This week I had some wonderful experiences with the missionaries. We were able to attend a session at the Manhattan Temple with the departing missionaries going home August 6th. Normally the session is a week before their departure dates but since the Temple will be closed for cleaning and maintenance the last two weeks of July we went this week. We have such a love for these missionaries already and my heart was so sad thinking they are leaving us so soon. We haven't had them long enough. On the other hand I am so excited for them and the future that awaits. They are awesome! Following a beautiful session we were able to spend a few minutes visiting in the chapel prior to leaving the Temple. It was a sacred tender time and I loved it. Afterwards we all walked to Big Nicks which is a NYNYN tradition! I ate a big burger and fries...something I haven't done for a long time. President Smith still ordered his regular of grilled chicken! It was fun to visit with the missionaries. My sister and her husband have been in town so they took the kids to play. This week they visited The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Wall street, 911 Memorial, Chinatown, The Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Riding Tandem Bikes through Central Park, A Yankees Game and rode the Subway all over. The kids are quickly becoming Natives and know how to navigate their way around the city. They are having quite the summer! Last night we went into Harlem to Rucker Park to watch the Adidas Uprising Game. It was a game played by the top 18 high school basketball players in the country. Frank Jackson from Utah, who has been coached by a good friend of ours was there. We had met him in Texas a few months ago so it was fun to come watch the game and say hello to him afterwards. We totally stood out in our mission clothes and tags. It was so cool. I talked with a NYPD officer who was very curious about our family being there. He kept asking me if I thought NY was a good place. It led to an interesting conversation and I left a pass along card with him inviting him to learn more about the gospel. The Security guards must have thought we looked very official because they escorted all of us to the media section. I love this city and these people. It is fascinating! I have found the people here to be friendly and open to having conversations. We have felt extremely welcome everywhere we have gone. This week we visited Savannah's High School and met with her Counselor/Dean who is also a Latter day Saint. He was so kind and attentive to her as he talked about the school and gave her some tips on navigating her way through. The kids had Dr. appointments this week so we can finish up their registration for school. The Dr. was referred to us by a sister @ Church who has quickly become a dear friend. We really connected with the doctor and I am grateful to have found a pediatrician so quickly.
The kids & I went to dinner with our Laitinen cousins on Wednesday. They were visiting from California. It was so fun to see them and reconnect.
On Tuesday it was President Smith's birthday. He spent the day in zone training and interviews. I went and spent the afternoon at the church so that I could have interaction with the missionaries. It is so fun to sit and visit with them and learn more about them, their areas, investigators, etc. I am continually amazed by their obedience, diligence and overall desire to serve. There is such a positive feeling in the mission and we are so grateful for the commitment to the Savior that each of these missionaries have. They all helped make President's birthday extra special. He received countless texts from the various companionships. The missionaries near by the mission home decorated our front door and left yummy brownies, which we all enjoyed. While we were at the Church for interviews the kids came for a bit and also visited with the missionaries. They wish they could hang with them everyday all day. The Westchester Zone had a zone pday at the park and came to the mission home afterwards and cooked hot dogs on the outdoor grill. The kids loved being a part of it all.
I've ventured out a lot more lately and can find a few places without the GPS. I've even driven to the city on two different occasions. It is an experience but I am getting the hang of it! We have a parking space near the Temple on 66th Street. The kids love to go to the Church next to the Temple. They have made friends with the different security guards and others who are there on a regular basis.
This morning we spoke in the Westchester Spanish Branch. Elder Hinckley translated my talk as I spoke. It was frustrating to not fully be able to express my thoughts, but he did a great job with the translation. In closing I shared my testimony in Spanish. It was very broken but they knew what I was saying. I was emotional as I shared it & expressed my love for the members of that branch in my broken Spanish. I found my courage today as it was something I was very nervous to do. Shout out to my dear friend Caroline & my brother in law Dustin who helped me with the Spanish! This afternoon we visited the Darien Ward in CT & took the kids. Dave was asked to share his testimony. It was a very friendly ward & we really enjoyed being there. The Elders & Sisters sang a beautiful missionary medley that was just awesome. I was so proud of them!
Tonight we are having a 'birthday' dinner for President & Elder Reid & a going away dinner for the Lotz who will be leaving us this week. They have served @ WestPoint. We will miss them & are very grateful for their service.
The highlight of William's week was the zip line he & his dad put up in the yard. He thought the mission home needed some kid friendly stuff. Yesterday was lots of fun as we all took turns!
We are so happy to be here & still pinch ourselves that we are blessed to have this experience together, with our kids, and to be in such a fascinating city.