Elder Lee…..

This will probably be my last official email home… Wow! The time is
drawing nigh…

Since I am so close to going home, I can say a few sketchier stories.
We almost got in a head on collision like 5 min ago. And we almost got
t-boned really bad the other day. Haha the driving here is SO bad.
Today we saw several people cutting off an ambulance who had its
lights and sirens on… It’s just like, really? Haha oh and just up
the street from where we live this guy got shot in the head. We drove
past the crime scene. It is weird that all of that stuff seems normal
to me now. OH this was so funny. We were driving, and the person in
front of us wasn’t paying attention so they weren’t going when they
were supposed to.. The car behind us started to freak out. Honking,
etc. We started driving again, and I saw the car behind us speeding up
to pass us.. So I said, “get ready for the finger in 3…2…1..”
Right then he drove by and flipped us off. Hahaha I know New York too
well.

Anyways. We saw some miracles this past week! We took a member out to
do his home teaching. We went to visit a less active family that we
had never met. She ended up letting us in (elders hadn’t been over
there in like twenty years she said?). She wasn’t involved in the
church, and thought her records had been removed, but she had been
sealed in the temple…  Relief society president in the past, etc. I
realized that she just needed some love. We really connected and she
actually said she would come to church next week. It was a miracle!
She had a scrapbook of former missionaries from the 90’s, and we asked
to be in the next page. I drew her a picture and then we took a
picture that we are going to print out for the page. It was awesome.

Church was pretty good! We have been doing service once a week with
this organization, and three of the people we had been working with
came to church! They even stayed for all three hours! Sacrament
meeting was great. The last speaker finished at ten til, so they
called on me to speak for ten minutes. It was spur of the moment but I
enjoyed the opportunity to speak. Then we went to Gospel Principles,
and right before we sat down the Sunday school president approached
us! Apparently the youth teacher didn’t show up, and there was no sub.
We went in there, she told us the topic was about the Godhead, and she
shut the door! I turned around, wrote “Godhead” on the board and said,
“alright let’s do this”. There were about 10-12 youth in there and I
was able to keep it under control for the 45 minutes! It actually went
really well. It is amazing what you can do when you rely on the Lord.
The Spirit took over. Then Elders quorum rolled around and I taught
that class as well. I was prepared for that one though. All in all, a
great spiritual day at church.

I had my departing activities this week. I had my last interview with
President Calderwood, it was amazing. Then we went to the temple as a
departing group! That was awesome too. President took us all out to
“Carnegie Deli” afterwards. It is right there in Manhattan. I ordered
the “woody Allen” sandwich. IT WAS HUGE! Google it, no joke. I ate the
whole thing. I thought I was going to die. It had to have been at
least 1.5 lbs of meat. Then we got a huge slice of cheesecake… I
(barely) finished that too. Yeah, it was a meal to remember for sure!
Pictures don’t do it justice.

IMG_2530IMG_2528 IMG_2531

It is strange to think that I will be home next week… I am really
excited to go home, and really sad to leave. This experience has been
absolutely incredible. I wouldn’t trade it for the world… But now it
is time for the next chapter! Ready or not, here I come…

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

IMG_2511

Who is the Predator Now?!

Well, well, well. So many stories to tell.. where to start?

I will start with the first exchange of the week! I was reunited with Elder Burch in Bayshore! We were in a trio, and we all went to… wait for it…. TEXAS ROADHOUSE! I haven’t been in one of those bad boys in almost two years. It was too good to pass up. I walked in, cracked open a peanut, and threw the shell over my shoulder to the ground. I was home.

photo 2

After dinner we went to try and look up a family. They didn’t really think anything would come of it, so I told them, “I guarantee we will get in this house”. They seemed skeptical, but they came along. We knocked on the door and they answered! Good so far. They said they were “busy”. The elders thought they had proved me wrong… but I didn’t give up that easily! I asked to use their restroom. (You would be surprised at how often that works) Anyways! Then I walked around complimenting them on their house, asked for water, etc. Before you knew it we were sitting in their living room eating apples and getting ready to teach them a lesson! It was a good exchange overall.

Remember how I am terrified of sharks? Well I still am. That darn Jaws movie really gets to you… but this past week I was able to fight back! Our branch mission leader had us over for dinner! And guess what was on the menu? NOT Elder Lee! It was shark this time!! Haha! It tasted like tuna. We had shark and catfish, and a branch correlation. It was an interesting night.

photo 4

Now to the next exchange! I went to Little Neck! We spent the majority of the day shoveling snow. My back is still sore, but it was worth it. We met some really cool people that they are going to go back and visit. We earned ourselves some shrimp dumplings over lo mein after all of the manual labor. I really like the legit chinese places they have out here. Not just like panda express. Then after dinner we went and taught an incredible family. I felt so much love for them. It has been such a blessing to feel the Spirit in abundance on my mission.

Saturday I spent my day out in Hampton Bays! Yay! Ironically enough, that was the location of my very first exchange, and now it is the location of one of my last ones. Every appointment that the elders had set up for the day fell through. Yipee. We knocked doors for about 1.5 hours. My face went numb! It felt good to do some work in extreme weather. Makes you feel like an Elder! We went to a members house, and it turned out their home teacher was over! Fun fact, their home teacher is deaf. We were there while the home teacher was trying to teach them how to finger spell. It was cool to watch. I know a little finger spelling so I could communicate a little bit with him.

On the way back from the Hamptons I made some stops in Terryville! I had to say goodbye to some good friends. I saw the Dybers first. It was great to see them. I have so many great memories with them. Then I went over to the Bradshaw’s for dinner. The Bradshaw family has been absolutley incredible to me on my mission. They always took care of me. I was sad to leave, but it was a huge tender mercy to be able to see them before I left.

photo 1 photo 3

Last night we went over to Joe Mure’s house! He is a really famous lawyer in New York. Really famous. Filthy rich. He puts on this fundraiser every year called “The Little North Pole” and we helped him set everything up for it. He invited us over for dinner last night to say thank you. Oh. My. Gosh. His house was so nice. He has this piano, right? He was going to get rid of it because nobody ever played it. Then he had a brilliant idea. Lets make it play itself! He hired someone to put a computer in there. Now you can Bluetooth your device to it, pick a song, and the piano will play the keys to whatever song. It also has speakers so it sings the vocal part while it plays the keys. WOW. I loved it so much. We ate dinner and then drank some nice seltzer water in the basement (I love seltzer water now by the way). We helped him count some of the money that he raised at the fundraiser.. he said he raised over $150,000 for the diabetes society!

President taught a great principle this week. He made an analogy. He referred us to John 4, which talks about Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman. While talking about it President asked us all what kind of well we had inside. Is our well everlasting? Or is it running dry? He taught us how to tell. He used another analogy. Your heart rate recovery is the difference between your heart rate during workout and your heart rate two minutes later while you rest. That is the HRR. Well, we can use that same formula for Christlike attributes. When someone offends us, how long does it take for us to forgive them? When we get discouraged, how long does it take us to have some hope? The longer it takes, the dryer our well. When we allow external influences to affect us so much internally, our well is running dry. The moment we don’t allow those external influences to affect us, is when we know our well is everlasting.

Another week down, only a few left. As you can see.. I am making the most of it. 🙂

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

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.
photo 1 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo(1) photo
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!

The Half-Gallon Challenge

I do a lot of things wrong. One of the things this past week that I wanted to improve was my water intake. Don’t laugh. We wanted to start drinking more water to stay hydrated! We all bought a gallon of water and decided to drink it every day. So we have been carrying around our gallons of water everywhere! I am pretty easily entertained, and I came up with a challenge. I told Elder Baker that if he drank a half-gallon of water in ten minutes, I would give him twenty dollars. Now I was pretty dang positive he couldn’t do it, but it was enticing enough for him to try. The deal is you have to finish all of the water in ten minutes, and not throw up. Well he got really close! Then he threw up. Ha! I challenged another missionary to do it later, and he was determined. He did it in seven minutes!!! I was astonished. I grudgingly took out the twenty dollars and handed it over… only to follow him right to the bathroom and watch him throw up everywhere. He came out and handed me the twenty dollars back. I felt bad, so I told him I would take him to lunch. Moral of the story? Well there really isn’t one. I just wanted to share that story.

Halloween has come and gone! I talked to a guy who I had met over a year ago on Halloween. He is awesome. We actually had a really good conversation about the symbolism of the Book of Hosea. I never thought that would happen in my life! Haha! Anyways, we had to be in by 6pm because of the hoodrats that go out. It is actually a big gang initiation day, so it was good that we were all safe. I went to bed at 8:30pm!! It was the best.
I am still enjoying life! I am so grateful for this chance to serve here at this time. It could not have been better timed. This whole mission has been a miracle for me. I love it.
I was pondering about how people who live around a lot of Mormon’s can still be actively engaged in missionary work. I came across a scripture that answered my question. In James 4:17 it says “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”. I just thought about all of the good that we can do for people around us, regardless of what church they belong to. If you find yourself surrounded by members of the church, and still want to be a missionary, “go about doing good”. There is much good to be done all around us!
Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!
photo1

Structural Issues

We had such an epic p-day last week! We played ultimate frisbee at a
park in Brooklyn!! It was such a blast. Then we had a little instant
grill that we brought, and made hot dogs for everyone 🙂 Haha it was
legit. Not sure if it was totally legal… but no harm, no foul right?
I will send pictures of it.

photo 4 photo 5

We had fun at our weekly service project! We were at Snug Harbor. It
was blazing hot, and we were surrounded by my favorite insects…
bees. We had to clear some brush out around this worn down stage. They
warned us about the bees, and one of the elders started swinging the
tools to clear the brush.. he got swarmed by wasps! Ha… I ran away.
He got stung three times. We stayed away from that area. Then we had to
take this old stage apart, piece by piece. We were all sweating
bullets, but got a decent amount of work done.

Sadly, I totally forgot about Pioneer Day.. It isn’t that big out here
in New York! I hope ya’ll had a good time celebrating it though.

Our wonderful landlords took us out to dinner! We watched the house
for them while they were gone, and they wanted to take us out to eat!
It was delicious. I haven’t had salmon in a long time. It was a great
experience because we talked about our beliefs, and they asked a lot
of questions. Members used to live above them so they are having some
good contact with the church! It is fun being a missionary!!

Our church building got temporarily shut down… it has something to do with
how it is built? This type of building has to be inspected every so
often for something. Anyways, our building passed inspection so we
thought we were good. Then there was another building somewhere that
also passed, but it actually collapsed (nobody was in the building at
the time)… SO the Presiding Bishopric said that any building
(whether or not they passed inspection) had to be shut down until
professionals could come in. Well we found all of this out mid week.
It was really unfortunate because some members had already set up and
decorated the gym for Sri Lankan night.. And since the chapel and gym
had to be shut down, we couldn’t do it in there! There was some panic,
but Bishop got us some tents outside and we had our party out there!!
It turned out really great. I think it looked better outside anyways.

 

photo 3 photo 2 photo 1

We met a ton of non-members! The Sri Lankans are such great people. We
went around to all of the Subways to invite the Sri Lankans (they all
work at Subway.. haha) before the party. One of the guys that we
invited came!! Turns out, he had an old pass-a-long card in his
wallet. Three years old. Missionaries had met with him before!!!
Miracle. We got his phone number. Crazy. We met a lot of other really
good people there!

Our church attendance took a big hit because we had it in a different
building at a different time… only 57 people. Ouch. There was a
baptism afterwards though!! It was great.

OH and we found two new investigators!! Knocking doors actually did
the trick. That is the first time my whole mission. Sheesh. They are
awesome though. We are going back next week. Miracles all over the
place!!

Well there is more, but I have to go for now. After my mission ask me
about what some of the people were saying at the Sri Lankan party. I
wrote it in my journal… hahaha! There are some colorful people here
in New York!! Gotta love it!

Quick thought. With all of the drama about our building’s structural
issues, it got me thinking. Do we have structural issues in our lives?
Are we built on the foundation that we are supposed to be built on? If
we are not rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we run the risk of
our lives collapsing! It is easier to strengthen your foundation now,
rather than worrying about costly repairs later!

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

The Promised Land of Sri Lanka

Mom and Dad, you guys would be proud! We played up and down the river
last p-day! It was a lot of fun. Oh and we played Egyptian rat slap
too! I am getting better, so you guys should practice up.

Mutual was fun! We played capture the flag with the boys. There wasn’t
very many people who even knew how to play, I didn’t know it was a
west coast thing? I guess they typically don’t have very much space to
run around and play games like that out here in NY. We have seen some
boys starting to come to church again, and come to mutual every week!
It is cool to be a part of their re-activation.

Alright so another Sri Lankan man should be getting baptized next
week! Yay! We are really excited for him. He is a great guy. He was
another member referral. Go figure!

We had an encounter with someone who is anti-mormon… The
conversation was interesting. It got a little more heated than it
should have. Ha! It ended with him yelling at me, “You are going to
hell!!!”. Eh, it wasn’t the first time! It amazes me that so many
people think we are going to hell for our beliefs? Crazy. Just another
glorious day in NY! I love it here, but I do miss being surrounded by
people who have the same beliefs as me. Don’t take that for granted!

We had a great Saturday! We spent a lot of time down at the Staten
Island ferry. We handed out 5 gallons of free lemonade. It helps us
break the ice with people, and they are more willing to talk to us.
Our district worked super hard and we saw the blessings that came from
it! There were tons of people at church, and every investigator had
great comments during Sunday school. We were so blessed. Oh and we
taught the 5th sunday lesson on missionary work! That night we went
over to a member’s home and taught his nephew. WOW! That was like the
third time that had ever happened. We didn’t know what to do with
ourselves. Ha! Anyways, we were really blessed yesterday.

One thing that I have learned lately is that in order to become One
with The Father and The Son, we have to put Them first in every
aspect. We can’t be unified with Them if we have different goals, and
desires in life. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said something along the
lines of, “I tremble sometimes to think about what that means, but it
is a process that takes time”. Even though it may take some time, it
is a worthwhile pursuit in life. It is a scary thought to always put
God first, but I know we will be blessed for it!

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

Because of Him

I hope you had a great Easter!! We had a pretty exciting week. 🙂

It started on Monday!! We tried to celebrate Passover… it was
interesting. We had some lambs, bitter herbs, unleavened bread, etc.
After it was all ready we stood around the table and went over the
symbolism of it all. We made sure to have our shoes on so we could
leave at a moments notice. It seems like a great tradition right? Well
the bitter herb was… BITTER. We had green onions and just ate those
raw. It did remind us of the bitterness of slavery, that is for sure.
It did its job. Ha! Then we ate the lamb… which was so greasy. It
was not very good quality. We then chugged the grape juice, and
decided to just munch on the unleavened bread! We got the bread from a
Jewish member here. The bread was straight from Israel.. and kosher.
🙂 Anyways we came to the conclusion that it was a once in a lifetime
celebration… and I was still hungry afterwards. SO I heated up some
pork and had a glass of milk. If you know anything about Jewish law
you will know why that is funny. Haha!

passover

Then we had transfer meeting on Tuesday!!! I will be staying in Staten
Island of course, and I am fine with that! There is still a lot of
work left for me to do here. It was so hot at transfer meeting. Our
whole mission came to this one because everything got re-aligned. The
Lynbrook District became a Stake! It was the last one on the
continental U.S. and it is no longer. We now have four stakes in the
mission. The work is hastening! Because of that there was two more
zones created.. the mission is growing like crazy. It was a historic
meeting that we went to, and it even got a little sweaty in that room.
Everyone was ‘shining’. I think Yoshi took a picture of me after that
meeting, so you can see how much I was ‘glowing’ ha! I am excited for
the future of this mission though. 🙂

transfer meeting 1

 

transfer meeting2

We spent the rest of the week inviting investigators and less actives
to the Easter party that the ward was having on Saturday! The party
was great. I ate way too much food… I just can’t pass up free food.
But I did eat a little too much… it was delicious though. Then there
was Easter egg hunts for all ages. The adult one was pretty fun. You
went and found eggs, and depending on the egg you would get different
prizes. It was fun. We finally met Bro Garcia there! He was a member
that moved in from Far Rockaway. It was a miracle. The ward really
needs fully active members out here.

I loved the #BecauseofHim thing the church did all week. It was
amazing to see Facebook covered with uplifting things. Ever since I
have been on my mission I have come to know one thing… That I don’t
know very many things. One thing I do know is that Jesus Christ lives.
We have the opportunity to live with our Father in Heaven again, and
it is all because of our Savior. I may not know very many other
things, and as long as I know that simple truth.. I am okay with that.

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!