Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Brazil Update

Elder Hirschi has arrived in São Paulo, Brazil. Here is his email he sent from the Missionary Training Center in São Paulo, where he will be for the next two weeks. I have committed to keeping his blog updated! He also has a Facebook page that he kept in New York. It's under Elder Jacob Hirschi. However, he won't have an iPad in Brazil, so it won't be updated. He has some awesome quotes, pictures and video clips on it. He also says goodbye to the wonderful people in the New York, Rochester Mission. Here is his email: So we arrived at the CTM and we were told to send an email home to settle the hearts of the worried ones back in America... I got dropped off at the airport in rochester by one of the office staff members, then i went from Rochester to Detroit, on a flight that took probably an hour or so. Then we geared up for the flight from Detroit to Sao Paulo, where the CTM is located. It was a grueling 10 hour flight overnight, but luckily I sat next to a pretty cool guy from Brazil who was willing to practice his English while I practiced my Portuguese with me. We arrived in Sao Paulo at 7/30 this morning and went straight to the CTM. It was crazy when I walked into the gate for my flight to SP, and heard more Portuguese being spoken around me than I had my whole life combined! It was awesome, although I didn't understand everything that was being said. I understand more than i thought, but it's pretty stressful to be in the CTM where all the native speakers are being trained. Well, here goes nothing, and I'll possibly email next week to tell you if I survived- Love you all- Elder Hirschi

Monday, September 22, 2014

What just happened???

This week was pretty interesting, needless to say. We had a week of two exchanges in a row with different missionaries, because it's the last week of the transfer and we put off doing exchanges. But it was great, and we were able to teach more lessons this week than we have in all 6 weeks of the transfer! The week was filled with both miracles and rejections, which is common if you are putting yourself out there to talk to the people in your area. We ran into Jews, Atheists, Christians, and anti Mormon Christians haha but what else is new? We did indeed find a few people that were genuinely wanting to learn more about our church, including Jill and Mary, which were both miracles. This week was a microcosm of the rest of my mission because of how many times we felt like we were guided to a certain place to find someone prepared to hear our message. I couldn't ask for a better final week as a missionary in Pittsford. On Thursday we hosted Gladys Knight at one of our chapels to sing, direct a Grammy award winning choir, and tell her story and testimony to anyone in the community willing to listen. We were on the help crew of 12 missionaries in the mission, so we were there from about 3 to midnight. We passed info brochures on Gladys Knight and her testimony, greeted people, and collected any referral cards people filled out to have missionaries come by and talk with them. It was a great event that connected the culture of our church to the cultures of other churches, and it showed people that race and culture shouldn't divide us, but we should be united as Christians. They (Gladys Knight and her husband) did bear pretty strong testimonies about the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. What an experience it was to hear the chapel booming with angelic voices! Ok that's only somewhat of an exaggeration, but they were good! I will say though that the baptist gospel fest I went to in the city last year was way more intense, but I enjoyed them pretty much equally! We were the VIP greeters, so we saw some big rigs in the Rochester area, which was cool. Friday was one of the craziest days of my mission. We volunteered at the Pittsford food cupboard, then raced to practice our songs for round II of our senior center volunteering/ sing along time with the old folks. I must say, we nailed it because we brought one of the senior office staff missionaries with us, and she already knew all the songs from the 40s, so it obviously went a lot better than when I tried to sing these unknown (to me) oldie beauties. We walked out feeling pretty famous, and then we went on with our day. I got an interesting call on Friday. Apparently, The Lord decided to deliver my visa this week. I was told I needed to make a decision right then and there, and so I did, because I had already decided that if my visa came before I hit my 18 month mark, I would go. So here I go, and I don't have time to mention all the details, but it's been a crazy few days. I leave Tuesday night form. Foreign land called Brazil, and I have no idea what the next 9 months have in store for me, but I'll let you know when I know. Fun fact: I received my visa on my exact 15 month mark. Coincidence? Maybe. Love, Elder Hirschi Ps I will miss NY more than anything else in the world, he it's going to be hard to leave to understate. I've come to call this place home, and I have to leave my home with only a few days notice, so I'm not euphoric yet, but hopefully when I get there I will be. I know it's where God wants me to be. Enviada do meu iPad, for the last time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Senior Moments

September 15, 2014 Hello all! This week was filled with many interesting experiences,some falling into the "once in a lifetime" category. I'll start with one special experience: We've been doing everything in our power to find volunteer experiences in Pittsford, so people will get a little more acclimated to seeing our faces and shirts and ties. Some people, especially in Pittsford who are a little hesitant to even let us volunteer at their places, but that's why we're going and introducing ourselves to many places. That being said, we applied at a senior center and put on our applications that we both play the piano. We got a call from them last week, requesting that we fill in for their piano player and come to play for their "rock around the clock" hour, where we play songs from their time and help complete their sing along time haha Of course we accepted, and we collected the music from them. It wasn't that tough of sheet music, and we took a couple hours out of the week to practice, feeling like we had them down pretty well. The time comes for the volunteer hour to rock around the clock, and it was much different than expected...we didn't know they wanted us to A) play the songs B) get everybody excited and engaged in the music and C) BE THE LEAD SINGERS FOR THE SONGS! I had no idea how to sing any of the songs Elder Bruner played, so just picture me trying to sing into a microphone for the group of 40-50 seniors listening, not knowing any melodies, but trying to endure to the end without giving up and running out of there haha I was really called to repentance when I suggested we do a certain song next and one woman bitterly responded with "well do you know how to sing it?" Ouch. Oh well, they still asked us to come back which we were extremely surprised to hear! So that was that. Updates on how next week goes to come... I also attended my first zone conference as a zone leader. The only difference really is that we give one training and conduct the meeting, but it was cool to be able to pray about what the whole zone needs, and help them by training on specific things that should help them. A good thing the church emphasizes when you hold leadership positions is that with more leadership positions and "higher" responsibilities, comes more opportunity for you to serve, not more power or dominion over others. We get to go on exchanges with other missionaries and be with them, helping them improve, and often learning from them how to be better missionaries, which is nice. One miracle we experienced was meeting S. We invited her to the devotional hosted by Gladys Knight coming up this week, and although she was on the phone when we invited her, she seemed excited about it. We started to walk away, but then thought, you know what, we need to go back and talk to her! So we did, and even though we gave her our number and asked her if she wanted a little more background on our religion all when she was on the phone, she was definitely interested and talked to us when she got off the phone. She was from Jamaica, from Montego Bay, which I told her I had been to before! Mom and Dad that's where we went right? i didn't lie to her? It was cool to explain a little bit about our religion, and see her sincerely interested in learning. She was on a search for truth. She didn't have definite beliefs in a God, but she said she wanted definite beliefs. I think God is happy when people are earnestly searching for truth. If He is a loving God, then He will let His children know He's there, especially if they're searching. I know that S will feel that God loves her if and that God is real when she listens and watches for His hands in her life. I know that because that's what He's done in my life. Sometimes we have to look closely, but we can always see His hand in our life. Just look around you! Think about how perfectly everything works in this Earth. Our bodies have millions of reactions that occur every day that happen to work together in perfect combination and timing to function properly. The earth is placed at a perfect distance away from the sun so that we as humans can live peaceably. If it was the slightest distance farther from the sun, we would freeze up and die. If it were the slightest distance closer to the sun, we'd burn up and die. This Earth is designed for us! This life is designed for our happiness, and it's a gift from God! I'm thankful for it, and I''m thankful for you! Love, Elder Hirschi

Ready, Set, WHEEL!!

Monday, September 8th, 2014
Thursday we had exchanges, which means a missionary from a different area comes and spends the day with me or Elder Bruner, and the other one of us goes to that missionary's normal area with his normal companion. So I stayed here in Pittsford with an Elder Kelly. We saw many miracles as we traversed the rough trip from ritzy Pittsford to small town Honeoye Falls. Honeoye Falls got it's name from a tiny waterfall you can observe on the canal that runs between the town's tiny Main Street. Quaint. Anyways, we were able to connect with a lot of people, and have some really good conversations. Although people aren't keen on necessarily letting you in and letting you come back to teach their families, sometimes missionary work is only about planting seeds, and helping others feel the love of Christ in she, friendly conversations. If you humbly bear testimony of the divine power of Christ's atonement, and they are able to feel the spirit, you've done well. Just because someone doesn't accept a Book of Mormon, or an invitation to be baptized or to come to church, doesn't mean you've failed as a missionary. It's easy to feel this way, especially in an area where people are prone to politely rejecting you, time and time again. But we have no power over people's agency, one of the greatest gifts of God. So we're working on being successful missionaries, despite not seeing nearly as much success as we want to. Another exciting event was the Old Folks Olympics in Palmyra, NY. We were asked to volunteer, and we then voluntarily agreed to be the designated face painters. I had don't it before in Greece NY but definitely thought I was better at it than I actually was. One kid's "Spider-man face" turned out to be, well, something besides spider man haha (it's bad that I can't even come up with a comparison to it...) To end the event we helped Irene gear up to compete in the epic wheelchair race. Despite her efforts being more focused on finding some ice cream than actually competing in the race, she finished at an honorable third place. Out of three. It was a good time, and I'll post pictures of it transferred from elder Bruner's camera to my IPad, so sorry about the quality. We've also started giving each family a chance to come up with goals that constitute their own family mission plan, and it's been really successful. It's a great way to be connected with, and on the same page as our families in the ward. The only way we're really going to see progress in our area long term is if we work with members. We can knock on doors or contact people on the canal all day long (which is what we're doing sometimes!) but ultimately if people have a connection to someone at church besides the missionaries, they're a lot more willing to talk and to actually attend church, etc. So this week we have zone conference, a 6-7 hour long set of meetings where us, president, and a few others give trainings to the zone of about 20 missionaries. It should be fun! Love, Elder Hirschi

Miracles and Meetings

September 1, 2014 We'll start with meetings: 1) We had a new district leader and zone leader training meeting, which was cool but took up too much of our time. It's cool though because the chapel we go to is where the mission office is located, where transfer meeting occurs, sort of the center of meetings for our mission. So we get to see missionaries from all over when we're here, which is cool. When I went to the new leader meeting, Elder Bruner and a few others went to go try to meet people in the area, and apparently they got shut down consistently the whole time we were in the meeting...nevertheless, hope was not lost, as you'll find out later. 2) I went to my first Mission Leadership Council, which is a massive meeting where the leaders among the elders and the leaders among the sister missionaries come and council about different subjects, and then people like Kylie give trainings to us, etc. It was extra special because we had a representative from a choir that the famous Gladys Knight directs come to our mission and discuss the details of a devotional/concert that Gladys Knight is directing here in Rochester in September! She's coming to share her experiences of why she became a member of the church, and how she gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, etc so it should be an amazing opportunity to get people in the chapel exposed to a meetinghouse and some of the members. Can't wait! That meeting took all day though... Miracles: 1) We extended the zone challenge like I mentioned last week, with the prize being a large chocolate bar. Well, the challenge ended and it was a huge hit! People in the zone really made an effort to get out there and meet new people, introducing them to the church and what we're all about, no why we stop strangers and talk to them!! We personally found that as we went out to try to meet new people, we would often find people that we're looking for a church, or who were curious about what we do, or really interested in the Gladys Knight event, etc. It really seemed like God had placed us in the right spots at the right times. 2) K was one of these people. We walked up to her on her front porch, and what was anticipated to be a quick 2 minute invitation to the Gladys Knight event turned out to be a 15-20 minute conversation about why we're here on Earth, and how the restoration of hue gospel helps answer deep important question like that. She was awesome. We walked past her on one of her fee days off when she happened to be outside. Not by chance. 3) We ran into L as well, who just happened to be visiting churches lately, and found herself in Pittsford, not too close to where she actually lives. She happened to run into us, and hear about our church. We gave her our information and invited her to show up to the church closest to her. Not by chance. 4) More inspired bowels- I had to go to the bathroom and we had the choice of going back to the apartment or going to McD's really quick. We chose to go to McD's and a kid named T just happened to be working, really interested in learning about the faith of those who are willing to act on their own faith, such as missionaries. Not by chance we just ran into him. 5) Lesson with J. She assured us multiple times that she was Roman Catholic, like a lot of people around here. That was totally fine! Our job as missionaries is to share our beliefs with others and invite them to pray to know the truthfulness of our message, without tearing anybody else down. The lesson we taught her went very well, and we all felt the spirit really strong. She had tears in her eyes, and we could tell that God had been merciful to us by helping us teach with the Spirit. If the spirit is not there, the. It won't be a very effective lesson! So that was good. 6) Our lesson yesterday with W was like J's. He's very old, and he doesn't see why he would need to change his life at this ripe age of his, so we testified strongly of the blessings associated with the restoration of the gospel, and if what we're teaching is true, then there is so much that he can benefit from, including a Temple of The Lord, a modern day Prophet, the Book of Mormon, etc, in addition to everything he has now. He's really being sincere about his prayers, and we can see small changes in Him, for good. That's the best part about serving a mission- seeing the change in others' lives because of what the Spirit teaches them. 7) We had the opportunity to teach the young men in the ward that we're in. It was a powerful lesson on preparing for a mission now, and really figuring out if it's something God wants them to do. We stressed the importance of having spiritual experiences, especially with the Book of Mormon, before you come out on your mission, because of how many times you will invite others to have spiritual experiences on their own. If you've had some experiences you can share with others, you will be a more effective missionary. Being a missionary is crazy, and seems weird sometimes. We do weird things. People look at us funny. Very often. But I know that I am exactly where Heavenly Father wants me to be. Love Elder Jake Hirschi

Summer break= over??!

Monday, August 25th, 2014
I'm sitting in the library of Nazareth College, and it's packed with students! It's really crazy to think that summer break is really coming to an end, although it doesn't really mean anything for me haha. It just comes to show how fast time flies while you're on a mission- I can't believe that I was in Buffalo an entire year ago, and many of my close friends from the mission are going home! There are always new people coming in, new faces to meet, and new friends to make though, so life is good. It's just hard to constantly be saying goodbye to somebody. This week was pretty interesting. One day this week we had a zone meeting, where me and Elder Bruner are in charge of conducting a meeting for a group of about 20 missionaries, with various trainings and what have you. It was all going great as we were driving to the meeting, and we arrived at one of the sacred sites early to get our thoughts together. We went to walk through the Sacred Grove for only about 10 minutes, then we planned on returning to the church to conduct the meeting. Unfortunately, about 7-8 minutes into the grove, my lip started acting up. It was tingly and felt like it was puffing out. When we got to the car, I found that I had somewhat broken out in hives, with a fat round bite-looking thing on my lip and my neck. Great. So we frantically go around asking for benadryl, which nobody had. So we said whatever, and pretended like nothing happened. It eventually unswelled, and the trainings went well. We have a zone challenge to see who can contact the most people this week, with the reward being a hefty one pound chocolate bar that was given to us by a member of the church from Canandaigua. We're excited! In other news, I have a story to sort of epitomize this area. We were knocking on a few doors, trying to meet people in the area, when a really nice girl opens the door. She is not interested in what we have to say, but she offers us some water. Sure, no big deal, I'll take some water. But she then says that they have some canned seltzer, carbonated water they would be willing to give out. Canned seltzer carbonated water? Where am I?! Haha only in a place like Pittsford NY do you get offered carbonated water instead of a normal water bottle like normal people would offer. But we took the fancy water anyways... The same day we happened to run into a very nice Catholic woman, who was doing yardwork outside. We offered our help, and she jokingly said "roll up your sleeves," to which we did, and she assured us that she was joking. We got talking, and somehow found out that she was a former foreign exchange student in Brazil. She spoke Portuguese! We actually had a really good exchange, and it was funny how much more she opened up after she found out I spoke Portuguese. It's also funny how the Lord puts people in your path that will listen to you. I was so surprised that I found someone that speaks Portuguese, but as I thought about it more, I realized that I ask every day in my prayers for God to put people in our path that we can relate to, and that will listen to us. Why should I be so surprised when God answers our prayers? He does answer our prayers, because He loves us. Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you. Not many people take that promise seriously. I've found on a mission how true the Lord's promises are. All you have to do is ask, and ye shall receive. Does that mean that every time you pray you will get an immediate answer? No! Because sometimes, the period where we learn most, and learn to really get down to the nitty gritty to find answers and come closer to Christ, is between the time that we ask God for something, and the time that He answers our prayers. Sometimes He lets us find the answers in the scriptures instead of just giving us a voice in our heads telling us the answer. Sometimes He lets us talk to and counsel with our siblings to work out contentions, instead of just magically making us feel better about each other. Sometimes He lets us ponder about a question we have, and learn about His teachings more, before He gives us a spiritual impression that reveals the answer to our question. He answers our prayers in ways that will help us grow the most. I think that's awesome. Sorry the email is so long. I could've written more, but I want you to stay awake ;) Love Elder Hirschi

New Everything!

August 18, 2014 Wow, what a difference it was this week compared to my previous many weeks this summer. This congregation has 4 assigned missionaries- two elders and two sisters. They just switched areas as I came in. The sisters' area is now Penfield and East Rochester, and our area is Pittsford, Mendon, and Honeoye a Falls. Haha oh Pittsford. We found some stats and apparently Pittsford was one of the 2009 top 100 places to live in the US, and the average income per household is $94,000. Graduating rate from high school is 99%, which 97% of graduates being college bound. Very very different from any other area I've been in. To be honest, my biggest fear has been to get transferred to a rich area with nothing going on. Guess what? Heavenly Father has a sense of humor, but also a better sense of how to help me become better than I do. The sisters have to be giving tours at the historical sites most of the week, and so they normally don't have much time in their assigned areas on top of giving tours. Pittsford has been a sisters area for a long time, and just now is being worked by elders who have more time. But one of the consequences of switching the area from sisters to elders is that we have to go through a transition stage that includes us not have much to work with at the beginning. BUT. One thing I have learned is that if you have faith, The Lord will provide. We've seen so many miracles so far, and it's only been a few days. For example, I was walking down the street tonight and needed to go to the bathroom pretty bad (thank you dad for the genes). We see a guy walking and approach him, asking him where the nearest bathroom is. He says that the closest one is his house, and he leads us into his house to let me use the bathroom. Turns out, he's read part of the Book of Mormon before and met with missionaries a while ago! He set up a time to meet with us later this week. This is just one of multiple tangible miracles we've experienced ever since starting this intimidating journey of carving out a new area. I've relied on The Lord a lot to help me stay motivated and driven to find and find and find new people to teach, and others to help. He's definitely helped me get through many difficult times on my mission, and I don't anticipate anything different this time around :) We talked to a family today about trials. I know that we go through them for a reason. No one will escape trials. God loves us, yet still gives us trials. Why? I think there are many different reasons God would provide us or rather allow us to experience trials. It is hard to grow if we don't know what it's like to go through something hard. Something sad. Something imperfect. Because if we know the difference between distress, tragedy, sadness, worry, and happiness, peace, joy, then we can appreciate the joy peace and happiness to a much fuller extent. If we always live in San Diego our whole life and never escape the summertime paradise, then we become immune to that beautiful feeling of rubbing our toes through the sand, feeling the warmth of the sun against our skin, or looking over miles of blue cloudless skies. We'd appreciate it so much more when we're exposed to harsh New York winters, or bitter snow covering the driveway on your way to work, etc. I think we will get to Heaven and more fully understand as well as appreciate every individual trial we went though on this earth. Now don't think I'm sending underlying messages by mentioning trials or New York winters. I love it here and I'm not going through any particular tough trial. It was just a conversation we had that I felt was worth repeating haha in fact we have this same conversation pretty often with different people! Anyways, I love you all! Love, Elder Hirschi


August 11, 2014 Hello little world! So today marks yet another transfer weekend in NY... :( I always hate leaving areas, because every time I leave I get the feeling that I just got there! It's true- I'm leaving Canandaigua, and I'm going to a place called Penfield, near Rochester. It's a little bit southeast of the city. So every mission is divided into zones, and each zone has a few different districts, in which each missionary companionship is assigned to be. There happens to be 6 zones in this mission, and after I get to my new area, I will have been in 5 different areas, and 5 different zones! It's pretty unheard of to jump around so much, so I've been pretty lucky. Penfield is a really nice area, kind of like Overland Park. It's near Pittsford, which is where the biggest, baddest Wegmans grocery store/grocery monopoly is located, so I'm a little intimidated about the affluence in the area, but I'm excited at the same time. I'm now what's called a zone leader, which just means you go on exchanges with some people in your zone, and you give trainings a few times every month or so. So I'm pretty excited, but bitter sweet as well because we have just got a ton of stuff going on right now in canandaigua. The great thing though is that Elder Brindley is training a new missionary, and Canandaigua is such a great place to be trained. We have seriously seen so many miracles in just these last few weeks, and I've been really blessed to be in Canandaigua, even if it is just for 3 short months. I've realized how short a mission really is, thinking that this could be my second to last area I have. Possibly not, but it could be. You just have to make the most of what you have, and make the most out of the short amount of time you have. This is especially true if you're KYLIE And you only have 6MONTHS LEFT!!! Time flies faster than anyone could ever know. I would delve into the names and the experiences and lessons of this week, but I keep a journal and I'll share more when I get home. Here are some pictures I took on my iPad (somewhat against the "recommendations") but they give a little justice to the beauty of Canandaigua, and specifically Naples NY, but not as much as it deserves. Love, Elder J

Not Much Time....

August 4, 2014 Sorry, I got no time! I'm emailing with about 2 minutes left. Sorry :( This week was crazy, and flew by like crazy. It was a mixture of Po dunk Bakeries, Drywall fiascos, and 20 year olds breaking down when the bottom is suddenly hit without warning. Po Dunk Bakeries: we were invited by D to go to the best bakery I've ever experienced. It's something you'll never find in any city or any place with a name, because she basically runs her business to satisfy her passions for baking, not to run a business and receive some nice income. $4 breakfast that actually filled me up people! Really personable, and not just to earn a bigger tip (even though she did haha)! Crazy! Drywall Fiascos: We continued the fiasco of Drywalling M's barn. It's taking some time, but we hope that in the end she will actually want to hear our message that we know can help her find more to her life than she is now. She's such a great lady either way haha oh M... 20 Year olds: ok, 20 year old. J hit rock bottom this week. Good thing we met him when we did, because we were there to help him find one thing amidst all the negativity that would help him the most: humility. To see him offer a prayer of the most humble kind he probably ever had, was really powerful, and it helped me more fully understand that our trials are always given to us for a purpose. J's was to find humility, and to be put in a position where he could really feel the spirit and start understanding that what we're teaching about Christ and His atonement can actually help him. That is all. Love, Elder J
July 29th, 2014 Hi Family! Sorry we're emailing late, but we had a funeral we had to help put together yesterday so we didn't have time to email. Actually, we split our day, and spent have of PDay yesterday playing basketball and football in the pouring rain :) (never grow up) and the other half doing the funeral. So today is laundry and emailing. I can barely remember what happened last week, so I have to go look back at my notes. He are a few: - Zone conference. A big meeting with our zone, where we pretty much we're directed for two hours on how to update our iPads. The training was given by poor Elder and Sister Wright, who don't own or understand iPads. Nobody's iPad was working completely by the end of he training haha - We met L. She's a really great, humble woman whose daughter lives in Utah after getting baptized a while ago. I realized how hard it must be for parents whose kids get baptized to watch them assimilate into a different life after joining the church, one that they're unfamiliar with. L has heard a lot of wrong things about the church. She's torn between trying out what her daughter has changed her life for, and rejecting it, listening to the negative things that some of her family has said about the church. It's nice to finally get to talk to her and give her the truth to questions she's had for so long. We simply told her to take what we tell her, take what others have said to her, and ask God which voices she should listen to. I'll update you on her. - Tabletop 3 concert with D. We do service for D, and took him to the Hill Cumorah Pageant, and he invited us to a little concert in town. He's got a Dad who's 86 I think, and he came to the concert as well. The last song or two, we see D's dad get up from his walker, hobble over to a good looking girl at the concert, and ask her to dance in front of everybody else. She accepted, and I got some pretty good videos and pictures. It was cool to see him not care about boundaries that people put up so much in society as to what's acceptable and what's not. "It's not good enough in life to just sit in your chair and dance- you've got to get up show yourself you can dance!" - Funeral for B. Yesterday we got see his memorial service, and how many people's lives he had touched. The whole chapel, all the way back to the gym was full with people who loved him. It was cool to see his posterity together as well- I think he had something like 7 kids and 55 grand kids. Dad, I still haven't forgotten that we have to have pizza and cake at your funeral... Well, this email is pretty long... Love you all! Elder Hirschi Tell Jordan and Mike I said hi! It seems like yesterday that I heard Mike give his farewell (I think I might have missed Jordan's?). I'd be surprised at how quick it went but I've come to realize how short two years really is!

Post pageant

July 21st, 2014 Hello all! You know the feeling the day after Christmas when everything is over and your parents are only thinking about taking down all the decorations? Well, that's kind of what it feels like right now, now that the Hill Cumorah Pageant is over. It's probably the biggest and best event worldwide that really brings the community into a non threatening environment that is still chalk full of the spirit! I loved telling people about before it started, but after actually being there it's so easy to tell everyone about it, because of the spirit that is literally unavoidable when you watch it. There's nobody I've met that really doesn't like it, especially the first time they watch pageant. So we were able to go 4 total nights out of 8, and we brought J, a 19 year old, J, 20 some year old, D, the man who lives in the hobbit house, and D's dad, who is 88, and definitely a trooper for this one, handling the crowds like a champ! Pageant overall was great and a real catalyst for me. I loved seeing the cast members be missionaries, and have opportunities to do things that full time missionaries get to do on a daily basis. There were also a lot of missionaries who had finished their missions but returned to go pageant. I saw my grandpa, who is my trainer's trainer. He's got a full beard and looks like a hobo, but I love him anyways haha This week went fast and was eventful, especially one investigator who went missing. We saw him in traffic court the other day, and haven't seen him since...we think he moved to Texas to avoid the police and court system here... One fun thing was going to teach Brother B and Sister G with a member who gave us a tour afterwards of the houses on Canandaigua Lake, which are taxed higher on that lake than any other in the nation. Supposedly. The family who owns the biggest grocery empire in the Northeast called Wegmans, lives in a huge mansion lake and pop retirement locale? I love the ideas that the Red Bridge ward comes up with the do more missionary work. Do the elders come to these gospel discussions or is it just the members together? That might seem less threatening. We're starting a new system in the Canandaigua in order to help members talk more to their friends abut the gospel and introduce them to us. Missionary work is so much less effective if the missionaries are left on their own, and it was never supposed to be like that. Once the mindset of the people is geared towards sharing the gospel because they want to, not because they are just told to, we will have unity in missionary work between the members and the full time missionaries. It's amazing how many truly trivial things are focused on in our day to day lives! It's crazy! Once we have an eternal perspective life is so much fuller! Well, that's all folks! I'm glad the S's had a good time! Yeah they pretty much followed a trail of missionaries across the it. Johnny your braces will be missed greatly, but your teeth look fantastic! Ps the Suprenants said that not everybody calls you Johnny! Is this true? SMEGS when were you born girl? Mom thanks for the care package. Elder. Brindley was the one texting the Surprenants and we're not actually poor. I appreciate the packages anyways! Yes I got them both haha granola bars each time! Love, Elder Hirschi


July 14, 2014 This week was pageant week, and I have very little time to talk about it but I'll read my journal to you when I get home to go into more detail about it. The Hill Cumorah pageant is pretty amazing. 9000 people on average most nights, for about 8 nights! I got to feel the spirit while the volunteer cast of 750 depicted stories from the Book of Mormon. When Christ descends and a booming set of Hallelujahs from the Mormon tabernacle Choir fills the outdoor theatre, you can't help but feel the spirit hit you, as well as everybody else there. I witnessed a miracle in seeing a woman talk to the missionary cast members about the Book of Mormon, and our basic beliefs. She said she had been led by the spirit to attend the hill Cumorah pageant, and she really was so confident that the spirit would bear witness to her if this was the truth and the way that God wanted her to go. She felt the spirit as we read to her put of the Book of Mormon for her first time. She connected we it, and most importantly felt the spirit that what she was reading was good. Being a missionary isn't really that hard because our job is to present to people the opportunity to feel the spirit and then seek it again later. It is not up to us to convince others that the Mormon church is the true church. That's the spirit's job. We simply teach people about what we believe, about how we view Christ, about how God loves His children, about how he takes care of us always, and then invite people to seek him through the Holy Ghost by asking for the truth. It's a cool thing. Well, as far as details, I got no time! But I am definitely in a period of growth spiritually and emotionally and hopefully physically ;) and I can't imagine being anywhere else right now! Love, Elder Hirschi

Eventful week

July 7th.2014 This week was so eventful I really don't know where to start. From 4th of July, to, well, everything surrounding 4th of July, it was crazy! On the 4th of July we went to a place called Letchworth Park with an investigator named D, who was a trooper, considering his age and his undertaking of hiking up and down the trails of the famous New York State park. It's really pretty and honestly I didn't know places like this existed in New York. I didn't even know until I got transferred to Canandaigua that you could enjoy a nice country ride with rolling green hills, and still be somewhat close to civilization. I didn't know Canandaigua existed, let alone a famous state park with scenic views of waterfalls and gorges, nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of the East." Pretty fun. We also were able to find a woman who used to be considered Canandaigua's "mission mom" for missionaries who are away from their's. She had gotten sick and missionaries stopped visiting her, but in the last month, we not only started visiting her again but she also felt somewhat cured from her sickness for the first time in a year and a half! Coincidence? I think not! She's awesome. She, like a couple other people we're working with, isn't going to jump headfirst into the baptismal font, but the fact that people feel peace and enjoy when we come over and talk about God, is something beneficial. It's frustrating when people aren't getting baptized left and right, but I've found that there is a lot more to missionary work than only baptizing. Really, that's the start. It's not like once they're baptized they're good to go for the rest of their lives. Once we're baptized, we are responsible for keeping the sacred covenant we just made during baptism to always remember Jesus Christ and try to be like him! So as members of the church and as missionaries, we all have parts to play in helping people and ourselves stay on that path of discipleship, until our days on this Earth are done! We also have the Hill Cumorah Pageant coming at the end of this week. It will go all of next week as well. We invite everybody we can to go to pageant, and then we attempt to master Kylie's technique of multiple "bird-killing" parties, where we get as many people as we can that we are teaching, together to go see pageant with us. There is a new rule that we can only go to pageant three days this year, whereas previous years you could go every night. So we try to fit about 12 people into 3 groups to go the 3 days, factoring in who would be able to handle being with other people, whose personalities would mesh together, who would benefit/not benefit from who, etc when trying to figure out which groups of 4 to be together. This is because we want to be with everybody and visit with them and have a good experience with the people we are teaching at pageant, but all at the same time too due to the new rule. Lots of fun. Can't wiat! Kylie, any advice? Well, this week has been crazy, but if it weren't, it wouldn't be life, and no one wants that right? Happy 4th! Hope it went well! Love, Elder Hirschi

July 1....

Today is July 1. Time keeps flying by. This week was a big week for us. We're getting ready for the Hill Cumorah Pageant, which is the biggest outdoor theatrical event in the United States, according to word on the street. It's an outdoor play put on by volunteer cast members from all over the United States. You have to qualify to be in the cast, and you stay for about 2 weeks, either staying in the dorms on the site of the Hill Cumorah (near Palmyra) or staying at a local hotel. You show up on the 4th of July, practice all day every day for about a week, and then perform for 7 or 8 days straight (the show begins at 9:30pm so you don't get much sleep!) There are about 600 cast members, and 9 to 10,000 in the crowd every night of pageant. I've never been, and I only get to see 1 pageant during my mission, so next week is going to be pretty exciting. The Pageant is not a beauty's a play that depicts what the Book of Mormon is all about, and where it came from. Cool! Transfers were also yesterday, and we had some pretty upset sisters. Sister Tipton is going home in 6 weeks, and she just got moved to a new area for her last 6 weeks. No missionary wants to end their mission in a new area, but she is a trainer for pageant cast members, so she needed to be close to pageant, and let other missionaries who aren't cast trainers be in her area! Nonetheless, she's a bit upset, and we're all going to miss her! Also, the two sisters who are staying in our district are both training new missionaries, so the next 6 weeks should be interesting...not that they ever aren't...By the way Elder Brindley and I (you're welcome Grampsss) are staying the same for another transfer. We've got to run to an appointment, but thanks for all the emails, sorry it's a bit rushed, but really busy is better than not at all right? Love, Elder Jake... time for pics....maybe next time I'll send all the pictures instead of emailing. I have some great ones!

My Yer Merk

June 23, 2014 Thursday was a very odd day for me. It was June 19, 2014. We had a zone conference. It just so happened that my first day in the MTC was June 19th, 2013... And during the zone conference, President Francis gave a training and for some reason kept repeating the sentence (not knowing it was my year mark) "exactly one year ago today, exactly one year ago today" and it just rung in my ears for a while. It's been a whole year since I started my mission, and it seems like I got here yesterday. I remember the first day, when on the way to the airport I forgot a bag, then we arrived and I had to switch my stuff to a different bag because I put razors in my carry on...then I missed my flight haha It seems like yesterday that I walked in late to a huge meeting at e Mtc introducing us to the mission, sitting there with someone besides my companion because I had gotten there late and my actual companion was with a couple other missionaries, thinking I had chickened out of coming on a mission... It seems like yesterday that our district in e Mtc was playing soccer together, having a blast destroying other teams haha but really. It seems like yesterday that I arrived in Buffalo with no clue what I was doing in NY, trying to figure out how to contact strangers and talk to them about at least one of the two "forbidden" topics (religion). It seems like yesterday that I got into Rochester and saw so many new perspectives and personalities and things about myself that I never knew before. It seems like yesterday that I was crushed because I had to move to Greece NY and leave people I felt so attached to. It seems like yesterday that I never thought I would love anywhere as much as Rochester 4th ward, but then I found Greece, and new beginnings brought blessings and deep relationships with more new people. It seems like yesterday that I packed up once again and moved to a place I never pronounced correctly until I got here in CanaNdaigua. It seems like yesterday that I walked up and down Main Street talking to people about the pageant, meeting people who were prepared for the gospel, and helping people overcome addictions that would have either put them in jail or worse by now, had we not run into them in the first place. It seems like yesterday that I hit my year mark. Yet it's already been 4 days since already! Long story a little less long, time flies when you're on a mission. Although it seems like yesterday, if I stop and think about everything that has happened in the last year, it seems more normal that it's been a year. I love you all, and yes Mom, on a mission I've had to rely on the Lord and get to know Him in a different way than I ever did before. A better way. A closer way. Thanks for the emails, notes, packages, inhalers, and everything in between. It means a lot to have a family that cares about you and what you're doing even though we're so far away from home. I can't wait to see what new experiences will come in the next year! I won't even try to make any predictions, because I know I'll be off by a long shot! Love, Elder Hirschi Ps I'm on my iPad pics:(

First week in Canananandaigua

May 26, 2014 This week was such a blur. New experiences, new people, new companion. So Canandaigua is pretty much Mom you know how you always wanted to live in the country? Picture Canandaigua as a perfect blend of a little country but mixed in with a little town with a feeling of old time historic USA but you can still escape into rural middle of nowhere! Very different from Buffalo, Rochester, and Greece haha but I love it. Elder Brindley is my new companion, and I don't think I go a day without laughing so hard I start crying. Goofiest kid ever but he's a great missionary. Our teaching pool, or group of people we teach, isn't huge, but the sister missionaries in this area had 5 baptisms in the last month and a half, so this ward has a ton of potential and a lot of work to do right now! I can't wait to come next week with new miracles and stories to tell! One fun experience was our service day at Dave's. He lives in one of the most energy efficient homes in the nation. Everything from solar panels to windmills to water tubes heating the ground and therefore the whole house, to energy saving cookware etc etc he's pretty much my hero! But he's just one of the many great people we met this week. Canandaigua really feels like home already! More to come! Love, Elder Hirschi
May 19, 2014 So transfer calls came last night haha. It marked the end of my first 8 transfers, or 6 week blocks on a mission. You only get 16 transfers in a 2 year mission, and guess what? That means I'm half way done with my mission...weird. Is this mission anything I ever expected it to be in a million years? No way. I remember mom saying hey let's go take a church sites tour across America in a few summers. This was a few summers ago. I remember thinking- Colorado, or sites trip? I picked Colorado in my head, and didn't think anything of the church sites trip. We never ended up taking it, but Heavenly Father remembered how I didn't appreciate the sites at all. Now here I am, traveling upstate New York, visiting the sites and testifying of what happened right here in NY! I havce gained such a strong testimony of the places of sacred ground that lies here in upstate, seemingly really random, not-so-much-NYC Rochester NY mission area, That being said, the transfer calls. I have been in Greece NY for about 4.5 months, and now is my time to leave. I'm going to a place called Canandaigua NY. Apparently it's a cute somewhat rural area that lies right on Canandaigua Lake, one of the beautiful New York Finger Lakes. I'm pretty excited, and really surprised at the same time. As we got a head start on saying goodbye to people before transfer calls even came, I so much expected to stay that I didn't put much thought into who I would want to say goodbye to had I gotten transferred. Then I did! So Elder Powers is staying in Greece, he is getting a car, and his new companion is another visa waiter. This week we were able to see some good things happen, like a family finally come to church again altogether, and at least one member bring their friend to church for us to meet as well! The whole 3rd class period at church (there's only 3;) turned into the older guys teaching the member's friend about the Book of Mormon, and testifying of it. It's the best when you see members teach other people about the church. It's something we don't always get the chance to do, because it's hard to open your mouth about religion. But the setting was right, and the whole class participated in teaching this man from Arizona about the Book of Mormon. It was a cool experience to see guys really act on what they believe. If they just came to church because their wives expected them to, or because it's just what theyve always done, I don't think as much discussion and testimony wouldve occurred. But people in this church have a tendency to live it, and let it become a part of their everyday lives. How can you not make the gospel a part of your everyday mortal life, when it ultimately determines your happiness and joy in not only this life but also in the eternities? It has eternal significance, so we can't afford to hide our testimonies wherever we go! Apparently in Canandaigua and surrounding areas, flooding has reaked some serious havoc, so you may see some service pics next week! New adventures to come! Love, Elder Hirschi PS Dad I think that story is awesome about the woman who was dependent on everybody around her. I think she was put there because you needed to help her out and have that experience. You may be cheap, but you're always one to "impart of your substance" to the poor and the needy without hesitation. Even if she racked up way too much green and ripped you off at the grocery store. We had the opportunity to put together a little food basket for a girl to convince her not to rob another store to feed the baby who she was pregnant with. People get out of their minds when they go without. I can't imagine what HEavenly Father feels when He sees His children like that. It's people like you who deserve some blessings after Heavenly Father sighs relief that one more of His destitute children has received help from one of their brothers. You'll see those blessings in some way or another. PS Johnny- You're a stud, and don't worry about the lights thing- whats important is that you're growing into a big man and recognizing why they were on :) PS I don't know my address yet- I'll send it tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

No bake cookies?

March 12, 2014 I didn't know what to title this email as, so I decided to read Kylie's email to get some ideas. I think the oven/no bake cookies is a great analogy. I would like to add that sometimes brownies take longer than normal in the oven, sometimes different parts of the brownie cookie better than others, sometimes the brownie comes out of the oven and has to put back in the oven multiple times, sometimes you just have to toss a certain mix and start with a new one! (for reference see Kylie's email haha) Anyways, I've felt kind of like a really awkward mix of ingredients this week- this transfer actually, not really knowing if the brownie will turn out edible or a new missionary is a very interesting experience. I've come to appreciate the patience that my parents had while raising me to get me on the right path. Elder P is doing great, it's just that sometimes as a trainer you feel the pressure and stress of not knowing when to train and when to let him train himself. Sometimes you don't know if he's well beyond where he's expected to be, or if he needs to be farther along the path. Sometimes you don't know where you yourself stand on the path! But it's definitely a learning experience, a nice pre-parenting experience. At least I don't have to feed him and change diapers haha ;) But this week has been one of learning and miracles, but also frustration and disappointment. When you come across people that you know need the gospel and who's lives would change for the better if they just took the step of faith to learn more, but they reject you in the end. Or people that promise the day before to come to church and bring their whole family, and don't show up! Frustrating! But we also were trying our best to get one particular guy named Paul to church, and he has been coming recently! Also when you see members start to really invite the people they care about to church, and they do come, it's really pretty miraculous! I think for some reason getting people to church is the hardest thing about this area. If you ever wake up and ask yourself: should I go to church this morning, or should I get a couple more hours of sleep? GO TO CHURCH! There something about giving Heavenly Father those few hours on Sunday to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of His Son, that makes a huge difference in your week. Every week, as we make mistakes, we create spiritual holes in our slates that were once wiped clean through repentance. We repent throughout the week and try to change, but it really is the Sacrament that truly seals the deal as far as repentance goes, and helps us truly remember Christ and what He did for us- He is the truth, and the truth shall make us free (John 8:32). We can be made free every Sunday by 'sealing the deal' and creating a new clean slate- almost like getting Baptized every week! But without the Sacrament, it's a lot harder to fill those spiritual gaps we create every week! That's my rant of the week. But it's true. We hear people say they can really tell a difference and something missing when they don't go to church on Sunday. So we were able to have a little cookout with a family from church- the S family. Brother S has been in a wheelchair without functioning legs since his birth. He's been handed a lot in this life, but although he's not like most of us, and he's on wayyy too many meds for his own good, he hasn't once failed to bear his testimony of our Heavenly Father's love for each and every one of us every time we see him. Even if we're helping him install an AC unit, he'll find a way to bear his testimony. I think it's a lesson for all of us to observe- what are we focusing on? Not just at church, but at all times- 1 Timothy 4:12 says it best! Alrighty, have a great week. I loved talking to all the family yesterday! Pretty surreal- I couldn't tell if I hadn't talked to you all in forever, or if it felt like the months had flown by since last time. Either way, I'll talk to you in 6 months (I wonder where I'll be!). You all look like superstars;) Love, Elder Hirschi