Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ironbound weeks 4 and 5

Feb 16th, 2015

Hola Familia,

Wow what is up.  I cant believe Utah isn't living up to its snow potential this year. But I've been praying a lot so get ready for a massive powder year this next year. Haha nah but hey the snow is following me. We got some more snow out here this past week. We have mounds of it in the roads and a few fresh inches on the sidewalks right now. The whole town is covered with salt and snow. Ill send a picture of my shoes all salted up.  Its pretty cold out here seriously but its really not that bad. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday it dropped pretty low. It said 6 degrees but snap there was some heavy wind out there too. Ha on Sunday night we had to walk from Harrison to the Ironbound over the Passaic River on the Bridge. It was unreal ha so windy and cold it was funny. We were allowed to stay in at times if we felt prompted but we had a lot of lessons we were running around to. So we were inside for most of it and it really wasn't too bad. We bundle up quite a bit. 
Snow Boom Landed in Jersey

It has been a quick week. One of the quickest of my mission. We were just constantly teaching and walking and making calls. I dont know but it flew by. We got to see our investigator, M, this past week again. We taught about the Book of Mormon and reviewed the Introduction with him then we both power our testimonies and invited him to pray. He said he would and he was pretty willing to go to church. Nobody really has cars here but we have a few members that do so we set up a ride for him and he came to church this last week. One obstacle we are trying to jump right now is that the owners of the house he lives in doesn't like having visitors come over so he is looking for a different place to live. Hopefully it is close and we can keep teaching this guy. He really is a miracle. If not, there are a lot of other boss missionaries everywhere in Jersey so he will be in good hands. but for now we are praying that he stays in ours! Ha I just really like teaching him.
Getting chunked again this last week. Holy smokes these people like to cook for us but its so inconsistent when. Ha one day we get fed 3 times and then the next we go hungry all day. its pretty funny. Never know what we will get. Funny food story of the week. We were coming back to home on p-day and we decided to go get something to eat. We decided to go try this little Mexican Taqueria aka heaven. The place was good and authentic but I decided to take a shot in the dark and go for tacos de cuero. Turns out I should've studied that word earlier because cueros means pigskin. Paid like 8 bucks to get some pig skin tacos. Ha jokes... But with enough Mexican hot sauce and a few onions... couldn't taste a thing.
We are working hard to go see all of the less active members in our area. We spent some time mapping them all out and we have been going through them all. Only 25% of our ward here is active. Im pretty sure only 25% of Jersey is active. Its a lot of less active work. Sometimes they are a little stubborn or lazy, but man do I love them all. It just grows on you real quick. I love teaching them and just doing all we can to help them build enough faith to make it to the Sacrament again. And its so cool to see them go. Teaching less actives really builds my faith in the Gospel too.  Sometimes its some pretty sad lives we are working with. Marriages broken, drugs, kids out of wedlock. But Ive realized that seriously many of these tragedies we are working with in life can be avoided if you just live the Gospel. I mean yeah, I realized that before my mission but things are different once your face to face with someone whose actual life is like that hard everyday. I really don't know how to help these people, but I do know that Christ does. So all we try to do is just help them build that faith until they trust Christ a little more. I know the Gospel and the principles behind it our true. And what great parents I have who have taught me that. Thank you!!! You've saved my life. And I will forever be grateful.
I love you all so much. Have a great week. Nice to see some CHILLTOWN rocking in the other Chilltown of the world. Haha  Thank you so much for the package as well. Thanks for being so creative too. Seriously its fun trying all this new stuff and candy. i love it. And the cute card with WE LOVE YOU. Ha I love you all so much

Elder Sumsion
The Z family- Thanks for the fun puzzle letter card you sent. I know that was a while ago but it still sits on my desk and stares me in the face and every week I forget to give you thanks for it! SO thank you so much
Innis family- Thank you for the cookies and the card. My companion and I are enjoying them so much. Thank you!!!


Feb 23, 2015


Things here have been a crunch week. Its like a big endure to the end competition. Who can survive the longest out in the snow walking around until you have to resort to any sort of cover? member, investigator, random door, pizza shop, church cathedral.  Ha seriously its like 20 minutes and then your cut to the bone. Its been nuts. We got snow for days and the cold with it. We definitely got into the negatives with some heavy wind chill. One member said Friday had the coldest morning in Jersey in the last 70 years. But all is well. The work keeps moving no matter how cold it ever gets. We wont back down. Not now, not ever.

So pretty exciting news this last week! Elder Bellevance and I got to go to the temple with J---, our recent convert in Jersey City. We have been planning and re-planning it for a while now because the temple was closed, but we finally pulled it all together and cleared up some time to go this last Saturday. It was pretty funny because we didn't have too much time to plan it all, but we were meeting J--- and Hermano T--- (old ward mission leader) at the temple at 9:30. So it was just Elder Bellavance and I with our one genius plan: get on the path train in Harrison and arrive in NY. After that we were just planning on finding our way to the temple ourselves.  We did it once with our zone but last time we had those two Senior missionaries guiding us. This time we were alone. Ha we get to the station in Harrison, turns out that there are three women from our ward here in Newark going to the temple too. (THANK YOU FROM BEN'S FAMILY )So we just tagged on with them and they guided us all the way there. Big miracle and we were able to get there on time. Man it was good to see Elder Bellavance again. He is such a good friend. We just got right back talking and joking around just like we had a transfer ago. Ha he is a boss missionary. In the temple we got to do like 20 confirmations and then 20 baptisms. So it was pretty rad. J--- loved it. We explained things to him carefully but he just loved being there I think. He was very grateful. Then we were banking on them taking us back to Jersey and they did but it was a very long route consisting of walking tons of blocks of New York. But eventually we did make it back home. It was snowing the whole day too. But seriously it was a cool feeling to be in the temple with J---. Someone we had helped baptize and now he is there doing baptisms for other people. I dont know, but I felt the Spirit super strong. It takes A LOT of work to get people to the point of doing baptisms. But it is God's work. He will provide. 

NYC temple w new convert J

Things are good. I know things are tough at times. I love that quote though mom, "Rather than allow them to destroy the peace and happiness that had come into my life.  I chose to set them aside for a season, TRUSTING THAT IN THE LORD’S TIME, HE WOULD REVEAL ALL THINGS.” I know there is a reason we have to struggle at times, but somehow there are always moments when we know for sure that it was worth it. Not just in the life to come but in this life as well. Seriously, the gospel isn't just for happiness in the next life, but happiness in this life. There are always moments that confirm our faith. So we all got to just keep rollin'. 

I love you!

Your son,

Elder Sumsion

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ironbound Week #3

Hola familia!

What a week we had here in the Ironbound. Things are going great and Im feeling amazing. Lots of changes but lots of good things going for us as well. It all started on Tuesday at zone meeting. First good thing: I got to listen and enjoy in zone meeting instead of having to be up there doing all the talking and trainings. Ha it was nice to listen and participate from the crowd. I love our zone leaders. Elder King and Elder Nelson. Elder King and I served together as district leaders back in Scotch plains. And Elder Nelson has been a good friend of mine and Elder Packer from the beginning. He came out one after us. They are super good friends. They taught a super powerful training and the spirit was there super strong at zone meeting. Basically this guy from SLC came last week and showed us that a lot of the things we had been doing were distracting us from our main purpose. I mentioned it a little last week but things like: paperwork for exchanges and accountability, reporting other numbers than the normal numbers (for example: number of contacts a week), and playing sports with investigators. I dont know there is a bigger list. But just a bunch of little things that slipped into the cracks that were keeping us from focusing on our main purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ. I was a little hesitant about it at first because a lot of the changes were things which were normal for me for the last 18 months and now were doing something different. Imagine that kind of change. Its like we are going back fresh out of the MTC again. A lot of the older missionaries thought the same. But before this meeting I had been praying tons about it and for the help to follow the leaders and President Taggart. And I felt really good about it all and then the spirit was super strong in the meeting and BOOM I was pumped for the new changes. Turned out it took so much of a burden off this past week. These new changes are all about building companionship unity and not so much zone unity, and setting goals as a companionship not the leaders setting goals for championships. Its pretty cool stuff. A lot less stressful. I feel like we were all super number focused before, but now its all about the people are the motivated and numbers don't matter as much. You think we would've learned that 18 months ago haha but hey that's what changes are for. 

We worked super hard all week to find new people to teach. Ill be honest we had three investigators at the start of the week who we still couldn't get in contact with and I still hadn't even seen. So we really have been searching for people to teach the last three weeks. We tried tons of people and contacted a lot and really not a lot of success. Honestly of the 100 contacts last week, we haven't found anybody who was willing to listen. But the Lord works in mysterious ways right? So we got a straight up MEDIA REFERRAL this week. Not just one but TWO. Ha these are referrals from the church headquarters and until this last week I hadn't received one my entire mission. So we were pretty pumped. We call both of them and set a lesson with one of them named M---. We go teach this guy yesterday. We get in there do some How to begin teaching, teach a super simple Restoration, then Boom he accepts a baptismal date for March 15. Pretty sweet miracle. So we are seeing success in different ways than we even thought. Pretty neat. 

Went and saw some awesome members this week as well. We didn't have a lot going on when I got into the area so we made a goal to go see all the members and get to know them while we search for investigators. We are blessed to have some rock solid members. And quite a few of them too! They are the best. One family, the P--- family, invited us for a FHE and invited two non lds friends. They didn't end up coming but we were pumped for them for making the invite.

Well the weather is looking good. Only one or two cold days. Haha yes Chloe they may not be in the negatives but still Im cold. Haha I dont know what it is here. Lots of wind and this coldness just cuts to the soul. I finally, after 19 years of living in the snow and skiing, figured out how useful wearing long john thermals are. Haha I wear them top and bottom everyday. Guess what? They actually block out the cold. Thought someone would've told me that long ago. haha im kidding parents. sorry I never wanted to wear them before. But hey I bought some boots for $33 as well! Boom. Cheep and stylish.

last few weeks for me= Pansy, haha im ready to tackle the chuff out of this work now. 


Elder Sumsion

He also sent these:  Funny – He has never given me his address in Newark yet! So I called the office and they gave me one - I sent him a package and we ordered a pizza and had it delivered to that address..... 

ha no im doing super good. Thank you for the package. Funny story... That is NOT our address nor any missionary address. It was about 3 weeks ago, but the missionaries moved. So the church doesn't own it. The other Elders went by a few days ago to check on something and saw and picked up the package, and they were super confused on the whole pizza thing. It was just sitting there in the cold. Haha turns out they took it home and put it in the fridge for like 3 days till it thawed or something. Then they ate it! Ha no worries. SO it didn’t go to waste!!!! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ironbound Week 2 - last 3 weeks of letters



Hola Familia,
Wow what a long last week is has been. Seriously yesterday morning feels like it was months ago. Im in a whole different world right now. Newark, NJ. Got transferred. I will attempt at explaining the last week or so. So much happened.
On thursday afternoon we got a call from the Assistants that we were getting doubled out of our area in Jersey City. Which means that both Elder Bellavance and I were going to have toleave the area. The mission is getting less and less missionaries so what happened is that they closed the zone and combined it with the Union City zone where Elder Packer is. Super hard news to hear. Our zone was so tight. I love that zone so much. Happiest time of my mission so far and it was so hard to leave them all thats for sure. On Sunday night I got released as a zone leader, which was expected because most zone leaders are zone leaders for about 4 transfers. So yesterday, Tuesday, came around and we had transfer conference. We had 8 missionaries leaving and only 5 cars in the zone. So we had to use every inch of every car to get everyone and their stuff to transfer conference. Elder Bellavance got called to Paterson. I got called to the IRONBOUND. Such an amazing area. Its on the side of Newark and just the coolest place. Not too dangerous so no worries. But then we had district meetings this morning and I just got to sit and listen instead of trying to organize the whole thing! ha something I haven't got to do in a while. And that pretty much brings me to where I am now, emailing in the Kearny library. Crazy last few days.
Let me just write my farewell talk to Jersey City here. Ha I love that place so much. I kept telling Elder Bellavance I could've stayed there the rest of my mission. The ward, the people, the graffiti. All of it amazing. And oh my goodness the zone was just the best zone ever. We were small so we were all nice and tight and close. I love them all so much. Hard to leave them all and to see the zone get dissolved, but then again most of the zone got transferred anyway. Actually two of the championships got their zone boundary changed so The Bayonne missionaries are still in my zone here in Newark. It was super nice to see them today. They are all good friends to me. Elder Bellavance was a boss companion too. Ha he kept me laughing for dayz. Such a fun time. Sad to leave but super pumped for my new area.

Ok you know me mom. I still hate changes! Ha it has been crazy getting used to the new area. Haven't even been here for 24 hours yet. Feel pretty weird inside. Lonely from the last zone.But wow when I heard I was going to Ironbound I was so surprised! It is an area with a lot of potential. Its called ironbound because its bound by iron. Ha meaning that it is surrounded my a train tracks built on a wall. Tons of Hispanics and it is like the Portuguese capital of Jersey too. I heard some Portuguese today and I swear its like Chinese. Ha Lots of Brazilians and lots of people from Portugal. It is sweet. My companion is pretty fresh out.  He is on his 5th transfer now. Still learning Spanish and the area so its kind of like starting fresh. We are going to get this place rollin though. We are walking for dayz as well. No car anymore.
I am loving it so far. Seriously got has answered all of my prayers. I asked for a solid area, a young companion, and some cool members, and a sweet zone. Seriously I was pretty specific in my prayers, knowing that realyl wherever I go will be good. But wow God answered my prayers perfectly. This place is heaven.
Love Elder Sumsion

My buddy - Elder Vargas went home
Last Jersey City Zone 4 picture


Whats up family! What a week it has been. Tough week getting used to the area and walking again! Ha man have I been tired. I haven't been walking since Perth Amboy and that was more than a year ago. Sleep is just about my best friend right now, besides the Spirit, which are the two things helping me get through this week. It has been a crazy change going from zone leader meetings, and being with other missionaries to hitting the streets walking and focusing just on the area. But no doubt it will settle in soon. I got the flu on Saturday night as well. Woke up at like 3:30 in the morning thinking it was just food poisoning from some weird mexican dish a member fed us that previous day, but I threw up like 4 times and was pretty out of it all day. Had to miss church and pretty much just in and out of sleep for 8 hours with a gnarly stomach ache. It was rough but then at the same time it was nice to get some rest. It was a pretty hard day yesterday.

 We have been trying to learn the area really quickly because my companion has only been in the area for 1 transfer before I came in and he is pretty young and didn't know the streets nor most of the members. So its kind of been like starting a fresh area. We are a good team though and trying to nail everything down quickly so we can start seeing some people progressing in the gospel. There wasn't a whole lot of investigators when I came in and we still haven't seen any of them so we are planning to do a whole lot of contacting this week and just trying to build our teaching pool. It is fun but it is some hard work. Its weird not having a zone leader companion either that speaks good Spanish and is pretty solid in missionary work. My companion is still pretty fresh and learning Spanish so I have to do a lot of initiating things and helping him out and leading lessons. It is a good work load for me so I thank you for the prayers. They are much needed.

Ok, I feel like have left New Jersey and landed myself in some foreign world or something. I feel so far away from reality, its weird. It feels way different than any other area I have had or any other place I have lived in. No white people, no black people, just Hispanics and Portuguese. Who said Portuguese sounds like Spanish? That stuff sound straight up like Chinese.. Ha I love it. 

Learned how to do my wash at a laundromat today! Walked through the snow to get there and had to wait to get it all washed. Who knew a washer and dryer at home was such a big blessing!

Things are going good. Still recovering from the flu. This week is going to be a good one, full of work.

Love the pictures of Cali! The sun looks so nice right now. This storm is starting to roll in. Snowy and windy.

Love you all so much

Elder Sumsion

View of Lower NW with Hoboken Projects


Hola Familia,

I just want to start off with a big thank you for all your prayers. They were very much needed this past week. It was a long week and we were working super hard. I am feeling a lot better and things are adjusting well to the new area. Almost got this place down. Ha just kidding but it is improving. Still have a lot of it to discover. But hey so far so hood. 

Ok so it snowed a ton this last week and it got pretty cold. But I think we get used to it pretty fast. When your out in the cold all day and everyday your body just sort of adjusts except for like the first ten minutes of every day. Then its super cold. Ha we made a companionship goal to contact at least 100 people this week. We dont have a lot of investigators so we are going out and looking for them. We completed our goal last night but it was cool because the 99th person we contacted was from Spain. I was like no way! Thats the first time in 18 months I have ever talked to a Spaniard. I was pretty pumped. He was Catholic and pretty set on his ways. We tried testifying to him and answering some questions about his brother who passed away but he wouldn't listen at all. But we are going to try and pick up some new investigators this week from all the contacts.

So big news here. The mission is changing A LOT. Its been changing almost every month. Things just getting different but we had some guy from the missionary department from SLC come this past week to see our mission and give some advice and help. I wasn't at the meeting but I heard it was pretty crazy. Just talked a lot about how to change our mission to align a few things up with Preach my Gospel. So today President Taggart announced a bunch of new rules and changes that will put our mission in more harmony with Preach my Gospel. Basically a lot about exchanges, districts meetings, zone meetings, zone activities, and a lot about accountability. Before we were accountable a lot to our leaders but they want to change it so we are ONLY accountable to the Lord. So its kind of a big change. A lot of paperwork is gone. One thing that is tough for me right now is that they are kind of taking out a lot of zone unity in the mission. Which before was a big focus in the mission culture. So a lot less social things with other missionaries. Our mission is super small with a lot of missionaries in a small area so before we would meet as a zone every week and break into districts, but now we might be with our districts only. And usually had zone activities every week on p-day, like sports of something that they want to make less frequent. I dont know. Its a lot of changes, and the mission is in a shock freaking out stage but this should all make sense in a few weeks hopefully. Pretty much the culture of the mission that has been here for the last 18 months is changing. So its a little tough for some of the older missionaries. But hey its inspired revelation so I know it will help us all out.

So ironbound is just the place to be. I love it so far. We have tons of potential and it is a blessed area with lots of members to work with. Its crazy because we have 5 missionary companionships in one ward. That is 11 missionaries because one is a trio companionship. So they had to split the areas a lot. So now there is a lot of potential in every area but some areas suffer from members. Some companionships only have 2 to 3 members to visit. The Ironbound has a ton though and Harrison as well, which we cover. So its a big boost. Meeting with members and helping them do missionary work also pumps up us missionaries because of how much excitement they have in us. 

We have an awesome recent convert family that we are working with to stay active and stay together. They just recently got married and baptized. Manuel and Soledad. They are from Ecuador. They are so fun and Manuel is a jokester as well. He helps us laugh when we are over there. They are doing great though. Always love having us over and we are making sure they are doing well. 

Sounds like we got a lot of the snow that Utah needs right now. This week sounds like we are getting more too. Today was some nasty freezing rain. Everything is frozen outside and wet. Thats one weather im not too equiped for so I may go buy a new jacket this week or some boots because as good as there echo shoes are, Water still gets in. Ha 

Love you all so much. Keep up the smiles and laughs. This is the good life - The Gospel and families.

I love you,

Elder Sumsion