Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vizag, August 26

Life was way way crazy this week. Right now we’re in Hyderabad for a conference – every missionary in Andhra Pradesh is together now, which is like half the mission. So I get to see a bunch of people from Chennai that I haven’t seen for a while, which is nice. Also more important, I get to hear about all of the people we were teaching in Chennai and also about Elder Tuscano. I know a decent amount of elders now, which is nice but not really high on my list of priorities.

I heard some of the sweetest words I’ve heard in six months, on Saturday: “We were waiting for the right elders.” That was from a wonderful couple, named Jonas and Asha, from the branch, that we’ve taken with us for the last few Saturday nights to the best family we’re teaching.

The wife’s aunt and her two daughters have been coming to church for the last two years, but Jonas and Asha were waiting for elders they knew and really trusted to teach their family. So on Saturday they told us about their family, and on Monday we came with them and met them, and now we’re helping them to prepare for their baptism in about a month. It’s really cool.

My days are so full of events though – that happened Saturday evening, and by the time we got back to our apartment I had forgotten another notable event that had happened that day. We met a brother named Raju, whose family we were teaching, who loved us so much (reciprocally also), but who had gone out of station for the last month to Karnataka, who came back on leave for his job and who we met for half an hour. He was very touched to meet us and vice versa, especially when I gave him a letter I had written that morning. (With my love for him, a bit of my testimony, and some things to read, to give him some answers to deeply felt questions about why there is suffering in the world.) A couple of tears dripped down my face. When I got back that night it felt like two or three days had gone by because so much meaningful stuff had happened.

Elder Bartlett and I are doing so well together – we’re on the same page all the time, and we’ll complete each other’s sentences and thoughts when we’re teaching. I’m afraid he’ll get transferred somewhere else (we’ll know on Monday or Tuesday) but there’s not much I can do about it if that happens.

Another thing making us happy is continuing to see the fruits of our labor. The entire branch got reorganized yesterday (people got released from their current responsibilities and accepted different ones), and now two of our converts here are teaching the young men, one is teaching the children, and the two 13 year olds have moved out of being with the Primary children to being with the young men. (Which they are kind of sad about because they will miss all the drawing and colouring activities. Alas.)

Also I’m learning valuable parenting skills – Elder Bartlett and I have really been practicing this last month at expressing our heartfelt disappointment when the people we’re teaching don’t keep their commitments - fail to come to church when they said they would, or read the scriptures, and so on. Usually it works pretty well, especially when we show them that we love them, for example by customizing their scriptures we assign them and giving them personal application questions. Eg, our disappointment is most heartfelt and also most effective when we work hard at preparing something that will help them and they don’t do it. Though also we learned that the most important time to follow up with people is when they do what you asked, when they’re willing to try what you said out – then you have to congratulate and sincerely thank them. I could probably have told you what to do in abstract a month ago, but we’ve been doing pretty well at actually doing it which is awesome and really helping me be a more developed and effective in doing good.

Happily, in the branch I’m getting a reputation as an elder who really loves the people I’m teaching and who works hard, which is really good. I like that, and now I just need to make sure it continues to be true. Also everyone comments on my laugh, they really like it. It’s really funny to hear a 15yo girl tell you that she really loves the way you laugh.

Basically this is all a list of good things and so as you might expect, I’m really happy.

Terawaktha, with challa prema (means, later, with much love)

Sam

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