Sunday, April 05, 2009

Chennai, April 1

Life is going well. My muscles are hurting a bit now - Elder Naulu has started
all of us on a new exercise regimen. Yesterday we did the "Push-up
game" - the four of us get in a circle, each does one pushup, then each
does two, up to five and back down. And we did this twice. I don't think
I've done that many in my life before. Between that and walking 3 to 6 miles
a day I'm getting in really good shape. Elder Naulu's companion Elder
Leckington had a full ride to play basketball at Montana State before he left,
so he's lamenting the bad shape he is in even though he's in better
shape than all of us.

Otherwise things are going well. Elder Glade is going home on Sunday, and
I'm going to miss him. We've been really clicking together when teaching
recently. Pretty much every time we've taught the first time the people
we've met have been really excited and enthuastic and wanting to know for
themselves whether our message is true. Also Elder Glade keeps us focused and
punctual. I'm going to have to learn to remember the focus we had and make
sure I have that same focus with Elder Siyyadri (my next companion).

It's really hot, so we've been buying a two-liter of water every day
and splitting it, plus drinking a ton of water before we leave and for lunch.

People we are teaching are doing well. A family of four we're teaching is
getting baptized on Sunday so I am really excited. They seem totally ready.
Unfortunately, the man who promised to quit smoking didn't, but he's not
making any excuses and we still have high hopes. Mostly the problem right now is
getting appointments with people. We'd have pretty full days if we could get
weekly appointments with all of the people we're meeting regularly, but this
doesn't seem to be working so well. We're trying to figure out what
would help them make time for us/make them realize why they should meet more
regularly with us.

I think I mentioned, but we keep running into families with the cutest and
smartest kids. Yesterday we met this family with a girl in 4th standard who was
sooo intelligent and showed us her drawings which were really good. She drew a
visual puzzle that she showed to us and was telling us how she showed it to her
17 year old sister to see if she could figure it out but her sister got all frustrated
and told her to go back to her room (I couldn't figure it out either). Also
the family with deaf parents and the 8 year old boy I told you about earlier. Plus the
man who is trying to quit smoking, who has a really bright 15 year old daughter. Plus
another family we started teaching with a 10 year old boy named Kevin. Plus another
family with an 8 year old girl named Anna Maria. It's always kind of hard to gauge
the intelligence of parents, especially when their English isn't the best,
but just judging by their children we're teaching a lot of really sharp
people. Also when you have 8 year old and up smart children it's more fun teaching
to them - asking them all the questions, using scattered toys as a visual
example to illustrate points we're making, teaching at their level, and so
on. It's cute, their parents like it, the kids are always excited, and the
visit turns into more of a discussion.

Also the family with the 15 year old girl has interesting dynamics - she will be
around for most of the lessons, and it's clear that she feels she's sort
of getting the privilege to be part of adult discussions, what with her father
and his struggle to quit smoking, talking about what both of her parents are
searching for in life, and so on.

It's an interesting reflection on myself as well. We are all ordained
ministers of the gospel, and as such privy to people's deep hopes, desires,
fears, and secrets. Who are responsible for helping them find fulfillment,
peace, happiness, and find deep joy and happiness in doing so. And yet we're
still 19, 20, and 21 year old boys who trade ideas about exercise programs. Who
jokingly invent and exchange non sequitur "Yo' Mamma" lines after
lights out. Who occasionally still get frustrated, or curt, or prone to any of
the normal tendencies that cause friction between human beings. Or who at times
just don't feel like going out and walking around for four, six, eight hours
in the hot Chennai sun.


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