Tuesday, September 30, 2014



Well, this week for me has been craaaazy. I got transferred right into the middle of absolute mayhem! Trainers flying into Bangalore for training, then new missionaries needing brought from the airport, then getting the trainers AND their trainees all out to their respective areas, scheduling flight tickets for the Zone leaders coming into Bangalore for mission leader conference tomorrow, helping to prepare training for the MLC, collecting all the numbers of the mission, doing follow up calls late into the night, and all while we have 10 bajillion people staying at our apartment while they are in Bangalore! Sleep has been... a little less this week. :P PLUS, all the regular stuff with transfers (getting used to a new companion, new apartment, unpacking, learning a new area, learning all the members, etc.) For the first few days I was near delirious with exhaustion, but now the craziness has died down quite a bit. I think I'm starting to get into the swing of things. :)

I now live with rich people. Very, very rich people. This is our apartment complex, Brigade Metropolis. Our rent costs 2-3 times the average income of an Indian family. Whoa

I've also had the thought a couple of times, "Am I really a good enough missionary to be an Assistant..?" Thus far on my mission, I've always kind of seen the Assistant as near perfect missionaries, and I'm sure many other missionaries have the same thoughts. Can I live up to that high standard?? My end conclusion was that no, I'm probably not a good enough missionary. Yet. But, because the bar has been raised for me, I've already felt myself stretch as I try to reach that new standard. I'm more patient with my companion. More caring for those that live in my apartment. More diligent in my duties. More focused during teaching appointments. More aware of the other missionaries in our mission. Hopefully the stretching continues; I'm anxious to improve! 

On the flip side though, I did get to read something that boosted my self-esteem! My first night in Bangalore I was given a 15 page packet titled "Responsibilities of Assistants", to help get me up to speed on what I'm supposed to be doing. Throughout the packet, there were quite a few compliments thrown in for me (well, for all Assistants, the ones that read this packet). This packet was written by President Berrett, and many times in the packet it talked about how I have been called to this position because I am one that can be trusted. I don't know about for others, but that's one of the highest compliments I feel that someone can give me. That I am someone that they can trust. Also, I enjoyed reading "Ironically, you are probably one of the best teachers in the mission, but you will spend most of your time in the office." I'm glad to know I can be trusted, and I'm not too shabby of a teacher either! :-) 

Here's a random thought... in Bangalore, and in Hyderabad as well, I meet quite a few Africans. And I must say, I LOVE the African people! They are so chill. They are so calm, and very smart. They are not at all the stereotype that American give them. On my mission, I've definitely gained 10,000% more respect for Africans, and Muslims.

This week, I also learned a tid bit of information - when I am going home! I believe it was June 2nd. At first when I heard this, I was just a little disappointed to hear this, because that's three extra weeks after my 2 year mark (May 15). "Alright alright... I guess I'll serve a little bit longer. It's not that big of a deal." But then that same day we had a farewell devotional for 6 missionaries that completed their missions. During that devotional I realized... I don't want to go home! Sure, give me 3 more weeks! Give me as much extra time as you want! I love being on a mission! It really is the good life. Every week is a treasure. 

Here is one last story from my days in Hyderabad. Before I left, we went and visited the Murthy family. They seem to have really strong testimonies, buuuuut... they aren't coming to church. Blah. :P Well, when we got there, the mom was eating her dinner. Of course, they offered us dinner as well (all Indians are so generous, a trait I'm really trying to acquire). We accepted, and were grateful for the nice dinner they gave us. It wasn't too big, but it tasted very nice. By the end of the evening though, I learned that the husband had just lost his job this last week, and both he and his wife are searching for work. Also, they hadn't initially intended to give us dinner. In fact, they gave us the food they WERE going to give to their 2 children... As were leaving, I expressed my sincere gratitude to Brother Murthy for their kindness. He said it was his pleasure to feed God's servants. He said that he saw this as an opportunity to have a modern Elijah experience. He knew God would take care of them, if they took care of God's people. Wow. Remarkable faith. I was touched by their total trust in God.

These are my little girlfriends that lived downstairs in my Hyderabad apartment! Their dad is the watchman for the building. I love their family! They are all so nice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back to Bangalore!

September 23, 2014

Well, this week I'm emailing you a day late NOT because we had a lock down due to some crazy festival, but because today is TRANSFERS DAY! Exciting!
Elder Bandi has just completed his training, so, as usual in our mission, it's time for the trainer to get transferred. So, on Thursday evening I wasn't too surprised to get a call saying that I'm being transferred, but what DID surprise me is where I'm being transferred to! I am going back to Bangalore! Woo woo! But no, I won't be serving in Convent Road again, nor will I be serving in Indiranagar again. This time I am serving in the White Field branch! And, what makes this even more exciting, is the fact that Elder Anderson is becoming one of the new Assistants to the President!
I'm humbled to have the opportunity to serve in such a position. I anticipate that I will work very hard, have a lot of fun, and learn a lot. My companion will be Elder George (Indian), and he has already been an Assistant for a couple of months. He will go home next transfer though, so then I guess at maximum we will be companions for just a small 6 weeks! Also very exciting is Elder Bandi's new companion. The assistant that is leaving, Elder Larson, will come be Elder Bandi's new companion! He should feel very lucky; I know Elder Larson is a stellar missionary.
It was pretty memorable the night we got our transfer calls... We had gotten the calls like at 7 o'clock, and Elder Bandi was totally fine for the rest of the evening, but then after we finished planning he started to tear up a little bit... and then he just started bawling. Weeping and wailing. I wasn't really sure what to do, or even what he was crying about, so I just waited for a few minutes. Eventually, he began to compose himself, and he told me "There are 2 people that have given me life. One is my Elder (the one that taught and baptized him), and the second is... you." Then he started crying again.
After about 10 minutes, our neighbors actually came over and rang the door bell. They asked us if everything was alright. They had heard the intense crying, and thought that we were having a major health problem, like a heart attack or something! I told them no no, just we found out I was leaving for Bangalore in a couple of days, and my companion was really going to miss me.
I don't like to see my companion sad, but it does make you feel pretty loved when you see someone weep at the fact they aren't going to see you anymore.
I hope he's okay as he sees me get into the taxi and leave in a couple of hours...
Well, on a different note, I'll finish with one funny story! My life is always so humorous...
So, remember I told you about Divya? That awkward investigator that is a middle aged woman but seems to flirt with me? Well... here is another awk story about her. So last night we had one final lesson/goodbye with her before I leave, and after the lesson she tells us she has gifts for both of us! Really?? Well... cool!
So she hands us each a small bag, and leaves. Elder Bandi opens his bag and there is a blue tie in it. Nice. I open my bag and I have the exact same blue tie, BUT with an additional gift as well... a brand new cell phone AND a pre-paid SIM card! What in the world?? This woman wants to stay in contact with me after I leave for Bangalore!!  
Well, as it turned out, we had a member on exchange with us named Jude. Jude told us that he didn't own a phone! He said he always had to borrow his mom's phone, so he asked if he could have this phone Divya gave (he knows missionaries aren't allowed to have personal phones). The phone probably cost about $20-$30, so it's not too bad, but I knew I can't use it on my mission, and I wouldn't use it when I got back home, so I told him sure, he could have it. He just has to remember to help the missionaries every time he uses it! 
Well, that all seemed fine and dandy until Divya called us this morning and asked why I hadn't turned on the phone yet... uhhhhhhhh.............. Well you see...... Uhhh.. 
What am I supposed to tell her?! Probably the truth, huh? But... I'll leave Elder Bandi to figure this little mess out!  I'm off to Bangalore! :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life is Great

Well, this week was pretty exciting because it was week #11 of Elder Bandi's training! Maybe that doesn't sound very special to you all, but it's special to ME because for week 11 and 12 of the 12 week training, the new missionary... leads in everything. Which means I get to kick back and relax and watch him do all the work! Pretty sweet!

Well, I shouldn't say I make him do EVERYTHING, I still support him and help him.... probably way too much actually! I remember my trainer made me literally do everything... he would barely even talk during any appointments we had! But, I feel bad making my little baby suffer too much, so I still help him. I like to give him the allusion that he is doing everything though... haha it makes him so scared! But, it's helping him to learn a lot, so I guess that means I'm doing a pretty good job training him right?

Ya, our investigator pool is pretty slim right now... we actually had a special zone fast this week ask God to help us find more investigators (because ALL of Hyderabad zone is struggling). Hopefully we'll see some rockin' miracles with finding new investigators this week! :)

I think I mentioned a less active to you a few weeks ago named Solomon. He is really a good guy, and has a strong testimony of the gospel. He has just been offended by our Bishop... blah. Well, as we visited him this week, he showed us all of the Gospel books he has in his house. As he showed them to me, I realized that all of them are "deep doctrine" books. It made me think that he has made the mistake of trying to learn deep doctrine (a sandy foundation), instead of immersing himself in the simply and glorious basic truths of the Gospel. Just a good lesson for me to learn. Stay away from things you can't understand. Stick to the basic. That will keep you strong. 

Oh, just something fun, this week we had an investigator give us lunch! It was kind of strange, because he acts extremely homosexual... Not something that happens to you every day, having a man that lives alone who seems very very gay feed you a giant Indian feast! Pretty fun! 

Also, we continue to work with our recent converts each week. It's good thing we visit them... because even though they have been baptized, their testimonies still definitely aren't perfect! I'm happy I can be a tool in God's hands to help keep some of these people from going less active, and staying strong in the Gospel. 

Life is going great for me! Everything is awesome. :)
With a Ganesha idol and an Indian boy

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Awkward Moments

September 8

Today is the last day of the Ganesh festival! It's also a semi-lock down. We were still allowed to go outside and email (as you can see), and buy some food, but we need to stay in casual clothes, and then come home as soon as we are finished. Tonight it's supposed to get craaaaazy! Can't wait! :D

So, I have another quality story about Elder B from this week! It was during our companionship study, and we were studying eternal marriage. And as we were studying marriage, one thing led to another, and next thing I know I'm giving him "The Talk". Don't ask me why, but for some reason no one has ever explained these things to him! So, I decided it was worth spending some time on, and we spent 2 and a half hours discussing the birds and the bees... hahaha pretty fun, huh? Don't worry, I was totally mature and scientific about it. But really, I'm glad he finally knows about some of these things now! It would be kind of awkward if after his mission he got married and didn't know how to make a baby... I applaud myself as a wonderful trainer! ;P

Just a random thing I thought about this week... so, many missionaries from America get tired of everyone always looking at them as they walk around. However, I LOVE it! I love smiling and waving back to everyone as they stare at me like a zoo animal. This week I was just thinking about why I have a different reaction than most American elders, and I came to the conclusion that it's because of my lovely mother. Mom, you've set a great example for me! Whereas most people feel awkward and embarrassed if they are seen in a wheelchair, I always have seen you making eye contact with people, smiling and waving at them. Thanks for showing me how to be friendly, and not awkward. :-) I love the Wheelchair Lady! 

Three little awkward stories for you all. In progression from least awkward to most awkward.

1) One night we met a new investigator at a bus stop, and he walked us to his home. Well, as were were walking we quickly came to know that Vincent is not a talker. Haha you know, a really nice guy and all, but we just couldn't get the guy to say a thing besides one word answers! Fun stuff... it was only like a 5 minute walk to his house, but it took all of my social skills to keep at least some form of a conversation going! Good times.   

2) On a different evening, we were visiting an active woman in our ward named Gloria. She's a return missionary, and a cute peppy little woman, who unfortunately got divorced due to (well, from her side at least) her husband being a junk fellow. Knowing her, it probably was mostly the husband's fault. Anyways! So, one night as we were visiting her we saw her house was a little messy. Not her fault at all, I'm sure it's pretty difficult being a single mom, providing for a family and trying to manage 2 small kids as well. So, being the great missionary I am, I decided to try and help her clean her house. Well, I saw she had a pile of clothes that needed to be folded, so I went over and started to fold the clothes. Well, what do you know, but it turns out she had some women's underclothing in the pile... not too surprising in retrospect, really. She quickly snatched them away from me, and then I decided it was maybe for the best to not try and help her clean her house... I had good intent though! 

3) So, we have an investigator named D****. She is a really great woman, and readily agreed to be baptized on October 5th! Huzzaw! Well, that's all good and all, but the problem is... she is slightly flirtatious with us. Which, wouldn't really be all that awkward, except for the fact that she is... hmmm.. maybe about 35 or 40? Uhhhh.... creepy! :P Nothing TOO serious, but just creepy little things, like holding your hand a little bit after you gave a simple handshake, or asking us to come get lunch with her, or getting a little too close into your personal bubble when you are talking to her. Maaaaaybe it's all in my head, but... probably not. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Overly Hydrated?

So this week we began the GANESH FESTIVAL!!! Wooo wooo!!! :D Well, actually, to be honest, I'm a little disappointed by it... I heard the festival is HUGE here in Hyderabad, but there has barely been anything! I think that's because it's been raining pretty hard the last couple of days. Indians HATE rain. Soooo... maybe that's why they aren't throwing crazy parties out on the street. :P Oh well, it's still pretty fun! Oh, and the craziest day is the last day of the festival, which is next Monday, so if I get locked-down and don't email you on Monday, that's why. 

Funny story about Elder Bandi... so, he was complaining a little bit to me that he can't seem to sleep through the night. He always seems to have to wake up and go to the bathroom during the middle of the night. He said one night he woke up 4 times to go pee during the night! Well, I asked him how much water he drinks before he goes to bed. He said he drank 1 liter of water right before bed... hmmm.. not the best. BUT, then to make matters even worse, he told me he drinks one liter of water every time he wakes up and goes to the bathroom! What in the world?! I told him to stop drinking water during the night... that will solve his problem. Haha I'm raising a small 26 year old baby... ^_^

This week I reviewed with Elder Bandi the talk "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" by Elder Callister. He was really pumped up after reading this talk, and really wants to consecrate himself. He asked me to ask you to send him any suggestions you have on how he can become a consecrated missionary. He really does want to change!

This week we visited a very interesting less active named Brother Solomon. He is a returned missionary, and was Elder's Quorum President just a few months ago, but now he is totally inactive! Why?? Because he got offended by our Bishop... sigh... as we talked to him, he told us how he still has a totally strong testimony, and he still goes to church every week... just not to our ward. Oh man. A lesson to me: don't be a baby. Don't get offended by your leaders.


August 25

This week the Ganesh festival starts!!!!!! :D I've been looking forward to this bad boy all year! We all got an email from the assistants today though, that says we won't be having any lock downs this year; just be careful. Should be interesting, considering I am in Hyderabad, where the Ganesh festival is the biggest in all of our mission! It's gonna rock!!! 

Two funny stories from this week: 

So one night as we were sitting outside a couple little girls came up to talk to us (like 6-10 years old). I believe all three of them identified themselves as Muslim. We talked to them for a minute, and then they left. Well, 30 seconds later they came back. The oldest one asked us "you give blessings to people, right?" "Ya, we do", I replied. She then asked if we would give her a blessing! She told us she was having a really bad head ache, and her nose was bleeding on and off. For a second I thought "Are we allowed to give Muslims blessings...?" But, then I thought about it. This girl has faith. She believes God can help her. And the believe our blessing will help her get God's strength. Even if she is only 10 years old and a Muslim, God can bless her just as much as he can bless anyone else! So, we gave her a blessing. :-) They said thank you and then walked away again.

Well, 30 seconds later they came back again! This time one of the younger girls asked for a blessing as well! Apparently, she was having a stomach ache... haha I think just felt left out and wanted to get a blessing, BUT, we felt like if she really wanted a blessing, we'll give it to her. 

Story #2. So, we were walking down a pretty main city street. Cars and motorcycles going by us, people walking everywhere, and businesses all around us. Well, we saw a cow walking by. Fairly common. We then saw the cow start to go pee. Again, pretty common. BUT, what was special was seeing an old man, as soon as he saw the cow start to pee, halt in his tracks and reach out his hand to get some of the urine as the cow is peeing! He then proceeded to fling this pee around in the air! I guess this gives him blessings or something? But what was even funnier was the fact that he was right next to a coconut stand, and when he started to wave the cow pee around he got some pee on the coconuts. The coconut man got pretty mad and shewed the old guy away! hahaha simply awesome.

Oh India. So random. 

A more serious story from this week. So, we have one of missionary leaders in Hyderabad that is... not the most Christ-like leader. In fact, he has exercised quite a bit of unrighteous dominion on me and my companion, especially this last week. Naturally, this made my companion and I pretty upset with him. At first, I thought I wanted to take a Christ like approach and help give this leader a correction. Murmuring and complaining only makes the problem worse, but if I gave him some constructive criticism, maybe he could become a better leader.

But as I thought about it some more... I thought of a better option. I decided I would apologize to this leader for any way that I had been disrespecting his authority. I was inspired by a Liahona (church magazine) article where a dad goes to apologize to his son, rather than getting angry at him, even though it was likely the son's fault that the problem had arisen. When I told Elder Bandi that I was going to do this he said "Why! You didn't even do anything wrong!" Yes, I know it was mostly the leader's fault, but I was part to blame for not being more humble. So, that evening I called this leader, and gave him a sincere apology.

Our relationship is now much better. 

More and more on my mission, I have seen the power of apologizing. It really can solve just about any conflict.

Happy Birthday to Me

August 18

Well, my birthday this year was a rather unique one, because I spent the whole day at a church open house! Not your average birthday, huh? Sooo many people did a ton of work to make this open house possible, and it was a lot of fun to be there! For the missionary room, we gave a brief overview of the Plan of Salvation. You know, just like one of those simple diagrams with a 2 minute explanation of it. It was interesting how the different groups responded. Some people were just like "okay. nice. Thanks for sharing." and then other groups would be like "whoa whoa whoa whoa! Where does it say this in the bible?!" haha cool your jets Mr. Kumar, we can explain more later if you are actually interested! ^_^

Really, the open house was VERY well done! The only bad thing was... not that many people came. Well, a lot of church members came to help with it, but not many NON-members came... I think for the 2 days we had the open house, like 200 people came. Not too bad really, but we were all expecting a lot more. But, it's all worth it if it helped bring even one person closer to Christ, right? 

Also, it was pretty exciting that we had the state Deputy Chief Minister of the state government come! Our stake president has connections! Haha I thought it was pretty funny though how everyone practically worshiped the man though... I agree, it is exciting that he came, and we should give him respect, but he's not a god! I don't know, but I sure thought it was funny to watch.

Also, thanks a bundle for the birthday presents!! I don't know, maybe you don't feel like you sent anything that cool, but I sure enjoyed getting everything! Especially the tie looks awesome, and I LOVE the dark chocolate blueberries!!! Elder Bandi has also taken quite a liking to the peanut M&M's... :-)

In India, it's a tradition that you give OTHERS gifts on your birthday. I didn't give gifts to anyone, except for one family. I live in an apartment filled with super duper rich people. Everyone, but the family that lives in the ground floor. They are the security watch for the apartment, and they have one room to live in for the mom, dad, and two cute little daughters. They don't speak much English, but I always say hi to them and the little girls always show me the school projects they are working on. So, I decided to buy them a little box of Indian sweets. It only cost me a buck fifty, but I could tell they really appreciated it. It made me happy to bring them some joy. :)

This week Elder Pydimalla finished his mission!! If you remember, he was my companion a few months ago. And now I'm serving in his home ward, so I got to be here when he was released and for his homecoming talk!! Pretty crazy! One thing, I was really really happy to see him. He is a great guy. But a bad thing is it made me pretty trunky feeling for a day or two... it's weird seeing one of your old companions walking around in jeans and a t-shirt, hugging his family, and doing all the regular things of life again! But, don't worry, I'm focused on the work again!