Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ashley's account of service in the Rockaways and other great news.

Hola Familia!! Como Estais? Estoy bien! Trabajando mucho duro. Todas los dias. 

okay, that's enough Spanish for now. 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I can say that it was sad that I wasn't doing what I normally would for Thanksgiving but it was so great to share the thanks I had for the people who were serving us. We had our "lunch" Thanksgiving dinner at the Giffords. The fire alarm only went off a few times! Haha well something overflowed in the oven and there was a lot of smoke. But it was really good!! By-the-way, she had her baby Sunday! So they have a 2 year old named Elizabeth and a 1 year old named Katlyn and then a brand new baby boy! She is really awesome with them. Our job before the dinner was ready was to keep the girls preoccupied which proved to be a pretty complicated task. But all in all it was great! Then we went to our next "dinner" Thanksgiving. She told us she was going to be making Chili but her dad was in town so we had the china out! It was very fancy and VERY good. They have the CUTEST little girl who just had her first birthday. I swear, she is the happiest baby I have EVER met. She just sits and smiles. Her name is Lillan. Even though I wasn't with my family I still felt all of your love! Thank you all for your examples and for your love! 

On Friday we got to go do service in the Rockaways! It was probably the most humbling thing that I have experienced besides going to the Dominican Republic. These peoples homes are completely destroyed. The first woman's home we went in had water 4 feet high. We had to cut the walls up to 6 feet, tear out the insulation, the floor, and the cabinets. The homeowner was SO nice and so thankful. We basically gutted her whole house. The second home we went to only had 4 of us working on it; the group leader, another sister from a ward and me and Hermana Taylor. We tore out their whole basement. Luckily it was pretty small but it was in worse condition then the first because everything was still soaking wet. The sheet rock was just crumbling when we took it out, and luckily they had Styrofoam insulation so we didn't have to tear out soaking fiber glass. They were so thankful! The third house we went to was in a lot different situation in that nothing had been removed from the house even though the water had come up into the home about 3 feet. She had us take out all the stuff from her cabinents and everything was moldy, but she wouldn't let us throw it away. So we had to clean everything in freezing cold bleach water. Really we were just there to do whatever they told us to do, and we tried to do our best. I am so thankful for this experience because it has really helped me to be able to see how blessed we our in our church.We are taught to be prepared and also to help one another out when times are hard. There were people from all over, members and non-members, who have come to help. When we pulled up to the station there were licence plates from Washington, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. It is AMAZING the work that is being done but there is SO much devastation still. Keep them in your prayers. 

We were walking down the street on Saturday. We were about done for the night, it was like 8:50 so we were headed back to the apartment when we heard, "mormonas, mormonas!" and usually that never happens. It was a father and a son who have just moved here one week ago from Santiago, D.R. The son is a baptized member of the church! and has the Aaronic priesthood! The dad is still working stuff out but has a desire to be baptized. It was so crazy though because basically all of our appointments for that night had fallen through, and we ended up in a completely different place than we should have been at that moment. It is so amazing to see Heavenly Father work through us to help His children. I know that I will never feel as useful as I do right now while I am serving the Lord. 

We started teaching one of the members goddaughters. She is 12 and really loves coming to church and YW. But it has been a challenge for me to figure out how to teach her.  But as I study the gospel topics, it becomes easier because in reality this gospel is so simple that even children can understand it. It is amazing.   
We have also had a first lesson with a family we found while tracting. They have 3 children a first grader, a pre-schooler and a 2 year old. They are from the D.R. and are pretty religious. We have taught them the Restoration on the first visit! We were talking about how after Christ died the world fell into apostasy and how whenever the world falls into apostasy, God calls someone to be a prophet and they said, "yeah, that makes sense." Basically our jaws dropped because when people hear that they usually go off on how in the bible it says there won't be any more prophets. But I think that they are understanding that the gospel isn't complicated. We invited them to read the Book of Mormon together, and pray as a family each night. We can only meet with them once a week so we hope all will go well.

We (my companion and I) have another investigator who is really tough. His family is Pentacostal and he knows EVERYTHING about the bible. We will try to be teaching him something and then he will pick out one of the words we said and go off on some biblical tangent. It is tough but luckily we have a member who is pretty good at all things Pentacostal so we call her up often. Except yesterday we had a little tussle when Hermana Agular (another sister missionary) brought up baptisms for the dead to our investigator's mother, who is a seious Pentacostal. (She has only sat in on a few lessons.) When she brought that up our eyes just got big and we were like, nooooooooo. Pentacostals believe that you gain your own salvation here on earth; which is great, but that anyone who dies without the gospel or baptism, is lost and God will decide their fate. We showed her that in 1 Cor. 15:29 it talks about baptisms for the dead.

But really being on a mission has helped me realize how great a blessing the Book of Mormon is. Because EVERYONE interpruts the bible differently, and it is really hard to try and make someone think differently than what they have learned their whole life from the word of God. So I am very thankful for the clarity that the Book of Mormon brings to the Bible. Because without it, I know that we would be lost.

Sunday we had an investigator come to church without us even knowing she was coming! Her son is a member and has been having a hard time. When I saw her come in my heart just stopped! I am definitely beginning to love the people here more and more.

Haha speaking of loving the people, the members of our ward are awesome. They ALWAYS want to feed us which is great! but it just means I need to work-out that much harder in the morning. We always "besito" the sisters in the ward.... and guess what I got? My first man besito! yes, I did. and Elder Wilsher said my face went bright red. I was so shocked, and I didn't know what to do! hahaha we had a talk with him about how sister missionaries can only do that with sisters. fyi - "besitos" are cheek kisses.

My hna. Taylor went to the Newsies on broadway today! So I am here with the other sister missionaries in our district. Sister Johnson from Arizona and Sister Maldarizzi from Milan, Italy. They are way fun. and guess where we are going today for p-day!?!?! THE TEMPLE! I am so excited. I have heard such great things about the temple here.

It was Hna. Taylor's birthday on Thursday last week! She is 24! She is so awesome. And guess what I just heard!? In March we are getting 30 new missionaries in a transfer and 11 are sisters. and some of them are 19. AHHH freaking out. and kind of scared. I hardly know the subway system and the streets in our area. I am trying hard but it is so different than Utah unfortunately. But I have faith that whom the Lord calls, he qualifies. THAT'S ME!

I love you all so very very much! I hope that you have a wonderful week and that it doesn't snow too much for you all. :)


con amor,
Hermana Lancaster   

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Pics from P-Day.


I Am Thankful!


Oh mi familia. I miss you all. Especially right now! But, I'll stay strong.

I love you all! And I am so thankful for your letters! Don't stop! You can e-mail or write me! I love them!

So the weeks have started to go by fast! Which is good because I really was having a hard time getting into things... but, all is well!

This last week we had some fun times! Especially at this one lunch appointment. So... I ate something that I have never eaten before. COWTAIL! Like seriously, she brought it out and Hermana Taylor and I looked at each other like, "well here goes nothing." We didn't know what it was until we looked up when we got home. Lets just say, fatty/chewy. yum?.

So on Sunday, we had our primary program for the English ward and a mingle afterward and guess who I saw!? Reagan! From "Hairdresser on Fire” & "Reagan's blob" She told me I had nice hair. HOLLAAA!

So I would love love love Cherie Call's Christmas CD! If you could burn it for me and send it to me before Christmas:) :):) I love you for it. We listen to the same CD's over and over. I just would love some music change. (Side note from Mom, I actually have that exact CD and I was already planning on sending it to her. Inspiration I guess!)

It is Thanksgiving tomorrow! I just want all of you to know how thankful I am for you and your amazing examples in my life!! I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve the Lord. I am so thankful for Jesus Christ and for the amazing, infinite atonement that He has given me. I am so thankful for the family that I have! I am so thankful for the country that I live in and for the people who help protect it. I am thankful for a living prophet who leads us and guides us in the way that the Lord wants.

We are teaching a new family! We found them tracting and they were way receptive. We taught them about The Restoration first thing and they were like "Wow that makes sense!" it was so amazing. I'm so excited for them! However, I am finding that people have a hard time giving up life styles and comfort to join the church. I know it is hard and tough, but I know that the Lord is aware of them!

Well, this p-day, we were going to the MET but right now we are at the Museum of Natural History! Holla! We  saw this amazing exhibit where this artist creates living rooms or bed rooms around pieces of art! Like all over the world! They took this statue that is like 60 feet tall, built a living room around it! AMAZING!

Okay I love you all! We have 2 Thanksgiving appointments. yikes. but i will eat slow! The wife of our first appointment had her first 2 babies at Orem Community Hospital! and she said she LOVED it! She is afraid to deliver the next one in NY. She is due next week. hahahah we all hope that she doesn't go into labor while we are there. :) Then in the evening we have an appointment with a Spanish member and she is making us chili!



Friday, November 16, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Little Hermana in the "City That Never Sleeps"


Oh my heavens this is really just, surreal. I am in NYC. CRAZY! It has been an adjustment, but I am definitely getting used to it. 
We live in a cute little apartment. And when I say little I mean, like the size of our kitchen and stairs area. Haha, but really it is just me and Hermana Taylor so it is fine. We really aren't there for most of the day. 
We have a few investigators right now. We have been working with them a lot but I am coming to find out that scheduling appointments doesn't mean that you will have an appointment. So we always have back up plans.
Let's just say, Dominican Spanish is very different than MTC Spanish. I am learning a whole new vocabulary. It is hard right now, but I know that I will be able to learn quickly. Hermana Taylor studied Spanish in College. So really she is such a great Spanish speaker.
Really, Hermana Taylor is so awesome. She is a hard worker but insanely hilarious. It is always fun whenever we do anything. 
We have our own area here in Inwood and then there are 2 other sets of Spanish missionaries. Elder Scaife and Elder Wilsher. Elder Scaife is from Washington State and Elder Wilsher is from Sandy Utah....BUT, he moved there from, NOTTINGHAM ENGLAND! He has an English accent. It makes my day. Then there is Elder Sorensen from South Jordan and Elder Bartlett from Sandy. 
Our area is awesome. It is not super busy and most of the people, like 80% of the people speak Spanish. And even when you are out at night people are still nice. It's our P day today so I'm off to see Times Square.

Okay I just got back from Times Square. HOLY COW! That is really all I can say because it was insane. There were so many people, so much, everywhere. We went to pick up tickets for my companion to go see Newsies on Broadway! I am super excited for her! We get to go see one Broadway show at the end of our missions! I am hoping I can go with my MTC sisters! Also, I went to Forever 21. 4 FLOORS. 4 FLOORS OF PURE GOODNESS! I got tights and 2 tops. :) 

So, let me just tell you all a little secret. Knocking on doors in the city, is scary. It means going into someone's building, going up to the top floor, stairs, and then proceeding to knock on all the doors down the building. SCARY! We don't do it very often but it freaks me out. It's crazy the different religions you run into and what they think that "Mormones" believe. 

Last night we had a Noche de Hogar, "family night" at the church. It was so fun! we watched a talk from President Monson about the plan of salvation and then talked about it. It was so great because for every investigator there was a member to help out! We were even walking to our apartment to get stuff the other day and a man was like, "Are you the Mormons?...Where is your church?" Mostly they come for English class but we only do Noche de Hogar once a month. He ended up leaving with a Book of Mormon in English and Spanish!! 

I think that this is probably the best decision I have ever made. Yes it is hard. And yes at times I want to cry because either I'm scared to knock on someones door, or I'm not able to understand anything anyone is saying but I know for a fact, that Heavenly Father is always aware of our situations.  

I know that this is the Lord's work. And at times, it is hard to remember because you want to go hang out with members or hang out with other missionaries, but the most important thing that I always keep in mind is that this is the Lord's work and this is HIS time. We cannot think about ourselves. We have to focus on helping others to come unto Christ because that is our purpose.  

I am so excited for the future. I am so excited to be in Inwood for my next 11 weeks! I am so thankful for ALL of your prayers, and for all of your kind words! I'm sorry if I can't get back to you directly but just know that I read and LOVE getting letters from you all! 

Shout out to Hermana Wetzel! It's her b-day soon! and I think she is in NYC! 

Shout out to GENNA BROWN. You better tell her to write me soon because it's been about 3 months. and I want to hear from her. 

I love you all so much and I will try to be more composed next week! 

p.s. - I talked to sister Rogers on the phone last night! Holla! I was like, um so I may or may not have stalked your blog for the last 4 months... and she was like oh goodness. hahaha but it is cool. :) 

ALSO, we can listen to any music that you could buy at deseret book. Just, you know, a suggestion. :) 

I love you all!! Thank you for your kind words of encouragement! I love them! and I love you! 

con amor, 

Hermana Lancaster

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ashley in her first area, Inwood, NYC, with her first companion, Hermana Taylor

First Companion Hermana Taylor

She's been assigned to the Inwood Neighborhood, New York City, NY.

Inwood is the northernmost neighborhood on the island of Manhattan,  Inwood has a predominantly Dominican population in the majority areas east of Broadway. A few elderly Irish remain in the blocks near the Church of the Good Shepherd at Isham Street, though even its Mass services are now offered in Spanish nearly as often as in English. Other than the aforementioned historically dominant groups, the remaining population of Inwood is diverse, similar in makeup to the rest of New York City.
Inwood is very large in area for a Manhattan neighborhood, and its real estate rents and values are sharply bifurcated between east and west. According to the US Census, the districts east of Broadway are predominantly lower-income and Spanish-speaking. This area is also more industrial and commercial and has few parks and trees.

Mom, thank you so much for your letter! I was afraid I was going to get on the computer and not have any mail. THANK YOU!  my package hasn't made it yet, so I will probably be getting it within the next few days.

I'm in Inwood! Which is a really small area with a lot of spanish speakers right at the top of manhattan island! It will be a really great first area!
My companion is Hna. Taylor. She is from Georgia and I am her third trainee and everyone I have spoken to tells me how wonderful she is! I am excited!

It is really really cold here. I need to find more hats and scarfs because it was snowing hard when I walked to the church. And also when we were carrying my suitcases from the bronx to Inwood. We had to get on 2 subways....that was hard.

I am a little overwhelmed.... a lot overwhelmed, but I think it will be okay. it is just completely different than anything I ever have known so it will be a change.

So I had my first "contact" on the airplane from Detroit to White Plains! There was a lady that told us what church she was from but I couldn't understand it. She asked us what we were doing and we told her we are missionaries.  (Whenever we say that, everyone just thinks we are coming out to help with the storm clean up.) Anywho, we got on the plane and she was sitting in front of me so I gave her the Ensign and showed her elder Nelsons talk about missionaries, and then she looked through all of the Ensign! She got off the plane quick and I didn't see her after that but I planted a seed! Holllaaa!

Then also we talked to a lady on the subway and gave her 2 pass along cards. It was awesome. I am excited and way scared, but all will be well.

Well everyone here in NY is pretty happy about Obama being president ultra vez. pero, not me. Soooo we will see what happens.

It still feels so surreal. Last night we stayed at the Mission President's house in Scarsdale, which is technically Sleepy Hallow, and there was no power. But, they had generators so really there was power. It asn't that cold yesterday. If it was today, I would be a bit more worried.


It still hasn't settled in, but I'm excited to get to work and I just hope that I can make it through winter. I need some new winter boots that are water resistant or I need to cut off part of my calves. sooo, either/or.

I love you all and am so so so SO thankful for all of your prayers. I know they are there. THANK YOU!

IF you are wondering about my hermanas, Hermana Richardson is in Harlem, Hermana Peterson is in Homestead, which is the Bronx. So we are all starting out in the City! And I heard an elder talking about going to see the Statue of Liberty on the 14th! HOLLLA! It is so weird. I just keep repeating that over and over I know but, it is VERY different than the MTC.

Well back I go into the snow. Even to meet with investigators maybe. Oh heavens this is weird. Continue writing and letting me know what is going on back at home now that I am out of the bubble.

Love you all!

con amor,

Hermana Lancaster

Monday, November 5, 2012

500 LDS Missionaries help with the clean up effort caused by Hurricane Sandy on 10/29/2012

Ashley is serving in the NY, NY North Mission

NEW YORK CITY — Some 500 full-time missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took to the flooded streets and wind-blown neighborhoods still reeling from the effects of superstorm Sandy Wednesday to assess the status of LDS Church members in the area and to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.
“It’s been a long day of hard, dirty work,” said President Kevin E. Calderwood of the church’s New York New York South Mission late Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve been in basements, on roofs, in yards cutting down trees, hauling things out of people’s houses, pulling out carpet and doing whatever people need us to do to help.”
A total of about 500 LDS missionaries from Calderwood’s mission, as well as from the New York New York North and New Jersey Morristown missions, have been working non-stop in the most heavily impacted areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut since the storm’s high winds subsided.
“Under the direction of our local church leaders we’ve been spreading out to the hardest-hit areas,” Calderwood said, indicating that in his mission that included the Far Rockaway and Long Beach areas. “The devastation is overwhelming. Some of these people have lost everything. We’re doing everything we can to help.”
A number of members in those areas are living temporarily in the LDS Church’s Lynbrook and Freeport meetinghouses because their homes have been completely demolished.
“They don’t have any place else to live, so for now they’ll be living at those meetinghouses until other arrangements can be made,” Calderwood said. “We’ve arranged for some generators to provide power for them while they are there.”
In addition to helping members of the LDS Church, the missionaries are reaching out to the families of first responders (“They are all out working and helping others, and their families are in need,” Calderwood said), those with special needs (including the elderly) and community members in general.
“This isn’t about just helping our members,” Calderwood said. “We’re here to help anyone and everyone. We’re here to serve. And right now, this is the service that is needed.”
What generally happens, he said, is the missionaries start working at one location in groups of six or more. “Then while we are working,” Calderwood said, “people come over to us and say, ‘Can you help us here?’ And of course we can. So before long we get pretty spread out, helping wherever we can.”Occasionally Calderwood will get a call from an LDS stake or ward leader who says, “We are sending out five crews with chain saws to cut up trees that have fallen. We need four or five missionaries with each crew to haul the wood away.”
“And so we’ll send missionaries to haul wood,” Calderwood said.
And not just the missionaries. Calderwood said a number of LDS Church members have been serving right alongside the missionaries. And as others in the community see the groups working together, they join in too.
"They just see us out helping, clearing trees, and they start helping their neighbors, too," he said.
One of the major challenges the missionaries face in this work is the lack of electrical power for pumps, saws, vacuums and heavy equipment. “It’s hard to even get our cell phones charged,” Calderwood said. “Most of the hardest hit areas are without electrical power. So we’re doing a lot of work manually because we can’t get power to some of the equipment.”
The lack of electricity also impacts transportation, with traffic signals dark at every intersection. “New York drivers have a reputation for being really aggressive,” Calderwood said. “But people are being very patient and waiting their turn at the signals.”
For the most part, Calderwood said Latter-day Saints were well-prepared for the crisis, although he noted that “there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent your house from being blown away by hurricane-force winds.”
“We teach our people to be prepared,” he said. “But sometimes, we just have to be prepared to respond to whatever happens.”
As the missionaries reach out into the community at large, residents have been appreciative of the help.
“I’m glad our missionaries are young and strong,” Calderwood said. “If you haven’t tried to haul a soaking wet carpet out of a basement with two feet of water in it, you have no idea how filthy and back-breaking it can be. But the missionaries seem to be loving it. They are here to serve. They enjoy it. And the people have been really appreciative of what we are doing.”
And what they will continue to do for the foreseeable future.
“There is so much work to be done here – this isn’t something that’s going to be finished in a week or two,” Calderwood said. “And we’ll stay at it as long as we are needed. We are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he tells us to love our neighbors.
“And right now, our neighbors need help.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hello familia! 

I can hardly believe that it is time to say goodbye to the MTC. At this time next week, I will be in NYC. I cannot even believe it!!! I am so thankful for this time at the MTC to be able to learn and grow closer to my savior and really figure out why I am here on a mission. 

This last week was full of great devotionals and inspirational talks with our teacher. On Sunday, we had Sister Stevens from the primary general presidency. She was awesome and we got to talk with her a little afterwards. She talked about how we are literally doing what the savior would be doing if he were on the earth today. Then we had Elder Don Clarke as the devotional speaker that night. He spoke to us about helping others. Not just like helping them service wise but helping them love the Book of Mormon and helping them keep their commitments. It was really good and helped me understand more the term "missionary work." 

But, speaking of helping people by serving, we haven't heard anything directly from our mission president to us but we are assuming that when we reach NY we will be doing A LOT of service. Which I am actually way pumped for! we will be able to share the experience of bringing people together, and helping members and potential investigators. It is so amazing how a devastation like this can really humble people and help them to come to an awareness of how much they need God! I'M SO EXCITED!
So, speaking of leaving, I will be reporting to the travel office at the MTC at 4 am on Tuesday morning. We will probably leave the MTC at 4:30 then arrive at the airport at 5:30. Then check in will be like 30-60 min then we will get to our gate.  I will be calling you all, probably on dad's cell phone, at 6:30. our plane leaves at 7:20. Then I was thinking that I would call Allie when we got to Detroit around 10. I know she will be in school but hey, I'm her sister!!! Let me know before Tuesday what you want to do. :) I'M PRETTY EXCITED TO TALK TO YOU ALL!

I want you all to read about the stripling warriors for D, Jake, and E! I sent them those shirts and I hope they understand what great men they were. I hope they know that as they serve a mission and even prepare they are preparing and becoming like those stripling warriors who fought with the power of God!!

I love you all and I am so excited to talk to you all on Tuesday!! amor, paz, y bendiciones!

con amor,

Hermana Lancaster