Thursday, October 24, 2013

From October 14, 2013:

 We had a wonderful family come to church this week, and I fell in love with their really cute kids. The night before the dad had played video games with the twin boys (spitting images of me as a kid, with  the buck teeth and all...) until 3:30 am, on the condition that they have to go to church the next day. I loved that haha my job in the middle of sacrament meeting turned into being babysitter for the kids. They were really good but in serious need of paper to doodle on in the middle of the meeting. We had a great luncheon thing after church, and our congregation was so welcoming to everyone, visitors and members. I love bringing families to church because I know the massive difference the gospel has made in my life, and in my family life. I would not love my family as much as I do if they hadn't brought me to church. All the family and friends that came to my farewell, I hope you felt welcome when you came because we know as missionaries that friends and love are so important when you're put in a new environment, like coming to a new church. This week was just great I felt the Spirit a lot when talking to people and planning to meet with people. Attitude determines altitude, and in this case my altitude can really make a difference and change people's lives, so I have to have a positive attitude! thanks for all the mail and packages (I did get the satchel I will wear it as requested by the mission president although I don't want to:) ) Love you all!
Elder Jake Hirschi
Hello everyone- as the blogmaster and mother of this wonderful missionary, I want to apologize for getting a little behind on his blog!  (We won't tell him until he comes home :) ).  Anyway, some of the posts are a little out of order.  I am recommitting to keeping the blog updated in a timely manner.  Just to update everyone, Jake is serving in Rochester, New York, on a temporary reassignment, as he is still waiting for his visa to Brazil.  This is a very common occurrence with missionaries heading for Brazil.  Sometimes the visa's take many, many months to come through.  He is anxious to go to Brazil, but happy to be serving in New York!  Thanks for following Elder Hirschi's blog!
From October 7, 2013

Hi from the great city of Buffalo!
So this week was amazing here in Buff city. I've never fully appreciated or looked forward to (or stayed awake throughout for matter) General Conference until this year. We tell so many people about how we believe that God works through a modern day prophet today holding all the keys of His Priesthood, but we rarely have a voice to match him with. This week was General Conference, a massive broadcast where many church leaders, including the Prophet and the Apostles give us council for our day. It is broadcasted into something like 85 languages live? Practically anywhere in the world people have access to the words of our leaders today. No one tunes in closer to conference than the missionaries. Since the Prophets tell us what God wants us to be focusing ontoday, missionaries make sure to take as many notes as possible to relay to those who are looking for the gospel. One thing that really stood out to me in this semiannual conference was President Thomas S. Monson's talk during Sunday morning. In all the years we've heard President Monson, I don't think I've ever seen him cry or stray away from his typical emotional personality (the happy sing song voice of his). This conference, his talk was based on his love for his late wife, and no one listening could deny the emotional strain losing her took on him. What this showed to me is that he is real. He knows struggle, he experiences difficulty, and he's not just some man who tells us to power through our problems while he doesn't have any. It doesn't matter who you are, rich or poor, black or white, male or female, everybody has experienced some kind of pain and heartache. Even the Prophet of God. This made so many of the other talks more meaningful, because strength through trials was a big theme. The Prophet has to struggle just like we do. But more importantly, Jesus Christ struggled not only just like we do, but so many times over he experienced the pain we experience. If we can look to him, whether you are just an average joe or if you are a prophet of God, you can have strength through trials. A ton of people we teach are going through some serious trials that I've never experienced, and so we focus a lot on conquering your specific trials and recognizing them as sources of strength and catalysts of faith. Sometimes it's hard because I've never experienced anything like what people here have experienced, but that's why we help people gain trust and faith in the Lord, not in us.
Two missionaries from our district were waiting for visas to get to Argentina, and they came on Saturday! I was happy for them esp because one of them has been waiting for about 6 months or so! A sister missionary that came out when I did just got hers too!
So somewhat funny story: We were eating fruit and cinnamon rolls as a ward before the Sunday morning session of general conference started, and apparently there was a stranger who walked in (there's prob around 30 people already), stayed for about 15 minutes, and then left after snatching one of the iphones of a young mom in the ward! It had a pink cover, and she immediately called the police haha not sure what they were going to do about it though...downtown buffalo is a rough place and I feel like the police have better things to do than search for missing Iphones. I'm not actually serving in downtown buffalo don't worry mom plus the elders that are there have to be home pretty much before dark so everyone is kept safe!
Thanks for all the packages, letters, and emails I love them all!
Elder Jake Hirschi
Most recent post from October 21, 2013

Hello from Buffalo New York!
Unfortunately, this is perhaps the last time I will type this phrase.....I'm being transferred to Rochester City area! I'm really excited to start a new experience in the actual heart of Rochester haha it'll be different for sure. So yes I am going to get a new companion, whose name is Elder Bird. Elder Allen is getting a new visa waiter (missionaries temporarily waiting in the States for the Visas to go elsewhere aren't true missionaries in this mission, we're "visa-waiters" JK I love it here!) whose name is Elder Holmes I think. So this morning I packed up my suitcase, and backpacks and tomorrow morning I will start a new phase of my mission in Rochester, NY! Typically missionaries stay together for about 2 or 3 6week periods, then one of the missionaries will get "transferred" to a new area, within the boundaries of the overall mission. My mission goes from Lake Erie and basically Niagara Falls farthest West, to the Finger Lakes on the East border. So I'm actually going a relatively far distance to my new area. This week was a fun one. Only a couple hours after I finished the email home last Monday, we started playing hockey with some newly baptized members, a really cool family. We played a little basketball and soccer as well, and right before we were about to leave I hurt my knee somehow playing soccer, but it should be up to snuff in the next week or so.
---insert for my mother...--- mom don't freak. Don't start trying to call the mission etc etc haha the President's wife is our caretaker and she takes care of stuff like this. Let me just explain to you what happened so you can give your diagnosis. I kicked the ball, no other contact occurred, and my knee locked up like it has done before in past years. Usually I just straighten the knee and I hear a pop and everything's fine, and that's what I did this time too. But even though it popped back or "unlocked" there was still some sort of knot that prevented me from straightening my knee at all. For the first day at least I could put no weight on it. The next day I hopped into zone meeting haha and another stud missionary looked at it. He said I was positive to the apley's and mcmurrays tests with lateral pain along the joint line in valgus at 60. I don't know what that means, but it has gotten a ton better since then. I got a blessing tuesday night and now I can walk without crutches but with an obvious limp. I can straighten it almost all the way with a little pain but I think there's some fluid buildup that's preventing it from fully extending. Sis francis hooked me up with a doctor I'm going to as soon as I get to Rochester on Wednesday probably. So it's no big deal, it's just hard to do missionary work when you're crutching around and not biking...---(resume)
All this means is that missionary work is a lot slower than normal, seeing that we can't ride bikes like we normally do. This week was also rough because we see what people need in their life to make them happy and they just choose otherwise. The happy moments of a mission outweigh all the hard disappointing times, but that doesn't mean you won't have many disappointing times as well. I can't but help to think about how much disappointment Heavenly Father feels as He sees exactly what we need to do to make ourselves as happy as possible, and then witness us refuse to take the right paths all the time. It must be really frustrating! I think as we go through life it's a lot easier to take a step back and really scrutinize our small decisions. The small decisions inherently combine to create bigger things, and a basic outline of where our lives are headed. If we direct the small and simple decisions based on what will make us the most happy in the end (not necessarily the easiest or most convenient now) then I bet we would avoid a lot of life's difficulties. For example, when our lives are really busy and we have a thousand things to do, it is really inconvenient to sit down and pray to Heavenly Father to know He's there, and to let Him know that you're still listening. But I know that if we take time out of our day and really focus on what prayer does for us in the long run, we will have a happier, more peaceful life filled with more concrete perspective and understanding. Then when we run into life's tribulations, we can fall back on the same being that we've been kept in contact with the whole time. We will know that He's there, in the good times and the bad. We don't have to feel like we're alone. So many people don't take time to do the small and simple things. I know I didn't before now. But it's so important, and part of my job as a missionary is helping people see the bigger picture, and ultimately come closer to Christ. No one here is perfect (my family is pretty close regardless of what my mom says in her emails:)) but everyone here has a perfect example to look towards. Thanks for all the emails and letters!
Send letters to this address now that I'm moving and I don't know my new address yet:
460 Kreag Road
From Sept. 23rd

Hi mom! You sent this email right as I was starting to write one home. First of all, I'm not beating myself up because of losing things. Everything got replaced besides the wallet and money really isn't all that important out here haha. There are far more important things to worry about and invest your energy in out here than losing a wallet. I'm glad you got yours back though. As far as the scriptures, I gave you a few just because if one didn't work for some reason, you had some backups. I want the D&C 4 one, though. As far as clothes go, I'm saving up enough every couple weeks to buy more clothes that it's not a problem. Yet. I will let you know, but the couple in charge of apartments has asked if the visa waiters need quilts. Winter is coming very quickly....don't worry I'm taken care of:) Also, did Kylie send an email yet?? I saw that she landed but I didn't see a group email. It is beyond fathomable to think she's there before I am haha but I can't wait to hear how she is doing. What a different environment that she's been thrown in, without any idea what lies ahead. Both trials and more importantly life lessons she'll never forget. I know she'll get home from a mission and not be able to believe that she ever thought about not serving a mission. The sister missionaries can do things on a mission that the elders simply can't do. Like getting through to some people. So this week, we had a fantastic time teaching people and getting to know people more personally. The highlight of the week was going to the temple. Our ward had a temple trip and 40 people showed up at the lunch beforehand! It was a great turnout, and I could really see the whole ward join in and put it together. There was one lady who has a hunched back, can barely hold her head up, but she went through the temple with us anyway. There is no age limit to the temple. I also was able to notice how much symbolism is portrayed in the temple, especially through pictures of nature. It made me think of how many things that are found in nature that really typify Jesus Christ and His purpose for us. Some time just take a walk and take note of how many times and ways you see God's hand around you just in that walk. For example, everything we use for energy, everything we eat, produce, everything that lives and grows temporally, is generated through the power and energy of the Sun. Likewise, everything in our lives that we experience and are able to grow from, originates from the Son, or Christ. Nothing can learn. Nothing can feel. Nothing can grow without the help of Jesus Christ. It is so simple sometimes to see the influence He has in our lives. We got to talk to some great people this week, including a family from Sri Lanka, the same man we've been teaching from Congo, two Chinese students, two Haitian family members, another man from Sri Lanka, as well as another man who has an accent but who's been too many places to know where it originated haha don't really know how that one works but he's VERY passionate about his beliefs, whether they are political or religious. My companion Elder Allen said something that defended Paul Ryan, and this man got in his face and my favorite quote of his was: "PAUL RYAN?? PAUL ryAN? I bet you that if he was running for JANITOR-IN-CHIEF he wouldn't get elected. JANITOR-IN-CHIEF!!!" What a guy. There are so many personalities out there, and it's amazing to know that not one of them is exactly identical. Thanks for all the emails and letters, and by the way I did not get my visa yet, and according to someone I talked to the Brazilian President just stood up President Obama and ditched out on a luncheon so there may be more delays on letting Americanos into Brazil if she's still offended by him. I would love to hear any updates you may have!
Elder Jake Hirschi
From September 16, 2013

Hi Fam!
Mom I AM getting your emails I hope you are getting mine! Did you get the one about Seminary? I'm going to attempt to answer all your questions:
1.) I am getting emails, about two a week or so.
2.) I am feeling good.
3.) I'm not homesick in a bad way, it's more like I'm thinking about my family more and appreciating them more, not missing them more.
4.) Twosome, instead of a tripanionship: I like it more because people can focus easier on listening to two people instead of three, but it's also harder because you're around only one other person for most of the day not two people to talk to the other when one is irking you haha. Life lessons being learned every day...
7.) We're always able to keep busy, even if it means tracting for a couple hours in a day.
8.) Best thing to do as member missionaries? Find the people you love most without the gospel, and set up a time to meet with the missionaries with your friends. People can give referrals to the missionaries but we've concluded that without involvement of the members who referred the referral in the first place, it's pretty much as effective as tracting another house. Setting up an activity or a dinner with the referral and the missionaries is a lot more effective because they have the comfort of their friends along the way, does that make sense? We had a great stake Priesthood meeting yesterday all about member missionary work, and it was really effective. Anyone who sincerely listens to the discussions and reads the Book of Mormon won't be offended about you inviting them to look into the gospel in the first place, because it will only make them happier. The worldwide mission broadcast that you went to right after I got set apart as a missionary is really effective too, and we're trying to get our bishop to show it to the whole ward at some point.
9.) The missionaries can really make a difference as far as how much the ward helps in missionary work. Sometimes, and I think this ward is one of those times, if you ask them and push them to help, they will! The ward has turned out to be so strong in helping us fellowship, welcome, and teach investigators. There are great people that are willing to take the time out of the week to not only give us rides and accompany us to lessons, but to do missionary work on their own and use us in their personal efforts. The job of missionaries is to assist the ward in their missionary efforts. This is something I never realized until I got on my mission. I can't wait to get involved with missionaries when I get home, too, because it really makes all the difference. Don't leave the elders and/or sisters hangin! Honestly when I was at the Red Bridge ward I don't remember seeing very many investigators at church ever, and no more than one or two at a time, and the missionaries never introduced them to me either (that sometimes is not their job I should have found them, but anyway). At my ward now the Buffalo Ward, granted there are 10 missionaries haha but their are probably 10-12 or more investigators at church every week. It's great, and we make sure to introduce them to a ton of people and make them feel welcome. I think Red Bridge Ward area may be a tough area, but it can be done!
10.) I'm ok for now on gloves and coat. It hasn't been cold enough for a coat yet, but I am guaranteed to be here another 6 weeks because president said you do stay until the end of the transfer even if the visa comes before that. Elder Allen said he has another coat also. President did however tell me that I need to get a satchel instead of a backpack. He gave me six weeks to get one. Sooooo could you maybe order me one with my checking and send it to me? I'm not picky but he said it's mandatory now:( thanks.
11.) I am ok with waiting right now. President made me think that all visa waiters are inherently dying to leave haha which I don't think is true but he puts a firm emphasis on the fact that this is your mission right now, which is true. But he's trying to get rid of a bunch of trios. It is hard to focus though when more visa waiters are coming in and I just talked to a kid going to Manaus who got here last week, who was in my building at BYU so that made me excited to go again...don't tell anyone...
12.) I DID get my DL, immunization card, debit card, etdc thank you so much! It came a while ago sorry for not mentioning it, but I appreciate you picking up for the mistakes I make! What else is new right? Hopefully a lot when I get home haha I'll work on my personal responsibility...
I think that's all the questions. Thanks for the letters Dad they're great and you should be getting one soon also. What's aunt Kitty and Uncle Richard's address? I'll shoot them a letter also. Thanks gramps and Gara for their letters too! And everyone else!
Elder Jake Hirschi

From Sept. 30th

Hello how is everyone this week?
So I've been reading Alaina and Kylie's emails and compared to theirs, I sound like I'm depressed and unmotivated...that is not the case! I'm just a guy so don't judge. Anyway, this week was another great week with some great experiences. In our area, a "village" technically North of Buffalo called Kenmore, we've started to teach a lot of families. Really solid families. I think the gospel of Jesus Christ really hits people home when they have their families to experience it with. The whole reason we are in families is to increase our happiness and knowledge and be able to experience the same joy that Heavenly Father experiences. He is the ultimate example of a perfect father. We can look to him with any concern and He has a perfect answer because He is the perfect Father. We love to show a certain Mormon message online to people that pretty much compares the role of an earthly father to the role our Heavenly Father plays, it's a cool one. This week we've also had the wonderful opportunity to teach an entire household of people straight from China, who really have no Christian background at all. It's funny because they have a Chinese name (which you could listen to 50 times and still not remember a minute later) and then they have an American name, which they basically make up on the spot haha funniest thing to see their process of making up their own name, or occasionally forgetting their own American name, and then asking their other Asian friends to remind them of it. You can tell family is important to them. It makes it considerably hard to teach though when everyone else you've taught has a somewhat concrete idea of who God is, yet now we're teaching people who yes have heard of God, but don't really know what people believe about God or who Jesus Christ is. So it's a new experience, but so cool to get a new perspective on culture and religious background! The great thing is that you can love anybody, regardless of which country they came from or what they believe at square 1. The first step to teaching people and helping them change their lives is to love them. That's how God does it (God is no a respecter of persons) and that's the way it will always be. Speaking of which, thank you so much for the letters, packages, emails, it's so great to be surrounded by the prayers and cares of my family and friends. So another thing we started doing this week was think OUTSIDE the box. It's about time, right? Because really it doesn't make a difference in OUR personal lives if you come to church or not. We know it will help your family, it will make your week less stressful and more insightful, and really it helps you grow spiritually and just feel good! That's why it's so frustrating. Because people bail on themselves...deep. Anyway so we got a hold of some of the local sister missionaries and they helped us out with a little craft day. We decided to make the posters that are attached to this email, and then we took a picture of us holding the pictures. We put magnets on the back of the pics and made them into little refrigerator reminders to COME TO CHURCH! Basically church helps you regardless of what you're feeling. The most common excuse for not coming to church? I can't wake up on Sundays...ha. That's funny because Matthew 11:28says Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. So really the excuse is not there. We hope that these little reminders will help people see the need to go to church and partake in the spiritual feast that goes on there. I really have come to appreciate church (as a 19 yr old punk people) and I end up looking forward to it every week because I have recently left church the past few weeks really feeling my Savior's love for me and what I'm doing here in Buffalo. I may not be in the exotic foreign country I thought I would be in at this point, but people are in need in every country and community. So as long as I can open the doors of invitation to the gospel of Jesus Christ, I'm ok where I am. I can't focus on going to Brazil because I can't take my focus off the people in Buffalo who need us now.