Monday, April 22, 2013

New York: Ten Years Later

Ten years ago today I boarded a plane in NYC and landed in SLC Utah, becoming a returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints. The I love NY logo has always had an extra special meaning to me. I LOVE NY. Its people, its food, its fast pace, its multi-cultural overload. It was an awesome place to be a missionary. We taught people from every human inhabited continent. Every door was a new adventure. I heard only Temple Square is more international than the NY North mission.

This last week I had an awesome opportunity fall into my lap to go back. I stayed with my Jamaicans: Rose, Jabarie, Wadi, Taji, Marcus, Marie, Makai. I met Rose on the street one day in Yonkers and gave her a pass a long card. Two months later I was transfered to her area and she was referred to us by her friend. After our first visit she scheduled all of the lessons in the next two weeks and was baptized soon thereafter. I'll never forget when we asked her about her feelings after we told her about Joseph Smith and his prayer to know what to do and visitation by God the Father and Jesus Christ. She said "Oh yeah I believe that's true! Angels are real and can be seen sometimes. God can too." 

When I called the day before to ask Rose what she was doing tomorrow she said "oh I've got a crazy day why?" Cuz I might be able to come out. "Get over here then!" I love her. Jabarie came and picked me up in a car that Rose said "You can't miss him. It would be a miracle if there is a car louder than Jabarie's" 
Driving Manhattan in style

We cruised Manhattan in style and met up with some of his friends from Florida.  We shopped in Soho then ate at Lombardi's which is not only the first pizzaria in America, its been dubbed the best. After a divine meal we went and got the best Canoli's in the US at Ferreras.  But since its not an often occasion, dessert got double duty with a stop at the famous Baked by Melissa for some mini cupcakes. Driving around Manhattan in a sports car is a rush as we went through Times Square and past Grand Central Station and zoomed it down some little side streets. The one ride we took on the subway I was touched by an African man who was getting off, saw Jabarie's metro card wasn't working, and swiped his own so that he could get in. I love these people. 

The next day I hung out with Rose at her day car. She had kids from all over the world and they were soooo cute!! Before lunch we took a walk through my old area with a few children in tow. There were so many houses where I'd stood on the steps with my companion. I saw my old landlord Jimmy. He remembered when we missionaries ran the car into the side of the building. He asked me to send his best wishes to my companions. 

Taji took me for a NY Deli sandwich for lunch. We passed the stop sign that is now in place where I totalled a car. That was the one the taxi driver sued me for a million bucks. Didn't go through though.  Still, an intersection is improved now.  

I stopped by Rosenell's house. She lives in some projects. Not remembering exactly where she lived I went over to some nice African American ladies on a bench and asked if they knew where the deaf ladies lived in the building. They looked at me like I was crazy for being there, but as most NYer's do, warmed up when they found I was nice. Rosenel didn't recognize me but let me come in when I told her I'd been a Mormon missionary there. She had me write my name and address on a paper which she carefully looked over with her big magnifying glass. Then she went from cold to: "AHHHHHHH!!! I know you!! You were companions with the other Sister Johnson!" She was sooo excited!! Rosenel is deaf and lives too far away from the deaf branch to go there. She went to church for several years for all three meetings not hearing a word. Her reading level is low, yet she reads voraciously. I interpreted for her when I was in her ward. She shared a graham cracker and her testimony with me. What and amazing person she is.

Nothing like some Zumba before dinner, Rose, Marie, Makai and I headed downtown Ossining for some exercise. BEST ZUMBA CLASS EVER!!! These New Yorkers can dance! I enjoyed being the tall white girl in the back of the class trying to keep up and copy those moves. SO FUN!

For dinner, Rose took us all out for Hibachi at the Okinawa Steak House. Food shows at their finest, there was flying egg for us to catch in our mouths, an onion volcano, and lots of flaming grilling going on.  

Early Wednesday morning I was back on a flight headed home to SLC. What a gift to have been back. The Church is true. The gospel of Jesus Christ is real and powerful. Far more than a stop sign or finding new friends, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ deeply changed lives, including mine. He is the same Savior for all the people all over the world and He loves them all. I loved being a part of that love. And I LOVE NY.


  1. This post makes me happy. Wish I could go back and visit my old stomping grounds. Maybe I will someday.

    1. Totally gotta go back Carl! Especially since you are a short $25-$30 round trip DC2NY bus ride away. So close!!