This week has been so awesome!! So as most of you might know, I was
transferred to the West Point Military Academy Branch to be a zone
leader of the Newburgh Zone.
So as far as companions go, I'm with Elder Neuerburg (new-er-berg) now
and he is great!! We get along swimmingly. It's kind of funny because
his name is Caden, so people look at us funny when they ask what our
real names are (which happens a lot here) haha. At a dinner
appointment last night, they had a son that was also named Caden, so
we had a Cade, a Caden, and a Caden all in one house.....you can
imagine how crazy that got ;) haha jk. Elder Neuerburg is super quiet
and doesn't say a whole lot. It's kind of funny because his whole
mission almost his first words to a lot of his companions have been,
"so I just want to tell you now that just because I'm not talking or I
seem quiet, it doesn't mean that I'm mad". Haha he's just got one of
those faces, too, where you look at them when they're just sitting
there and they look super ticked, so the poor guy is always getting
told to smile more and not look so mad...but it's just his face!!
So now about West Point. West Point is absolutely the most interesting
place in the country to serve haha. It's also by far the coolest! So
as you can probably guess, being a military installation, that things
are pretty darn strict as far as rules go here. The rule that effects
us the most is an EXTREMELY strict "no solicitation" rule. As regular
missionaries, we are pretty much soliciting like 100% of the time so
that we can get the good news out...but that doesn't fly here....at
all. We can't even wear our name tags...like at all. I've only worn my
name tag once on post so far, and that was to go to church, where it's
kind of "our turf" for a little while. We meet in an auditorium in
some building on post for sacrament, and then split up into different
classrooms for the rest of the classes. Other than that, we either
just go in our shirt and tie, or we are wearing our jeans. The only
real reason they even let us on post, as missionaries, is if we are
seeing a member of the branch. And even then we have to have a
predetermined, set appointment with them with a specific start time
and end time. Missionaries have almost gotten kicked out of West Point
for good because they tried to look up a couple less active members
that live on post without an appointment...and they didn't like that.
It's really easy for people that don't want to see the missionaries to
hide behind the no solicitation rule, so it's super important to talk
with the members a TON and get them to reach out to less active
members. We try and see a few of the cadets in the library at least a
few times a week, just to check up on them and to see if they've had
any luck trying to share the gospel with their friends.
But anyways, so luckily for us, though, there are a lot of
opportunities to be on post where we can go "undercover", or just
merely as "civilians", as people in the military here refer to
non-military people. Basically the only way to meet new people here is
to just be involved in as many things as possible, as not
missionaries. So lucky for us, we are on two basketball teams that
play in a league during lunch and the evening. Like twice or three
times a week we have actual games where our team meets in the gym at
West Point and we put on jerseys and play against another team. It's
pretty dang cool. We've met a lot of people so far that way!! Not very
many that we've been able to even mention what we do as missionaries
for our church, but people at least know who we are! Besides
basketball, were trying to get involved in as much service as we can.
We are going to start coming early to basketball and we're just going
to sweep and mop the gym floor for everyone playing basketball.
So yeah, that's basically the bulk of our work while we're on post. We
just have to be super careful all the time because technically were
only supposed to be on post to see members, so when we aren't seeing a
member, we have to act like regular civilians coming to help out or
participate in activities. The only way we can share the gospel is
just being super friendly and starting conversation with everyone,
and then after you tell them who you are and that you are missionaries
for your church, trying to get them to ask more questions, because as
soon as they start asking you what you do and stuff, it's free game to
invite them to meet with you and stuff. It's just very strange. Our
branch president summed it up best when he told us that "West Point is
basically the Army's farm for people with type "A" personalities...so
we just have to be careful" hahaha.
As far as my week went,
Thursday we planned...all day, and then played basketball. It's been
so cool to have the responsibility of zone leader, now. It was so cool
because from my first day, I've just noticed such a change in
revelation that I've had that affect our zone. We had a lot of "wow
I've never even thought of doing that" moments together...and I know
it's because the Lord is helping us.
Friday we had a leadership meeting with our district leaders and
sister training leaders, and a couple district leader interviews.
Saturday we had three lessons! One with our investigator Suzie. Suzie
has been investigating the church for a really really long time, and
she progresses SO slowly. We don't drop her, though, because she is
progressing. I guess when she started investigating, she didn't even
believe in God. But now she has a firm testimony of God, and she
almost has a testimony about Christ. She wants to learn mostly out of
the Bible, but she is okay reading the Book of Mormon every once in
awhile. Then we taught two cadets in the Library. After that we went
to a bowling party with our branch haha. It was on post, so we didn't
have tags, we weren't wearing our shirts and ties, and we were in a
loud bowling alley listening to music and bowling. It was weird. Haha
but it was really good! We had FOUR non-members come! Three of the
guys were from basketball!! And the other was actually the daughter of
Suzie, our investigator.
Sunday was church and two dinners. Yup... We had dinner with the Lotzs
(the senior couple) and then dinner with a member. I'm going to get so
fat being here.
Monday was district meeting and basketball.
Tuesday was basketball, and then we escorted a missionary in our zone
down to the mission home to meet the elder he is training. He got
super sick in the MTC so they quarantined him there until he got
better, so he didn't come in until last night. And then we had dinner
with a member.
So yeah, that's basically my life!! It's AWESOME. I'm thinking about
asking President Morgan if I can just die here (which means end my
mission here). I would love to be here for the next 6 months. I love
Well, I'd better get going, but I hope you all have a good week! I love you!! :)
-Elder Stafford :)