This Is It…

All good things come to an end, right? Well this experience has been
more than good, and the end is at the door. As I type this letter it
still doesn’t feel real. It is hard to explain, but it hasn’t hit me
yet. I have said so many goodbyes, but it just feels like another
transfer.. I don’t understand it! Anyways, I will tell you a little
bit about my last week.

We saw a miracle happen. One of my favorite people in far Rockaway
came to church! She is an older lady that is a riot. I loved going
over to visit her. She lives everything that we believe except the
whole coffee thing. She can’t do without her cup of joe! So she
finally came to church for the first time since I have been here, and
guess what a member bears her testimony about? The word of wisdom.
Specifically how staying away from coffee has blessed her. I mean come
on, does it get any better than that? So cool.

I visited a lot of the members that I got close with while I was here!
I love them all, holy cow. One of the visits was made to a Jamaican
family! They are so great. I told them that I had a bad cold, and they
were excited. I was pretty confused… Then I understood. They had
made this stuff called “fire cider” specifically for sick people. I
took a spoonful of it and… Almost died. It was a mixture of garlic,
onions, pepper, beets, etc. It was so HOT. It instantly cleared my
sinuses haha! I think it actually helped!

I have realized something on my mission. The only thing that really
has any importance in this life are treasures in heaven. I learned
what is found in those vaults up there… There are only two things
that we can really take with us as we pass on. Ourselves (personality,
knowledge, talents, memories, etc) and relationships. That’s it!
Nothing more, nothing less. I am so glad that I had my perspective
change… The world doesn’t actually revolve around me, who knew? We
can all do better to spend quality AND quantity time with the people
important to us. I will forever cherish the friendships and memories
that I have made on my mission. There are some missionaries, and
members here that mean so much to me… That is my advice for the day!
Know where your priorities are because “for where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also”.

This is Elder Lee signing out for the last time. These past two years
really have been the best of my life, but now it is time to make these
next two even better.

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Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

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…ย  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 theย Sundayย 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

Cannonball!!

Alright… I don’t have a lot of time but I want to send a good email.
I won’t send very many details, but I will give you all of the
updates! If you want to hear more, you can ask me the stories when I
get home!

First and foremost we jumped in the ocean this week. On purpose. As a
district. Sound apostate? Well don’t judge too harshly now! President
Calderwood supported the decision. Belle Harbor is an interesting
community… You have to be a part of them before they can trust you.
Every year they hold a polar plunge on New Year’s Day! You would be
surprised at how many people jump in the freezing water every year.
The wind chill was 23 degrees… It was freezing. We did it in our
proselyting clothes ๐Ÿ™‚ everyone thought we were crazy.

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They had a bbq on the block afterwards! We went and showered and came
back. Everyone really opened up to us. We had a lot of fun, and ate a
lot of good food. ๐Ÿ™‚ Win win.

So speaking of lots of food… We have been waking up at 5:30 every
morning to hit the gym. When the gym is closed we will get together
and do insanity as a district. It is a blast! It really is insane…
Gotta stay fit though!

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On a more spiritual note we had a great fast and testimony meeting
this week. Sister Siddoway bore her testimony for the first time… It
was so powerful. She talked about the temptations and struggles that
she goes through. She told a story about her resisting temptation in a
hostile environment, which is something she never would have done in
the past. I have loved being able to see the growth of the members
here too. We all have room to improve!

Oh you wanna hear a funny story? Elder Beazer was eating lunch at our
pad. I made chicken, beans, and veggies. The plate was halfway over
the table, and he tried to cut the chicken… All of the food went
onto his pants. It was hilarious. I almost died laughing. I let him
borrow a pair of pants that don’t fit me, and we threw his stained
ones in the wash. Later that night I got a text that said he ripped my
pants.. Hahaha! I didn’t really care, because it was just pants.
Anyways it gets even funnier. He takes his other pants with him after
they got washed. He puts those ones on for the night, and ends up
ripping those ones too.. Hahahaha! It was not a good day for pants.

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I hope I didn’t share this thought already, but it comes from the
ensign this month. I have always thought it was ridiculous that the
apostles couldn’t wait but “one hour” with the Savior as He suffered
in the garden. I mean come on, really? They kept going to sleep!
Sheesh. Then this article hit me. It made the point that OUR hour to
wait with the Savior is Sacrament meeting every week. How often do we
text, sleep, or daydream away our hour with the Savior? I think we can
all do a little better with our Sacrament meeting behavior. I know I
can improve.

Well here goes the start of another week! Hopefully you can all make
it a good one!

Elder Lee
Come what may, and Love it!

Chasing the Sunset

The weeks just keep getting crazier and crazier…

We were sitting in District meeting and we started talking about the plans for Christmas. We have had to plan out a lot of things… on top of taking presents to families, we were planning on cooking dinner for two families as well. We realized that we weren’t as planned out as we thought we were, and we had to change that. We had to run to Costco that night to pick up all of the food. We were loaded up and ready to cookย on Friday!!
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Then Christmas Eve hit. We were planning like crazy with President for the Christmas concert. We had to find a way to get every single person to Plainview… that wasn’t easy. We managed to figure it out with just one bus. Yay!! The event starting off with Sister Calderwood’s hot chocolate… wow. It was heavenly. The program was filled with music! That was the meat of the meeting. We have so many talented missionaries out here. Some of the musical numbers were really moving. There actually weren’t any numbers that were bad, it was a Christmas miracle. ๐Ÿ™‚ All of the hard work paid off, it turned out great. OH and President Calderwood gave everyone a gift for Christmas. It is a temple recommend holder with our mission logo on it… wow it is incredible. I love it.
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We spent the night at the Clavines’ house! They fed us dinner for Christmas Eve. We had a party! It was so much fun. I helped the youngest daughter make a card for her parents! It was a really good night.

Then we woke up on Christmas!!! Yay!!! We traveled as a district to the first family, The Anglade’s! When we rolled up we saw all of the kids looking out the window waiting for santa to come. It was really cool to see them waiting like that. I realized that we were going to have a huge impact that day. We told them that santa accidentally dropped off all of their presents at our house, and we had to bring them right over. Watching them open their presents was amazing. I got really emotional. Seeing the reactions was priceless. The dad looked so grateful. He has eight children!!! Him and his wife both work, and he was just baptized this past summer. His wife is still a non-member (for now). They were awesome though. I felt so good.

We rushed to the church after that sacred experience to get ready to skype our families!!! We started making homemade cinnamon rolls as a district, and then the oven wasn’t working. Great… haha we prepared everything and planned on taking the dough to the next families house to eat with them. It worked out perfectly. Talking to the family was great, of course.
We were driving to the third family of the day and we pulled over to go inside. I saw a random kid sitting on his porch. He looked pretty sad, so I ran over and gave him a present. You should have seen his eyes light up!!! Anyways, we went to the family and did Christmas with them too. They lived in pretty destitute conditions so it was cool to make sure their daughters had some presents, and food to eat.

We finished up a little earlier than we thought and we were on our way to load up the van with more gifts. Elder Beazer was sitting on the floor in the back because we had the seats down. I saw a round a bout and took the opportunity to shake him up a little bit. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hahah he was rolling around a little bit in the back, it was all in good fun (until the car stopped and he chased me around haha). While we were driving we saw the sun setting over the beach!!! It was like 50 degrees and pretty warm, so we took some martinelli’s that we bought and ran to the beach. We literally chased the sunset on the beach. We had a toast on the beach to a great day, and took some pictures. We couldn’t stay long, but we sure enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ™‚
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Then we had the Siddoway’s for the night!! That family was also a cool experience. We made sure they had a good Christmas. Those kids had the best reactions. I got some good pictures from them. We watched them open presents, and the mom was so happy. She was on cloud nine! We blasted some Christmas music and everyone was dancing and laughing. It was great to see these families so happy.
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Afterwards we all piled in our van and headed home. We were all amazed at the emotional day we had. It was the best Christmas I have ever had. I can’t even believe it. OH so Elder Young and Beazer were in the back on the floor. Elder Young said, “take me for a ride, Lee”! He didn’t think I could… boy was he wrong. I took a different route home, where there is a huge dip in the road. I sped up and hit the dip… we got all four wheels off of the ground!! Lets just say Elder Young sure had a ride in the back with no way of holding himself down. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to say thank you for everyone that donated money.. It wouldn’t have been possible without your help!! You made a huge difference in the lives of 15+ children out here. They will never forget this Christmas!

Fridayย we were back to work. We spent a lot of time cooking and preparing a meal to take to the Anglade family. We made WAY too much food. I will send you a picture… it was ridiculous, but they will have plenty of leftovers. The dad said that the two days we had been over this week were the best two days of his whole year. Life is fulfilled when we serve other people, that is a fact.
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SO!ย Saturdayย we had some free time finally. We spent about four hours fearlessing and knocking doors. We found a potential family to teach!! He was really cool. We saw some kids playing basketball and we started playing with them. We played two games, and had a blast. We showed all of them the “He is the Gift” after the games were over. One of the kids seemed interested, so we will see what happens.

We had a great branch council yesterday!! Every family in the unit is going to be in charge of setting their own family goals, and we will follow up with them every month to help them. We are stoked.

This email is already too long.. I will close with a little spiritual thought. If anyone is still reading this. I was studying the most recent CES devotional from Elder Hallstrom. I was thinking about how my personal spiritual foundation is. How firm is my foundation? Am I doing the things necessary to keep it strengthened? He said “Ultimately, the strength of our spiritual foundation is shown by how we live our lives, especially in times of disappointment and challenge”. If you want to know the strength of your spiritual foundation, pay attention to how you live your life. Especially during times of trial!

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.
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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!

#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!