Monday, March 30, 2015

Giving Blessings

That is a bummer Noah didn't get his call! For sure next week I went to hear where you are going, little bro. But that is awesome Adam and Chelsea are having a boy! That is super duper awesome! My vote is to give him a cool Book of Mormon name. Moroni Anderson. Sounds pretty good, eh? Sorry to hear you aren't doing well mom. I hope you get well soon. I am pretty happy you got through the OT though. Gee wiz, that book confuses me a lot... maybe someday I'll build up the courage to really dig into it. Abbey, you stated your routine as if it's a bad thing! Seminary is great, school is great, homework can be fun, and sleep is a true joy! What's not to like? 

I think the highlight of this week was how many priesthood blessings we got to give. During this one week we gave not one, not two, not three or four, or even five or six, but TWENTY THREE blessings! Let me tell you, my Priesthood is well exercised. One of our investigators, Nirmala, took us to a lot of her friends and relatives and asked us to give them all blessings. This week we gave blessings for everything from financial problems to shoulder pains, leg pains to diabetes, and even a couple that has been trying for 8 years to get pregnant. Really, it has been a pretty awesome experience seeing so many people's faith. Even though they are not members and don't know what the priesthood really is, they have faith that God can heal them. And many of them told us that they DID recover after the blessing! I know my testimony of the priesthood is still growing, so it has been a great week for me to be able to use the priesthood so much. I always feel the Spirit so strongly after giving a blessing to someone. 

We also went and blessed one of our member's construction site. They are building a new home for themselves. It was really weird though.... so they live like a 100 second walk from their construction site, but they wouldn't come with us to dedicate the site! I guess they didn't want to walk over there? So the only people that were at the construction site were a couple of construction workers, who of course speak zero English, so me and Elder Peter couldn't even explain to them what we were doing. So we just awkwardly stood in a corner of the site and I gave a small prayer... really weird experience. 

This week as we talked to one of our investigators, Paul, I realized how different I have become on my mission. Paul and I are both 21 years old, but as I look at him and his life I realized that he is almost exactly what I would be like if I had just been at home for the last 2 years, but not at all what I am like now. I will be forever grateful for the great changes in myself that I have been able to experience because I came to serve the Lord. 

This week we did a little bit of door knocking. We have to be very careful though, and make sure we are only knocking on Christian doors, because of all the Hindu stuff that is going on in politics nowadays. It was a lot of fun! We were invited in by semi drunk old guy who fed us some delicious rice with tomato curry, and then he showed us his daughter's maturity function photos. I had to introduce Elder Peter as to what a maturity function is. Apparently they don't have those in north India, so he thought they are as weird and hilarious as I do! Haha a giant party to celebrate a girl being able to give birth to children... I guess in reality that IS something we should celebrate, right? It's a great blessing from God! 

This week we have also had a lot of touching experiences with Jude (remember? He is the guy that asked tons and tons of questions when we taught him). This week his mom was admitted to the hospital. And her condition is very, VERY serious. She is having lung and kidney failure, and is in ICU right now. Obviously I can't really fully imagine what it feels like for them, but I tried to put myself in their shoes and could easily see just how painful it must be for their family right now. The first day she went into the hospital they had a good 10-15 family members at the hospital. Since then she has been in the hospital for 3 or 4 days, and they keep family members there round the clock. They will take shifts who stays there, so that she will always have someone with her. Jude told us that he knows many pastors, but he has faith in us, and that is why he asked for us to come and pray and bless his mom. Constantly his family is telling us that they know only by God's grace can their mom/wife be healed. 

To be honest, I feel completely inadequate in these situations. What I am supposed to say as 10 people surround me with tears in their eyes, many of them being 10-20 years older than me, and expecting me to make the problem better? What can I possibly say to bring comfort these people that are suffering so much? We have visited them 3 times this week, gave a blessing once, and prayed the other two times, and I have done my best to testify of God and His power, but oh how I wish I had greater words to give them... I was reminded of a time a few years ago that Bishop Anderson (Dad) was asked to give a prayer at a funeral. I remember he typed up a prayer, and put a lot of thought into what he could say to comfort the people there. At the time, I thought that that was kind of weird (come on, giving a prayer is easy, right?), but not I can totally understand his feelings... I wish I had had a nice typed prayer that I could use! 

I feel the Spirit so strongly as I am with this family during their great trial. Their faith is superb. And whenever I go over to the hospital it really does wonders to put all of my small little problems into proper perspective. 

On the 3rd time we were heading out of the hospital, as soon as we got out onto the sidewalk, we saw a YSA guy tear by on the street on a very powerful motorcycle. After he raced out of sight, it made me think about how unintelligent and careless he was being. After just being with a family that is in near hysterics because their mom is quite possibly going to die, it was a very stark contrast to see someone who apparently did not have much understanding for how valuable his life is. How inconsiderate to risk your own life! Ya, if you die, great. Whooppy-dee-doo. No sweat for you really. But it is your FAMILY that is going to pay the price. They are the ones that are going to have their lives turned upside down because you thought it would be fun to have some thrills on your motor bike. It gave me added resolution that one, I will never break the speed limit (knowing that the speed limit is calculated by professionals who are allowing you to go as fast as you possibly can without increasing your danger of death), and two, that I am going to be more careful with my life in general. It really is sad to see how one person's death can hurt their family so much.

All in all, I would say I learned a lot this week. Even in the last month of my mission, I am always amazed at how much I have to learn!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

beware of the birds

March 23

This week we were searching for some less actives on the membership record that no one knows about. We met one woman named Rosalind Brenda, and she told us that elders used to come visit her years and years ago, but no one has visited her in at least 2 years, and the time she came to our church was about 10 years ago. I asked her when she was baptized, and she said when she was a baby. Assuming she was Catholic before, I was then more specific and asked when she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her response? "I was never baptized in your church. I just came and visited it a couple of times. Me and my family are all Catholic." Uhhhh...... What?? Either one, she has somehow forgotten about her baptism (or is lying about it), or two, someone in the church thought she was a member and entered her name and address into the membership list... Either way, I'm a little confused. She told us to come back in a couple of weeks, so I'll be interested to see what happens if we get to work with her more. 

In my 19 years in America, I can only remember being getting pooped on by a bird once, and then one other time it hit my backpack. In just 2 years in India, I had my FOURTH time being pooped on by a bird this week! haha... :P 

It's interesting, all the other Elders around me keep telling me how I only have 1 or 2 weeks left of my mission. I tell them to stop trying to cut my mission short! I have a solid month left! At other times my apartment mates tell me how they are way trunkier than I am, which is funny because they have been out for 7, 5, and 2 months... haha I guess that's good I'm not trunky! 

Elder Peter has really good English, but he has watched a lot of Hollywood movies and they use some English words that are very inappropriate but you wouldn't know that by how frequently they use them. This has caused him to pick up a few bad words unknowingly. This week I taught him that he shouldn't use the D or N words... Funny stuff! 

So in our branch we take in all of the deaf members for Bangalore, no matter where they live. Because of that, Convent Road has sign language interpretation during Sacrament meeting. This Sunday we had an old woman give her talk in Tamil, and because I know almost zero Tamil, I found that I got a lot more out of the ASL translation of her talk than what she was actually saying! No, I still don't know ASL all that well, but I sure know it a lot better than Tamil. 

This week as we were walking back home one evening, we saw an older woman and a YSA age girl helping an old man walk. Elder Peter stopped and asked if we could help. Of course they said no, but as we were about to walk away they struck up a conversation with us. As it turned out, they are strong Christians, and the mom had just had her brother pass away 9 days before. They were inviting any pastors or evangelists to come give prayers at their house, and told us that we could come over and give a prayer. We said we would be delighted to! So we went over and shared just a small message (because it was already almost 9, and we had to get back to our apartment). We shared 1 Corinthians chapter 15 about how Christ will bring to pass the resurrection on all of us. The mother who had her brother die started to cry, and chant hallelujah as she bowed down touched my feet (a sign of GREAT respect in India). To be honest, I was a little uncomfortable by this... But a couple days later when we visited them again she told me how the words we shared had really touched her heart, and she definitely wants us to come back again. All in all, a really great experience! And I'm excited to have some new investigators to work with. :-)

Park Kissing

March 16

One funny story from the week. So, one day Elder Peter was telling me about Delhi, and it went something like this. "There is a very famous park in Delhi, a park filled with sin and temptation. This park is only for couples, and even though there is no wall or anything around it, couple inside the park are breaking the Law of Chastity!" At this point I'm thinking "What in the world?! Is this for real??" But then he goes on to explain, in complete seriousness, "Ya, in the park the couples are... kissing!! Kissing! Right where everyone can see them!" Haha... guess that just goes to show the difference in morals in America and India. =P

There is man attending our branch for this month that is from the USA. I asked him why he is here, and he said it is for medical reasons. You came to India for a doctor?? Apparently the medical stuff he needs done would cost $10,000 in the US, but only $3,000 here. Well worth the cost of the plane ticket!

Speaking of medical stuff, I have a story for that also. Remember how like 10 years ago I had a really bad stomach ache, and all of you were thinking I was a baby, but then I went into the doctor and had to get surgery? Well, the same thing happened again! Not me this time though, fortunately. One of my apartment mates, Elder Cloward, had a lot of pain in his gut area for a few days, and finally went into the hospital, and after doing some scans they saw his appendix was inflamed and was about to burst, so they took it out... wow! He is all fine now though. 

While he was gone, along with his companion Elder Thompson, our apartment was a lot of different. It was MUCH more clean, quiet, peaceful, and obedient. But... it was also much more boring. It made me think about you two, mom and dad, what it's gonna be like for you after this summer. Me and Noah will both be gone, and all you will have left is Abbey. I'm sure that will give a much different feel to the home. 

This week we found an AWESOME investigator family! NINE people were in the home when we taught them! And they were all girls! Good thing we had not one but TWO brothers with us on exchange, because that helped to balance out the hormones in the room. haha. They were a referral from Keerthi Sagar (who was on exchange with us to show us this home, along with our EQP Deepak). Apparently they are friends with Keerthi's cousin Nancy. Interesting, he doesn't even really know them but he still referred them! If only all members could share the Gospel like Keerthi... We taught them the Restoration, and they all seemed to be fairly accepting of it. They all agreed to read 3 Nephi chapter 11 and pray to know that the Book of Mormon is true. It was a little intimidating teaching so many brand new investigators, but all in all it went really well. 

Hopefully they will all receive an answer this week that the book is true! =)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Watch Out for Splinters

March 2

Okay, I got a GREAT story from this week! So on Thursday morning as I was finishing breakfast Elder P called out for me, so I went to see what the problem was and he told that he had a stick stuck in his foot. I quickly saw it was an itsy-pitsy splinter. I told him to just take it out, and he told me had been trying but couldn't do it. "Elder, I think I need to go to the doctor for this!" "Wait wait wait... you don't need to go to the doctor. Let me get some tweezers for you." So I went and got him some tweezers, and through much moaning and groaning he tried to pull it out. Apparently he was unsuccessful, because 10 minutes later he called me back to say that he had pushed the splinter deeper into his foot, and now he couldn't even see it anymore! But his foot was still hurting a ton, so he wanted to go to the doctor and see if they could extract it out of him. So I called Sister Berrett and she gave permission for us to go to the doctor. He told me "Elder we need to leave right now for the doctor! My foot is hurting so much!" "Okay we will leave now, but just get a shirt and tie on first because we need to look like missionaries when we go outside." He replied "Elder! There's no time for that! We need to go now!" So he went to the front door, and I quickly popped on a tie and we headed out with him still in his PJ's. We went to St. Philomena's hospital, where after waiting in line for a while we finally got him registered at the hospital (for 200 Rupees). Then we waited for a while for the doctor, and after the nurse finally called us in she took a look at his foot, and said she couldn't see the splinter, so we needed to do an X-ray. So went to another part of the hospital, and for another 230 Rupees they took an X-ray of his foot. We then went back to the nurse, she let us in to see the doctor, and the doctor told us "There is nothing in your foot. You must have already gotten the splinter out. Just put some ice on your foot, and come back in a week if it still hurts." Well, the doctor was right. After another hour his foot felt fine. So we spent 2 hours of our day at the hospital, got an x-ray, and Elder P spent 430 Rupees, all just for the doctor to say "You're fine." Moral of the story: look out for splinters! They can be trouble. 

This week I also taught Elder P how to make Dosa, a south Indian breakfast item. I thought it was somewhat funny that an American was teaching an Indian how to make Indian food. haha. 

Today I went and bought a couple more souvenirs, and even though India is a country of bargaining, I've cut back big time on how much I will bargain. I've come to see over the course of mission the kind of homes that sales people live in. They aren't that nice. Take the worst home you have ever seen in the US, shrink it by 50% or so, and that's what these people typically live in. So why should I cause a big argument to try and save myself 50 cents, or maybe even a buck or two? To me, a dollar means almost nothing. To them, they can eat for a day with that money. I still won't let them totally cheat me and rip me off, but I'm okay spending a few extra cents to make their day a little brighter. 

We went to visit a recent convert named V yesterday. A couple great things about that visit.

1) He gave us Krispie Kreme doughnuts!! He delivers Krispie Kreme doughnuts to their various branches in Bangalore, and he brought home some of the extras. Definitely the best snack a member has ever given us!

2) He invited his brother-in-law to join the lesson with us. His brother-in-law was a total separate part of the house, but Vishnu wanted him to learn the Gospel. Constantly I am amazed by how recent converts share the Gospel 10,000 times better than long time active members. 

3) Vi told us about a decision he recently made with work. Obviously, people want doughnuts every single day, so he doesn't get a holiday, including Sunday. He has to work 7 days a week, every week. Because of this, he is only able to attend Sacrament meeting, because he has to hurry and leave after that to deliver more doughnuts. Well, he told us that he doesn't like doing that. He wants to stay for all of church, and he wants to keep the Sabbath day holy. So he got another driver to take his deliveries on Sunday, and he agreed to pay that worker all the money he would earn from his Sunday deliveries. Let me tell you, Vishnu is not a rich guy. Not at all. But he was willing to take 1/7 cut in his pay so that he can come to church and follow God's commandments. He told us he has total faith God will bless him for doing this, and everything with his financial stresses will work out fine. It's always touching to see the amazing faith of others. 

Motorcycle Sitting

February 23

This week I had a lot of fun experiences!

On Saturday morning we went and visited an Australian member in our branch named DM. His company put him up in some ritzy hotel, so it was cool getting to visit his in his temporary home. For me though, it is always really weird teaching people that speak English, because I don't know what to say! Most of the time I spend the entire lesson desperately trying to help someone understand the most basic of basic doctrines, but with someone that speaks English already.... it's too easy! I teach for 5 minutes, he understands everything, and then.... I don't know what else to say! It's the opposite of what I was 2 years ago; all I would search for was "Deep Doctrine". But now I don't know how to learn or teach any doctrines above what a primary student should know! Oh the changes you have on your mission. 

Another fun thing is that whenever I see Elder B (he is serving here in Bangalore) I always see him wearing the shoes I left behind In Hyderabad. I was just going to throw them away, but he took them and now uses them every day. I always think it's cute to see my missionary son LITERALLY walking in his dad's shoes... haha.

So, there is a YSA girl in our branch named S. She's a pretty fun gal, and her family are all members. Well, one day as we were walking home we saw S on the back of a motorcycle with an unknown YSA guy. She was laughing and smiling until she saw us, and then she immediately got quite and put her head down... we didn't say hello to her, because it was very apparent she didn't want us to be there... haha I love awkward situations like that! Almost guaranteed her parents don't know she has a boyfriend (that TOTALLY goes against traditional Indian culture, and her family is very traditional), so I'm debating whether or not to bring up this situation next time we visited their family... we'll see!  

Also, I had another instance with a motorcycle this week. One day we were waiting a really long time for a bus, and this bus stop had no bench or anything so I decided to just sit down on a close by motorcycle that someone had parked. Well, I sat there for a good 15-20 minutes before a man and his wife came out of a near by building, and by the way they awkwardly looked at me sitting on the bike it was clear he must have been the owner of it. So I quickly got up and apologized to the guy for sitting on his bike, and as I started to walk away the man smiled at me and said, "Would you like me to drop you somewhere?" Wow. Pretty different from a typical American who most likely would have said something along the lines of "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING SITTING ON MY MOTORCYCLE!" Sometimes I forget just how kind and awesome Indians are, but then they go ahead and do awesome things for me and I remember they are amazing amazing people. 

Do you remember KS? I shared a couple of stories about him from last time I served in C. Road, and now I have another about him. As you might recall, K has a lot of faith, but also a lot of doctrinal confusions. Now, because of those confusions, he is going less active... Here is the problem. He believes the bible is true. He believes the Book of Mormon is true. AND he believes Joseph Smith is a prophet. But he doesn't accept the rest of the modern prophets as prophets... including Ezra Taft Benson. Because of this, he is offended that we spend an hour of church studying Ezra Taft Benson. He claims we should be studying the Bible or Book of Mormon, not just some random "good person". So every week he comes to Sacrament meeting (because he knows how important the Sacrament is), but then he leaves right after that... how can we help someone like that?? Yes yes, I know the answer to his confusion SEEMS obvious, but to him it's not obvious... maybe time will help? I only hope God enlightens him, because he doesn't want to hear what we have to say about it. :-( 

One last experience: So we had a couple good appointments set up for the evening, but as a missionary I have become quite accustomed to plans falling through. So as we left our apartment I prayed that all the people we had scheduled to visit would actually be there (a true miracle to ask for!) Everything went smoothly until our last family. When we knocked on the Lawrence family's door, the daughters and mom told us they were the only people home. Their older brother had gone outside with friends, and the dad was who-knows-where. Sigh... so, we said goodbye and were just about to head off because we can't teach without a brother being there, but to our delight the older brother George came walking down the street! Hooray! And then 2 minutes after we sat down, the dad also walked in! Amazing! God brought us 2 brothers, and one complete family to teach. I was very happy to see them all there.