I am officially in New York, currently in the Brooklyn Public Library writing this email! All my flights went smoothly and I arrived safely! Once we arrived The Assistants to the President and President and Sister Calderwood greeted us. They are all really cool people and made us feel very welcomed. They drove us straight to an apartment building and took us too the 9th floor then to the roof where we could look out over our entire mission. I had a lot of spiritual impressions thinking of the people I will be serving here. I felt God's strong love for them and wanted to help them understand the true nature of God and the Savior. It was truly a beautiful sight. We had an awesome view of Manhattan and all of Queens and Brooklyn. I also met with President Calderwood briefly and we discussed why I wanted to be here and such and just to get to know me. We stayed the night in the mission home that night and had a quick fireside (they had me play my violin too). I was getting very anxious to know where I would serve and who my trainer would be.
So the next morning we were taken to the mission office and we had a quick orientation and then we met our trainers and found out where our assignment to serve was! My companion is Elder McDonald. He has been here for 5 months and is a really cool guy. We seem to get along very well and he works very hard. He is doing a great job training me. This transfer, I am serving in Bushwick in Brooklyn. My companion and I focus on an area called Williamsburg. It is a litte ghettoish but I love it! There are buildings everywhere and people too! I love the subways and other public transportation. We use the subways a lot. They are so efficient! The area is quite filthy. Trash is everywhere. My apartment is pretty nice. Really small however. Its about the length of the living room/piano room in my house back home and the width cut in half. Its really long and skinny, but its perfect for what we need.
The weather is fun. Its like super cold every other day and its been rainy all week. When it rains its like a mist- this constant wave of mist just hitting you. It is very humid too! I am used to putting my clothes in the drier and putting the temperature on low and having all my stuff dry in like 10 minutes. Here, if you dont crank the temperature up to high and leave it in for atleast 20min, it wont dry. Nothing dries haha. We do our laundry at a laundromat a block a way.
Anyway, tracting is basically all we do here. We walk the streets and ring all the buzzers at every apartment building and hope that someone will let us is. Most people reject us. My very first door that I knocked on on my first day, this really tall hairy man with some short shorts opens the door, looks at us, and says "I am a satanist" and slammed the door in my face! It was actually pretty comical! Another lady started walking down the stairs and screamed "There are some guys in white shirts and ties. I don't know them!' and ran back up to her apartment haha! Having the door slammed is something that I am already getting used to, but no big deal. President Calderwood said something very profound that helped me deal with these rejections. He said that these people are not rejecting me. They don't even know who I am. They aren't rejecting me, they are rejecting the Savior. The past few days have been a little rough for me thinking about this. I want to share the message that we have because I know that it can bring peace abnd happiness in the lives of the people here! They need it! Some people say they are Christian have very strong relationships with God. They just don't understand that these relationships people say they have can be so much better if they would simply here our message. It has made me really sad to see these people reject the Savior. I so desperately want to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with these people.
I have seen the spirit work through me in many ways that I have never before seen. It prompts me to say what a specific person needs to hear. It bears testimony of Savior when I bear my testimony to other people (this is what is so hard because there are times where I know the person at the door is feeling the spirit, yet they still reject you). In planning sessions I have come to understand our investigators who I haven't even met yet! It is incredible and I am so thankful for these blessings I am receiving, and that the Lord trusts me enough to allow me to have these promptings. My hour of personal studya nd my 2 hours of companionshop study are the key to success everday. As I prepare myself spiritually, I am able to overcome my personal weaknesses and most importantly, receive revelation for those I teach. Study the scriptures!
We have a few people we are teaching, but arranging times to meet is difficult because everyone here is super busy! I have only taught in two lessons so far, but we are hoping to find some new investigators tonight and throughout the weeks. One of our Recent Converts, Floretta, just got her temple recommend and wants my companion and I to go with her! I wasn't one of the missionaries that taught her but I still get to go to the temple. I'm really lucky. That will probably happen later this week.
I have used my violin a lot out here! My first two days, my district and I went caroling on a street corner and they sang while I played my violin. It was pretty successful. There was few people that stopped and clapped (that is really rare for people out here). The next time we went was with our whole zone and we sang in the subway cars and I played my violin again too. This time it was tricky because of bumpy ride on the subway, but I manage to keep my violin in one piece. This time was also very successful. They went again with out my companion and I and they said it was lame because nobody really listened haha. They missed the violin. We do basically everything we can to get the public familiar with us missionaries and what we do everyday.
Last Saturday I had the chance to do some Hurricane Sandy clean up. We cleaned out a hoarders house. It took all day long. This was out in Broadchannel. This area was hit hard and was a mess. The people here were very nice to all of us because the missionaries have been down there for 5 weeks straight working. We were fed and taken care of by the neighbors. It was hard to see the destruction of the hurricane. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but the clean up is basically over.
Serving in this area is really tough and exhausting, but I love it. I am looking forward to what this next week has instore for me! I hope I covered everything I wanted to in this email!
My address currently is:This address will be good for about 6 weeks
Elder Jonathan Hooper
243 Harman St. Apt. 3L
Brooklyn, NY 11237
This address is the mission office and what ever mail is sent here will be forwarded to me (send any packages here):
Elder Jonathan Hooper
85 - 69 60th Dr.
Elmhurst, NY 11373-5547
I hope to hear from you all soon. Mail is so uplifting and the end of a really tough day!
Talk to you next week.