Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vizag, August 12

The other elders woke up from the earthquake, apparently there was some shaking for like 30 seconds here in some parts of the city but nothing big. Elder Bartlett and I stayed sound asleep. Also our area is, at closest, six or eight miles away from the ocean.

(If it makes you feel any better, in the future, if there ever was a tsunami warning, and somehow we didn’t hear about it from other people in the mission organization, we’d hear about it from every other person we talked to on the street.)

Our apartment is a twenty or thirty minute commute away from the places we go to proselyte, so usually we only eat breakfast and a light dinner there, except for lunch on Sundays (because we don't go to restuarants), Monday (because we're in our apartment in the morning planning for the week, and Wednesday (preparation day, so mornings in the apartment again). Mostly we just eat biscuits at home, and occasionally grilled cheese or rice with daal or palak paneer (we cook the rice and buy the other stuff pre-cooked at the supermarket).

Actually the main problem this week wasn't tsunamis or earthquakes, it was biscuits -- I ate some bad ones. They weren't past their expiration date and we bought them at the supermarket, but I still spent a lot of Friday night throwing them up. So I slept in Saturday morning and then took a while getting back to sorts -- during which Elder Bartlett decided that he also wanted to have body pain and headaches. Kind of funny in retrospect, not too fun at the time, but still a good week. And now we're back to normal.

Some amusing incidents this week:
Boy (seeing us): Namaskaramu!
Me: I’m heard Namaskar, I’ve heard Namaskaram, but this is the first time I’ve heard Namaskaramu.
Elder Bartlett: Maybe his father was a cow.
Me: (quizzical look) (finally, gets it.) Laugh.
We just went up to Kailasgiri, a hill park overlooking the beach today, which was pretty fun.
This last week the main event was our two baptisms, which went well. Elder Bartlett performed one and the branch president performed the other one, so I stayed dry Sunday. The sister we were teaching who got baptized on July 12 is already teaching Primary children, which is pretty cool to see. It means the fruits of our labor are already bearing fruit.
Another funny incident revolving around statistics. We have a bunch of statistics like number of people we’re teaching at church, all of which are used because they predict baptisms. But sometimes they’re misleading:
Me: Uh-oh, we’re really going to have to work on getting “investigators [people we’re teaching] at church,” we’re losing both ones this week.
Elder Bartlett: Yeah, we’re baptizing them!
Last week was also really cool because our weekly missionary meeting was really really good, and we learned a lot of things. (How to follow up with people to get them to keep their commitments, and also giving them short scripture reading assignments where they can easily apply the things they learn, instead of long passages where they get confused.)
Then, in our studies every morning, we worked on applying the things we learned and trying them out. Already we can see a difference – the people we’re teaching love this new approach. It’s pretty cool to move from hearing the idea to brainstorming to implementation to seeing the results so quickly – especially when you can see the results in the smiles of the faces of people you’re teaching.
We’ll be going to Hyderabad briefly in a couple of weeks for conference, which should be pretty cool. I will miss everyone we’re teaching but it will be really cool to see some elders I haven’t seen for a while. When I got here I was way confused by all of the new faces but now I have a pretty good idea who is who, which is nice, I suppose. Really I don’t really care that much about knowing who is who, beyond the people who are in the same city as me at the moment, President and Sister Nichols, and a couple of close friends and people I really respect. But it’s along the line of ‘good to know your colleagues.’
One elder that was living in the same apartment as me, who finished his mission three months ago, is married already! It was pretty funny just because he was telling the whole apartment his thoughts, trying to decide whether to marry her or not, and then he left and I didn’t hear anything about him for three months, and then I saw his wedding invitation and now he’s married. Information flow here is pretty limited, which is fine, and it creates some amusing incidents like the above. My trainer (first companion) Elder Glade is coming back to Vizag tomorrow with his family, so I should get to see him on Sunday! I’m excited about that.

That's most of the things that are new and exciting from this side. So until next week-

Love,
Sam

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