Sunday, January 10, 2016

10 January 2016

Well, I finally made it to Coimbatore on Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday were entirely spent running around with Elder Harris and trying to find his missing RC/RP form, then trying to get it replaced. I still don't know if he has it or not; the process for getting a new one was honestly ridiculous. We went to the FRO to see if he could deregister anyway, but as they were 9/10ths of the way through the process, he casually asked how he could get a new RC/RP. They were ready to deregister him anyway without one, but as soon as he suggested that he might not have one, the work immediately ground to a halt, and they suddenly needed his form after all. So, we went to the police station that the FRO people told us to go to, only to learn that they couldn't do anything. They redirected us to the Me Sheva office (I don't know what that means either). The people there told us to go back to the police station. But when we arrived there, we were told that the officer who did that sort of thing was out right then. That was Monday. On Tuesday, we tried again at the police station, got redirected to the Me Sheva office again, and there finally found some help. After a long wait and a lunch break, they finally did some mysterious work and registered his plea. We went to the police station again, and they told us to come back the next day. I ended up being on the plane before that, but I hope it went well.

Funny story- in the Hyderabad airport, I met a guy, Kalyan, while waiting for my plane. He was about 20, and traveling for the first time- all the way to Pennsylvania. While I was talking to him, I mentioned a few things that he couldn't believe, like the cost of smartphones (they are insanely expensive here- 72,000 rupees for the iPhone 6s+, or $1,200). He was also wearing a thick coat, but I advised him to pick up a hat and some gloves, too. He had never so much as seen snow before, and Visak (the area he was coming from) never gets below 70 degrees. He was going from that, to Pennsylvania, in January. I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him. 

Another funny story- at the Hyderabad airport security station, I reached into my pocket to pull out my stuff, only to realize I'd forgotten to put my pocketknife in my checked bag. I groaned, and asked the security officer if I could just throw it away somewhere. He just smiled, and told me to put it in the tray. It came out the other side of the scanner unconfiscated, so I stuck it back in my pocket and moved on, a little more worried about people bringing other dangerous things on the plane. 

Anyway, I arrived in Coimbatore on Wednesday night, and stayed the night at the zone leader's apartment. We had zone training in the morning, where a surprising announcement was made: all missionaries can expect to stay in their areas for at least 6 months before being transferred. That means I'll probably stay in Coimbatore 1st branch until I leave India. My new companion is Elder Maddikonda, who is from Rajahmundry 1st branch, where I served when I first came to India. That connection is almost as weird as with my last companion. Elder Campbell was companions with Elder Maddikonda before I replaced Elder Maddikonda in Hyderabad. Apparently, I met one of Elder Campbell's companions from the mission he visa-waited in- Seattle (Elder Smith). However, that happened when I was 5 or 6, so I don't remember it at all. But it gets better- while my grandparents visited home from their mission in Brazil, they had dinner with Elder Campbell's parents! And that was only a month ago, while I was still companions with Elder Campbell! And better yet, I'm fairly sure that before that dinner, they had no idea that we were companions...or even in the same mission. 

In Coimbatore, we've done a lot of visiting the less actives of the branch, which has been fairly exciting. On Sunday, we had 4 priesthood ordinations! Granted, all of them were young men getting ordained to the next priesthood office, but it was still exciting. We visited most of them later that day to talk about the responsibilities of the priesthood, and had some good conversations about it. That pretty much sums up the week. 

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention why I put water in the title: the apartment has some issues with it. It's really nice, and has a lot of fun things, including a Hindu worship closet that the elders keep their proselyting supplies in. The closet permanently reeks of incense, so I think that it was in use for a while before the elders moved in. Anyway, we have to turn on the water pump and wait a few minutes before we get water in the apartment. Theoretically, it goes to the water storage tank above our apartment, but either it leaks out really fast or it doesn't, because we never have water in the morning before turning on the pump. This morning, however, there was no water in the main storage tank either, so we just had no water period. Fortunately, the office elders had planned for just this sort of contingency- our water filter holds 10 liters of prefiltered, ready-to-drink water. And that's great! We won't die, but we have to go to the church to use the bathroom and to the zone leaders' apartment to shower. Fun, right? Here are some pictures:Inline image 1
That sounds safe.

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This is my new companion, Elder Maddikonda, in our apartment. 

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This is the church's baptismal font and dressing room. More pictures will come in the next email.
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This is a tree full of chickens.

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This is the church's sign to indicate the baptismal font.

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