Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chennai, February 11

Am in Chennai now. Life is good. Don't have physical address on me,
it's in Alwarpet. My companion is named Elder Glade. He has been out for 22
months and will go home mid-April. I am his last companion. He is really
awesome. He is calm and quiet but firm and focused. I have been learning so much
from him - how to go about talking to people, how to present material clearly
[esp. with the moderate language barrier. It's not so bad with me because I
understand people's accents. But Elder Diamond, my companion in the MTC, is
living in the same apartment and is understandably having a lot of trouble.]

All the elders here are really tall. My companion is 6-4, and the fourth person
in the apartment is 6-5. We get around the city by bus and auto, mostly bus. I
have both jumped on and off a moving bus now, that was interesting. (I have
jumped off twice but didn't fall either time.)

We are meeting the most interesting people. Christian people whenever we
introduce ourselves invite us into their homes; but those with more experience
say they aren't as receptive once they hear us.

Probably the most interesting thing is talking to people. I am getting less shy
though I have a long road ahead of me. We talk to the most interesting people. Elder Glade went to Bangalore for two days (he has leadership responsibilities, he is a zone leader and so with Elder Diamond's companion he is responsible for ~14 people in
Chennai.), and so I was with another elder at the end of his mission. We taught
a couple of 30-year-olds, a really awesome guy named *Karl- he is a hunchback with a
spinal defect - that we had a very spiritual lesson with. Another guy named
Jimmy, same age, is consumed with making his father happy, being a better
person, and having all of his friends that graduated from a management college
earning more money than him. We had a lesson semi-prepared, but threw it out the
window and read from the Book of Mormon with him. It was a passage called
Lehi's vision, [1 Nephi 8] especially the part where people are pressing towards a tree with
fruit representing God's love, and eat of the fruit, but are embarrassed by a
building with people "with exceeding fine clothes" mocking them and
cause them to fall away from the tree. We were able to teach him (imperfectly)
exactly what he needed to hear, and that was such a great feeling. I will not be
teaching him again (he lives in an area covered by Elder Jones, not me and Elder
Glade), but it was awesome. Those feelings make up for the times people don't
want to listen to us, that I'm being really awkward and mess things up, etc.
The way President Nichols put it was that the bad experiences outnumber the good
ones, but the good ones outweigh the bad ones.

Hmm, what else. There is also an older couple here on missions, the McKinleys.
They are wonderful and very helpful in teaching. We have weekly meetings with
half of the missionaries in Chennai, and they help us practice and figure out
how to teach better, find people better, and so forth.

I have some plans for missionary programs I want to start/am starting, but it
is all taking time, so I will tell you more later.

It is interesting with the aversion to 'conversion' in India. So when
we go around, we introduce ourselves as volunteers sharing a message that
brought us happiness. Which is true. But we also don't, for example. pay
people to attend our church and so forth (which others do). Other elders have
told me they've been asked "how much will you pay me to join your
church" before though I haven't yet. We aren't allowed to give
money to anyone, even beggars, because of this. There were some people I met on
Saturday who were mad at me over the whole conversion thing. Shrug.

Mm, am nearing the end of time, so will send and then send another if have
anything else to say.


*Editor's Note: Names of individual's have been changed.

1 comment:

dramatic sporano said...

I am grateful your companion is so good. That's the perfect way to begin a mission. I'm eager for my trip to your home state (Michigan) on Thursday. You are in our prayers.