There are over 8 million residents across the five boroughs of New
York City. During the day, a high percentage of those dwelling in the
boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island come to the
borough of Manhattan for work, school, entertainment, or leisure. Add
countless more of such from across the Hudson in New Jersey; countless
more from Long Island, Upstate, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
Pennsylvania and other nearby places. On top of that, add the
incessant flow of tourists and business trippers coming and going from
all of the world, and at any given moment there may be more people in
Manhattan than the actual population of New York City. Now imagine you
add 70 more to the mix. Just 70 kids, mostly from Utah, who are given
instructions to go an talk to everyone they see. Millions of people
people, 14 square miles, 70 Mormon missionaries instructed to talk to
everyone else. You may think it an overwhelming idea to contemplate,
but I assure you, it is far more overwhelming to be living it.
Missionary work in Manhattan is insane! Never a dull moment. Always
someone to be talking to. It's a bit exhausting! But we do it!
All that being said, I've realized that I have long since given up
trying to describe the vast array of personalities I encounter every
week, so I have now decided to take the time to depict for you just
one New Yorker (or New York visitor) every week, so perhaps by the
time I leave Manhattan you'll have a small taste of what it's like to
interact with these people as a missionary. This week's New Yorker is
a man named Brother Twitchell. Brother Twitchell comes from out west.
He and his wife moved to New York in pursuit of a dream life in the
show business! Between the two of them they could make a living
performing in, directing, and producing various shows across the city.
They raised a few kids, who have since moved out all across the
country. Mr. Twist he'll eventually figured out that he could actually
make more money as a stagehand and so he's been doing that for several
decades now. He currently works as a stagehand for NBC, particularly
for Saturday Night Live. He's in his seventies but still not retired
and still looking spry as ever. His dear wife Angie passed away a few
years back, which was rough for him, but he keeps plugging away until
the time when he'll be with her again. Interestingly, they are members
who were sealed in the temple and even served as temple workers, but
both slipped into inactivity in their old age. We got him reading the
Book of Mormon again and referred him to the Manhattan 1st Ward
missionaries who cover the area where he lives. Lovely man. Fed us
lunch at his favorite diner. Very friendly with a lot of stories to
This week has been a good week! Our area has a lot of good potential
(with so many million people, it should anyway), we just need to
unlock it! The baptism on Saturday was amazing! A* is sooo
solid! Elder Tanner baptized her three times, because he said the
words wrong the first two times. Haha. It all worked out though.
The rest of our Halloween was pretty crazy. Manhattan has some pretty
crazy character roaming the streets on a normal day. Halloween
intensified the number and bizarreness of such characters. We set up a
table in Lincoln Square and gave out hot apple cider and copies of the
Book of Mormon. It was a great success and we have some new
investigators in our district now (unfortunately none for our
Elder Zeng is awesome! He's fearless with contacting. We can't carry
our laundry down the street to the laundromat without him making
conversation with some passerby. It helps that most of the passersby
where we live are Chinese, so he can talk to them. He also found a
Dutch couple on the train he could talk to as well! He's great! I'm
excited for this cycle.
We've found a lot of people who want to be taught, but all of them
have been referred to missionaries in other parts of the mission or
the south mission. Oh well. We'll get some for ourselves eventually.
For now our main investigator is in Canada so we have to wait until
Saturday to teach him again. We may have to move his baptismal date
too because we probably won't have time to teach him everything before
the 21st due to his unexpected vacation.
That's all for now. Love you all and thanks for the prayers and support!
-Elder Samuel Burton
Pictures: Jersey, Jersey, and Manhattan bridge