Monday, March 28, 2016

28 March 2016

This week was relatively boring, at least compared to the last few weeks. No mobs, but a couple of policemen showed up. Apparently, Bangalore just passed yet another foreign-discriminatory law: foreigners now have to register not only with the FRO, but also with the apartments we live in. We also got transfer calls, but I'll leave you in suspense until the end of the email as to where everyone is going.

We spent a lot of this week trying to prepare for the fireside. We had to get a movie from a DVD to a pen drive, then figure out how to rig the pen drive to the projector, which had no USB ports. We ended up just carrying a computer from the family history center up to the hall where we were showing the movie! But, it all worked...albeit not quite in the way we planned. We spent a while trying to set everything up just right, with a computer tower, speakers, a microphone, and innumerable cables. For the fireside, our elders quorum president brought his laptop, which obviated half of the gear we'd set up, and hooked it up to the chapel's sound system. We had to show a different movie than the one we'd planned, too. The bishop called at the last minute and changed it to Ephraim's Rescue, because he'd just learned that the movie we were planning on showing hadn't been released in India yet. But, it all worked out. We planned on having a potluck dinner afterward, although with some reservations. Fortunately, it all worked out, people brought food, and everyone got fed. It all worked out surprisingly well. 

We made it to quite a few homes this week, and had a couple unexpected developments. 
Conference in India is a little different. We watch it a week late, to avoid having to see it at midnight. I haven't seen it yet, and won't for 2 weeks. 

Easter here was downright uneventful. Nothing really happened- no eggs, no bunnies, just a lunch appointment (although that was pretty good). What was much more widely celebrated was Holi. It's yet another Hindu holiday that occupies two days. It's celebrated by throwing colored powders and water at each other. There's probably some other reason behind it, but no one remembers it. A bunch of kids came up to our apartment, and "invited" us to join in the fun by opening a window, dumping a bucket of water through, then squirting us when we came to see what was happening. The name of it made a couple puns spring to mind- Holi water, Holi cow, Holi crap, etc. 

I have a couple random facts and stories from previous weeks that I've completely forgot to mention until now. Here they are:

While I was in Coimbatore, one elder who was staying in our apartment, Elder Singh, was teaching some investigators in Germany through Skype. They moved there from India, and are still more comfortable speaking Hindi than German. They live in Schwartzenberg, near Freiberg. 

Saturday, we (finally) got transfer calls. I'll admit, I really didn't see it coming. I'm staying in this area- and both of my companions are leaving. Considering that I have less than 2 weeks of experience in one of the biggest areas in the mission, this will be really...exciting. My new companion will be Elder Sunny, who I have met a couple of times before. 

The APs came here to get some souvenirs (one of them goes home tomorrow), and I asked about where I'm going. They told me that I'm going to the Philippines, but if I request it (and plead enough), I might be able to get sent back to the states instead. I'm toying with the idea, but no decision yet. Speaking of souvenirs, this is my last transfer in India. Is there anything you want? Any clothing, paintings, Ganesh statues? Last chance!

Monday, March 21, 2016

21 March 2016

This week was really interesting. I'm sort of unofficial companions with Elders Doyle and Selvam, but have been on lots of splits with the other elders in the apartment, too. The work in Bangalore is also different- no tags, but we can wear ties. We have to limit our street contacting, because there are loads of Muslims all over. On the plus side, the beef here is amazing. Elder Doyle has been in the area for 8 months, and Elder Selvam for 4, so they know it pretty well. Unfortunately, this week was especially terrible for meeting with people for some reason. We have a couple of investigators on date! This officially marks the first time on my mission (excluding my first area) where I've gone into an area, and there were people on date. Hopefully it won't break my other streak- I've left people on date in every area I've stayed more than 4 weeks in. Anyway, the week was very different. There's a whole bunch of import stores, which have all sorts of good stuff in them. I got Prego spaghetti sauce! The only problem is, even a big jar of that disappears quickly when you have it once or twice a day. There have been some more interesting things, like a massive laser that Elder Doyle got somewhere. You can light matches with it and burn your name into paper. It's hard to keep track of days over here- time is passing fast. I've been all over the area, which is one of the largest in the mission, but I don't remember much of any of it. It's been pretty weird, what with being in a different area every day.

So Sam learned how to put gas in the car? I remember learning how to do that in California, when one of my companions taught me. That's another California memory for today- I was reading a Liahona this morning, and came across an article about the Newport Beach temple and surrounding wards in California, and recognized some of the names. I somehow managed to forget entirely about Pi Day, though. I still remember Easter, though. It's in March this year, for some reason. I once heard what decides what date it's on, but I forgot it. That was about it for the week; See ya!

Monday, March 14, 2016

14 March 2016

Well, this week was considerably less than exciting. Monday through Wednesday were spent in the exact same way: locked down. We couldn't proselyte, couldn't go to member's houses, nothing. So, we played ping pong at the church. That really gets old after a few days, shockingly. On Thursday, we had district meeting. Finally, something happened on Friday. President Berrett came in for a special training session on weekly planning, and started with a surprise announcement: just about everyone was leaving Coimbatore. 2 native elders are staying, the sisters are staying, and everyone else moves on. Elder Kommalapati and I are the first ones to move out, and did so just this morning. I ended up in Bangalore, Convent Road. Elder Kommalapati is in Rajahmundry 3rd branch. Last night, we had an exciting story, though. We finally got to go to out to our BML's house- and got hassled by the police on the way back. A random officer called us over and chastised Elder Kommalapati for "bringing me there." Because that makes sense, and I'm not allowed to walk the streets, apparently. But, now I'm in Bangalore, and theoretically out of danger.

I didn't get any packages, and probably will never see them, considering that I'm in Bangalore now. Don't bother sending any here either: I'm leaving to the Philippines in 8 weeks when my visa runs out. That's too bad about your foot- good luck on the recovery. And tell David that all he has to do to get the kid to stay in his seat is to be even crazier! Ask Bro. Foot to show you some of his surgery videos, if you want a preview of yours. Wait- Sam already has his driver's licence? That's crazy.

Monday, March 7, 2016

7 March 2016

This week was characterized largely by a couple really exciting events, with lots of dull backdrop. On Tuesday, we didn't do much out of the ordinary, besides finding a very promising new investigator and going on an exchange. On Wednesday, not much happened. On Thursday, we had weekly planning, and had quail for lunch, which was interesting. Friday was where things got interesting. We had zone training in the morning, where a number of announcements were made. One of the biggest ones was that a large batch of mission calls just came in! And even more so, one of them was for one of our branch members. We got to hand it off that night, amid much partying and rejoicing. Arun Nataraj will soon be Elder Nataraj! The branch presidency and us went over to his house, along with a couple of his relatives, and read his call letter with him.

Saturday was where things went from interesting to downright thrilling. The day was uneventful: lots of finding. We met with the new investigator in the morning, Sudharshan. He is from Sri Lanka, here on a student visa, and is very interested in learning the gospel. He only speaks Tamil, but since Elder Kommalapati also speaks that, it isn't too big of a problem. He is now officially on date for baptism! That night, things got even more exciting. We were at a bakery, getting a quick drink, when we were approached by a random guy. He told us is name was Immanuell, and that he was a former Christian. None of this set off any alarm bells. Elder Kommalapati and he started speaking in Tamil, and I let my attention drift a bit. This turned out to be a fatal mistake. When I next looked up, five or six guys had shown up. This did set off some alarms in my head, so I grabbed my cycle and tried to leave. One of the guys grabbed it too, and held it in place. That was when I figured out that for sure we were in trouble. In no time, a group of 50-60 Hindu extremists had formed, blocked us in, and were verbally abusing us. What crime were we charged with? Hold your breath, this part is exciting! Handing out a pamphlet! Cue collective gasp of horror and disbelief.  None of the mob members wanted to touch us, but were more than willing to shout at us, take a million pictures and videos, and keep us from leaving while they called the police. Fortunately for me, I don't speak Tamil, and almost none of them spoke English. Elder Kommalapati told me afterward that the abuse was pretty graphic, though. Anyway, the police eventually showed up (the mob had gathered in no time flat, but the police took a while). They quickly disbanded the mob, and got in an argument with them, even. We were told to just go, but then the mob got even more angry, so the police let us lock up our cycles, and took us down to the station. There, we had to give them our information a dozen times, had even more pictures taken, and got threatened by the head officer there, who told me that he would cancel my visa. I think I faked serious pretty well, but I'd been cracking jokes that whole time (not to anyone who looked or acted like they'd harm me) , and when I heard him make that claim, I nearly laughed in his face. Fortunately, I held it back, and we had no adverse consequences except being told to report back in the morning with my passport.

Sunday went about the same, just less exciting. We went to the station right after sacrament meeting, and got asked more questions and had our pictures taken again. They copied my passport and gave it back, and we were let off with a final warning. What we were being warned against isn't clear, but the inspector was very definite that if we repeated it, bad things would happen. We spent most of the rest of the day in church, meeting with people there. We aren't locked down, but were told to wear nonproselyting clothes and no nametags. President Berrett is considering a transfer, based on the fact that all of the Hindu radicals in the city probably have our photos by now, but his decision is still pending. That's the news for the week; exciting, huh?