I seriously don't even know what just happened. It's like a tornado swept through NY between my last letter and now. I guess I'll just start off with all the miracles and then move into our experience with the General Authorities. This will be a long'un so get excitedddd!
So there's a guy in the branch and he's an INCREDIBLE cook. Like Alton Brown, Peruvian style. I had kind of been hinting that he should feed us dinner for quite some time now, and his cousin is here from Spain so there's another woman in the house so it was legal! So we go over and his cousin only speaks Spanish but we ended up teaching her (in Spanish, that's how good I'm getting guys..haha), gave her a Spanish Book of Mormon (yes we are that prepared) and on Friday we set a baptismal date with her! So sick.
Tuesday and Wednesday were awesome I'm sure, but honestly I don't really remember what happened on those days.
THURSDAY. Oh my Panda Express it was such a miracle day. So the morning was normal (for this week), I woke up unable to breathe from my ear infection and other sickness whatever they are, and attempted working out, studying, etc. eventually gave up and tried to sleep. It's weird how disobedient you feel when you're sick. You feel like because you didn't study the full 4 hours nothing good can happen that day because you're disobedient. Haha, not true I guess! I wouldn't recommend it though. Anyways our zone cleaned the church because the General Authorities were coming the next day and all the churches in NYC are filthy, just like the rest of NYC. We spent 4 hours, some of the elders were polishing the basketball hoops, just so you get the idea. I sprayed air freshener all over the chapel so if we all got high at the meeting it was my fault sorry not sorry. That place smelled like a divine apple orchard if you ask me. Anyway it was fun cleaning with like 20 missionaries, and people said that's the cleanest they'd ever seen the church. Only the best for the Lords representatives!
They we went and took a member to do manicures with us at this place, seriously everyone here does nails there are salons on every corner and manis are $5 and they give you a back massage too which is awesome, but now we're getting derailed. So we're talking to the member who moved here 3 weeks ago and she's like, so stinkin cool. Well turns out she was inactive before coming here and we drug her to institute one night and she made a ton of friends there and now she loves coming to church! I never would have guessed haha. I asked her if she prays and she said that lately she had been and she just started bawling right there and told us everything has changed and now she WANTS to be a member and she loves coming to church! Well that was cool so we asked her to come do a lookup with us.
We go to that family from Elko and no one answered so we were like "dang, guess we'll go home" but as we were walking away the door opened (best 2 years status right there) and this new girl let us in! We hadn't met her when we came the first time. We got to know her and her sister (the one we had originally planned to visit) and it was super chill! They asked of we could stay and we said we could stay till 9:30 but only if we had a lesson. They agreed so we shared the "choose this day" mormon message by President Eyring. We bore our testimonies about God's love and it somehow turned into individual worth and the girl started crying! It was an emotional day haha. She had been inactive for like 10 years but she said she wanted to come back to church. Well she came to the right people haha. And on the way home we almost got in an accident and probably should have died but we didn't so that was another miracle.
So our mission was one of the first to get the iPads. They turned us loose with hardly any restrictions and told us to figure it out (this was 6 months before I got here). That was the "test" phase. We graduated to the "trial" phase!! Now, instead of not knowing what the heck we are doing, we get to be trained on how to be effective on Facebook and mormon.org, family history, areabook (the app, not the book haha I've never had a planner like other missionaries, it's all on the app), and everything else!! But not just effective as missionaries...they are training us how to be effective with technology and social media in general, as people, so we can do so for the rest of our lives. No more days of wasting hours on the newsfeed comparing yourself to everyone else's "best side." The Lord has better purposes for technology and he wants us to be the masters, not the servants of it. The training we received was not on the iPads. It was on becoming disciples of Christ in this age. The gospel is the pearl of great price and we display it in a beautiful box (the iPad) but sometimes we start admiring the box we forget WHY we have it! The gospel is much more important than the way in which we share it. There were SO MANY things said, but because mostly family members will read this I will try and write things that will be beneficial in helping families use technology safely and wisely.
When Elder Evans got up he held up a pen and said "these devices should be no more distracting than this pen. They are both simply tools to help us further the Lord's work." Well I can guarantee I couldn't set my phone on the desk for 10 minutes without at least THINKING about checking it or something dumb like that before my mission. We are so attached to these touch screens which, incidentally, make us lose touch with the world around us. Whenever we get on technology we should have a purpose. If we don't have a purpose, we are wasting our time. And that's they way they designed it to be! Have you every seen the round red badge on an app telling you of a notification, you click on it, and somebody commented on a post you commented on that you probably don't care about anymore but you click on it anyway and then you go to someone's profile who also commented and you see something on their wall and suddenly it's been 20 minutes before you look up from the wedding pictures you were creepin on of your best friend's roommate's sister? Congratulations, you just wasted a half hour of your life. One of the great uses of Facebook will be to prove in the last days that lack of prayer was not because of lack of time. Anything that diverts you from your path to follow Christ is bad, even if it is a good thing. There are a lot of "good" things in this life, but if they keep us from eternal life with God...I think they can go stuff themselves.
They talked a bit about things that are "wrong" about technology, and one of them is our behavior when we use it. We ignore others, and often use it is an escape mechanism from feelings of anger, boredom, anxiety, or (let's be real) awkward situations. We program ourselves to pull out our phones when we are at certain places or when we do certain things. As missionaries we are going off Facebook so we can reprogram our minds and our escape mechanisms. We shouldn't be using tools as escapes. Just like the Liahona, our tools will stop working *correctly* if we use them incorrectly.
Another problem is with pornography and other forms of inappropriate entertainment. When we isolate ourselves from our companion (or family, or spouse) we are crawling to a dark corner with Satan. Visible screens bring trust and keep us safe. I can think of nothing more unsettling than the "brightness" setting, which allows us to darken our screens so no one can see what we are doing. Like Ma always said "the devil works in the dark." Even though we are probably all guilty of doing things we shouldn't have, whether it be simply wasting time or a more serious sin, I know that we can "restart" and that second chance comes from repentance. Personally, I don't want to use these principals just as a missionary. I feel like that's putting a time limit on my righteousness. When we decide to repent it must be forever. We cannot be truly faithful if we are not first clean. It is not as often as we sin that we are forgiven, but as often as we repent.
So here are some guidelines that have been given to us (hallelujah) to help us be more effective in our technology that (I believe) apply to all who desire to become true disciples of Christ in this digital age.
Safeguard 1: be in tune with spiritual promptings. President Packer said that "no member of this church will ever make a serious mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Holy Ghost." We are so blessed to have this protection.
Safeguard 2: be focused on your purpose. Whether you are a missionary or a mom or dad or teen, have a purpose in using technology. This helps avoid wasting time and helps us use technology effectively.
Safeguard 3: be disciplined. Handheld devices should be our servants, not our masters.
Safeguard 4: be one. "I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine." Whether you take this to be one as husband and wife or as a family, make sure everyone knows the rules and agrees to be open with how technology should be used in your family unit.
What to do if you feel susceptible:
1. Be aware and acknowledge thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Understand how they can make you more vulnerable to using technology.
2. Choose to act. Respond in righteous, productive ways to what you are feeling.
3. Learn and improve. Use your experiences to continue learning and improving for the future.
Learning to use technology may mean changing former habits, and doing so is a lot more difficult than saying you will do so. It's important to remember the Savior's atonement and to rely on Him as we live the safeguards and continue to change.
Some thoughts I had about how I want to use technology when I have a family (the kids are gonna hate me):
-no devices allowed in rooms because all evil happens in isolation. You wouldn't pull up certain images on the big screen for the family to view together, but you would view them in your room when you're alone. All screens facing where everyone can see them. As missionaries we always have to be able to see our companions screen, and although this is a bit unrealistic in real life, you can make adjustments to fit your situation.
-along with no devices in the rooms I was talking to President and he said that he has a "charging station" where everything electronic goes after 9pm. It reminded me of when I went to prom with Hubs and he said something to the effect that "the Holy Ghost goes to bed after midnight." I know if I was a teenager I would put up a fight on this one, but I know the same principal applies.
-everyone knows everyone's passwords. My kids will have mine so there is trust on both ends. The only time people have a problem with this is when they have something to hide.
-we don't delete history, we review it. Together. (#awk if Ma and Pa did this I would have died and cried and everything else 12-year-olds do, but I would have been fine!)
-lastly, there will be filters. Not the annoying ones that won't even let you go to YouTube, but filters so that you will only see inappropriate things if you go looking for them. You can set things like YouTube to only show PG-13 or better if you go to "settings" at the bottom of their website. However, all filters can be broken through. The only true "filter" is the heart and mind of the person. I know that if we have a personal testimony of Christ and His atonement we will never get into trouble with technology. We will be protected from the adversary because we know that "this is life eternal: to know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent."
The only way to truly fortify ourselves against the adversary is to gain a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel. We do this by reading the scriptures and the words of the prophets and asking God to give us that witness. I know He will. I am grateful for my testimony of the doctrine of Christ and for the opportunity to be serving during this most remarkable era in the history of the church..."the hastening of His work." I will always be faithful to what I know is true.
Love you all & thank you for your constant support!
1. Gettin some Taco Bell after our finding activity fail...we are the only ones who showed up haha.
2. On exchanges with Sister Paublo! I love her.
3. Some subway action
4. Our new handbooks! (Note they still say draft...we are so exclusive here in the NYNYSM...)