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Monday, December 29, 2014

Letter from the Mission Office

Dear Brother and Sister Stafford,

Your Elder is doing fine.

 As a result of New Years Eve being on Wednesday, the Mission President has requested that P-Day be changed from Wednesday to Thursday.  Because of that the missionaries won't be able to email their parents until Thursday.  The missionaries will need to be back in their apartments early on Wednesday.  We appreciate the missionaries and their efforts to be obedient to the counsel of the Mission President.  We especially appreciate your support of your missionary.  Have a wonderful New Year.


Sister Hunt

Office Secretary

New York North Mission

700 North Plains Road Ste # 315

Scarsdale, NY  10583

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'm Gonna Be Talking to You Tomorrow!!

Hey mom!! Well, I'm gonna be talking to you tomorrow!!, AHHHHH,!! I'm
so excited! I love talking with you guys! I feel like I'm in a daze
for about an hour afterwards, but other than that, it's always been an
uplifting experience for me :) well, it's crazy that in two days, I'd
be coming home if I was a sister missionary ;) weird!!
But hey, so if it's alright with you, I'd actually like to try and
Skype at like 3 my time, 1 your time. We have Christmas "dinner" at 1
o'clock, so 3 would work a lot better. Let me know!! Thanks love you

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Making Plans for Us to Skype! Woohoo!

Hey mom!! So we have one more P-day before Christmas, but we'd better
figure the whole skyping thing out! So I was just thinking about doing
it like 2 o'clock my time which is like noon over there. Is that
alright? My schedule is pretty darn open so really whenever works for
you, I'll be able to do it. Well, have an awesome week!! Love you to
death!! Well...and further than that of course... :)

...Do The Hand Thing

Hey everyone!! So it's been another wonderful week over here in the
Bronx!! So mom mentioned that it was surprising how quickly I get
comfortable in an area. To be honest, it actually takes me a while to
adjust to the work in each area. I feel comfortable with the people
and my apartment and the ward after about a week when I'm able to
clean and organize the apartment and then have my first Sunday in the
ward. The first Sunday is always super awkward, but by the next
Sunday, you've at least remembered a few people's names and you've
gotten to know a few people. As far as working with investigators and
doing finding, though, it takes me a while to feel comfortable.
Missionary work is just so drastically different in this mission by
just taking a subway up two or three stops! It's insane!

So this week was pretty dang awesome though. Thursday was a pretty
normal weekly planning day. I like to take a long time to weekly plan
so that I can feel organized and we have plans for like every minute
of the day. It doesn't usually take very long if you have a large
teaching pool, but I've kind of come to accept that teaching pools
just don't get very large here...at least in the areas I've served in.
But anyways, so Friday was our missions Christmas Party!!!! Oh my word
it was amazing!! So once a year during Christmas, the whole mission
(all 250 of us) gets together and we have a wonderful devotional
filled with tons of musical numbers and talks and Christmas stories.
We have so much musical talent in our mission it's crazy. Then after
the devotional, we all sit down and have a Christmas meal together put
on by the wards in the area and the senior couples. It was so much
fun! We all send in pictures from the past year and put them together
into a ginormous slideshow and we watch it while we eat....so much fun

Then on Saturday we had the ward Christmas party. I couldn't tell you
how that one was because I hardly got to go haha. So while everyone
was putting the finishing touches on decorations and everyone is
starting to get there, Chris, one of the zone leaders investigators
walks up and I shake his hand and am like, "hey man, how's it going?
How was your day?" And he says, "oh it was...okay. Kind of...strange."
And I go, "oh yeah? Why's that? What happened today?" And he just
looks at me in the eyes and his eyes just tear up and he just starts
bawling. :( it was so sad! So I pull him in and he rests his head on
my should and I pat him on the back. I grab one of the zone leaders,
Elder Delehunty, and whisk him out into the hall for some privacy. He
cries for a couple minutes while we try and comfort him and pat him on
the back and stuff. Then he asks if we can go into a room and talk. So
we do and we end up talking for like 2 hours and 15 minutes!!! He's
kind of a weird guy, so we hardly could understand what all the crying
was about, but we eventually got to talking about baptism and the
gospel. It was one of the more spiritual moments of my mission when I
was able to testify of how we can feel completely clean after baptism,
and then later after taking the sacrament. He was really interested in

Then on Sunday we had a few laughs. So the high counselor for our ward
came to do some stake business, then Brother Johnson, the second
counselor, came up to do some ward business. He's only a convert of
like 3 years, and I mean...he's only been to church in the Bronx, so
he hardly knows what he's doing haha. It's kind of a bad joke in the
mission that the church is slightly less true in the Bronx hahaha. In
the Spanish ward last year, there was a then 15 year old teacher that
had been blessing the sacrament.......for a year. Hahahaha oh wow...
But anyway! So he gets up to do the sustainings, and he didn't really
know how to say "those in favor, please manifest", so was like,
"uh....those who are in favor...um...do the hand thing" hahaha and
then to try and switch it up he said, "aight...an any opposed....just
raise ya hand" haha it was pretty dang funny.

Haha oh and also during church, the lady that said the closing prayer
said the Lords Prayer haha. Only in the Bronx!!

So yeah, that was about my week! So much fun!! I love you all so much.
I hope you have a great week. :) peace yo!

-Elder Stafford

Hey mom!! So we have one more P-day before Christmas, but we'd better
figure the whole skyping thing out! So I was just thinking about doing
it like 2 o'clock my time which is like noon over there. Is that
alright? My schedule is pretty darn open so really whenever works for
you, I'll be able to do it. Well, have an awesome week!! Love you to
death!! Well...and further than that of course... :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week 2 in Da Bronx...Performers and Beggars on the Subway?

Hello everyone!!

Haha so I'm just loving it here in the Bronx. I feel like I'm in a
dream a lot of the time because it is just such a different place than
anything I am used to, but it's great. I'm starting to get used to
being the "odd one out"....we are literally the only white person
you'll see walking around the streets of the South Bronx haha. Our
area is everything in the Bronx west of Grand Concourse and south of
Fordam Rd. if anyone is interested in looking it up on a map. The
people here are great and definitely keep life interesting. I don't
know if I've told you about the performers and beggars on the subway,
yet, but they are some of my favorites. Here in the Bronx there aren't
a lot of performers like paint-bucket drummers or dancers like there
were in Manhattan, but there are a lot of kids who go to BJs (kind of
like Costco) and buy big boxes of fruit snacks and go train to train
selling them. And then there are just a ton of beggars. They all say
like the same thing. They walk onto the train, stand there until the
train starts, and then say, "Hello everybody, sorry to bother you.
Some of you may have seen me before and some of you may have not. My
name is (insert name). I am on my way to a shelter. I am not a drug
addict. I don't drink. And I could use some help. If anyone can spare
any change, whether it be a dollar, a quarter or even a penny, yes,
ONE penny, it would be appreciated. God bless and have a safe day."
Haha I almost have it memorized!! But yeah, so it's really hard
because you want to help them out, but you literally can't. On
average, I probably see 10 of those people a day. If I were to give a
dollar to each of them, that's like $300 dollars a month! I can't
afford that! I don't even get that much money for food and personal
items each month. That and if you do make it a regular thing to help
them, then they start targeting all missionaries because they think
that they have money to give out and that they're all just nice white
boys that are willing to give away money.

So this month the church is putting on an initiative called "He is the
Gift". I don't know if any of you know anything about it, but
basically what it is is a push from the Church to help people remember
that Christ is what Christmas is all about. The Church has literally
dropped millions of dollars on this project. They've spent like 2
million dollars or something crazy like that to rent out a jumbotron
in Time Square with the ad for it on it. They've made a video called
He is the Gift and it is GREAT!! You HAVE to watch it. So yeah,
they've really pushed for missionaries to talk about He is the Gift
and to hand out cards and show the video to everyone. So that's what
we've been doing!!

This Sunday was the 1st Presidency Christmas Devotional, and it was
awesome!! I hope you were all able to see it! It totally put me in the
Christmas Spirit.

This Sunday was also fast and testimony meeting! It
was...disappointing. Haha no just kidding...it was actually really
great, it just wasn't as exciting as I was hoping it was going to be.
I was expecting a bunch of crazy stuff that usually happens, but
everyone said that this was probably the calmest, most spiritual fast
Sunday's in a long while.

Yes I have been able to get rid of most of the cockroaches. We've been
slowly destroying all of their hiding places, but there are still a
couple I see every day. It's getting there, though!

So we only have two investigators, really. They are two brothers that
are like 16 and 11 or so. They are awesome! I haven't really had a
lesson with them and they haven't been coming to church lately, but we
are really pushing to see them this week.

Me and Elder Sorensen are doing great. He is from Las Vegas, NV and is
20 years old like me. He is just a big goof all of the time haha. He's
still pretty weird sometimes, but we get along just fine. We joke
around a lot and have been able to talk about a lot of things, which
is really nice. He'd been in the Bronx for 6 weeks before I got here,
but he actually started his mission out in the other side of the Bronx
in the Olmstead zone. He was there for 4 1/2 months I think. He's been
on his mission for exactly a year! He hit his year mark last Thursday.

Well, sorry if those answers to your questions seemed rushed, but they
were haha. I've gotta get going but I love you all so much! Have an
awesome week. Merry Christmas :)

-Elder Stafford

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Happy Late Thanksgiving!!

Hello everyone!!! And Happy late Thanksgiving!!

So my Thanksgiving was actually very interesting. As most of you know, I've been transferred to the Bronx to be with Elder Sorensen. For those of you that don't know, the Bronx is definitely the "ghetto" of New York City. Everywhere else like Harlem, Queens, Brooklyn, Washington Heights, etc definitely has their really poor, almost sketchy areas, with most of it being "not bad". The Bronx is kind of the opposite haha. Most of the Bronx is extremely poor and pretty ghetto, with the exception of a few nice areas, which are mostly Jewish neighborhoods. It's safe to say that me and the rest of the white people here in the Bronx make up about 1-2% of the population. We can literally play "spot the white person" and lose some days haha. But it's actually not bad. Being here for a week, I've never felt threatened or scared at all. We run into a lot of "scary" people...but they are actually the funniest to talk to haha. In fact, most of the "gangstas" are actually some of the most polite people you'll meet in the Bronx. They are usually pretty respectful to us. I live literally across the street from Yankee Stadium, so this area is pretty mild, but once you start making your way any further, you'll start hitting the pretty scary parts of town.
This week, I've actually only gone out proselyting for about 4-5 hours. As many of you know, I have officially taken after mom and become an absolute psycho (no offense mom) about having a clean house/apartment. Well, you can only guess the look on my face when I walk into the apartment and it looked the way it did. I mean, it wasn't bad, and the floors were kind of swept and cleaned and there wasn't garbage or junk laying everywhere...but it definitely wasn't "Elder Stafford approved" as an elder I lived with said once haha. That night, I actually had one of the worst nights sleep I've had in a while. I woke up about 10 times because I was worried that there was going to be a cockroach crawling on me....that's right...we have cockroaches. So the next day (Thanksgiving) we didn't have any set appointments except for dinner with the bishop and his family, so we stayed home and we CLEANED. I spent the whole day deep cleaning and throwing stuff away in our room and putting cockroach poison all over our room so that I could sleep well that night. Once we sufficiently got our bedroom to the point where I was never going to see a cockroach in there again, we left for dinner with the Fergusons. Brother Furguson is the bishop in our Ward, and he hd his wife had us all over (all 10 of us...yep, we have 5 sets of missionaries in our Ward...not including a senior couple). It was the......"blackest" thanksgiving I think I'll ever have for the rest of my life hahaha. It was so much fun!! We were all in this tiny little apartment scrunched together and they had the Thanksgiving football game on and wouldn't turn it off haha, this family was running in and out of the tiny kitchen yelling at each other, and we had a bunch of Southern food like candied yams and cornbread stuffing and everything else haha. It was actually so delicious!! And Sister Ferguson...oh my gosh she is so crazy. She is officially the sassiest black woman I've ever met in my life haha. After dinner we just talked and talk until we had to go home...definitely an experience.
The next day we stayed home and I cleaned some of the hallways and some of the kitchen (the worst part...there are like 3 separate "nests" that the cockroaches come from. One inside the dishwasher, one behind the oven, and we think one underneath all of the drawers and cabinets and such. It's disgusting and smells so bad. I will never forget the smell of cockroach poop for the rest of my life... Then we actually went out and saw this man named John who we are going to go see again tonight. He is a member but could use some help, so we go over and see him a couple times a week or so. He's great! Then we had dinner at the Johnson's house, who is the second counselor in the bishopric for ANOTHER thanksgiving dinner. This one was a lot more calm and "home-y" feeling. They have an apartment, but it's more of a house. They were a lot more calm and we sang a couple Thanksgiving hymns and then had a terrific turkey dinner and everything...it was great! The next day...I got sick. I think I've gotten at least a little sick every time I've been transferred. Weird! So we stayed in and we did a little more cleaning. 
The next day we had church which was fun! Next week is fast Sunday and that's what I'm looking forward to. The Kingsbridge 2nd Ward is famous for its fast and testimony meetings because there just always seems to be something crazy that happens or is said.
Then these last couple days, Elder Sorenson got what I had except way worse, so we've stayed inside and I've had my fill of cleaning. Our apartment actually looks really nice now. I wish I would have take before and after pictures. The only thing we have left is to instigate the roach holocaust. We're going to buy a couple cans of Raid today and we are just going to go to town killing all those cockroaches so this place can finally feel like home.

It's funny...sometimes I think I get called to areas just so I can turn the apartment around haha and who knows...maybe that's what God really needed from me! You never know!

Well, I hope everyone has a terrific week! I love you all so much. Stay safe and enjoy this Christmas Season!!! Woooo!! :)

Picture: me with my Raid