Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chennai, April 22

Well, I’m still here, alive, well, etc. It’s always hard condensing weeks
filled with alternate joy, frustration, rejection, new opportunities, and such
into a few words summary, but ‘all right’ is pretty descriptive. Someone
once said that this work is like having ten children. On any given week five are
being good children – doing all their homework, studying, staying out of
trouble – and five aren’t. But normally if you have children, it’s pretty
consistent who the good ones are. Not so here, it always keeps switching up.
Some of the people we’re teaching are busy or out of station, a couple that
used to be pretty good are becoming less interested, and a couple that we
didn’t think were too interested are warming up.

The family that Elder Glade and I baptized is still doing awesome, we brought
over a senior American couple that is in Chennai helping all of us out, and the
lesson went wonderfully. Probably the best lesson I’ve ever been a part of.
They are going to start holding family home evenings, having one night a week
where they all do some activity or game together, switch off their cellphones
for the night, etc. That makes everything else worth it. We are meeting them
again on Friday and bringing over a sister from the branch named Zeetha that is
Hemalatha’s visiting teacher; once a month, Zeetha and a companion will visit
Hemalatha and make sure she’s doing all right and share a message.

Yesterday I went on exchange with a really cool elder named Elder Singh, also a
half-Indian convert who grew up in Reno. He was a lot of fun to spend the day
with and I learned a lot. Normally he’s companions with Elder Diamond, who was
my companion in the MTC. We door-knocked into this drunk Christian guy, who’s
been drinking since he lost his job as a driver five months ago. By coincidence or
miracle, Elder Singh was visiting a less-active American church member two days
ago, and asked if he needed anything, and the American guy said, not unless you
know any drivers. So we let them know about each other and hopefully something
will work out. Before we left he said he saw Christ through us. We’re going to
keep teaching the guy about quitting drinking – he wants to, and needs to,
especially for his wife and daughter’s sake – and otherwise helping him.
We’re glad to help him find a job and quit drinking and we’d love to teach
him but we just need to be careful of ‘converting' here, so we’ll be cautious on the teaching part.

Don’t know what else is new and exciting. We’re trying to get people to
keep their commitments this week, we’re teaching tons of people but only one
came to church (though we had several promises). Basically we are going to
emphasize that they need to make more effort to learn for themselves if our
message is true, also get church members to sit with them and/or bring them.
Simply put, it’s hard to get people to do things, but I’m really learning
how. This is like learning chess – I’m building pattern recognition. When
I’m playing chess I don’t need to consciously count points anymore, that’s
intuitive. Similarly, a lot of situations now I’ll know basically what to do
– teach, commit them, ask questions, or whatever – and can focus more on the
details. Of course, there are still a lot times where I’m out of my league –
like with the drunk guy, I asked questions, but Elder Singh was like ‘You know
you need to quit. You know it’s the right thing to do’ and that was way more
effective than asking questions.

I don't really mind the heat. You just get used to it. And laugh at how
sweaty you are. And drink lots of water (and buttermilk, which my native
companion introduced me to).

love,
Sam

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