wanted her Christmas spirit boosted, so we came over to decorate her house! She fed us breakfast. It was incredible. Then we listened to Christmas music while we put up lights and garland!! It was a really fun time.

That brings me to my spiritual thought of the week! I have really learned that serving other people is the pathway to peace. When you focus on other people, for some reason, you just feel joy! It is an incredible feeling. I am excited to find ways to continually serve other people for my whole life. It can be as simple as making my companion breakfast. Or taking an hour to help spread some mulch in your neighbor’s yard! It doesn’t take much for us to serve, but it sure means a lot to the people that we help out. I wish everyone (including myself) would spend more time focusing on others. Because that is a really easy way to find peace and joy! And who doesn’t want more peace in their lives?

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

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Take Me Away!

This is going to be a longer email than normal, only because I had
more adventures than normal! Here we go…

Well I can just put it out there very first… We went to Bermuda! You
probably think I am joking, but I am glad I am not. Bermuda is part of
our mission because the cheapest flights are out of JFK. President
flys there once a quarter with his wife as his companion, but she
couldn’t make it this time… So he asked us to come with him! You
would think that it is a miracle in and of itself for me to go to
Bermuda on my mission right? Well let me tell you about an even bigger
miracle..

The Passport Miracle
So we got a text from President Calderwood asking us if we had our
passports. Elder Nugent and I did because we are both english
missionaries and we were supposed to bring them. Plus Elder Nugent
already served there before. Anyways, our third companion Elder
Lavelle didn’t have one, he is a spanish missionary. Uh oh. We found
this out about two weeks before we were supposed to leave! If anyone
has tried to apply for a passport you can understand how difficult it
is. We still pushed for it anyways. We found a passport agency online
that could reduce the time of arrival for your passport (for a pretty
penny of course). We got the go ahead to use it, so we started! Sister
Dibble in the office worked her magic and we almost had it all put
together. Then we realized that Elder Lavelle only had a copy of his
birth certificate, not his original. We had to call his mom in Idaho
to overnight it. She didn’t have a car, and the post office closed in
about 45 min where she lived. We frantically called her home teachers
out there and they rushed to pick her up. She miraculously got it
overnighted to New York! Yay! We got that original certificate, and
compiled the papers. We took those papers to get signed the proper way
for this particular agency. We barely made it there before it closed!
Luckily all went well, and we expedited it to the agency. You would
think it is over here. But oh no! We are about a week from leaving
when Elder Lavelle gets an email. Apparently his Puerto Rican birth
certificate was invalid because he didn’t obtain a new one after 2010.
Some dumb law… So we start to panic a little bit. We have to call
and order him a new birth certificate. Yikes. They said it would be
all done and get here by next Thursday (the day before we would
leave). That wouldn’t work! So he was losing a little hope, and I
looked at him and just told him to have faith. We prayed with a lot of
faith and guess what? It got shipped out on Monday! We were waiting
for it on Tuesday… And we kept waiting. Come to find out, they tried
to deliver it to our apartment but we weren’t home!? We needed it that
day or else we couldn’t make it. We (by we I mean President Calderwood
and Sister Dibble- haha) tracked down which UPS it was at and the three
of us headed there to pick it up. The truck was supposed to drop off
our package at 9pm. We got there early and the guy kept telling us to
wait. There ended up being TONS of people, and one guy was doing a
four man job. We were waiting for an hour and a half before I got a
little serious with him. He lied to my face multiple times, and I
called him out on it, finally he said there would be no way to get our
package tonight… Well right then someone walked out with our
package. Surprise, surprise! We woke up at 3:45am the next morning to
go into Manhattan. Elder Lavelle needed to get a passport through an
agency in Manhattan. It is normally very busy, so we had to be the
first in line. That was a cold wait. Once we got in we breezed through
it. Then on Thursday (the day before we flew out) we finally had his
passport in our hands! Oh. My. Gosh. The lesson from all of this?
President Calderwood sums it up best by saying, “No just means not
yet”. You can’t ever give up on anything, or anyone!

Wow that was long. If you are still reading this I commend you. Haha!

We had to wake up at 3:55am again on Friday to catch our flight! It
was weird being on an airplane again. I was amazed when we landed.
Bermuda is full of color. It is beautiful. The houses are pink, blue,
yellow, green, etc. The water is all different shades of blue. The
beach has pink sand. I loved the palm trees too!

The first night we had an open house for the community and showed Meet
the Mormons! We had a great turnout. 20-25 INVESTIGATORS came. That
movie really touched everyone there. I was serving food for the night.
It was great to be a part of their culture.

We are really focusing on He is the Gift! We showed it as a trailer to
the people before the main movie. It is also very well done. We spent
our time on the island really working. We knocked into a family of
five and shared the video with them, they were touched by it and
invited us back to learn more. We shared it with people on the bus or
at the bus stop. Any chance we get! We have teamed up with the North
mission, and we are trying to show the video to 100,000 people before
December is over!! It is a great finding tool.

On Saturday I was on a bus with Elder Chevalier! We were on exchanges.
I met Paul. He kind of shut me down at first, but it was a long bus
ride so I kept talking to him. He really opened up. We connected, and
he came to the second open house! He loved the movie and took a Book of
Mormon home with him. It was a humbling experience to be a part of. I
am not used to that type of response because I live in NYC. Oh and I
met another guy I already love. His name is Richard! He is so cool. He
is working on getting baptized.

So Sunday rolled around. It has been the best Sunday of my life so
far. We had a fast and testimony meeting that would have knocked your
socks off. I absolutely loved the members there. They have to do so
much to pay the bills (gas is $10 a gallon, milk is $5 half gallon,
etc) and yet they still are faithful. I could feel the spirit so
strongly. Then two of the sister missionaries that live there bore
their testimonies. Wow. Sister Franklin is a recent convert, and her
whole family basically shunned her for joining the church. Her brother
just got baptized this past Saturday and she was able to skype into
it! She brought s lot of tears in with her sweet testimony. Then
Sister Cook got up. I don’t know if I have met a more powerful
missionary. She had a light about her when she was up there. She
boldly proclaimed truth and spoke specifically to those investigators
there. I have never heard or seen a missionary so powerful as I did
when she bore her testimony.

THEN we were already over time by a lot, but PAUL stood up. First time
at church… Walks up to bear his testimony… Uh oh. You never really
know what they are going to say. He said that this morning he walked
in on someone using some serious drugs. Typically he would have
started using as well, but he avoided the temptation and read the Book
of Mormon. Yeah… That is real life. He said that after he read it,
it changed him. He had no more desire! Wow. After he sat down I put my
arm around him and challenged him to be baptized this month. He
accepted. God is SO good.

I taught the Gospel Principles class. There were like 12
investigators. We had such a fun time! We laughed and joked, and got
serious too. That is my favorite teaching experience so far on my
mission.

I am almost done! Promise!

We met another potential tracting. His name is Fleming! He was really
pure too. I am excited to see his progress.

We met with a young man who was going to go on a mission, but has
stopped coming to church. We were really bold with him and told him
that he needs this just as much as we need him out here. We watched
the mormon message from Elder Holland called, “Stay within the lines”.
We asked him what he though and he said, “I think I need to get some
suits” Hahahaha! It was awesome.

Overall this trip wasn’t a vacation, because we worked til we dropped,
but I loved every minute of it. It was so fulfilling. The branch
president and his wife are from Utah but are sacrificing to be here
for work and the church because they know this place needs help. I
love and respect them. This has been the best weekend of my life. I
have gained a strong testimony that God loves me. It came simply, but
it sure came. We saw the forecast before we came to the island and it
was all rain. I was a little bummed because I expected sunshine and
clear skies. I prayed fervently for at least one day of good weather.
I really prayed. It may seem silly to you, but it meant the world to
me. Right when we landed… The clouds cleared up. The sun was
brightly shining. It stayed that way all throughout our trip! Until
Sunday night. I saw clouds assembling and it felt like a rainstorm. We
had a last minute baptism schedules for the morning before we left,
and I prayed again to have clear skies. I didn’t expect much because
He already gave me so much… But He loves me enough to bless me with
another day of sunshine. God really is in the details of our lives.
Although I won’t always get what I pray for, I can be assured that He
is my Father and He loves me. He loves all of us, and that is where we
can find peace in this crazy world.

Elder Lee
Came to Bermuda, and Loved it!

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#SharetheGift

What a memorable week. I will never forget this past Thanksgiving! That is for sure.

We started out the week making team shirts! We bleached the back of some “I heart NY” shirts for our turkey bowl team. The whole entire mission got together to play football on Thursday! It was freezing… we won our first game, but ended up losing. It was a blast though! I miss playing football. Oh and I accidentally pulled my hamstring while I was running for a pass… It hurt so bad. I went down pretty hard, and didn’t get up for a bit. I am recovering though. It is really tender and it still hurts, but I just have to keep on keeping on!

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After the Turkey Bowl, we went to the Forbes! They are a Jamaican family from the branch. They fed us so much food. It was unreal the amount of food that they had. Our whole entire branch could have been fed by that dinner. I ate a little too much food… I threw up in their bathroom. Everyone could hear me, and they all laughed at me when I came out. Hahaha! It turned out to be a blessing in disguise though. We had another dinner appointment after that. We kept eating at the second appointment because we didn’t want to be disrespectful. I excused myself and threw up in their house too! Another blessing in disguise… Then I had room for pie. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I had an exchange! I was with Elder Beazer and Elder Young for the day. I love those two guys. We had a great exchange. We found a new investigator, and taught a former investigator. Then we had to stop by a pharmacy and grab some stuff for my leg, so we loaded up on chips and soda for the night! Well I drank seltzer water… haha #mormonparty We had a great time. Then we woke up the next day and found a surprise. We walked out to where we parked our car, and it wasn’t there. We all interrogated each other thinking that someone moved it during the night… We were happy to find out that nobody was lying! But then we realized we still had no idea where our car went. So we had to call the towing place for our complex, and this guy rolled up. He wasn’t all the way there in the head… We got him to give us a little discount, and he drove us to the bank. OUR CAR WAS TOWED! Haha I was so upset. They live in the same complex thingy as us, but they have a different parking pass because it is a different street… Wow. Gotta love New York! We ended up getting the car back, with a little dent to the bank account. It made for a memorable exchange. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well I applied for BYU Provo. We will see if I get accepted. It is weird to be this close to going home. I am trying to focus, but there are so many things calling my attention. A lot of them are legitimate things that I have to worry about… Like school. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ No thanks. I will stay on my mission.

Anyways!! It was another good week in the books. I will leave you with a little spiritual thought. I am trying to study about the Savior’s life everyday this month because of the “He is the Gift” initiative from the church.So I was studying in John 2 today. The first eleven verses are about Jesus turning the water into wine. Just like He can change water into wine, he can take people with unrighteous desires and change them to have righteous desires. We simply have to be obedient. I know people can change, no matter how long and hard the process is. We just have to turn to the Savior! Especially during this time of the year.

Have you heard of the “He is the Gift” business? If not, google it. Watch the video. Find out how you and your family are going to do these three things this month:

#DiscovertheGift #EmbracetheGift #SharetheGift

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

That is Horrific!!!

Last P-day was awesome! We finally had a full p-day to ourselves. The zone got together to practice for the turkey bowl! We are pretty serious about the turkey bowl so we even practiced in the rain… then it really started to pour….and the wind started to blow….and we realized that we weren’t THAT serious about it! Haha! It was fun though. Except we went shopping (soaking wet) afterwards, and we were miserable. Good times.

We had a street sweep with Elder Young and Elder Beazer. I love those guys. We picked up trash on some public streets in the community. It was disgusting, but hey! Thats New York!
I was able to go to Midwood on exchanges! We had a great time. It was weird being back in the same apartment again. We went to Gyro King though! I love halal food. I miss it. If you don’t know what that is.. you should google “Lamb over rice halal food” and look at the pictures that come up. Yum.
We planned to go on the trains to do a flash mob! We practiced a few songs, and then we were off! We would all get in the same car, and start singing. It was funny to hear people’s reactions. One lady was nice and commented on how it was good to hear “Christian music” every once in a while. Everyone else ignored us or got really mad. There was this russian guy that was not happy… at all. I think we woke him up. He started shaking his head and cursing us under his breath. He finally turned and looked me in the eyes and yelled, “THAT IS HORRIFIC!”. I just smiled and kept singing. I chuckled, because some people get bent out of shape for the strangest things. Oh well! OH and I tried to fearless these two ladies on the train and got totally shut down… in front of the whole zone. I was like… uhhh… and just sat down. Hahahaha I tried!
Anyways. I was pondering about why bad things happen to good people. Elder Holland makes a great point. He talks about how Jesus Christ was the best this world has ever seen. Did He not go through hard times? Was He not tortured beyond what He deserved? Of course. He kept His scars to show that although bad things may happen to good people, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love them.

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Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

All Around The World

We had an incredible week. It all started with a new transfer!! The new missionaries that came in were so cool. They were from all over the world. Spain, Paraguay, South Korea, etc. Oh and Provo, Utah of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was cool to see so many people from around the world united in the same cause. They are going to be stellar missionaries.

The transfer meeting was great as usual. It is always a treat to be with the majority of the mission and to hear President Calderwood speak.

Well I have a new companion! We are still in a trio, but Elder Baker had to move on with his life ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Elder Lavelle is the new addition! Wow, I am so excited. I have always looked up to him throughout my whole mission. It is pretty cool to be his companion. I have learned something cool. Do you want to know the true measurement of a leader? It isn’t about the work that he gets done. That stuff doesn’t really matter as much. The true measurement is how the people around that person do. If the people around you are growing and blossoming, that means you are a good leader. Even if you are conquering the world, but everyone around you is being destroyed in the process.. what good does it do? A true leader inspires and lifts the people around them. Elder Lavelle is great at that.

Well we had a meeting this week! I made a little video for it. It was cool. The concept was on whether you are “Insane or Inspired?”. If you change your expectations in life, do you change your actions to match them? Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. You have to do more than change your expectations in order to be inspired. You have to change your actions to match it. Pretty cool concept!

We hardly ever sleep. Sleep is overrated anyways! I fall asleep anytime I stop moving. That usually only happens in sacrament meeting. So you can count on me passing out in church. Haha… yep. OH a lifelong dream was fulfilled the other day! We got a selfie with President Calderwood. It was great. Highlight of the week for sure.

The biggest highlight happenedย on Saturdayย though! Elder Hallstrom of the Presidency of the seventy made a surprise visit! He basically had a layover in New York on his way to Bermuda with President Calderwood, so he set up a conference for the mission! It was incredible. He talked about a lot of things, but one thing stuck out. He said that we are responsible for how much we get out of meetings. Sacrament, District, etc. Whatever it is! We decide how much we are going to learn from every meeting. It is up to us to seek knowledge, but not only to just learn. The most important part is turning that knowledge into action! We should always have a resolve to change after every meeting we have. That is how we continually improve. I loved that. I mean.. We have a billion meetings anyways, right? Might as well get something out of it!

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Another week has flown by. Wow.

Well due to a special occasion, I found myself at dinner with President and Sister Calderwood! We were eating, and decided we wanted to “fearless” our waitress. It was pretty easy because she started asking us questions… I love when they do that. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was kind of awkward at first, but it smoothed itself out. We were all asking kind of lame questions, until the question got thrown out, “What question do you feel like religion has never been able to answer for you?”. She was taken aback. We gave her a Book of Mormon, and all of the information for church. The ball is in her court now! I hope she goes. That was super cool though.
Have you ever had the blazin’ wings from Buffalo Wild Wings? Well if you answered no to that question, keep it that way. It was a horrible decision. Elder Hussein got some for me one day and I foolishly ate five of them. They didn’t even taste good, and they burned everything that they touched! My fingers, lips, mouth, heart, stomach, etc. I thought they hurt going in, but it was just as bad when they came out. I will leave it at that.
Elder Nugent was praying one night to find out where Heavenly Father wanted us to go. He felt like we should go to this former investigator’s house. It was shocking because they had called us a few weeks ago and yelled at us. After that, they told us to never come back. That was the same day that the other family we were teaching told us that they were moving, so it was pretty tough. But for some reason Elder Nugent felt like going to see them. We wrote them a thank you card, and headed over… we knocked on the door and… they let us in and fed us dinner. Ha!! God is so good. Even though promptings don’t make sense, just follow through with them.
I have just had the strongest impressions about families lately. The world is getting pretty ugly, and they are going to attack the church for what we believe. It is already happening. We had a fireside last night about how marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. I just felt the Spirit confirm to me that it was true. I can’t ever deny that. President Calderwood read The Family Proclamation, and it is all true. If you don’t know that yet, you should read it and pray about it. You are going to have to know that for the future. The future is frightening to think about, but I will always defend traditional marriage. That is the catch with “additional light”, you have a lot more responsibility. Oh boy.
We have spent most of our proselyting time in Belle Harbor. There are so many families there it is crazy. Almost like Utah. They all know their neighbors (which is refreshing) and actually care about each other. The ones we have met are pretty set in their ways, but they are willing to have us over and feed us ๐Ÿ™‚ They love the missionaries after what they did for them during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We have a lot of hope for some families though. This branch needs some anchor families!!
Anyways, I am not ready to come home yet. I love President and Sister Calderwood too much. I have nothing but respect for both of them. If I end up being half the man that President Calderwood is, I will be doing alright.
Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!