Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 5 Letter

Never fear! I survived my first week in the hood! 

Haha actually, the area is really funny. We don't have QUITE downtown, but get close enough to have some really sketchy neighborhoods. But, on the other hand, we have a town called Kenmore in our area, which a few years ago was ranked in the top 10 safest neighborhoods in the U.S. Haha it's a weird contrast when you walk from one part of the area that is all prim and proper, and all of then a few blocks later, everything changes completely.

We are car-less, which kind of stinks sometimes when we have to get somewhere quickly, but it's been really cool, be cause - go figure - there are actually people walking around with us in Buffalo. In Freedom and Warsaw, if you saw anyone walking, it would be the same five people you saw last time. But not here! We actually have taught about a dozen lessons to random people just walking by in the streets. I'll share some of those stories later haha. They're great... Haha Buffaloans are different, to say the least. But, having to do with being car-less, I get to ride a subway on a regular basis now!! Haha it's really not so great, you kind of just go into a big dark tunnel, shaking a lot.... but it's unique. Plus, then we just talk to a lot of crazy Buffaloans on the subway! Between the bus, the subway, and walking, we never really get away from talking.

Being in a trio is definitely different. It's interesting, though, because Elder Hirschi, who is our visa waiter heading out to Brazil eventually, really almost seems like the more experienced one. We'll be in a lesson, and he and I will be trading back and forth seamlessly, and Elder Barnes will just chill quietly. I don't know, it's definitely tough to work as a trio. I'll also be sad to see Elder Hirschi go whenever his visa actually gets here. 

Also in our apartment complex is Elder Danielson, my MTC companion, so that's been fun. We'll see them at least once a day. Oh, and I said we had seven missionaries in the ward last week. I lied. We have ten. They just barely split our area and put a trio of sister missionaries in the northern, richer half. Haha and apparently I'm District Leader again. (They didn't tell me that until Tuesday evening on the way home from transfer meeting.) So I learned that district meetings with a group of 10 young missionaries goes much differently than one where half of your district is senior couples. But, it's a fun district, anyways.

So, for people we met! First, I'll share about "First-name-Kai," as we've come to call him haha. We were walking home from an appointment, and there was this Chinese guy at a park. I walk up and talk to him, and we learn that his name was Kai and that he moved from China about a year and a half ago. We talked about his family, so we gave him a Family Proclamation, talked about what a prophet was, invited him to come to church, assured him that church was free, and a few other things, including learning that his name was Kai. As the conversation died down, Elder Barnes and him had the funniest exchange. In order to get the humor of it, put Kai's voice in the classic Asian accent, and assume that all three of us were confused to no end the whole time.

Elder Barnes: "My nephew's name is Kai, actually."
Kai: "No. My name Kai."
Elder Barnes: "Right, but I mean, it's my nephew's, too."
Kai: "It's my first name."
Elder Barnes: Uh... 
Kai: "Family name."
Elder Hirschi: "Ohhh, your first name is your family name?"
Kai: "No. Kai Meng." 
All of us: "Oh.... Umm... I gotcha..?"

He then proceeded to show us his ID card. Which in and of itself was a good thing, because it helped us learn a lot about him. We'd asked him earlier why he'd moved here, and he said something that to all of us sounded like "postal." So we just assumed he was a mailman or something. But no, his ID listed him as a PhD working for Roswell Cancer Institute. Haha good ol' First-name-Kai.

Then, there's Kevin. Hahaha ohhh Kevin. We were walking down the street and he asks "Hey, are you Jehovah's Witnesses?" We explained that no, we were Mormons. "Oh, I read your book when I was in jail. A lot of people persecuted me for it and told me I shouldn't entertain other gospels and should only read the Bible, but I told them 'It's not a different gospel, it's just Another Testament of Jesus Christ.'" Haha naturally, that caught our attention. We talked with him a bit more there, gave him a new copy of the Book of Mormon, and set up a time to come back. We went back, and talked with him more, and well... he is really crazy, but in a mostly good way. We think. Haha it's actually been a cause of a lot of debate. See, he is super faithful. He is a very strong Catholic, and loves sharing the gospel. Actually, he came to church with us on Sunday, and while we were waiting at the bus stop, he gave a Bible to one person and a Book of Mormon to someone else. But then.... he's out there a little. He talks a lot about the different times he's seen Jesus, which is completely possible, I suppose. But then he talked about why he doesn't think Peter ever actually died: "Well, I've seen him. He's a good guy. But he dresses like Indiana Jones, kind of."  Haha then we took him to church with us and he really enjoyed testimony meeting, but then we were pretty much baby-sitting him during Sunday School. Haha we were talking about agency, and here are some of his best lines (Note, none of these were after he raised his hand. He'd just shout them out haha) :

"What? You think we left God's presence?" - "Yes we did, but we'll talk more about that later, Kevin." - "No we didn't."
"You're from Uganda! Why'd you move here?" -"Well, mostly for the Church." -"There are churches in Uganda, I bet!"
"You think Satan knows us? No he doesn't! God knows us!"
(When reading a little bit about Elijah going up against the priests of Baal) "This is my favorite story! Elijah is like, 'Maybe he's sleeping, maybe he can't hear, maybe he is on the toilet!'" 

Haha we know that he has bipolar disorder, and really it just makes him seem like he has an extreme case of ADHD. It's just hard to balance giving him the opportunity to learn the gospel with not offending the entire ward. Haha I like the guy... but he's super goofy. Haha oh, but this is a good story about him! We gave him a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation to answer some of his questions that came up during Sunday School. Today, over the phone, I asked him if he had read it. "No, I didn't get to. I gave it away actually. I saw a guy in a wheel chair and thought he could use it more than me." Haha he's the best missionary of all time... just as long as he doesn't offend everyone of the current members out of the church haha.

Oh man, I could talk about all sorts of people we've met. Don't worry, we've met some normal people, too. But they just aren't as cool of stories yet, since we haven't had time to help them progress too far. I'll share some normal stories one of these days, I hope. 

But the ward here is really cool. A huge chunk of the members are just young, classic Mormon families here, mostly going to UB for dental school. There's also and odd amount of foreigners. Buffalo Spanish missionaries, who do their work downtown, are teaching someone from Uganda, from Thailand, from Columbia, and a few other places. In Sacrament meeting, one guy got up and bore his testimony - in French. He is actually from the Congo, where he served as a Bishop. Luckily, there are about a dozen or so French speakers in the ward, so someone got up and translated. But regardless, it was really cool!

On Saturday, we attended a baptism that wasn't a convert baptism, but was still a cool result of missionary-work. It was the 8-year-old son of a part member family, where the member wife has cycled through levels of activity. Apparently they have worked with the family quite a bit, and we hope to keep doing so. Then this upcoming Sunday, Buffalo Spanish is having a baptism. It's pretty cool to have so many missionaries all crammed together, because there were I think 7 or 8 investigators at Sacrament meeting, and we have dates for some 6 people to be baptized. It's pretty exciting! Now just to get our area included in those that are moving along well!

Umm... I'm trying to think of good, succinct stories to tell, but I'm not coming up with much. We really spend a lot of our time walking around, now, plus this week has been full of a thousand meetings. Soooo, that's pretty much been my week! Here are some pictures of our area, though!

I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

Oh yeah, and happy 13 months, today!

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