'Ello family! Good to hear from you! I can't help but be a little bit jealous of all the fun you guys are having though! :) I'm especially jealous of you guys getting to ride mopeds! All day I see people riding around on their motorcycles and mopeds, and I always want to ride on them so badly!! Too bad it's against missionary rules... sigh... maybe someday! Hmmm... I'd say one of my biggest cultural changes is the relationship between boys and girls here in India. I'm used to back home, where you see teenage couples everywhere, young single adults all working towards finding their eternal companion, and other such lovey dovey stuff. But that is not the case over here! It's quite frowned upon for teenagers to be flirting with each other, and it's even illegal to date before 18! wowzers! And then by the time they become young adults, most of them have no experience dating, so they rarely do it! But, I think things will be changing very soon. The rising generation is VERY much wanting western culture, so I think 50 years from now India will be much like the USA (as far as dating goes anyways). Usually, we teach Christians. We sometimes teach Hindus also, but teaching Hindus can cause major family tension (e.g. disowning their child), so more of our investigators come from Christian backgrounds. As far as Muslims, we CAN teach them, but only if they are interviewed by the mission president first (yes, interviewed by him before we even begin TEACHING them!) Because, well, I guess the church wants to be careful, and not upset any Muslim groups that could potentially attack us and what not... haha. The mission president checks though to make sure their families wouldn't go bazerk on us if we taught/converted them. As of now, we aren't teaching any Muslims. Well, guess what happened this week? Elder Anderson became the leading companion for all of Kakinada! You see, there is what's called "The 12 Week Training Program For New Missionaries", and it's intent is to get a new missionary 100% trained within their first 12 weeks. Trained so well, that they could fulfill any assignment in the mission, including training a new missionary. As part of the 12 week training program, the new missionary (me) takes the lead for the last 2 weeks. And my trainer has definitely allowed me to take the lead! In fact, he won't do anything unless I tell him to. So, that forces me to lead in, quite literally, EVERYTHING! Wow, it is HARD! I guess that's what it would be like though if I had to train a new missionary; they really would not how to do anything, and I would have to make every single little decision. Elder Watts loves when he gets to say "Oh look! A situation just came up! What should we do??" Uhhhh... oh man, forcing me to think! haha :P But, my skills and confidence as a missionary have definitely skyrocketed this week. Who knew you could push yourself to grow so much in one week? And even more exciting news! We had more baptisms this week! woo woo! :D Sujatha, Diana, and Queeny were all baptized this week! :) It was so fun leading up to their baptism day. Every time I would ask them "You remember what's happening this Sunday??" they would say "Yes! Our baptism! The HAPPIEST day!" Yes, yes it is! The happiest day! :) I baptized Queeny and Sujatha, and Elder Watts baptized Diana. Haha it was funny baptizing Queeny, because when I leaned her back to submerge her in the water, she did NOT want to put her head under the water! haha I had to shove her down to get her head under! I felt like I was drowning a small child! ha! But other than that, everything went great, and I was so happy to see them so happy, and I was even happier when I saw tons of members come to their baptism and gives them hugs and what not afterwards. :) Truly a great experience! I hope you have another awesome possum week! Love, Elder Anderson
Monday, August 26, 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
Sounds like you all are having oodles of summer fun! That's so cool that Abbey got to hear from Elaine Dalton! And I especially enjoyed those pictures Noah took of himself in the bathroom... haha classic! You said Kevin gave his farewell talk, but I don't even know where that boy is going! Could you fill me in on his (and any of my other friends) mission calls??
Well, it's definitely been a fun filled week here in Kakinada! This week we had President Barrett come to our zone! woo woo! He gave us some zone training one day, and really emphasized that we need to start using the Book of Mormon more effectively and aggressively in our teaching. He said if start to use the Book of Mormon the way God intends for us to use it, convert baptisms will DOUBLE in our mission! wowzers, now THAT is a pretty spiffy promise!
Also, I got to attend my first District Conference this week (which is the equivalent to a stake conference for us people without a stake yet, haha) Our branch in Kakinada rented 3 buses, and all of traveled together to get to Rajahumundry where the conference was held. And in Rajahumundry, they rented out a big conference room in the Shelton hotel for us to use! SO fancy! It was great getting to see so many members together (about 500 came), and we got to hear President and Sister Barrett speak there. They gave good talks, but I felt bad that probably 50%-80% of the audience didn't understand them fully (or at all, haha). Simply because they gave a talk like how they would in America, so people had trouble understanding their vocabulary. Ahhh well, it's alright. Hopefully everyone still felt the Spirit! :)
It was cool to see everyone after the conference was over though! They all wanted to shake hands with President Barrett and get pictures with him! The mission president is a SUPER STAR here in India! Unlike back home, where I couldn't even tell you the name of our mission president... hehe...
As for my birthday, that was GREAT! For my birthday, I went and treated me and my companion to "The Game". The Game is a game we sometimes like to play where each one of us will order for the other person for lunch (within a set price range). So we went and played The Game, and I said I would pay for both of us, and there would be no price range (because, the most expensive stuff on the menu costs like $2). And for me, my companion ordered for SIX DOLLARS worth of ice cream items off of the menu! Milkshake, mocktail, banana split, and another big bowl of ice cream! I literally couldn't even eat it all, and felt like I was going to throw up afterwards from eating so much ice cream! So, ya, you could say it was pretty great! :)
You know, I was just thinking this week that I don't think I gave you a good enough description of Ramu (that investigator that has trouble learning). Because yes, he does have trouble learning, and he is an investigator, but he is the most active guy I've ever seen in the church!
He comes to church every week, without fail.
He comes to every activity we have.
He calls all the seminary students in the morning to make sure they are going to seminary, and then he will give them a ride on his bicycle if they have no way of getting to the church. The, he even goes and listens to seminary! (He's like 22, so he really doesn't need to be there)
He calls us every night to make sure we are safe and in our apartment.
He comes on exchange with us more than most members do.
He makes sure there is someone cleaning the church each week the night before Sacrament meeting, and if not enough people are helping to clean, he will go and help.
This guy is AMAZING! The members in our branch joke that if you could vote to have someone be Branch President, they would vote for Ramu to be president. haha.
Well, life is running smoothly here, and the days are flying by! Can't believe I've been out 3 months already!
Have an awesome possum week!
P.S. EXCITING news! I saw my first non-missionary white person in India this week!! Crazy!
Monday, August 12, 2013
Wow! Sounds like you got to have an awesome experience this week Dad! I know how much fun biking is, and I can only imagine how beautiful those islands are as well. Good luck to you Noah on your high adventure!
Haha it's funny that you mention that you wonder what I will say when I come home and give my talk/a fireside, because I've actually developed a habit of preparing for that talk ever week. Whenever a speaker in Sacrament meeting is just speaking in Telugu, and I have no idea what they are saying, I think to myself "hmmm... well, if I was at home right now giving a talk on whatever topic they are speaking on (I can pick out enough words of what they are saying to know the general topic of the talk), what would I say?" So, by the time I get home, I should have PLENTY of material for a talk! :)
Ya, so me and my companion are getting along just great! We've only grown closer and closer over these past couple of months. Neither one of us is very talkative, so it's taken a while to get to know each other, but slowly but surely we are being very close friends. He is also a really great trainer. I don't think I fully appreciate the blessing it is to have a companion that not only knows what to do, but that he actually DOES it! He sets a great example for me, and teaches me the reasons for why he does things the way he does, so then I can apply that reasoning to other situations.
Sorry if my sentences aren't being very well... put together. Haha as I'm writing this I'm realizing how difficult it has become for me to speak in large sentences! I'm used to only speaking basic basic English. Hopefully everything is still coherent!
Oh so guess what? We had transfers this week, and the other companionship in Kakinada was taken out! That means me and my companion now have ALL of Kakinada for ourselves! woo woo! We have so much work to do, that we have actually have the blessing of too MANY investigators! So many that we have already dropped quite a few investigators that didn't seem like they would progress very well, just because there are so many other people that we need to meet with that ARE progressing very well! Hooray!
One investigator in particular that is looking amazing is a man named Ramu. Ramu has been coming to church for FOUR years already, but has never taken baptism! Apparently for the last year or two he has been waiting for one of his friends to come back from his mission so that he could baptize Ramu, and now his friend just came back this week! Ramu now has a baptismal date for the 25th! Ramu is living all of the commandments, and will believe just about anything we tell him. There is only one problem... Ramu is... not the most educated. In fact, he speaks virtually no English, and can't read Telugu (or any other language for that matter). That means he is unable to read The Book of Mormon. But, he still believes it's true, which is great!
I also get to experience some of what mom must feel as she works with her special education students. Ramu has a very hard time learning new things, so we have been trying to teach the lessons to him as simply as possible, but he is still struggling big time.
Here's how a conversation might go down.
Us: God speak to prophets. Prophets teach us God's commandments. So, who teaches us God's commandments?
Ramu: Uhhh... uhhh... hmmm... I don't know.
It makes me want to cry! He has so much faith, but good learning skills is definitely not something God has blessed him with.
Oh, and one last thing. If I ever don't email you on Monday, that probably means we are having a lock down and I'm not allowed to leave the apartment, not that I'm dead. Haha I just thought of that because that almost happened today. But don't worry, they are VERY cautious with us missionaries, and never let us go out when it is dangerous, so I'm totally safe! :)
Have a top notch week!
Monday, August 5, 2013
As you can see, we played quite a bit of monopoly!
We also made cake and cookies, played chess, and...
...made our own game of Risk! haha we played one round of risk for 5 hours... good times!
This is a picture of the building that is under construction right next to our apartment. As you can see, the construction looks pretty... basic? Maybe that's the right work for it. You see, because labor is so cheap here, almost all construction is done by hand, just like how people would have built houses 100 years ago. Because why buy a $1000 machine to do the same thing that you can pay an Indian to do for $12?
A lot of the things are the same here in India as they are in America, but there are definitely some differences too!
Hooray! I'm so excited that you get to be the seminary teacher Mom! Best calling ever! And I like the changes that they made. It sounds like it will make seminary an even more enjoyable experience for the students.
As for me in India, WOW, this has been a CRAZY week! You see, the state in India that I am currently living in was split into two different states this week! As you can imagine, this has created QUITE a bit of excitement and tension for people! I've been hearing bits and pieces of what's going on, but pretty much the biggest problem is that the new state is taking control of Hyderabad, the capital city. So, that means all the people in the state I'm living in are going to lose out on an extremely valuable city, in the which there are thousands of jobs, and in which business men have made millions of dollars in investments. As you might expect, some people aren't very happy about this.
SO, the fun part for missionaries is that we got to have a Lock Down this week! For two days we stayed inside, to avoid the rallies and what not that are going on. Then for another two days we could only go outside if we had a 18+ member with us 24/7. Haha I felt like a 15 year old again, needing to call people to come pick us up, just so that we could go back home... But for reals, Lock Down are a ton of fun! I'll send you a couple pictures of us partying it up! :)
Some missionaries get stressed during Lock Downs, because they have to miss all of their appointments, and some missionaries get bored because they aren't allowed to leave the apartment, but as for me, I just thought "Hey, we are required to stay inside, there is nothing we can do about it, so we might as well enjoy it!" But, coming outside again has been great too. I started to forget how much I love the Indian people! :)
Oh! And thanks for the birthday package! That was definitely fun to receive! I'm saving my card until my actual birthday, just so I'll have something to open up then too.
So, to answer your questions, here is a little info about Indian families! Yes, many people are vegetarian, but definitely not everyone. All foods are marked as Veg or Non-Veg, because ya, there is a significant vegetarian population. For meat, people eat a lot of chicken, goat, and seafood. No cows, of course, except for in bigger cities like Bangalore (because they have more of a western culture).
In all honesty, I have no clue what an "average" income is here, because they standard of living among the people varies SO much. However, if I were to guess, I would say a typical family that is living pretty reasonably makes around 10,000-15,000 Rupees a month. That's about $200 a month. Ya, pretty crazy, huh?
But, keep in mind when I say living reasonably, I mean on an Indian standard. From an American standard, ya, they are dirt poor. Haha my mission is helping me realize that living on a teacher's salary will be nooo problem whatsoever when I get back home, as long as I can remember what it's like to REALLY live frugally.
Just like in the America, there are many stay at home moms, but also many women that work as well. And, the number if kids is about 2-4. depending on the family.
Here's some sad news right here... so, we were going to baptize one family this month (Sujatta, Diana, and Queeny), but after thinking about it, we decided that we should push their baptismal date back another month. This is because the mom, Sujatta, does not speak English. And we can only baptize non-English speakers of if they have been coming to church for months, rather than weeks. So even though the kids speak English, we knew we need to wait longer because of the mom, and because we want them to all be baptized together. It just breaks my heart though, because they are all reading The Book of Mormon, know this is God's church, and have been taught pretty much everything they need to know. Sigh... well, I guess it will just make their baptism that much more special when it finally does come! :)
Also, I need your guy's help! So, in 2 weeks the missionaries are throwing a little fireside on, and the theme is "once you are converted, strengthen thy brethren". You have any fun lesson/activity thing we could do for a theme like that? Any great idea for EFY or girl's camp??
Well, that's all for now! Have a wondrous week!
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Oh wow! Sounds like you all have so many fun summer activities going on! I wish I could come along for a 100 mile bike riding high adventure, especially after getting nice strong legs from biking 5-10 miles ever single day. haha lots of fun. I love biking! And it's interesting hearing about you getting to do 3 endowment sessions just like it's nothing, because here in India, getting your endowment out is a BIG deal! We have a grand total of 6 people in our entire branch that have been endowed. Many people are preparing to go to the Hong Kong temple next month, but an India Temple would definitely be appreciated by the members here. Someday it will come though! haha and sounds like Noah is still up to all of his old shenanigans. I can totally see him getting stuck on the roof! Definitely livin' life to its fullest!
Well, here are some answers to your questions!
How many investigators we have is an interesting question, because it depends on what you mean by that. How many PROGRESSING investigators we have, how many investigators we have that we have ever taught, or how many people we are currently working with (investigators and less actives (working with less active members is a pretty significant focus of ours)). I'll just say though that we usually work with about 15 different people each week, all kinds of investigators and less actives. And we usually teach about 20 lessons per week. Hopefully we can get that a lot higher though. We just need to get these people to be home when they say they will be home! haha. :)
As for learning the language of Telugu... wow, I could write a whole letter on how deeply language effects the Bangalore mission. I know ever mission in the world wants to say that their mission is "unique", but really and truly we have QUITE a unique situation here! Not only are we not taught the language of the people here in India, but we are encouraged NOT to learn the language! Which means, we can only teach people that "know English". And even with those people, we often need to use a member that has pretty good English to help translate for us. Also, we are not supposed to baptize people that don't know English, unless they have been coming to church for at least 2-3 months. And that is quite a problem right there, because it's hard to get people to come to a church that speaks in English, when they can't understand English... meh. Really, I could say so much more about the effects of having this as an English speaking mission, but suffice it so say that the day this mission becomes a native speaking mission, baptism are going to SKYROCKET! That probably won't happen in my mission, but I still look forward to the day that it does happen.
Yes, we still have not gone and knocked on any doors. If we were to do that though, we would try to aim for Christian neighborhoods, not so much the Hindus. haha and yes, it's very easy to tell what the Christian/Hindu temples are, because people will have stickers and symbols all around their house identifying their religion. We still can teach Hindus, but's tougher for them because even if THEY know this is true, their family might not. And family has a VERY strong influence here in India.
Here's something pretty cool! As I was writing my letter right now, some guy called me and asked if he could meet with us this week to learn more about our "teachings and literature", and that he would love to read anything we have to offer him. Wow, how great is that! God is definitely pushing this week forward!
Oh, and one more miracle this week! So, we were eating out at a restaurant one day for lunch, and at this place they have all sorts of food, like Indian food, Chinese, pizza, burgers, pretty much anything. And guess what Elder Anderson felt like having? Mushroom masala curry! WOW! A few weeks ago I dreaded eating Indian food, because it would make me feel so sick, and I thought meal appointments with members were the worst part of the mission. But now I am willingly eating this food, and it tastes great to me! :D
If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is!
Have another awesome week of summer!