Monday, October 26, 2015

26 October 2015

Well, this week was pretty different. Partly because we spent 2 1/2 days in the other elders' area, and partly because of what happened during those two weeks. Monday, part of Tuesday, and all of Wednesday were spent in RJY 2B area, as opposed to ours, RJY 2A. That took up a lot of time in our area. But the worst of it was just that it was a really dry week- no new investigators. We've been doing a lot of finding, because half of our current investigators are out of town, but nothing. Things have been kind of frustrating in general when it comes to investigators- we invited a dozen potential investigators to church, and 6 of them said that for sure they would be there. Unfortunately, not a single one of them showed up. Again. Actually, that's not quite true. As we learned after church while calling around, one of them showed up a half hour before we got there, found out that we weren't there early, and left. So, we'll be working with those people some more. The biggest problem that elders in the US have is getting return appointments; the biggest problem here is having the people be there for the return appointments.

By the way, there was a hurricane in Mexico? When did that happen? And holy cow, is Zach going to start going to dances? And, most surprising of all, we got a new bishopric? Man, it feels like Bro. Jensen just started yesterday! What's more, that means that we've been in Indiana for more than 8 years (our expedition to Arizona excepted)! .

Also, I just got some very exciting news from my former mission president, Pres. Taggart. Both of the people I was teaching in California who were on date for baptism went through with it! In the picture of the people, the guy on the left is Doug, the member who introduced Mike to the gospel, and the guy on the right is Mike, the investigator. With the other baptism, Emily was baptized by my former companion, Elder Mackey.

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It's always really good to hear that people you were teaching got baptized. But, that about wraps up my news for the week. But first the adventure of the week: we have a less-active member named Mohan. He always seems surprised when we show up, regardless of whether we call beforehand or not. One time, he got mad at us for not calling before we came, even though we did call, and even talked to him over the phone. That was explained on Thursday, when we called him and he asked if we could meet at the church. So, we did that. And I got the surprise of my life when someone I'd never as much as seen before walked in the door. He was another less active member named Mohan, who was about the same age and size, but that's where the comparison ended. Oh, and their voices are identical over the phone. Mohan 2 is a busy painter with a family, who just had another kid! Mohan 1 is a student who still lives with his parents. Oh, and Mohan 2 admitted that he'd gotten mad at us in the past too for always calling him and asking if we could come over, then not showing up. After we figured out what had been going on, things became a lot more clear. The story has a really happy ending, too: Mohan 2, at the end of the message we shared, said that he hadn't felt this happiness in years, and asked us keep coming by.

Monday, October 19, 2015

19 October 2015

This week was pretty straightforward, and there's no too much to report. We started doing all of our finding in the morning, when it's not as hot, but that's only until Elder Jalagam learns the area a bit better. In completely random and unrelated news, a few days back, while eating at a chicken noodles shop, we found this:

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That is my former companion, Elder Patten, holding a fork with all the tines bent forward. Yes, he's making a face. He always does that during photos. 

Anyway, we spent a huge part of this week working on the branch list. It was a disorganized, misspelled mess, which made doing anything with it impossible. But, all the spellings, door numbers, and abbreviations have been standardized, so now we can start really using it. We need to split it to reflect how the area was split, but are having trouble figuring out how to do that. Things are starting to even out between Elder Jalagam and I, thankfully. We still have our disagreements on things, but are going to get really good at flipping coins by the time that one of us is transferred out. Funny news- not even an hour ago, I got something new: 

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I ran the idea past our zone leaders first, and they approved it. Having a harmonica is going to make the dull moments on P-day a lot more memorable, that's for sure. 

Having four elders in the apartment is definitely having some perks, also. We did a whole lot of cleaning this morning, so the apartment is both far cleaner and it only took an hour. We also just got new bikes, which makes life a lot easier. Things are looking up!

Monday, October 12, 2015

12 October 2015

This week has been pretty different. The number of missionaries in Rajamundry has more than doubled, and instead of having two missionaries in our apartment, we have 5. It's quite the change. Also, the visa-waiters in my batch, Elders Whaley and Goodrich, finally came in! Elder Whaley is off in Hyderabad, but Elder Goodrich came into 1st branch, not even 10 minutes from our apartment. It's pretty exciting!

Anyway, our week was spent largely in preparing for the new missionaries coming in. We got a map printed that turned out to be a little too big. Or actually way too big. We didn't think that 2x4 sounded too big, but it turned out to be massive, because it was in meters. So, we have a map of our area that is too big to fit on any of the walls. We ended up taking it around a corner in one room, but it keeps falling off the wall because it's too heavy. That's kind of a problem, because I used over half a roll of duct tape trying to keep it up. We're debating on whether to glue it to the wall or nail it, because nothing else seems to be working. Also, we pulled out the smaller beds in our room, and put in the bunk beds. That was quite the effort; involving 64 washers, and 16 bolts and nuts: all without a wrench. But, they are up and holding together. Getting the beds out was even more fun. We ended up having to take one of them on our shoulders to the other apartment, which was a pretty good adventure. It wouldn't fit in our lift, so we had to carry the 50-lb.+ behemoth down four flights of stairs to the ground, a kilometer to the other apartment, then up five flights of stairs to get there. That was lots of fun. The other one is still in our apartment, waiting for the zone leaders to figure out how they are going to get it to Kakinada, which is a 2 hour bus ride away. 

The new elders arrived on Wednesday, and on Friday. My new companion, Elder Jalagam, is...interesting. He's the first native companion I've had, so working with him, and just communicating with him, is tricky. But, things are going well so far. We've split the branch into two areas, and Elders Lindsay and Prasad are taking the south half. It's been working well. Elder Goodrich, coming straight from California, was a bit shell-shocked by the whole transition, which was pretty abrupt. He came in just in time for a wedding, general conference (which he watched twice- once in California, once here), and for our BML baptizing his son. All of those are very, very different that American versions of them. 

Conference was really good, though! I think three new apostles might be a record. The timing of it all was off from what we thought it would be. On Saturday, it started at 9, which wouldn't have been a problem if we hadn't been under the impression it started at 10. After an urgent text from our zone leaders at 9:20, we came in at 9:30, halfway through Elder Uchtdorf's talk. You have to love the analogy of the quilt! It's run on an odd schedule: Saturday, it starts at 9, ends at 11. The second session starts at 11:15, and ends 1:15. Priesthood starts at 4. Sunday, it starts at 10, second session at 12:15, and priesthood session is usually replayed at 4. We attended all the sessions of it, except for the second priesthood session, and had a few investigators show up, even. I think that's our news for the week!

Monday, October 5, 2015

5 October 2015

So much has happened this week that it's really crazy. On the upside, transfers are (hopefully) finalized, and this is what's happening: I'm staying in the 2nd branch, getting a new companion (Elder Jollagum), and having two new missionaries come in: Elder Lindsay, and someone he's training. Also, I am going to be the district leader over the apartment. Elder Patten, my current companion, is going to Ramurthy Nagar in Bangalore, and Elder Braganza is staying in Kakinada with my MTC companion, who is flying out to India tomorrow. That's the biggest news.

Even crazier things have happened, though. On Tuesday night, while we were teaching an investigator, two more people showed up out of the blue; just two guys who we talked to on the street. There were three missionaries, and now three people who needed to be taught. So, Elder Patten called anyone and everyone in our branch to see if anyone could come, while Elder Braganza and I talked to the 2 new guys. Eventually, because no one in our branch could come, the 1st branch missionaries came- right as the new investigators were leaving. So Elder Patten took them to a member's house who, due to some misunderstandings, was cooking us dinner even after we'd already eaten and said nothing about it, while Elder Braganza and I tried to teach the original investigator. But, she had to go then, so we filed paperwork and things the rest of the night. It was really confusing, but more or less worked out.

Wednesday was yet more unplanned and crazy. In the morning, Elder Dharavat called and asked if we had 50 Telegu Books of Mormon. That's right: 50. After studies, he came over with a bunch of other missionaries and started an assembly line where each of us highlighted a few pages and passed them down. We crunched through most of them before Elder Patten and I had to go to an appointment. Afterward, we came back and helped the other missionaries finish up writing our contact information on innumerable pamphlets and cards, then headed out to the appointment. It was way out at a pharmacology college, where we got fed lunch, before being sat down in a room where students started trickling in. Unfortunately, an hour later but still not before they all came, we had to go. So, we left Elder Patten with 3rd branch, and went back with 1st branch to our respective appointments. Unfortunately, right as we arrived back in our area, the appointment bunked. We instead called a ward member, asking if he could come on exchanges with us. He said yes- then showed up an hour and a half later. By then, it was dark and raining, so the other plans we had also fell through. We spent a whole lot of time right after that calling anyone we could think of to ask if we could come over, but to no avail. Eventually, Elder Patten came back, so we went to the one appointment of the day that hadn't bunked. 

Thursday was relatively tame. We had to go to the Foreign Registration Office in the morning to deregister Elder Patten so he could leave. But, when we showed up, they got really mad at us, because Elder Patten was missing a really vital piece of paper: his registration certificate, which we are supposed to always have a copy of in case police stop us. Elder Patten told them he never had it, and the guy there nearly flipped after hearing he'd been here for six months without it. Elder Patten called the mission office, other elders, and the area's FRO expert, but none of them had it. We basically just bit our fingernails and waited until the mission office called back: they had it after all. But, they have to mail it to us, which takes a week, minimum. We then went to an appointment at the church to wait for an investigator, who didn't show. That night, we split up: I went with Auto Raju, our BML, to an investigator's home while the other elders went to another.

On Friday, we had a new District Leader meeting, where the zone leaders told us what we are supposed to do, before zone training. Then, we packed up and went to Kakinada. Funny story: on the bus there, we talked to no less than 8 new people, one of whom was really condescending and really...interesting. He told us that we should wake up at 4 in the morning, that we should pray to everything, and that God is watching us all the time, and so we should be scared. He was a thoroughly interesting person.

Saturday, we went out to a sister who lives way far out, which took a while. She gave us some drinks and snacks, right after we had a big lunch. Then, we had a meeting with the branch president, whose wife had just made some treats for us. After that, we had a quick early dinner, and went finding. Normally, that doesn't involve eating loads of food. But this time was an exception. We saw some sort of really quiet celebration, so we came over to it. It turned out to be the opening of a new chicken shop, and they asked us to pray for it. After that, they gave us soda and snacks. We had another appointment right afterward, where we got yet more food. I don't think I ever had time to get hungry that day.

Sunday was the opposite: fasting. We had church and BCM, then a lesson with a less active member, who lives really far away, and whose house is only connected to a paved road by a half mile of really bumpy dirt paths. While we were talking there, her home teachers showed up. So, we taught a joint lesson with them. Later that day, we had an appointment with an investigator, and taught her, and then another. It was a busy day!

About conference: we watch it a week late here, because of the time difference. Also, would you move to Arizona if David got a job there?