Friday, December 31, 2010

Missionary work is SNOW GOOD!

This week was awesome.  I just want to start off, by thanking everyone for the Christmas gifts and letters.  It made my Christmas here great.  Christmas doesn’t really feel like Christmas as a missionary.  It really just felt like another day.  The biggest difference is the fact that I'm here, and how that ties into the Christmas season.  Teaching people during this time of year seems so much more special, because they are thinking about the Savior more.  And people seem kinder.  Although Spanish people tend to be more welcoming as it is.  I love how much they want to feed the missionaries.  It’s kinda amazed me.  We'll go to church, and after Sunday school is over, all the Spanish wives come over to us, and start asking us when we can come over.  Not if we can come over on this or that day, just when we can come over.  It's amazing to feel of that love, especially since most of them are in humbler circumstances than the English speaking people in the ward.
I had also been asking for snow recently, and was slightly disappointed by a non-white Christmas, but it worked out better that way.  On Sunday (Boxing Day) we went to church, and they were saying that we were supposed to get about 15 inches later that day.  This I was thrilled about.  It started to snow at about 11 O'clock, and by 6 there was already 6 or more inches on the ground.  Whenever it snows in the upstate mission, the cars are grounded, meaning that we can’t really do much missionary work.  At about 10:30 we were getting ready to go to bed, when we heard a car alarm going off right outside our apt.  So we went to investigate, and found that a lady had gotten stuck in the snow on the hill right beside our apt.  So, we bundled up, and went outside to dig her out, and help her get her car to a better spot, since she was almost home.  By the time we were finished only Elder Wendel was tired.  So myself, Elder Jairl, and Elder Maldonando went outside and started shoveling off our front porch, and the stairs.  By now, there was about 12 inches of snow on the ground.  As we were shoveling and just having fun outside, we noticed that another car had gotten stuck going up the hill to the Inn that is beside our apt.  So we decided to go down and help them get unstuck.  The person lived in another town, but didn’t feel comfortable driving in this storm, so they decided to rent a room for the night at that Inn I mentioned.  After getting him unstuck and turning down the payment that he offered, we went back to our apt and re-shoveled the front that we had shoveled before.  It had collected about 5 inches again!  We decided to go to sleep after that.  In the morning we woke up and found that we had received about 21 inches of snow total.  This storm we were told was the worst December storm they’d had in New York, since 18something!!!  It was soo awesome how much snow we received.
Since them we've been grounded because of icy roads, and haven’t able to do much work.  But we did walk around the next day, and help people to get their cars out of the snow, which they were very grateful for.  I think we touched a lot of peoples hearts, and it was not only a great opportunity to do service but also missionary work.  Almost everyone offered to pay us, because normally people who do what we did ask for money.  But when we turned it down they'd ask why, and we'd explain that we're missionaries, and get to share a bit about what we do.  We’d then leave them with a pass along card, and tell them that if they called the number they could get a free DVD about Christ.  Unfortunately there were no Spanish people, but the English missionaries might get some new investigators. 
Anyways, that’s it for now. I love you all.
Carson (Elder Dilling)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in Manhattan

Alrighty, so as of today I have officially finished three months of my mission service, which is ridiculous.  Where has the time gone?!?!  I'm really starting to understand what people mean when they say that the mission goes by too fast. 
Anyways, this week has been great as well.  I don’t remember what I said in my last email, so excuse me if I repeat some things.  We recently had to drop our investigator because she would consistently set and break her appointments, so unfortunately there's nothing we can do really.  We’ve told her to call us when she has some time.  I wish there was a way to force people to use a calendar rather than living day to day.  But unfortunately everyone has their agency.  Since we've "dropped" our investigators we've been focusing on trackting a lot, and we've found a few really cool people, one of whom seems pretty excited to meet with us, but she runs a daycare out of her home, so we can’t go there when the kids are there, and that in itself is pretty unpredictable.  Her name is Sibelis.  We don’t really know anything about her yet, but I'll keep you posted.
Manhattan was also really cool, we met brother Fischetti (the member that took us down) at our church building, and then he took us around Manhattan a little, and then home.  The Temple is really sweet, although rather small.  The building itself is big, but the rooms don’t fit much more than 40 people total.  You could fit like 6 of the rooms in each of the Cardston rooms.  Afterwards we went to the Rockefeller Center and saw the tree.  It's so big, and the crazy thing is that it doesn't grow there.  They bring a new one in every year, and tie it to the surrounding buildings.  It’s right across the street from Saint Patrick's Cathedral  And just off of 5th Ave (which is where all the rich people shop).  And I'm not just saying that.  Brother Fischetti was telling us a story where he walked into a jewelry store on 5th Ave, and after he entered, an armed guard closed and locked the doors.  He then looked at a pair of really small inexpensive looking ear rings, that turned out to be $5000.  Ridiculous eh?!?  After that we left and on the way home drove through Time Square.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures.  They have it closed off to traffic pretty much except for driving across it.  No one can drive through it anymore.  So yeah, our trip to Manhattan was great.  Also, I can’t wait to serve in the city.  I hope I can serve in North Manhattan sometime. 
During a recent youth Temple trip, Brother Fischetti challenged the youth to try go outside the Temple and give away a pass along card.  One of the young women went and gave it a try to no avail.  After that he gave her a 5 dollar bill, and told her to try and give that away.  And once again, she couldn't do it.  Figure that eh?  People are too busy there to even bother stopping to take a free 5 dollar bill.  I know, it's crazy!!
Yesterday we I went on a split with my Zone leader.  He is from Hawaii and also going home with my companion.  His name is Elder Otuafi, and he's pretty trunky (Dad will know what that means).  He's been serving for 25 months so far.  And he has served in two different missions.  He started out in Guatemala, and got sick after 8 months, so he had to come here, and now he's spending his 3rd Christmas in the field.  During our split we went to a Peruvian Members house for FHE, and I taught the lesson in Spanish.  I was pretty amazed by how much I could understand them.  The biggest thing I think right now is expounding my vocabulary.  Also, they said that my Spanish is very good, and that I don’t have a "Gringo accent" which definitely is a good thing.  The daughter of the family was amazed by how well I can rrrrroll my rrrr's, which just comes naturally to me.  I guess I was born to speak this language.  She was saying that I speak with a Chilean accent.  And that I look like I could be from either El Salvador or Argentina, which I think is funny because we come from German decent (although so did the Argentines).
I got your gifts yesterday.  I've stuck them all under our tree, and the star thing I put on the top.  And I'm ready to open them on Christmas morning.  It's so hard to wait, especially when most of the missionaries tend to open their gifts early.  So I'm trying hard to resist the temptation to open mine too.  Elder Maldonando did open his gift though, and he says thank you.
Also, I've been talking to some missionaries about sending my memory cards in the mail, and they were saying that if you plan on doing that, it's a good idea to back them up somehow.  Elder Maldonado suggested that I buy a Hard Drive.  And before I send my pics, to transfer them to that.  So I was wondering if you could send me my hard drive sometime in the future.  It's not too important, but just a way of making sure I don’t lose any pics if it the SD card gets lost or broken somehow in the mail.
That’s all for now though.  I love you all, and I look forward to talking to you on Christmas.  4 o'clock should work great.  Our Mission Christmas thing ends at 2, so we should be home by then.
Love, Elder Dilling

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let it snow...Please!

Hola Mi Familia!
I'll start off with the Christmas party.  It went great.  We started on Thursday by helping to set everything up, and get ready for Friday night.  That was awesome, because it took us like 30 minutes (all 4 of us) and we got free pizza out of it.  The thing about the pizza here is just how good it is.  When I come home, I don’t think I'll be able to eat pizza again.  NY pizza is, well it's ridiculous how good it is.  Anyways, the party went great.  It was a family party, and there wasn’t any main meal.  It was all desserts.  The primary kids put on a little Nativity thing while reading the Birth of Christ from the Book of Mormon.  And they had some crafts and stuff for the kids as well.
I should be getting your package on Christmas day.  Also, I was reading an email I got from President Smith today, and it was saying that people whose families live outside of the United States need to call their missionary on Christmas Day, because it costs a lot more for the church for missionaries to call home.  I will let you know next Wednesday, as to when is a good time to call me on the 25th.  That’s when I should be getting the details on our mission Christmas party.
 So far we have only gotten maybe a 1/4 inch of snow.  It really sucks because I feel that if the weather is going to be cold, then it better snow too, which of course it's not doing.  But I've heard that we're supposed to get a bunch of snow this Sunday so…fingers crossed.
Once again something came up and our investigator wasn’t able to meet with us, but we're still praying for her, and we'll keep trying, but she really needs to put an effort into it too.  We did meet a potential this Monday though.  His name is Klever.   We haven't met with him yet, but we have a meeting with him this coming Friday.
It's good to hear that the Calgary Custom Closets and Primary Christmas parties went well. 
I have run out of time for today, but just remind me about the temple next week.   I'll tell you about it, plus the other stuff you asked about in your email.

Love you all, Elder Dilling
 This is a picture of me with Pres. & Sis Smith taken Nov 22, 2010 (the day I got to New York)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mom and Dad told me this would happen.

Hey Mom, sorry this is a little late.  I was gone all day yesterday.   This is our backup plan because we were juked by one of our appointments :(
This last week was pretty good.  We've had an investigator who we're both pretty sure will get baptized eventually, it's just been hard to meet with her  because she's looking for a new Job and taking English classes so we haven’t been able to see her for a little while.   She really wants to meet with us and it is exciting because she is a friend of a recent convert family and has been to church a bunch of times already.  So cross your fingers, pray for us and remember to invite your friends to meet the missionaries and to come to church.
Also, I've had a dinner appointment almost every night I've been here.  I'm not sure why, but Hispanic people LOVE to feed the missionaries.  My favorite food so far is Peruvian Food.  Wow, Jaren is so lucky to be going there.  They cook SOO well.  You wouldn’t believe what I've eaten since getting here.  I'll make a little list:
- Corn (First time since I was 8)
- Olives
- About 15 pounds of Rice
- Tomatoes,  (Large Chunks)
- Avocados
- Onions (Large Pieces)
That’s about it, but I'm quite proud of myself.   I promised myself that after I left the MTC I would eat everything that a member or someone gave me and so far I have.  These aren’t just small amounts either, when they feed you these things they are in large amounts.  So yeah, I've been eating a lot of things that I wouldn’t touch before my mission and I realized that I actually kinda like tomatoes, and even ketchup (although they are much better fresh than cooked).
I also sent a letter to Sarah and Daniel Finally.  It took me like a month to do it though.  I also got Dad's letter and Elder Maldonado says your Portuguese and your handwriting are both really good.  But he can’t write back because he doesn’t know how to write in Portuguese, only speak it.  He says that the Elder Maldonado you knew on your mission is his uncle.  Elder Maldonado was born in Brazil, but only lived there until he was 6, then he moved to Chile where he learned Spanish and forgot most of his Portuguese.  Then when he was 11, his family moved to Provo, which is where they are living now.  He relearned Portuguese while on his mission here as he served in the Danbury Connecticut, Portuguese speaking area.  He also said that he thinks he met Hugh Hanneson (not sure if that’s spelt right),but anyways he says thanks for the letter.
As you noticed in the picture, yes, Sister Smith is a fair bit younger than President Smith.  He's a lawyer in Rexburg, and apparently he's got one of the largest farms in Idaho.  He has a helicopter to fly around his property!!  So he's a pretty well off man.  It'll be pretty sweet to go to school, and have my mission president living right there.  I will get two mission presidents though.  President Smith finishes in July of 2012 I think, but whenever it is, it's before me.
We have our ward Christmas Party tomorrow night and we, the four missionaries in our ward, have been recruited to set up some of the stuff for the party.  Also, Elder Maldonado and I are kinda excited because one of the members is bringing her non-member daughter and son-in-law to the party so we'll get a chance to talk to them.  Hopefully that turns out well. 
Anyways, I love you all and I look forward to reading your email next week.

Love, Elder Dilling

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spanish is a piece of cake...NOT!

Hey, so everything is still pretty great here.  I'd definitely agree with you - I am fairly spoiled with everything that I have in my apartment.  And our Sound system consists of a CD player with 6 CD changer and 5 large surround sound speakers.  Total price was $15 - most of it was received from members.  And we listen to it a lot, mostly just Josh Groban, and musicals.  We also have some EFY CDs and some other random CDs with appropriate music.
The Jacket I have should be fine for know, especially since I have a car to drive around in as well.  So far, it's never gotten cold enough for me to need anything else.  And this jacket is pretty much water proof too since it’s wool.
Let’s see, what did we do this week?  We've had a couple of lessons, but most of our lessons have been with part member families, and less actives.  That’s a big focus in this area, because the Spanish people live so far apart from each other, and we only have a limited amount of miles per month for driving.  The people of New York are pretty crazy drivers, and the roads are super narrow.  It’s crazy, but the speed limits are all fairly slow.  The fastest speed limit I’ve seen is 55 mph.  Of course, everyone goes at least 65 in that area.
The language has also taken quite a twist too.  In the MTC I was able to understand more than I could say, but here it's the exact opposite; a lot harder.  It's great having a companion who's pretty much a native speaker.  Although Elder Maldonando was born in Brazil, his Spanish is better than his Portuguese, and he speaks Portuguese with a Spanish accent.  It's been ok though, because he's able to help me a lot more when I don’t know words, or need help having principles explained to me.
We're gonna be meeting a part member family this coming Sunday, and the husband is the non member.  Our goal is to baptize him before Elder Maldonando goes home, which means getting a date within the next couple of weeks.  We haven’t met with him since I got here though because his family from Ecuador was here, and they hate the church.  They're evangelical.
I haven’t written any letters back to Sarah or Daniel yet because I haven’t really had a lot of time, so just so they know not to be expecting anything really soon.  But I’ll try to get some letters off soon - before next Wednesday for sure.
We've been trying to re-contact 10 people from the area book a day, and it's kinda funny, because it seems like no matter what time we go no one is ever home.  Also, here after it gets dark the people don’t like to answer their doors.  So that certainly doesn’t make it any easier.  We plan most of our appointments from 4:00 on so that we have the earlier time to find people, and we try get a lot of referrals from the members, because those are the ones that are most likely to stay active after the missionaries leave.  A lot of that though falls on the shoulders of the members.
Also, just as a final side note.  When you have the missionaries over, they Love to get leftovers.  It's a little harder if they don’t have a car, but it's still possible.  It helps a lot with the limited funds we have. 
I love all of you, and I look forward to hearing from you next week.
Love, Elder Dilling
P.S.  Continue to be an example to everyone, and invite them to come unto Christ.  (i.e. attend church and stuff)