First of all I'd like to thank everyone for the plethora of emails this week. It feels so good to be reminded that I have a family and friends that support me, especially at times when I feel I am alone like Moroni was at the end of the Book of Mormon. You all rock.
After saying goodbye to all the awesome friends I've made in the MTC, I began my journey to Syracuse, NY. I was the only one going to NY, I guess they didn't schedule me on the flight to Syracuse the day after, when the other MTC missionaries were travelling there. Needless to say, that was a good missionary opportunity for me. I had a good intelligent conversation with a man on the plane about religion. Who knows what he did with the Mormon.org card I gave him, but he was very friendly.
Flying into Syracuse I was amazed at how colorful the trees were. It's easy to tell here that it's autumn. It smells like maple and looks like a giant pumpkin patch. I spend the first night in the mission home with two other sisters. President Wirthlin and I interviewed for a couple hours and he fed me a mean burger. He is probably the coolest Apostle's son I've ever met.
Currently I am in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Not the City, in the Capital. My sphere of proselyting space is Downtown Albany NY. My companion's name is Elder Menlove. He is from Chandler, AZ and is 3 years older than me. This is his last transfer before he goes home. Even though he has so little time left, he is very obedient. I am surprised. He's a really good guy and we get along well.
The city of Albany is very old looking. The buildings and houses all look like George Washington once lived in them. There are many poor areas (ghettos) and plenty of college student who attend the local university. We don't do very much tracting here, but we do a lot of street contacting.
We are teaching 5 investigators right now. Christian and Maritza are married with two children. They are both from Peru but are here for school, where Christian learned English. I tried speaking Portuguese to them, but they don't understand, so Christian translates to Maritza for us. They both have a set baptismal date and are coming to church regularly and reading the Book of Mormon. Jeff is a recent convert from Santiago, Dominican Republic (Garth), but he is active in our Branch. He is the coolest because he understands Portuguese, but my favorite thing about him is that he has two turtle doves in a cage. He won't let me pet them yet. Nate, another investigator, is struggling with his life right now because of poor choices he's made in his past, but we've taught him that we've seen incredible changes in people through the atonement. I showed him a "I am a Mormon" video of someone who I felt related to him. He was amazed. He said it was just what he needed, and wondered if I memorized things like that to pull out for investigators in the MTC. I said no. I gave myself a pat on the back for following the Holy Ghost in that lesson. He is starting to come to church. We met a young adult named Justin just this week who wanted to start seeing us, because we played basketball with him. He is dating a girl in our Branch and she wants him to get baptized. We taught him about how to pray and the full restoration story. I gave him a Book of Mormon and bore my testimony of it. He said he felt good about the lesson, and that he would like to learn more about the pre-earth life, which is exactly what the second lesson is. He came to church, loved it, and is reading the Book of Mormon. God has prepared him to recieve the restored gospel! It's incredible to be a missionary. I cannot describe what it's like... just absolutely incredible.
We had a Baptism on Saturday! Her name is Amani Edwards. She is a student from Atlanta. The missionaries met her at a bus stop, and later began teaching her. She has a strong testimony, you can really see how the gospel has changed her life.
We are serving in a branch that is growing SO fast. So fast that a chapel was built here just 3 months ago. It still looks and smells brand new, and you don't have to turn the lights on when you walk in a room. They installed the clapper. I'll send you a picture of the old meetinghouse.
I'm not quite sure when my visa will get here. It could be here anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, since we can't leave in the middle of a transfer. My first transfer just began today, so I will if I got my visa in 5 weeks. There are a couple visa waiters who have been here for 5 months! Yet they still keep such a positive attitude. Don't worry, I am still studying a lot of Portuguese! I get an hour every day to read O Livro de Mormon aloud and do some other excercises. President Withlin is so good to me. :)
I have no time left, but I love you all and I will write more next week. Please don't be offended if I haven't responded personally to your letters or emails yet. I will in due time. I have a lot less time here, it can be stressful. I will write you all hand written letters in due time. Just give me your addresses if you know I don't know them. I know this gospel is true! Missionary work is the work of the lord! I feel him at my side every day!
P.S. I'm still really skinny.
P.S.S. Pictures don't work on this computer so I'll try to send some next week!