As always, General Conference was superb! I remember during the Saturday morning session when it got to the intermediate hymn I was thinking "What?! An hour has already gone by?! They just started!!" It was definitely a great spiritual experience. After conference was over, me and my fellow missionaries all agreed: Elder Bednar had the best talk. Hands down. But also, I thoroughly enjoyed Elder Callister's talk on parents being the primary gospel teachers. I'd say over my mission, I've come to really appreciate Elder Callister, and now he is one of my favorite people to listen to. One thing I noticed was that people talked about the prophet a LOT! How grateful we are to have a prophet, blessing him during the prayers, or sharing examples of things he has done within their own talks. Truly, he is a great man of God.
|Thomas S. Monson|
Gee wiz, I have so many great things to share from this week!
First off, we started going on exchanges with the zone leaders this week. Which is pretty awesome, because we take plane flights to go to their respective areas! It makes me feel pretty official, having flight travel paid for me so that I can go give training to the other missionaries. I had quite a few great experiences with them!
One part I really enjoyed was getting to go on exchange with Elder O'Dell. As you might remember, he was one of my companions in Indiranagar (Bangalore), so that was really sweet getting to serve with him again. He is one of my favorite companions. One what made it REALLY fun is that we were on exchange in Rajahmundry (the least speaking English zone in our mission), in an area that has the least English for all the areas in Rajahmundry! hahaha of man, the lessons were so funny! Half of the lessons we would speak baby level English, and the people could manage to understand, and then they would speak back in a baby level Telugu, and we managed to understand that. At one point Elder O'Dell even got a stick out to draw pictures on the ground to help them understand! It was awesome.
One thing that also really struck me was when we were teaching a very, very, VERY poor recent convert family. You know the houses they make on the TV show Survivor? Yup. Pretty much describes their living conditions. Instead of having the hut next to a beautiful ocean, it's next to a dirt field covered in trash. Delightful. It just made me a little angry that as we were describing the people in tents that surrounded the tower of King Benjamin, we described the tents by pointing to their own home... here we are in the 21st century, with incredible strides in technology, and yet people living thousands of years ago had better living conditions than they do! Why in the world is that??! Well, at least they have the Gospel now. That's better than all the riches in the world. They were a wonderfully humble and loving family. I'm glad I got to meet them.
I was reminded what India is REALLY like. I've been living too long among the richest of rich Indians in the nation.
Another fun experience was when I was on exchange in Visak. After District meeting, the whole zone went to lunch together. And, not intentionally, but as usual, all the Americans went to one place for lunch (Pizza Hut), and all the Indians went to some noodles and rice restaurant for lunch. No one ever intends to segregate Indians and Americans, it just naturally happens every time you do something together as a zone. We are comfortable with people that are similar to us. Just adds to the idea that people that are unrighteous won't even WANT to be in the Celestial Kingdom! Why would they want to spend eternity with people they have nothing in common with?
I gave a lot of insights to the missionaries that I got to interact with. Hopefully some of it helped them in some way or another!
On the way back, we had a 4 hour layover in the Hyderabad airport. Blah. Well, I picked up a newspaper (is that apostate for a missionary? I felt like it was fine!) and read through a few articles. One thing that really struck me was an article on what India is trying to do to solve it's power crisis. People aren't happy about having power cuts on a regular basis! And as I read this article I realized they are really TRYING to fix this problem, but they just aren't capable of producing enough electricity for everyone! Now, it gives me a new dimension ever time I leave a fan or light on. Because I left that fan on, that means there wasn't enough electricity for someone else to have any fan running in their house, because their neighborhood had a power cut (we never get power cuts. Our apartment complex has it's own generators. A LOT of generators.) Pretty sad, really.
One last cool experience to share. So, one night we went out to visit a member's home. Unfortunately, she wasn't home yet, because she had to stay extra at work... Sigh... Well, fortunately there was a different neighbor that lives next door to her, so we went to go visit them instead. We just popped in, and of course they welcomed us inside their home. Well, as were talking and getting to know them I asked the husband, how he met his wife. He said "Don't ask me. Ask her." "Uhhh... okay. Lalitha, how did you two meet?" She was pretty silent. I was a little confused, "Why won't either of you answer that question??" The husband said "she doesn't want to tell the story, because that might stir up some romantic feelings in her." I was thinking "Uhhh... ya... so isn't that a good thing?" Well, come to find out, they actually hadn't been speaking with each other all day because they were angry at each other... :P But, this is what I am grateful for, we were able to help them bring the Spirit back into their home. We talked to them more about their marriage and how much they love each other, and shared a scripture on forgiveness, and by the end the husband went over and gave his wife a hug and a kiss. :-) Nice.