Thanks for the great email. It is such a pleasure to be able to hear from you on a weekly basis.
First of all, Mom, I am so sorry that you had to do that for me, in regards to the bank. I am sorry. It is hard. I am trying to live within a budget but it is just very difficult when it is quite limited and you can’t do anything to make in increase (aka work more hours, etc). I’ll do the best I can to not eat into any of that money that you put in.
So, there were a lot of good things that happened this week. One of the first ones, it was about 8pm, and we were trying to find something to do. We decided to drop by the home of a recent convert, only to find that his wife had just miscarried earlier that day. The bishop and HPGL were on their way. We were able to participate in giving her a blessing. It was nice that we were able to be in the right place at the right time.
On Friday to Saturday I did an overnight split in Newburgh. That is a really different city. Not very nice. Anyway, we didn’t spend a lot of time there, but went to nearby Washingtonville, which was nice. We did some tracting there and found some great people. This was the zone leaders area, and they are both good missionaries.
On Saturday we were also able to help a lady in the ward move. She is moving up north a few hours, to get away from this area and start again. She has had a rough year or so, including divorce. So, it was nice to send her off in good spirits to her new home.
We met with this Catholic guy that we met while tracting. He is really nice, but isn’t planning on any kind of conversion. It is very evident from our first meeting with him that he views religion very differently from the way we do. He is suspicious of leaders, and I think that deep down he sees the whole thing as a fantastic story that builds character but isn’t really true. I think a lot of people see it that way. It is sad.
The other day we met a guy who was an Atheist, but he tried to be the best person he could, and said it was part of the humanist philosophy. He couldn’t prove the existence of God with the scientific method, and had thoughts of that nature. It can be hard, since God isn’t subject to the empirical tests that science has to offer. The tests are more spiritual. But, things weren’t real enough to him, and he tried to explain things away through biology. Anyway, my thoughts were that even if one were a good person for the sake of society, eventually the betterment of society would not be a suffieciently powerful motivation to be a good person and make morally correct choicies. It is such an interesting world. I told him that he is better than most people, who are still stuck in a world of pleasure-seeking, but that faith could still play an important part in his life, and that you do not need to turn a blind eye to science in order to accept religion. It was a good discussion.
We had a great lunch with the Bishop and his family on Sunday. They are all from Texas, and they made this delicious beef brisquit. It was really good. Homemade apple pie was a great dessert.
A few nights ago we had a meeting with one of our favorite families, W____ and his wife. He had just sent his oldest daughter to college, and was a little down about that. She is in Westchester county, so not too far away, but it isn’t the same as being at home. Anyway, he is one of those guys who loves the church, but just can’t get himself to go in the font quite yet. He doesn’t have too many doctrinal hold ups; he just hasn’t seen a need to join the church yet. Those are the hardest, the people where their life is really a good life, and they are great people and trying to live a good Christian life, and they are blessed for their efforts. So, you really have to get down to the details to show them whey they should be baptized. Anyway, they are great. I will introduce you to them when we visit the mission.
On the same day as the split, my companion and the other Elder found a great family. The husband is a retired navy medic and the wife is a nurse. They are great. We have an appointment tomorrow. We will see how that plays out. I am optimistic for them.
We had a great appointment with a member family last night. They are all Italian. He is an RN and went down to the city on Sept. 11th, and has some interesting stories to tell.
So, everything is going great. The apartment is good. The work is fun. The hardest time to fill is the morning time, because nobody is home and this isn’t really a bustling community with people walking the streets. We are going to try to see if we can get a booth or something in a good location.
Alright, I will try to write some letters and get them sent off today. I wrote some last week but I never got around to sending them, so I will send those as well. I will try to be more on top of things in that nature.
Dad I hope your trip goes well. Mom, good luck with everything as the school year gets going. Andy, please be careful and always use your best judgement. Tina, I didn’t have any of those teachers, but I am glad that you are excited for them. Bianca, I did have some of those teachers, Lund, Clay, and Blair. Grace, I am glad that you are happy with everything right now.
I miss you all very much and I am very excited for the time to pass quickly and I am awaiting a wonderful reunion in a few short months.
your son or brother,
Elder Stephen J. Barr