Monday, December 28, 2015

28 December 2015

Well, this was easily the most interesting Christmas of my life, at least in part because it didn't feel very Christmasy. Here's how it broke down:

On Tuesday, the Hyderabad zone did a Nativity, with all the missionaries gathering, reading scriptures, and singing songs. That was a lot of fun, and we performed our skit again. Speaking of the skit, it's included below. That took up most of our day, which was largely eclipsed by the events of the morrow.

Wednesday morning, I got the weirdest call of my life. A member called us up early in the morning, and asked us to pray for her children. She was crying a lot, and eventually told us that she was thinking about committing suicide. That call was soon followed by many more: to the mission president, his wife, and the senior missionaries at the mission office. When we realized that ALL of them had their phones switched off at the same time, we called the bishop, the APs, and the first counselor to try and get help. Then, we booked it over to the member's house, and had a really long conversation. On the plus side, that let us skip district meeting. We ended up taking the day off of missionary work to try and cheer her up, which worked really well. That night, we met with the bishop, who gave us some interesting news that would have been good to have hours ago: the member in question had done this sort of thing before, and had had those same squabbles before. He used that as a rationalization for not showing up or asking anyone else to. When we asked him to help make sure that her home and visiting teachers came more regularly (she'd told us that they hadn't come in forever), he revealed that HE was her home teacher, but still didn't promise any change. To cut short the suspense on how the story ends there, the sister is happy and healthy, and the issue seems to be over as of right now.

On Thursday, we got another unexpected call early in the morning, this time with much better news: our zone leaders informed us that the Transportation Minister of Telangana had invited the missionaries over for his wife's birthday party. We showed up, had lots of pictures, and they gave us some fabric and copper water bottles as gifts. It seemed a lot random, but whatever. Afterward, we went back to our area, which took a while. It's about an hour's travel away. That night, we got to travel yet another hour away to the Cobb's house, who I later emailed at. They fed us your standard Christmas eve dinner- for Indians. It was chicken biryani. Then, we sang songs, watched Joy to the World, and worked on a 2000 piece puzzle they had.

Friday was very fun. We headed over to Sister Pulla's house in the morning, and stayed half the day there. We sang yet more songs, played violin and guitar, and made lots of food. I even tried out a no-bake cookie recipe that I found on your blog! That turned out really well. 

Saturday and Sunday weren't quite as much fun. Elder Campbell was  pretty sick, so we mostly stayed inside while he slept. That's the news of the week!
I remembered to send them this time!

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This is the bottom half our  our district.

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This is us with a member. I need to work on my selfie skills, though. 

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And this is the no-bake cookies I made. The picture didn't turn out too well, though.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

20 December 2015

This week definitely had some interesting experiences. For example, we got to meet with a new investigator! She too had an interesting story. Her sister is *very good friends* with one of the guys in the ward (which is bad news, because he's planning on serving a mission) , and he invited them both to church. And lo and behold, they came! The guy introduced us to them at church last week, and they asked us to come to their house. We did so on Wednesday, and had a good lesson, along with a few strange points. When we called beforehand to confirm the appointment, she asked us a question that I can honestly say that I've never heard before. Here's about how the conversation went:

Me: "Is that time okay for us to meet?"
Her: "Yes, but...
Me: "Yes?"
Her: "I read the Catholic bible. Am I still welcome to your church?"
Me: "Yes, everyone is welcome to our church."
Her: "What about if I'm a Catholic? Will you still talk to me?"
Me: "Yes, that's not a problem. Why?"
Her: "Do you hate Catholics?"

Eventually, it got sorted out that no, we do not hate Catholics; yes, they can come to our church, and no, her being Catholic in no way presents an obstacle to us talking to her. Apparently, someone told her all sorts of junk about us. Oh well, it turned out in the end. She's super eager to learn, and invited us back on Saturday, where she fed us dinner. For missionaries, she is basically the investigator equivalent of the Holy Grail. 

That was definitely the most exciting thing to happen this week, though. We spent a bit of it practicing for the skit/song that we performed for the ward Christmas activity, which was also very interesting. They did a full-length rendition of the Ten Virgins story, lifted directly from that one book that you have. I forget what it's called, but it's about a potter who makes the lamps for the 10 virgins, and describes all of them. To make a long story short, the Relief Society performed it well, but didn't even change the character's names. 

Calling at 8:00 AM in Indiana works well for me; that's 6:30 PM here. Also, I've been slowly building stuff to send. There are some candies I am including that I'm sure that you'll love. Make sure everyone puts one in  their mouth at the same time just in case, though. The one courier that I found that will send packages to America promises to get them there in 3 days, so if I send the package today, it should get there by Christmas. That's about all the news for the week; it was pretty short. See ya on Friday!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

13 December 2015

As of Friday, I served in 5 areas in just 16 days. I started out with my regular area, Rajamundry 2nd, went on an exchange to Rajamundry 1st, got transferred to West Maredpally 3rd, and went on two more exchanges, to the 1st ward and to A.S. Rao Nagar. Wow!

Last Monday, we were poking around this collection of stores, when we saw something very interesting: a 3d print shop. We went in and asked what they made, and they told us that they could make statues of people: they'd take photos of you from a few different angles, then digitally combine them and print it out in plastic. So, if anyone wants an 8 inch tall version of themself for just $200, let me know!

On Tuesday, I was on an exchange with the zone leaders in the 1st ward here. We went all over there area on buses, and had a very interesting lesson. One of their investigators had invited us to meet his father, who is a hardcore Methodist. We tried to teach the Restoration, but he wasn't really interested in listening, and repeated the same questions over and over again, even after we answered them. That made for a very long lesson. We told him about the book of Mormon, and asked if he would read it. He sort of gave us a vaguely affirmative answer in the end, so I guess we'll just wait and see what happens. 

We swapped companions back on Wednesday, and had a relatively normal day. We tried to meet with one of our investigators at night, but he bunked, so we tried to go caroling with the ward. That didn't turn out too well. We showed up right on time, but they didn't leave until 8:30. Also, we were talking to a new investigator who showed up for institute, and so didn't notice them leave. 

On Thursday, we had some very exciting weekly planning, followed by another really interesting day. We spent half of it with the 2nd ward elders, helping them to compose a skit for our ward activities. That'll be a lot of fun! I'll see if someone can tape it, and send you the footage when we perform it. Failing that, I'll just send the script. Anyway, we did manage to go caroling with the ward that night!

Friday was very long. In the morning, we tried to meet with an investigator, but he was going to be way too late and we had to leave. We had zone training all the way over in Medina Guda, which is an hour away by train. Funny story about that- at one of the stops I got a water bottle, and nearly missed the train, which only stopped for about 30 seconds. I ran and jumped for it, and did manage to make it, though. In A.S. Rao Nagar, we had 3 very interesting back to back appointments. The first one was with a 14 year old kid, who we took with us to the next appointment, with a 16 year old kid. They are both super excited about learning! The final one was far and away the strangest teaching appointment I've ever had. The father was deaf, couldn't talk, and didn't know sign language or how to read. So, we used lots of gestures, but did manage to get our meaning across. 

Saturday was relatively uneventful- we had a long bus ride back to West Maredpally, and then worked on the skit more, and finalized it. We tried to go caroling again, but they left without us! A member called us at night, and insisted that we come to his house. The only problem was that we didn't know who he was, and he couldn't tell us where he lived. We asked around, but no one knew him. We eventually had to give up on the idea. 

We found the conclusion to that unfinished story on Sunday. In the morning, we went to invite one of our less-active members to church. But, he was out, so we went to his dad's house, which was just opposite. As it turns out, HE was the guy who was calling us last night! We gave his son a blessing, which is what he'd been asking for, and then had ward council. After church, the 2nd ward elders grabbed us and needed our help to finish up the skit, and perform it for their ward council. We did so, but finishing the skit burned up the whole rest of the night. 

I can call basically whenever, also. We got permission to call on the 24-26th, whenever you are available. Which means that for your time, I can call on the 23rd night, or anytime up till the morning of the 26th. The only time I can't call is between 11 am and 10 pm in Indiana, because that is the middle of the night here. So, mornings work great. Just let me know when works best for you in that range.

Also, I barely remember Rosie, let alone the people we gave her to. But, that is pretty trippy. Wait- did they come over to our house to play a few times? Or am I thinking of Xavier or something? What are you talking about with playing the violin for Thanksgiving? I only got the violin last week. But, I may be playing it for the Christmas celebration, depending on how things work out. 

This is a very strange pigeon nest in the 1st ward apartment:
This was our ward's Santa, who came caroling with us:Inline image 2

And this is Elder Touthang (rhymes with cow tongue), my district leader, on the train:

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

6 December 2015

Well, this week was pretty fun. We had stake conference on Sunday about 20 minutes away, but right afterward a member wanted to take us on an exchange. Which was fine, but then we learned where it was: Jeedimetla. That would have meant something if we knew where it was. We took a bus to the station, another bus an hour out to a place close to it, and then an auto the last 15 minutes. It was a long way off! Then, we walked a bit to get to their house, only to learn that no one was there. So, the member called them, and asked what was going on. They told us they'd be there in 5 minutes. That was halfway true; the Telegu-speaking mother was there in 5 minutes, but her English-speaking children weren't. In fact, they didn't arrive for another 45 minutes. And when they did, we learned that they didn't actually speak English. So, we had a very quick lesson, and are going to bring back a missionary that speaks Telegu next time. But hey, they fed us some really good curry afterwards, which makes it all better. 

We also found, believe it or not, a shop that has all sorts of American things: 5 gum, M&Ms, skittles, even bubble tape. It even had some really nice pens that only cost $50. I wonder who buys those. It even had really, really expensive Legos, and 4 different versions of Monopoly. 

Apart from those very exciting events, not too super much happened this week. We did a whole load of finding members' houses, which is always thrilling. Actually, there was one thing. A guy knocked on our apartment door one morning while we were getting ready, and tried to sell us all sorts of souvenirs. He knows a whole lot of elders, and had a whole bunch of items: handcarved chess sets (which were tempting, I'll admit), leaf paintings (paintings done on a leaf, not of a leaf), and some batiks, or wall hangings. 

Oh, and I almost forgot the best news of the week: I got two packages! One from you, one from the ward. Thanks! I now have enough candy to last me through the next Ice Age. You mentioned in an earlier email that you sent a package of letters, which hasn't arrived yet, though. And a quick question: do you make jello with 2 cups of water, or 8? I made it both ways, but I'm undecided which is better.

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It still tasted pretty good, though. The only real casualty were the Doritos; they definitely took the worst of it. But hey, the dust at the bottom of the bag is the best part! The top picture is what the ward sent: a string of candy that I'm supposed to open one thing of per day. Looked like there was one or two notes in there that might have been from you guys, though.