Monday, July 16, 2018

Good Morning!


Well, it is still morning for you, for me it's afternoon now, but only just barely. H. Miller and I just finished grocery shopping where I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Uptown Girl by Billy Joel on the store radio. :)  

It's July over here... it's hot. But that's okay. I am getting ever so slightly tanner from spending my days out in the sun. However the sun can only tan what skin is showing and seeing as I am a missionary, basically only my arms are getting darker. I just inspected my arms. The right one still has some marks from the bed bug bites and the left has a scar from Oscar. Make that the right AND left arms-- I have marks from him on both, the right one just happens to be more prominent. Dumb dog. (Sorry, I know you love him).

I am not the designated driver anymore! I have taken on the new role of designated navigator, which you would think would be easy, but even though I know the area, l have led us astray more than once. Perhaps I am just directionally challenged in general? T'was a shock for both of us when we found out. I am taking it as a sign that I will be leaving after this transfer and they want H. Miller to get to know the area faster.  

Speaking of H. Miller, let me tell you a little about her. She is from Idaho (a town of only 75 people), is a music education major (she wants to teach middle school band), and has been in the mission for almost 6 months. We are friends. :) 

I am forced to speak a lot more Spanish now. While I was technically the senior companion with H. Byron, her Spanish was better than mine (perks of already being fluent in French as well), so now that I am with H. Miller I actually feel like the older one.

I have had a couple cool experiences teaching in Spanish this week. Its just cool to realize I can do it, ya know? I can understand people, and they can understand me. 

Transfers on Tuesday were a lot of fun! There were a TON of people there and it was great to catch up a little. :) Also I knew one of the new missionaries coming in! He was in my same district in the CCM a year ago, but went home after the first week. It was great to see him again! I am so glad he is here! 

Wednesday H. Miller and I served at Ellis Island (we are scheduled for like a million times this transfer! Okay, not really. But I have never gone more than twice a transfer, usually just once, and they have us going four times.). As we were driving back, my navigation skills proved to be a less than adequate and amidst much confusion we ended up on the side of the fork destined for the Washington Bridge into NYC (!!!). Luckily, we were just barely past the fork and H. Miller was able to pull over to shoulder before we reached the point of no return, i.e. the toll booth. After quickly assessing the situation, I hopped out of the car and proceeded to back my companion down the shoulder of the road until she could turn the car to the other side of the fork. 

There was a baptism yesterday. A woman both the Elders and I taught. Just a super sweet little old lady from Trinidad. We got to help J------ in and out of the font. After, when we were helping her change out of her wet clothes, she was so happy! She literally started dancing and singing a song about Jesus, while completely in the nude. H. Miller seemed a little uncomfortable by the whole thing, but it didn't faze J------ at all! I love her. ❤ 

Love you!

Hermana Croft

Monday, July 9, 2018

Transfer news


¡Buenos días! 
Transfer news:
I am staying in New City, my new companion will be Hermana Miller. And I can't tell you anything else about her, because I have never met her. Report to come next week. 

H. Byron, mi amor, is leaving New York and moving for the first time in her mission. She is off to Elizabeth, NJ. Hermana Byron has spend 6 transfers here in New City, half of her mission. She is not nervous to leave though. She is the most chill person I know. 
She has taught me the art of being chill. ;) Actually, not really. But I have gotten better about not freaking out about things while being with her. I'm going to miss her. I'm nervous for H. Miller to come. I think she is going to push me. But there is no growth in the comfort zone, right? 

Sister Hess (President Hess' wife) asks me every time I see her if I have done a musical number in the ward yet. Hasn't happened so far, but H. Miller plays the piano, so we will see about this next transfer.

I love the picture of Elle {Hampton} and Taylor {Fawcett} from Elle's homecoming! My heart swells with love when I think about all my wardie boys! I don't know if they are aware I hold them very dear to my heart or not, because I'm not sure if I ever really expressed it, but I love them all. **

❤❤❤❤❤

-Me 






----------------------

**Julianne had a huge group of kids her age who all graduated the same year, most of them boys...this isn't even all of them. But every single kid in this picture, including the girls, are all on missions or are just starting to return (minus one girl who got married). Which means they've all gone through the temple. They were all pretty good friends and as Julianne mentioned above, she's looked up to them and always held a special place in her heart for her wardies. 
Serving all across the globe: Argentina, Peru, Ohio, New York, Canada, Slovenia, Brazil, Tawian, Arizona, Australia, France, New Jersey and California.



Monday, July 2, 2018

Happy Fourth of July!


Hello!

I am currently laying on the couch of a potential investigator while she sews a weave into H. Byron's head. She is the nicest Jamaican woman! Super busy and hardworking, but still offered to help H. Byron out for free and made us a Jamaican breakfast of Festival (a fried dough, similar to scones) and BBQ fish. It was delicious! 

Transfer call are this next Sunday, and from everything President has been saying, H. Byron will most likely be moved and I will stay here. Because of this, she decided she'd better get a weave again because who knows if her new area will have people who know how to apply them or not (namely, Africans, Haitians, Jamaicans, or Dominicans). 

The 38 new missionaries from the New York, New York North Mission are now officially a part of the New Jersey Morristown Mission. Their normal transfers fell this last week, so they just get an extra week before transfers with their new mission. I think it is going to be a big transfer. From all President's emails, it sounds like he really wants to integrate the new missionaries into the NJMM as much as possible.

Fun fact: the NJMM in one of only two missions currently authorized to use Instagram as a proselyting medium. Because of how innovative we have been with Facebook, the church wants us to see if Instagram would be effective as well. Right now only the mission leaders have it (Zone Leaders and STLs), but if it goes well, everyone in the mission will have the choice to download it or not. I probably won't use it because I've never been the biggest fan of social media.

Things that happened this week:

*J---- became the newest member of the New City Ward! She was confirmed on Sunday and now, we are working on going to the temple. She is super excited! Here is a quote from her this week when we were discussing another investigator who was asking for proof: "Donde está la evidencia? Soy yo. El Evangelio restaurado restauró mi vida." Such a gem. 

*A bird had excellent aim, and pooped directly on the center of my head whilst out proselyting

*I can now say I was "discovered" by a producer in New York. On Wednesday we were walking around putting up English class flyers. Nobody was really outside because it was raining, so we were singing as we went. Apparently G----- heard a couple bars of our rendition of Whitney Houston's "I look to you" as we passed by his shop, because before we had gotten too far, he was out in the rain shouting for us to come back. I turned down the offer to record an album of gospel music, but left him with a card. :)

*I realized I'm a missionary, and that's pretty cool. This realization hit me while standing in the living room of a stranger who had just let us in to teach his family. I was talking to people I had never met before, testifying of Jesus Christ, in Spanish. 

I know this is the definition of a missionary, and I do this everyday, but sometimes it just hits me, you know? I have talked about serving a mission for years, and now I'm here. This is my life. 

Happy Fourth of July!

XOXO
- Hermana Croft


 Visiting C-----. She is one of the wisest women I know. I have learned a lot from her 

 Jamaican breakfast

 I saw this sign and it made me think of you, Mommy ❤

 Wednesday morning year mark selfie

 After singing in the rain Wednesday evening 

Blindfolded selfies from an activity during district meeting

When I accidentally locked us out of our apartment. The elders had just driven away in our car, with the keys (their car was in the shop). We thought the balcony door might be unlocked. It wasn't. The elders came back. 

Salvation Army




Monday, June 25, 2018

A baptism right in time for my one year mark!


Hey Mommy!
I am currently emailing you while eating fried plantains that H. Byron just made. She knows how to make really good Haitian food. 

Responses to your email:
*About that picture of Lady Liberty's old torch...we actually had to wait for a tour to pass before we could take that picture by the abandoned buildings at Ellis Island. The "hard hat" tours, as they call them, look really cool! Apparently a couple sister missionaries have actually been able to go on them for free during slow days in the family search center! 

*The Utah Arts Festival sounds amazing!!!! Do they put it on every year? Because this sounds like something I definitely want to see. I'm sure I would spend many blissful hours there getting lost in the culture of it all. 

*The ward walk-about sounds like a lovely time. I like the concept of it all. And I like that you and dad went out together to socialize. I love the people of the Willow Brook Ward!

*Did you ever do that Sunday night BBQ? H. Byron and I spent our Sunday evening contacting people on the street in Haverstraw NY. It's a cute little town right on the edge of the Hudson. We are probably going to be spending a lot more time there in the future. But more on that later...

*Brandon is quite the adventurous young man! It makes me want to go on road trips with friends and sleep in hammocks up in the trees. As of this week however, I have been spending my nights on the couch. But more on that later...

My week:

J---- got baptized! Wahoo! I'll tell you what though, yesterday was one of the most stressful Sundays I have had in a long time. So many things to think about. So many things to do! 

You start out the morning running around making sure everything is okay with the font, printing out the programs in both English and Spanish, helping the members bring in food for the potluck afterwards, setting up chairs and tables, etc. But you also want to be there for your investigators. Not only the one getting baptized, but all the others you invited as well to watch the baptism. Only once the meeting is actually about to begin and you have a moment to spare you can't even sit by them to explain what's going on because the Elder who usually translates isn't feeling well and you end up sitting on the stand to translate the meeting. And then when the actual baptism starts the children of the ward start running around and causing turmoil and you begin to wonder if the Spirit will even be present and able to testify through all this commotion. 

When surprisingly, they suddenly all heed your whispered pleas to settle down and fix their little eyes towards the front. And you realize the moment you have been anticipating for a year has finally come. Your investigator is in the water about to be baptized. And you can't see a thing! #problemsofbeingfivefeettall 

So you run around to the side and make it just in time. And then the Spirit is there. And everything is okay. And all the things you thought mattered before just don't anymore. Because J---- is crying as she hugs the man who just baptized her and you can see how happy she is. 

Other things that happened this week besides the baptism:

*N---- finally came to church and loved it! The members really welcomed her. 

*Our area got split, resulting in us losing our main proselyting area. But I am excited to switch things up and focus on some of the areas we didnt really spend a lot of time in before. Sadly, all of the Haitian members now live outside our area boundaries so we won't be visiting them anymore.

*I spent half the week sleeping on the couch after waking up at the beginning of the week with itchy red bites all over my arms. I'm still in the process of cleaning my mattress from all the bed bugs that have evidently made a home there. Luckily I fit really well on the couch, so it hasn't made a bad sleeping alternative. #perksofbeingfivefeettall

All in all, it was a good week. 

XOXO 
- Hermana Croft 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Week 51


Hello!

This week was cool. Very service-y. Here are some highlights:

- Monday night cooking, cleaning, watching the children and basically playing mom for a member while she rested upstairs with her newborn baby.
- Wednesday night coordination with the ward mission leader and his wife. They took us out for ice cream and then insisted on driving us around the area in their Masareti. We drove through neighborhoods filled with multimillion dollar houses and caught a glimpse of the New York skyline from the top of a hill. 
- Thursday J----'s baptism started to feel real as we scheduled the time of her interview next week and helped her get started on finding family names to take to the temple. She will be getting baptized next Sunday.
- Friday we spent the whole day at Ellis Island helping in the family search center. I spoke with visitors from Italy, France, Hungary, and Sweden this time. 
- Saturday we didn't even get into our proselyting clothes. We spent the whole day doing service starting at 8am and finishing at 9pm. Our agenda included handing out food to the poor with the Salvation Army, cleaning the chapel with a recent convert, helping a member family pack up to move to Arizona, helping our investigator N---- clean and organize her stuff from her recent move, and moving a full filing cabinet up two flights of stairs for a new potential investigator/referral. Super fun day! I loved it!
- Sunday the Relief Society lesson was taught by one of the Spanish speaking sisters, so I sat up front with her and translated it into English while Hermana Byron sat in the back next to the Haitian members and translated it into Creole. 

XOXO
- Hermana Croft

Pictures:
- me in the back of the Masareti
- H. Byron with the ward mission leader's dog sitting on her lap
- at Ellis Island. There were no spots in the parking lot, so we had to park back on the grass by the old abandoned buildings. We found a broken section of the the torch from the statue of liberty. Cool. 


Monday, June 11, 2018

Greetings from NY


Hey Mommy,

First of all, cutest sign off ever! I love that book.* And I love you! I am currently in IHOP eating unhealthy breakfast food. And you are currently in San Francisco some where. That's what, a three hour time difference? Is your body super confused? 

Okay. Done with IHOP. I feel sick now. I am waiting while H. Byron picks out a present for her previous companion's birthday. 

We did get to watch Pres. Nelson's devotional actually. And we will be doing the social media fast as a mission this week, with the exception of being able to use Facebook messenger to continue our conversations with the people we have already been messaging. 

The zone conference training went fine (we have zone conference once a transfer). And the lesson I taught the second hour of church yesterday to the youth of the ward turned out better than I thought it would. I am getting better at creating quick lesson plans/trainings/talks. This is a good thing, especially because I think the days of merely attending church are long gone for me. I have the feeling from now on I will always be preparing for some kind of responsibly on Sundays. Which I suppose actually started in college, but has been amplified on the mission.  

Home now. We found a present and got our groceries for the week. 

Sounds like you had an exciting week. Rather convenient that you still got to have even numbers because of Tanner. I enjoyed looking at the pictures of them together in the park. Rebekah's hair looks nice. I am now contemplating cutting my own. Also, I just love all of you guys. I'm glad you had fun.**  

This week was pretty normal... at least it must have been, because I don't really remember what we did... and we didn't take any pictures... sorry!

I'm sure we met a lot with our investigator N----, because we see her almost everyday. She had progressed a lot since we met her 3 weeks ago, so that's pretty cool. Yesterday we met/taught A----, a new potential investigator who reminds me a lot of N---- as well. Very knowledgeable about the bible and always open for discussion. Both of them really are seeking truth. We will be going back to see A---- later this week.  

J---- is actually our only Spanish speaking investigator right now. Everyone else we teach in English, something I probably won't do much of when I leave this area. The only reason I am allowed to do so now is because there aren't any English missionaries assigned to cover this area. 

Love love love love 
-Me


---------------------
* I signed off my email last weekend with "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." Also, the three hour time difference she mentions...she's referring to the fact that last week I was in Ohio on Eastern time and this week I am in San Francisco on Pacific time.

** We went on a family vacation last week to Cedar Point in Ohio where we rode lots and lots of roller coasters.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

We're all on the east coast!


Hey Mommy! 
How is everything? Have y'all made it over closer to the east coast yet? It's fun over here. :) 

I am currently waiting for my oil to be changed in preparation for the car check tomorrow at Zone Conference. Usually I am very excited for Zone Conference. But alas, Hermana Byron and I have been asked to give a training to the zone about goals, and I find myself less enthusiastic than usual. So we will be planning that later today. 

I loved your email. The pictures of you with grandma and grandpa at the cemetery are sweet. And the soccer drama reminded me of auditioning for shows. I'm glad it all worked out and Lilian gets to be with her friends on the best team. I am so glad she has found something that she loves to do. 

That birthday party sounds like it was quite the endeavor. It would have been fun to be there to be a part of it, but I'm glad Rebekah and Tanner were able to help you out. Lilian may have a phone now, but don't let her get any social media. I am over it myself. Or I would be, but we are a social media mission. Apparently we will be authorized to use Instagram soon now too. 

The Ver Hoef's have adopted me into their family. We had dinner with them last night again. Seems to be turning into a Sunday night tradition, which is fine by me! Being with them reminds me of being with family. :) (They are the same family that took us to the temple and made your potatoes on Mother's Day). I will introduce you to them when we come back to visit. 

Love you. Ran out of time
Hermana Croft 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Adventures in New City


Hi Mommy. I hope you have had a good day. 

The Elders, H. Byron and I bowled and ate overpriced food and adventured to the edge of our area (also the edge of the mission) to a state park. We flew cheap dollar store kites and played cards and listened to music and got muddy on this little peninsula jutting out into a lake. 
Tonight we have coordination with the ward mission leader and later a lesson. 

Things that have happened:
*We met a witch knocking doors. She was really nice, gave us free homemade soap, and told us about our zodiac signs.
*Picked up a new investigator (she is actually neighbors with the witch). We have met with her everyday.
*We got locked out of the church so the Elders climbed on the roof to try and find a way in.
*And yes, we will be staying together here in New City for one more transfer.

The pictures are from a random photo shoot that occurred when I looked like a farm girl whilst out knocking. The others are because we saw that marquee and decided that we needed to at least pretend we feel pretty as missionaries.

To translate the sign into english: "Our parents were Catholics, and we will be Catholic forever. We are not going to change religions, don't ask. Thanks." We found this sticker on a door of an apartment we were knocking.

Also a few pictures from our Manhattan Temple trip last week. 

Love,
Me 







Julliard and Broadway!!


Monday, May 21, 2018

best day ever


Soo... it's been a while. Update: I am still a missionary serving in New York. I love it here and I'm pretty sure I will get to stay for one more transfer, so that's good. :)

This week we went down into the city twice. Saturday, to offer service at Ellis Island helping people find their ancestors who came through in the family history section. And Thursday to go to the Manhattan Temple! Yay! The temple was amazing! I feel spiritually recharged and learned more about who I am in God's eyes and how He feels about me. After the session, the members who drove us took us down the street to buy gyros from a street cart. NYC, temple, my favorite members, greek food, basically it was the best day ever. 

Our sweet investigator J---- put herself on date to be baptized next month! She is a gem. A couple Sundays ago, she was going through a lot, and asked us if she could speak with the Bishop. He ended up giving her a blessing, after which she bore her testimony and said she already considers herself a member. I love her. 

I spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday. The first time I have been able to do so in English during my mission, which was kind of nice. It was a little distracting to hear Elder Nielsen translating everything I said into Spanish right behind me through. 

Lots of rain lately. But that's okay, because I like rain.

Hermana Croft 


P.s. in case you were wondering, I love my Savior Jesus Christ. 

------------------

I got this email this past Thursday:

¡Buenos días mamá!
¿Cómo le vas?

Right now I am sitting in the church parking lot waiting for the Elders to get here so we can all go to the temple! I had a little freak out this morning when I thought my recommend was expired, but then I realized the full use recommends last for two years. #CrisisAverted

I am super excited!

Talk to you later!

Love, 

Tu hija

-----------------------
And then, we got to talk to Julianne a week ago on Mothers Day. She "called" us on Facebook Messenger from the ward house where her companion, Hermana Byron and two other elders were also chatting with their families. It was SO good to see her face and hear her voice! Here's a few odds and ends from our conversation:

* She says President Hess (the mission president) has recently learned she can sing and has been insisting she sing more, even going so far as to set up musical numbers in district meetings. (She keeps trying to remind him that just because her singing voice is new to him, that doesn't mean she's been hiding it the past 10 months and that in fact she did sing in her last area quite a bit...)

* Being in an area with so many Haitians, and having a companion from Haiti means she is learning quite a lot about the the differences in culture and food, but also hair! Weaves and wigs and extensions, etc. She says its rather fascinating. Hermana Byron lived in Haiti until she was 11 years old. She moved to Miami right after that catastrophic earthquake in 2010 and has told Julianne stories of the horrifying things she saw and experienced.

* Julianne's face when we asked her how she felt about living so close to her favorite city on the planet:
She says it's absolutely wonderful living in New York and knowing she is a hop, skip and jump away. Or a quick drive across the bridge...which isn't recommended really, because that means she's in a different mission at that point, but something she has done accidentally a couple of times now. Apparently many missionaries have made similar mistakes in navigation and found themselves in a one-way situation that they can't get out of until after crossing the bridge. ;)

* Her companion teases her about being "curve challenged"...or something like that. She's the designated driver of the companionship and apparently misses turns a lot. Thank heavens for GPS that re-routes for her.

* She says her area of New City and Nanuet, New York are absolutely beautiful and she loves the trees that line all the streets. She also enjoys seeing the Hudson River pretty much every day.

*She's thrilled that it looks like she and Hermana Byron will be able to spend another transfer together in this area. (It'll be Julianne's 3rd transfer in New City, and Hermana Byron's 6th. I asked how H. Byron felt about that, but Julianne says she requested it. Apparently President Hess takes their requests into consideration, but made H. Byron promise that after this next 6 weeks, she'll let him send her elsewhere. She's spent her entire mission in New City so far. But she's been incredibly helpful there, being one of the only missionaries that speaks Creole in this heavily Haitian area.

* Julianne says she has been learning a bit of Creole herself and even shared a few phrases with us...mostly things like introductions and small talk. She and her companion teach a lot more lessons in Creole and English in New City. She says she really only sees the Spanish members on Sundays and misses speaking Spanish more.

* Of all her areas so far, she has loved Kearny/Newark the most. Go figure? Maybe because she was so much more immersed in the Spanish language there? Or maybe she just loved the adventure of living in the actual "armpit of America".... ;)

* At a dinner appointment with a member a couple of weeks ago, Julianne was delighted when she was served roasted potatoes, made in the exact same way that I make them at home (with Lipton soup mix). On Mothers Day they were invited to this home again for dinner and this member made the same potatoes specifically for her. "Hermana Croft gets the potatoes first because they are her special potatoes." And then made a comment about though she couldn't be with her own mother on Mothers Day, at least she could eat her mother's potatoes. And then gave her a big hug. How kind!

* She compared daily mission schedules with Rebekah and Tanner. Mission schedules/routines have changed a bit recently and they were very envious of the different ways Julianne gets to use her time in the evenings.


After chatting with the whole family for about 50 minutes, everyone else left he room so that Julianne and I could have some one-on-one time. The two of us talked for another 30 minutes or so. More personal and sweet mother/daughter conversation. She talked about daily adventures, joy and laughter...but also the discouragement, tears and struggles. A mission truly is a roller coaster of emotions. The best two years, but also the hardest. (Or 18 months in Julianne's case.) It was so good to have the opportunity to really talk in a way that's hard to do over email. Ultimately, Julianne is so happy and so grateful to be serving a mission. She loves all the people she is meeting and getting to know so many different cultures. And she loves how much she is learning about herself and the gospel, the ways in which she has grown and strengthened her testimony.

This was our last skype with Julianne...she comes home in 7 months, just a few days before the next skype is scheduled for Christmas, which means we only get two skypes total. But so much better to have her in my arms than chat over the computer, yes?

Outtakes:
We told her she should back up a bit so we could see her whole body and what she was wearing, but she was struggling a bit to get out of her jacket.


Every single one of us look bad in this picture, except maybe Bryan and Oscar? hahaha!