New York is a big city. I grew up in Edmonton, a large city in its own right, but New York is huge. I felt like I had an advantage when I was called to serve my LDS mission to New York City because I grew up in a city and I was used to the vast diversity living in a city offers.
It still surprised me how large this city was. My first area in New York City was in Brooklyn. I served in the Bensonhurst/Coney Island area and my trainer was Elder Neilson. It was a nice area of Brooklyn and it definitely was diverse but I felt comfortable there. Our area was so large that we had to have a good bike. So we went to this bike shop that caters to missionaries and I plunked down $388 for a Mongoose Alta bike. I do admit that it was fun to ride a bike again. This was the same bike that was I mugged for.
It was P-Day, my first one in the mission field. In the morning we did our wash and grocery shopping and went out and played some pool with some members. In the evening, Elder Neilson and I went out to do some work. We grabbed our bikes and headed out to our appointments and that was when the fun started. Elder Neilson is quite a large guy and when we started to ride our bikes he just took off! I tried to keep up but it was hard and then I soon lost sight of him. He never stopped to see where I was, he just kept going and going. Then I realized that I was lost.
Lost in Brooklyn and lost in New York City!
I decided to stop, thinking that he would come back. It didn’t make sense that I should keep going since I didn’t know where I was going in the first place. I waited for about an hour and no Neilson. So I walked with my bike and I noticed that I was on Norstrand Avenue right by the projects.
At least I knew where I was. Then another hour went by and still no sign of Neilson. I sat on my bike and just waited. A member of the Church just happened to walk by and he saw me and said “Hi”. I said “Hi” in return and he stopped because he noticed that my companion was no where near me. He asked me where my companion was and I told him I had absolutely no clue. He stayed with me for a little while and asked if my companion was tall and blonde and I told him he was. Apparently he has seen my companion blocks and blocks away. I decided then it might be best if I headed home. He asked me if I knew how to get home and I didn’t really know. I said that I would look for Avenue P and then go south until I got to my apartment building. He looked at his watch and it was 8:30 (I had been lost for almost 3 hours) and said I should go home and that this neighborhood would not be the best to hang around in. I got on my bike and found Avenue P and headed home.
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Where I am? I wish Google had been invented then!
At least I knew some of my area and I knew how to get home. I finally got home and I had no way to get inside of the building so I parked my bike and played with the neighborhood kids that were outside. They knew we were missionaries; I parked my bike in the inside of the building where it was safe and hung out with the kids. About twenty minutes later Elders Howard and Jeffries got home. I told them what had happened and Jeffries freaked out! Jeffries hopped on his bike yelling that we had to find Neilson now! Howard and I disagreed with him. Howard said that Neilson knew the area better than us and probably was heading home or going to the Dietze’s (a Senior couple) home so they can help look for me.
They argued about it and finally Jeffries just took off. Elder Howard looks over at me and says, “What an ***hole!” and walks up the stairs. Howard said we should just go upstairs and see if maybe Neilson called. We went upstairs and I was feeling so bad. Not only did I get lost, I also caused Jeffries and Howard to fight. There were no messages so we went downstairs to wait for both of our companions. Howard was so ticked off at Jeffries and went off on him. I was so uncomfortable. Another twenty minutes passed and Jeffries came back with no Neilson. Howard asked if I would go inside so he could speak to Jeffries and I knew the poop was going to hit the fan big time! I could hear the yelling and the cursing and around 10:15 Neilson strolls in with his bike and asked if I was okay. I said that I was just fine and then he asked what was up with Howard and Jeffries. We went upstairs and we laughed about it. Neilson said that he was sorry and I told him no harm was done. We called the Dietze’s to let them know that I was just fine. Sister Dietze was crying the whole time and Elder Dietze was making the whole thing like a secret war mission. I never felt like I was in danger, maybe it was because I am naïve but I think God was watching over me. They even called the cops to find me. The thought did cross my mind about calling President Child and ask for a transfer but we all ended up as friends. Even better than before.