Well, the big news of this week isn't very happy... Elder Bandi had his uncle die. :( I remember it was Thursday afternoon, and we got a call from President Berrett. He asked us if we had a minute to talk, and I said ya. Then he started talking to Elder Bandi. At first Elder Bandi was happy and excited to be talking with the mission president, but after a minute of talking his face totally changed... after the call he burst out in tears telling me how his uncle had just passed away.
I've done my best to comfort him during his time of need, but I'm not good at comforting people! What am I supposed to do with a crying man?? I just don't know... The biggest thing I've probably done to help is enlisting the help of other people to comfort him. Like for example, I texted the sister missionaries in our zone and told them they needed to call and comfort my companion... I don't know how to help him, but sisters are supposed to be good at consoling people, right?? They did call him, and I think that helped him a little bit.
The really exciting part though is that the next morning we took an early morning flight to Vizag to go to the funeral. It was a crazy whirlwind of a day. Our flight left at 7 am, so we had to leave our apartment at 5. We spent the day at the funeral in Vizag, and then our flight home didn't land until 10 o'clock that evening. I was so zonked out on the flight home that I fell asleep in literally what felt like 10 seconds. I only vaguely remember waking up for a few moments during the flight to hear the people next to us ask my companion "Hey, why are you crying??" and he told them "My uncle just died...." and then I fell back asleep. I feel bad for the guy.
My companion has an interesting family. They have all of the dad's side living in one house! 35 people in one home! They have 20 more members in the family, but now they have moved out. So many people! It was kinda weird being there, because at first I just felt like a 36th wheel in this big family group (believe me, I stick out like a big ole sore broken thumb in this group, being a white tall foreigner dressed in a shirt and tie...) Fortunately, after a few minutes the kids got over their shyness, because of COURSE they want to come talk to the foreigner (who wouldn't??) I ended up spending the whole day talking to like 6 or 7 kids. It was great fun for me! By the end of the day, this kids knew me and my family so well that when an adult in the family would come over and ask something like "how many brothers and sisters do you have, where are you from, etc. etc." the kids would shout out the answer before I even responded! haha. The kids all wanted my autograph before I left... cute. :)
I feel like I was at least able to help the family a little bit, by bringing some happiness and joy and excitement into their lives (especially among the kids) while this horrendous trial is going on in their lives.
I really felt bad seeing my companion though. He was in hysterics over his uncle passing away. And his family wasn't doing well either. He is the only church member in his family; the rest are Hindu. It was interesting to see them prepare the body, and then burn it. Very different than a Christian funeral.
|Preparations for a cremation on an an open-air funeral pyre. In India bodies are cremated on open funeral pyres|
But now my companion has improved a lot, and the way I am helping him is by putting him to work. Work is the cure for worry!