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The New York Rochester mission covers everything from cities like Rochester and Buffalo, to wide expanses of farm land. Tourists come to the area for the Finger Lakes, the wine trails, and natural attractions like Niagara Falls. Members come for the Church’s Historic Sites: the Sacred Grove, the Joseph Smith Farm, the Hill Cumorah, the Book of Mormon Publication Site, and the Peter Whitmer Farm. These sites and the sisters who serve at them are busiest during the first week of July when people from all over the world come see the Hill Cumorah Pageant and see the birthplace of the Restoration.
The Church is incredibly influential in the Rochester area. There are currently three stakes within this mission and approximately 36 branches/wards. With the church historic sites in Palmyra, the influence and faith of the Restoration adds a special spirit to the area. It is a busy avenue and destination for many church members throughout the summer, especially during the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Though the numbers of local church membership may be fewer than other parts of New York, the members are strong, faith-filled disciples of Christ.
The Italian influence is very noticeable. Pizza, pastas and calzones are common meals along with other generic American cuisines. The east coast style in food roams throughout Rochester with interesting plates like the “Garbage Plate” which is loaded with french fries, coleslaw, and beans all piled onto one plate. It’s an acquired taste to say the least!
Other food throughout the mission include Polish dishes like the Buffalo delicacy Beef on Weck (a beef sandwich on a salty bun), the many Chinese restaurants, fresh delis, wonderful ice cream, and lots of hot dogs. If you try the hot dog stands you’ll need to choose between “red hots” and “white hots”. Both are wonderful.
Moving throughout Rochester is convenient with its loop and freeway systems. There is an “Outer Loop” which outskirts the city, while the “Inner Loop” offers access throughout the city limits. Interstate 390, Interstate 490 and Interstate 590 all pass through Rochester from various locations. The New york State Route 104, Route 390 and Route 590 access the city as well.
Public transit in the bigger cities offers assistance throughout downtown and neighboring suburbs. The Rochester Subway is currently seeking funding to restore the “Canal District.” Amtrak and other freight trains stop in Rochester, and the Greater Rochester International Airport services multiple airlines.
Outside of the cities mission areas can cover a few villages and the country in between. Many missionaries will have cars to get to the further corners of their areas and to save time walking the country roads. Like all missions, missionaries with cars are allotted a mile limit for the month. To save these miles, many missionaries drive to an area, park and spend the time on foot or on bikes.
The crime rate in Rochester is above the national average, and even surpasses the violent crime rate in New York City. The current index number for safety in Rochester is 5 (100 is safest). Although these statistics are alarming, missionaries in the area know and only work in these areas with permission from their leaders and strict curfews.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant welcomes visitors throughout the world to learn about the Book of Mormon through a musical production. There are approximately 750 cast members and crew that put the show together each summer. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings the music while church members from all locations act and dance on the stage. This pageant runs mid-July for about 10 days.
The Lilac Festival is the traditional festival of Rochester. It welcomes half a million visitors and locals to participate in the various activities put on by the city.
There are many other festivals put on throughout the year, mainly in the Spring and Summer, but something is always going on in Rochester. It is a very active city.
Most homeowners in the Rochester mission don’t use their front doors. When contacting people at home, you’ll usually go to the side door.
Boots are vital for missionaries in the New York, Rochester Mission.
The winter months and summer rainfalls wear greatly on them.
A GPS or a good map is very handy to have. The roads are not straight and street names are often reused village to village. Keep an umbrella with you or in the car. A common missions joke was: “You don’t like the weather? Then wait five minutes.” Squalls can kick up in minutes and pass just as quickly leaving you soaked if you can’t find shelter.
In the New York, Rochester Mission, the sisters split time between the Visitor’s Center, including the Historic sites, and proselyting. While at the Visitor’s Center there are four different rotations for the Sisters at these historical sites.
The winters can be very cold. Wind blows off the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes. With the wind and the humidity, the cold cuts right through most layers. A warm coat is essential as are warm hats, gloves, boots, and long johns.
English is the predominant language but missionaries are also called to serve Spanish- and ASL-speaking.
Average temperatures range from the teens in winter to low 90s in summer. Record temps have gone from –15 to 97. Always there is high humidity.
460 Kreag Rd
Pittsford NY 14534-3733
“One of my favorite experiences from my mission was teaching a man named Brother House. He lived in a small town called Seneca Falls and became very interested in family history. He heard that the Church’s resources could help him so he decided to go to the local church. Well, the church in his area is on the Peter Whitmer Farm (which is where the Church was officially organized) but the family history center was closed when he came. However, Brother House met the senior couple serving at the Farm that day and they took him on a tour. Inside the Visitors’ Center is a painting of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery being baptized not far from the Whitmer Farm. When Brother House came to that image, the Spirit washed over him and he knew that he needed to be baptized. The senior couple referred him to us and we began teaching Brother House. Three weeks later, Brother House was baptized in Seneca Lake which is where Joseph and Oliver were baptized following the organization of the Church. It was a freezing November day but Brother House said he never felt so warm as he emerged from the lake that day. It was amazing to witness miracles like this on a daily basis. People from the area would stop by the Church sites all the time wanting to know more and it was the greatest blessing to proclaim the Restoration of Christ’s Church where it happened.”
“I know the Historic Sites here are sacred places. There is nothing as incredible as to bring someone to these places and teach them the truths of the Restoration. It is possible for it to change a person’s life on even a 10 minute tour. On September 21, the anniversary of Moroni’s first appearance to Joseph Smith, I took a tour at the Joseph Smith farm. In the upstairs of the log home, as first I then a visitor testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, a strong spirit filled the room and all of us received a witness of its truthfulness. The Spirit is always present there to teach if the messenger will listen and proclaim as inspired.”
Did you serve in the New York Rochester Mission? If so we would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org