"Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent [from the Lord], we may be accepted of him." -2 Cor. 5:9
Dear lovely family,
I AM SOOOOOOOOO HAPPY HERE! I really feel like I am in a dream area right now. I love everything about this area, besides the blizzard outside! It feels like Spring will never come. I was way bummed we couldn't run outside this morning because the roads were just awful. Then after study we went out to our car and it was just covered in snow. We spent 40 minutes shoveling it out. It was stuck way bad and Sister Stacey (my new comp) was so mad because she was so excited to come email. Her family hasn't heard from her since the MTC. We got our car out and drove to the library and there was a sign on it saying "Closed because of weather." We called all other nearby libraries and found one open, so here we are! Schools are closed today too.
Let me tell you about this area. We cover a few little cities called Ballston Lake, Clifton Park, Glenville, Burnt Hills, Scotia, and downtown Schenectady. It feels a lot like Maplewood New Jersey (where I nannied). We are obsessed with the beautiful homes. I've already taken pictures of several that I want my future home to look like. ha ha.
The ward is unbelievable! It's the best ward/branch I've ever served in. I feel like President Bulloch has totally rewarded me with the best companion and area in the mission for my last few months. The chapel is HUGE. It's bigger than any Utah one I've seen. I'm attaching a picture of it. It's right up the street from our apartment and was built 8 years ago. Sisters were in this area but both went home early about 6 weeks ago (sickness) and so the ward has been missionary-less for about a transfer. When we got to church yesterday people were coming up to us right and left, "We have Sisters again!" and "We prayed you here!" And then our ward mission leader showed us our meal calendar. It's already FULL for the month of March. Yay for meal appointments! The ward is so missionary minded and willing to help us with anything. We had people coming up to us wanting to go teaching with us, referring their friends, and introducing us to their nonmember friends they had at church! It was amazing. I could not believe it. And in the opening prayer in sacrament meeting the guy prayed for the members in their missionary efforts. We both bore our testimonies. Brother Madsen, a counselor in the Bishopric told us the Glenville Ward is one of the largest and strongest wards in the North East. At one point they had 11 missionaries out. And another time they had 19 priests! It was so cool to see a functioning Primary, Young Women, Young Men, and Relief Society again. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from Ogdensburg. But with time and missionary's effort, the Lord will strengthen that unit up there.
Eric Maughan's (one of my guy friends from BYU, Liberty Square) family lives in the ward. His mom is so so sweet. She took a picture of me with she and her husband on her Iphone and texted it to him. It's funny because when I got my call he said, "My family lives in that mission. Maybe you'll serve in their ward sometime." And I finally am. Small world.
We are serving in the Albany Stake. The Stake consists of 6 wards and 6 branches. Albany 1st Ward just a few exits down on the north way from here is the ward with all the Medical and Pharmacy students :) But I guess this ward (Glenville ward) is like the powerhouse ward of the Stake and most of the Albany Stake leaders are from the ward. I have yet to meet the Stake President but met his first counselor yesterday. The ward is so strong because it's like most BYU graduates and their families. There are huge families here in this ward, like Utah. I love seeing cute families! And they are all sooo soooo nice. We've already gone to homes for dinner every night we've been here. Even before seeing the meal calendar Sunday members were calling us, so excited to have missionaries back and telling us that they have us for dinner. This ward reminds me of the Legacy ward mixed with the Alpine ward. Most of the men are Dr.s, Lawyers, and Engineers. General Electric (in downtown Schenectady) is a plant many in the ward work at.
The majority of our area is really nice. Downtown Schenectady is the ghetto. Every area in NY has to have a ghett. It reminds me of Syracuse. So many black people everywhere. We have had some sweet teaching appointments there though. One guy, Andre met us outside the YMCA (where he lives) and walked us through incoming traffic to a coffee shop on main street where we could sit down. It was so scary because all these cars were coming and he (along with so many other blacks) just act like all the cars will stop for them. Sister Stacey and I were looking at each other like, "What did we get ourselves into?" But as we sat down with him and taught the Message of the Restoration, the spirit was very strong, he was asking the perfect questions, like, "Why are there so many churches?" "Which one is right?" He related well with Joseph Smith and committed to read the Book of Mormon. We're anxious to meet with him again. He had already come to church once so that's why we called to meet him.
We have been trying to build up a teaching pool and so far it's going well. We have called every one who they had as investigators (6 weeks ago) and have gotten a hold of some and set up appointments. We have also stopped by those we haven't gotten a hold of over the phone and have taught some pretty solid people. We talked to the ward missionaries and two are coming out with us to appointments this week, as well as one of the counselors in the bishopric. It's so great to have the ward willing and ready to help build the kingdom here.
We are teaching two part member families. One wife of a member (Bekah). Their 5 boys are baptized too, but she's not. We committed her to read the Book of Mormon. It's the first time she'll have read it through. We testified that the truth of the church relies on that book. Sister Stacey is doing so well at teaching and testifying too. She had Bekah read the promise in Moroni 10 and she said she's willing to do it. This is the first time Bekah's been taught by missionaries. Oh and side note, she and her husband created the Rock Band characters!!!! They did all the art for Rock Band! So they and their boys are soooo into video games. Cool huh?
The other we're teaching is Mike. He agreed to start meeting with missionaries a couple months ago, so we're excited to continue what the other sister's started. He has a son on a mission, in Sister Stacey's home mission! When we went to his home to meet him and made that connection, he just lit up. The Lord totally sent her here to help him build a relationship of trust with us. She's going to find out more about his son serving in Colorado (her dad is in the mission presidency in the Denver North Mission) and it'll give us the perfect excuse to keep in close contact with Mike. Mike's wife and children are all baptized members. For 20 years his family has been members, but he's never joined. He comes to church often too! We are praying that we'll be the missionaries to see him join. We know the Lord has a plan for him. We are going to try to help him recognize the Spirit and also gain a testimony of the BOM. That's the key, I think. We'll be at there house for dinner and to teach him Wednesday night.
My companion, Sister Stacey is the best. We're already best friends! She's from Fort Collins, Colorado. She is studying Elementary Education at BYU Idaho. She did musicals in High School, and has 3 sisters who love to sing. We already sing and harmonize every where together. We're practicing Olive Tree and we're going to sing in the ward one of the coming Sundays. She reminds me of Ash a lot and looks like Aarean Jergensen. Luckily she has a GPS. It's saved our life.
I really am so grateful to be a missionary. I love every day of this life. I know the Lord is preparing people for this message all over the world and as we follow the spirit and prepare ourselves, we will be led to them. Thanks for all you do for me!
I love you!
Love, Sister Zwick
15C Ashdown Rd.
Ballston Lake, NY
P.s. Dylan and Mom, I loved your tapes. Thank you!
"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." -Joseph Smith
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Sister Zwick loves letters!
Sister Christina Zwick New York Utica Mission PO Box 149 Whitesboro, NY 13492-0149
Packages can be sent to: Sister Christina Zwick New York Utica Mission 8539 Clark Mills Rd Whitesboro, NY 13492
"We have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work" Alma 26:3
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Blessed to open this last dispensation
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.
"Young men and women who serve missions are never the same. They return home with qualities and strengths that seem to come from no other experience. They know, as they never knew before, that this work is true and that it is the most important work on the face of the earth. They return home with a desire to continue to serve. They have established a foundation on which to grow in future responsibilities."--President Gordon B. Hinckley, Dec. 1986
“The Standard of Truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and dependent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, until the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah will say, ‘The work is done.”
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We thank thee oh God for a prophet
Thomas S. Monson- 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity." Margaret D. Nadauld (General Conference Address ~ October 7, 2000)