Monday, November 28, 2016

28 November, 2016

This week was pretty nuts! And way too fast. Today is my 50 day mark, even! To make things even better, we had a ton of success, and a really good week. Here's how it broke down:

Tuesday, we had a lot of really good plans for after district meeting...which didn't end up happening. The zone leaders had two people who they needed interviewed for baptism afterwards; the first was late, and we had to go to the second's house. Fortunately, in the interim, we met a really great new investigator, Jesus Ramgee. It's pronounced like Yesoos, here. He is incredibly interested, and comes from a Christian family that he introduced to us later in the week! 

Wednesday was busy. We met with Jhansi, our on-date baptismal candidate, in the morning, then Aruna before lunch. We even made it out to Priscilla, another investigator, before we had another interview with the zone leaders. Fortunately, that was the last one of the week. 

Thursday, we met with Jhansi again. She is ready to go! We later met with Pavani, an eternal investigator, then a recent convert family. Nothing too thrilling. 

Friday, we did our weekly planning in the morning. It was the least exciting day. Elder Daniel was sick and couldn't really walk, so we ended up staying in. 

We made up for that on Saturday by going on splits. I went down to Madhurawada, with a member named Ravi. We met with a couple of families, but didn't have too much luck. The funniest part was when we were just splitting up. Ravi said he wouldn't be available in the evening, so I called a different member. While I was still on the phone, Elder Daniel convinced Ravi to stay the whole night. We went down to Madhurawada, and even taught a lesson before we got everything figured out and remembered about the member I'd just called! We did end up going with him to Boby, another investigator, who introduced his brother to us. While we were busy in Madhurawada, Elder Daniel was even busier in Arilova. They met with a ton of people, and met Jesus Ramgee's family! 

Sunday was relatively slow. After church, all of our appointments bunked, so we tried to visit a less-active family, the Rekha's. They didn't have a brother there, but as we were on our way out, we met a new family, the Anulga's! They invited us over to pray at their house, and asked us to come back to teach! 

Also, we just had a baptism this morning! Jhansi was baptized by our branch mission leader, Bro. Chinna. My companion has all the pictures, but I'll send them when I get a chance. 

Well, that was our week. This week is the last one of the transfer; next transfer is my last. I'm still not sure when I'm going home; the mission president still hasn't emailed. See ya!

Monday, November 21, 2016

21 November, 2016

Our week went fast! We had some thoroughly exciting days, and some even more dull ones. Tuesday was a dull day. We had district meeting in the morning, then prepared for the fireside we were having later.

Wednesday, in contrast, was thrilling. We visited Jhansi again in the morning, and taught her, before going on an exchange! I went with Abraham, one of the YSAs in our branch. We went out to Arilova, did a bunch of finding, and taught a bunch of lessons. Elder Daniel went with another member to Madhurawada, and did even more. By the end of the day, we got 8 lessons! We are definitely going to do that again sometime. 

Thursday, we met with Jhansi again, and did more fireside planning with our branch mission leader. We did some weekly planning, then went out to Arilova again. We didn't have too many lessons then. 

Friday, we met with Jhansi yet again in the morning. She is preparing for baptism! We managed to meet with a new family again, Priscilla and Ramesh, but that was about all of the news. 

Saturday was the fireside! We had a Powerpoint presentation we were going to give, but learned that we would need to give it on a TV, not a projector, like we had planned. So, we went to a net shop to try and convert it to pictures instead of powerpoint. That was a disaster. Normally, it would be a simple matter of taking screenshots and pasting into Paint. Not at this shop! There were nightmarish holdups with connecting my USB drive, with taking screentshots, even with pasting. And in the end, something went wrong anyway and it wouldn't show up on the TV. Blah. The fireside went well anyway. We trained all the branch missionaries (who showed up) how to teach the Restoration, and played some  games.

Sunday was exciting, mostly in the morning. We met up with Aruna, an old investigator, and had a very interesting conversation with her neighbor. Pavani is on date...again. We'll see if she makes it this time. We had church as usual, and met with Ramesh and Priscilla again. 

Well, that was our week. Nothing too thrilling, but it was a week. See ya!

Monday, November 14, 2016

14 Nov. 2016

Our week was weird! Lots of crazy things happened. Remember Diwali, from 3 weeks ago? It still hasn't died down all the way. There are still fireworks going off every night! The other bit of exciting news is that Rajahmundry is becoming a stake on Dec. 17th! When I first came to India, there was only one stake. There's going to be 3 by the time I leave!

The biggest news about the work is Jhansi. I'm going to ditch chronological order on this email to talk about her. She was on date for this Sunday, but complications set in. We were supposed to meet with her on Monday night, but she bunked. We were going to visit her Tuesday, but she bunked again. Wednesday morning, she was finally available. We went over the baptismal interview questions then, and again on Thursday morning, and she was interviewed on Friday morning. That was a bust. Apparently, she still somehow managed to forget everything, and I mean everything. We'll take a few weeks to go over everything for the third time, but we can only hope...She wants to be baptized, but has some mental issues. 

Returning to chronological, Tuesday was good. A member family showed us a new investigator family! Then, we had another member appointment, and then correlation meeting. 

Wednesday was an adventure. We had a ton of shocks, forget surprises. Late Tuesday night, we got a notice from the APs that I thought was a joke: the PM of India had demonetized all 500 and 1000 rupee bills. That was a surprise! From that moment on, you couldn't spend them. Banks would exchange them for the new currency series...starting in 3 days so they could stock up on it. All the banks and ATMs were closed for a couple of days, presumably to prevent rushes. That was a problem for the missionaries, who all rely on cash. I still haven't managed to change out my money; all the banks are still packed. I guess that's what happens when everyone in India simultaneously wants to go there. The move was apparently to target "black money", drug dealers and counterfeiters with big stocks of cash and no legal way to have earned it. All the banks are requiring a copy of a valid ID to exchange money to help track how much cash everyone has. 

That was only 1/3 of the story for Wednesday. Another 1/3 was the auto strike. Those are fairly essential here, so pretty much all public transportation in the city ground to a halt. The police had seized a ton of autos the day before for breaking some law or another, and the auto drivers were striking until their demand for halted police action was met. We found all that out the hard way. We did manage to get out to Arilova to meet with Jhansi with fairly few difficulties. Catching an auto was easy, but halfway through the ride, a crazy guy jumped into the auto, grabbed the keys, announced the strike, and jumped back out. Fortunately, keys are pretty optional for autos, so we got there anyway. (in case you are wondering, this is an auto).

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Anyway, getting back from Arilova was the fun part. The CITU, which is some sort of communist union, was leading the strike. That much was obvious; all of the people out in the streets who were stopping all the autos were wearing CITU stickers. We had quite a few misadventures trying to catch an auto before having to walk about a mile down the road past the strikers. All the buses were jam-packed with students hanging out the doors, so they weren't an option either. Because all of our normal areas were out of reach, we decided to go super far off- all the way to Bheemili, an hour by bus. We had to wait until afternoon, but eventually we got out. There, we finally met with an investigator who we'd been trying for nearly a month: Jayababu. That was the final 1/3 of the news, and it was a big third. He lives in a hostel for his school, and when we went there, other students trickled in: 11 of them by the end! And they all were interested, and wanted to meet with us again. That's right, we found probably the only Christian hostel in all of Visak.

Thursday was less eventful. We had a bunch of appointments in the morning, and didn't manage to have weekly planning. Instead, we went out past Madhurawada, and met with a member family who'd invited us to their new home. They wanted us to pray over each room! That night, we met with a bunch of members, and got a new referral family that we contacted!

Friday was zone conference, and Elder Campbell's birthday. His companion privately asked us to get him a cake to celebrate, but Elder Campbell had asked us not to get him a cake in advance because he knew his companion would ask. So instead, we did this:

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It's really too bad that we couldn't find a bakery that would frost a pineapple, but you can believe we tried. President Mortensen showed us the new Christmas initiative the church is starting, and we talked a lot about finding families.That night, we managed to find the Ravi family's house! That was good; we'd been looking for it for forever.

Saturday was weird. We did our weekly planning in the morning, then wanted to go out to Bheemili again. We'd just found a dozen new investigators there, so we were sure that at least one would be available. Luckily, we called ahead, because it turned out that none of them were; it was the college holidays and they'd all gone home. Then we tried to go to Madhurawada. There was always someone available there...usually. Not this Saturday, though. Instead, we tried Arilova. There's absolutely always someone there, right? Nope. All the members were at a party the branch president's wife was throwing, so we couldn't take anyone to our investigators, who were also unavailable. Eventually, we manage to meet with one member family who had stayed home, but that was it. Also, I stood in line at an ATM for 45 minutes to pull out some money. I had plenty and to spare, but it was all in the denominations that had just been deemed worthless.

Sunday was also funky. We ended up splitting in the morning; the zone leaders had a sticky situation over in Gajuwaka to sort out, but also needed to be at their own church. Eventually, I met up with Elder Daniel again, and we went to our church. That night was wacky for lessons, too. 

Overall, it was a good week! Plenty of new investigators, and plenty of surprises. I still don't have news on when I'm going home, but it should be soonish. Today is my 22 month mark! See ya!

Monday, November 7, 2016

7 Nov. 2016

We had a lot happen this week, but I put the wrong planner in my bag! So, this will probably be a really short email. But, hopefully, I'll remember the important stuff. Here goes!

The Ravi family, some of our most progressing investigators, are being...strange. Okay, mostly just that we can't find their house. They live in an area with a strange name that sounds just like another area that's way far off. We meet at their shop, but they want us to come to their house that they showed us once a month and a half ago. We've been running around trying to find their address, but without much luck. We'll keep trying!

On Friday, we had a big zone training, where it was announced that next Friday, we'll go to Rajahmundry for an even bigger zone conference! That'll be the first time that I've been in Rajahmundry since I left their last November. Also, the two new Americans in the zone also had some fun. One of them, Elder Richards, had his family send candy to him while he was in the MTC. They did, but it arrived after he left. He then visa-waited in Seattle for 3 months before just coming here last week, and only just got the package, which he generously shared with all of us. I got a 3-month-old Butterfinger, and it was amazing. In the training, the new focus on teaching and finding families. Also, we got new Christmas proselyting cards to hand out.

The weather is finally starting to get nice and cool! At least morning and night. It'll still got 80-90 in the middle of the day pretty easy. 

Diwali has continued, too. People have been setting off fireworks all the time since last week. 

We didn't have too many memorable experiences...or at least I can't remember them. Overall, it was a good week! We'll see whether or not I go home early...up to the mission president. See Ya!