Sunday, October 04, 2009

Vizag, September 30

I'm a little sleepy as I write this, mostly due to a nap I took today. Not really sure if that was too good of an idea. My companion and I made chapattis today along with some prepackaged mango daal, which was the first time I've actually made them in India. Exciting.

This last week has been pretty crazy. One family we are teaching is struggling this week - they came to church but they're about to get evicted. We're trying to help them but are not allowed to give them anything Even though the family is actually in need, it's generally a bad policy to give/loan money to people joining the church (creates the wrong incentives, and a lot of jealousy), plus the conversion concerns in India. We talked to the branch president and offered an extra room that belongs to a church member, but it's a few kilometers away and they don't want to move so far (far from their children's schools and so forth). And on the spiritual side, because of this, he feels like he can't concentrate on God, and also that God isn't blessing him. He called us yesterday to tell us this, and I talked him into letting us come that day. He keeps changing his mind on everything and is basically in panic mode, which is kind of frustrating but understandable. The only peace the family has (and they recognize this) is when they come to church and meet us and read their scriptures, and thus even in worldly terms it's kind of counterproductive for them to not do that. I came with one of the mission leaders who was in town, named Elder Mehan, and we pointed this out. We're really worried about the family but we're doing our best right now, so there isn't a lot else we can do. The main problem is that so many people view blessings from God as primarily financial or other worldly things instead of other-worldly things, and this man has picked up on that. All we can do is keep committing him to repent and change, and help him see the blessings in his life. Last night we committed him to give up tea coffee and gukka (some chewing tobacco product) and tonight we will offer to start fasting with him.

Other than that, we had a really good missionary conference yesterday, about our purpose as missionaries. President Nichols pointed out that the intent that you do things determines your results (go to school to get good grades, or a good education? wed so you can get the best-looking person you can find, or so you can build an eternal family?). He pointed out that while we all generally came for good reasons (eg we knew we should, that it was the right thing to do, we saw the changes in others who went, the prophets and/or scriptures said we should), they shouldn't be the reasons we should be out now. Somewhere around 6 or 12 months out, he said, the mission starts more and more to become about the people of India and less and less about us. I was reading an essay I wrote before coming and saw that was true for me. I really feel that before, I knew from a chain of logical arguments that I should be out here, but now I really see the evidence with my own eyes and it's (started to) really sink down into my heart. There's a scripture in the Book of Mormon that "blessed are those who believe and are baptized without stubbornness of heart, without being compelled to know the word," and I really understand that more now. I had stubbornness of heart about coming out here -- though that might seem hard to imagine -- and I'm becoming less and less stubborn (eg when things are hard like changing bad habits or talking to people) which is good.

Also we found another broken family. I hope we'll be able to help.

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