Sorry I'm a bit late today. We had a zone activity this morning, and I didn't have time to email before it started. The activity was a ton of fun. We went to this place called Roosevelt Island. I may have told you about it a few weeks ago, because that's where we went for our zone activity last cycle too. Just in case, I'll tell you about it again. It's a little island in the East River about halfway up Manhattan. the way you get out to it is by a tram that lifts you right up next to the Queensboro Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Queens. It reminds me of riding the skylift at Lagoon or taking the lifts at a ski resort. The spot we found at the island was a super nice little field with trees surrounding it. You can see Manhattan on one side and Queens on the other. It's nice and quiet and peaceful and has an awesome view. If I had to live in New York City after my mission, Roosevelt Island wouldn't be a bad place to do it. You get the luxury of the quiet with the convenience of everything that New York City has to offer being so close. I'm sure the cost of living is a little bit above my budget though haha. It was a lot of fun to hang out there today! Also last Wednesday Elder Raine and I decided to to go down and see the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That was super cool. We only had about an hour to see stuff and didn't get to look at everything we wanted to, so we might end up going back in a couple weeks or something. I can never seem to get over the fact that I live in Manhattan. It's a lot different than I ever would have expected it to be like, but I love it so much. Of course, when you think New York city your first thought isn't the ancient apartment buildings and projects of Harlem. It's seriously so much fun though. There's a lot that I will miss about this place when I have to leave. Hopefully I'll stay in Harlem for awhile. I don't think I could do it for much longer than two years. There's too much country in my blood haha. I definitely miss being able to see more than a few hundred yards in either direction, and a look at the Utah mountains is a foreign thought to me now. For now it's fun though. The work here is great, and I really enjoy meeting people from all over the world with all different backgrounds. This week has been pretty exciting. We got a new investigator that we tracted into named Noel who agreed to a baptismal date in our first visit. We're looking forward to helping him prepare for the 27th of September! Rafael and Kristina are still doing well. Kristina came to church for the first time for fast and testimony meeting on Sunday. She absolutely loved it! She said when she was listening to the testimonies she kept getting chills and almost crying. The Spirit was so strong in that meeting. I've seen a lot of progress in those two over the past two months, and I'm excited to see even more in the coming weeks. It seems weird to say that I've been here for two months already. It feels like I just left the Bronx. I have no clue where the time is going! Which brings me to my last point of this week's email. Of course you all know already, but tomorrow is my year mark! Seriously? Where in the world did that come from? It's kind of crazy to be at this point in my mission. I'm reflecting on everything that has happened in the past twelve months, and it is a lot to think about. Obviously the halfway point is huge for any missionary. You start thinking about all that you've done so far. All the people you've met. All the experiences you've had. All the things you've learned. Then when you're done thinking about that you start thinking about what's ahead. What areas you might serve in. What kind of people you have yet to meet. What kind of lessons you will continue to learn. It's so cool. I'm learning a lot about myself. Who I was, who I want to be, and who I would like to become. Sorry if I may have gotten a little cheesy with all of that, but I just couldn't think of how to express the feelings I'm having haha. But seriously, if I had to describe the past twelve months in a word that word would be change. And if I had to describe how that "change" happened in a word that word would be "Atonement". Before my mission I thought I knew exactly what the Atonement was and what it could do. Now I can see that I had no idea what its capacity is and what kind of ability it has to affect our lives. The sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us gave us literally everything that we have. I think about the Atonement all the time. I talk about it to almost everyone I meet. It's just such an incredible thing to me. I've experienced the Atonement so frequently and so intensely since the day I put my name tag on a year ago. It has carried me through the twelve most difficult months of my entire life. It has guided, comforted and strengthened me. It has made me the man I am today, which is a much better man than you knew last August. If there is one thing that I will take from my mission it will be my knowledge and testimony of the Atonement. To me that principle is easily the most important of everything that we learn about in the church. Without the Atonement none of the rest of it would make sense. It just wouldn't work. It's the piece that holds it all together. I'm so excited to see what more I can learn about it in the coming year and to see how much better of a person I can become as I continue to allow it to influence my life. I have the unique opportunity to be writing to you today at the peak of my full time mission for the Lord. I've thought a lot about what I would say today, and there is one thing that I want you all to know. It's that the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for me, for you, and for everyone else who has ever lived or ever will live is real. He really did die and resurrect for us. Words can't express what kind of eternal value that has. I can feel His power in my life every single day. I would be nothing without Him. I want you all to know that Jesus Christ loves you. He knows you better than any other person anywhere does. He has a perfect understanding of who you are and what you need. He has experienced every last ounce of pain, sorrow, sadness, joy and triumph that you have or will in the future. He has compassion for you, and He loves you beyond words. I would even venture to say that He loves you beyond human comprehension of emotion. I hope you all know that. No matter what you may think you have eternal value, and you are always loved. I hope you can all feel how much our older Brother means to me. I wouldn't be who I am today without Him. Have a fantastic week everyone. You are all amazing, and I love you probably more than you know. The strength and support you give me means more than I could explain. Thank you all for everything. Can't wait to give you all a big hug one year from now!
Love, Elder Allred