Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hyderabad, February 24

While last week was unusually full of stress, this week has been a lot better.
One of the things that made this week better was a visit with a brother named S. He was the one that wasn’t listening last week. Apparently, after we left his wife took him to task, and he was a much different person when we visited on Saturday. S. grew up from having nothing by lots of hard work, and he really wants to have a strong family, and especially for his son to learn the value of work.
In this context, when we were talking on Saturday he said something very thoughtful. He said that he has observed three (nonmonetary) ways he’s seen to motivate. Namely, punishment, experience, and tradition/customs. He said the first and the third don’t seem to work well in producing good results, and the second one is hard. (His son is 10 and he doesn’t want to just wait around before his son starts trying in school; he was telling us how he loses his patience and temper with his son.)
As we were discussing I mentioned that I liked his analysis but I wanted to add to it another motivating factor, namely, love. I said that as we come to understand and feel the love God has for us, it lets us develop the same kind of love for others, which can in turn motivate them for good. It was a wonderful discussion.
Srinivas is my kind of guy – thoughtful, hard-working, caring, extremely intelligent. But he’s never satisfied with life, he always feels a desire for more, usually more stuff (he’s living in a very nice house and building a bigger one) and tells us as much very frankly.
As we’ve visited him these last couple months we and he have started to notice a change in him (again, he’s frank: he’ll tell us this). He doesn’t have something that can fully satisfy him yet, but he’s started to taste of it. It’s wonderful and I’m really happy to be part of it.
With love,
PS: The weather is starting to get hot, but slowly. Hyderabad is less humid than Chennai, because it's not on the coast. That should be nice.

Hyderabad, February 9

All is well in Hyderabad. I’m pretty tired because I’m exhausted because Elder Gervais and I are running around like crazy people. It isn’t so much actual teaching as coordinating schedules, planning what to teach them, calling people and confirming, calling members to come with us and confirming them, following up with the things they say they will do, following up with the members about what happened to them, following up with each other about what happened when we were on splits with different church members, etc. But we had preparation day today, a conference tomorrow, and our interviews with President Nichols on Friday, so this should be a bit of a break from all this exhaustion.

Saw Elder Tuscano today for the first time since June. I miss that guy. I've changed a lot since I saw him last. Especially learning to be comfortable around people.

I don't really know what to say except that I'm tired, but happy, because I'm tired from doing lots of work and the work seems to be successful. The other elders came here from Vizek, Rajahmundry, ec including a bunch that served in my area. One of them, Elder Hatch whom I really respect, was telling me about all the people he visited and got to know well. He was telling me about one family and their struggle with their 6yo son who hasnt really learned to speak English and is having some problems in his studies. While I knew the family superficially, I certainly did not know that problem or other important, relevant details about the lives of others with whom I interact daily. Other elders spent the time which I for whatever reason, did not, and grew close with those families.

At the end of it all, there is a sense of finiteness; of the 24 hours a day which I have, no more or less than any other human being on the earth, and the vast number of worthy things with which I can use the time and the necessity to choose a few on which to focus; the sense that I can't do it all but I can work to do my part and hope and that others do theirs.

Hope all of you are well, so with love,

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Hyderabad, February 3

Another week passes by like a dream.

Usually my happiness is mostly driven by events that involve other peoples’ choices – Raju deciding to give up gutkha, Michael and his family deciding to get baptized, and so forth. Right now, not much big is happening on that front, but if I could somehow control for events caused by the decisions of those we teach, this might be one of the happiest times on my mission. Last week my companion and I worked really hard and then went on splits on Saturday and Sunday, and we got so much done, so we were really happy. This is basically constant over our entire time being together which makes us more happy. Mostly we are just happy to be together and so also generally productive.

We had a baptism on Sunday, a sister named Aradhana, her boyfriend/fiancé is on a mission and coming back in June and she finally moved to the city -- for work, but mostly so she could get baptized. She was waiting to be baptized for like 3 years so was really happy that she could finally get baptized. She has already read through the entire Book of Mormon and is going through the second time and understands everything already, so it's pretty fun meeting with her but we're a little confused because we don't know what we are supposed to do.

With love,

Hyderabad, January 27

January 27
These two weeks have been absolutely crazy.

I’m working harder and getting more done than possibly any point previously in the last year. Probably because Elder Gervais and I are both committed and hard-working, and Elder Gervais is big on planning and organization.

When I got on my mission, the standards were, for one week, to have about 5 lessons with people you’re teaching where a church member is present “MP = members present” and to find 5 or 6 new people to teach “NI = New Investigators”. (This doesn’t work as a system when you get whacked on the head when you’re below the targets but more of just a way to measure whether you’re being effective.)

Then they raised the standards because there were less of us, so it became 7 MP and 8 NI respectively, and everyone thought it was crazy and it would be so hard to do.

Then Elder Gervais and I, for this week, had 20 MP and 10 NI, because we split up and took church members with us all Saturday and Sunday, so there were two companionships walking around our area instead of one.

We’ve done this like the last three weeks, and now people are basically asking us to take them on splits with them. (In one case, their girlfriend is sending them text messages pumping them up about it, which is pretty funny.) And it’s way exciting. Basically, everyone wanted to be energetic and excited about missionary work. And when we showed we were energized and excited, and kept asking them to come with us, then they came with us, then they became energized and excited. An interesting life lesson, and really good now.

Other exciting events: one sister who is engaged to an Indian elder currently on a mission in New Delhi showed up at church with her fiance’s family and wants to be baptized, so we’re teaching her. She’s already came to church for three or four years on and off and knows everything, and wanted to be baptized and join the Church but didn’t live in a place where the Church is (but now she does).

So for us, we’re kind of confused because we don’t usually encounter this situation, so we don’t know what to teach. Pretty good problem to have though.

I now have a new “Wyoming Cowboys” shirt from a girl (well, woman; she’s 25) who used to be interested in my companion. She sent him a package with one shirt for him and one shirt for his companion. Funnily it should have arrived six weeks ago or so but got sent to Kakinada after he got transferred to Hyderabad. In that case, his old companion would have gotten the shirt but due to the delay it’s mine. Muahaha.

(Also, it was an opportunity for me to talk economics for 15 minutes; she sent him the package because she wanted to marry him; there’s a comparison between false romantic expectations and why recessions occur and how people can keep putting off the day of reckoning, thus making it worse…)

Elder Gervais and I were talking about some experiences we had, and we’re a little confused. Twice in a row we took church members to a family that hasn’t come to church in many years, and they kept scolding the family instead of asking why or acting based on what we figured out. (A long-ago, extremely personable elder named Moffett who got this family to start coming to church and become church members because they liked him, rather than any real converting experience.)

From what we hear, scolding people for not coming to church is also something pastors do a lot here. We think all of this is because public and private scolding of mature adults (from what we can tell) seems to occur a lot more in Indian culture than in American culture. We wonder if maybe that’s tied in with the whole joint-family power structure; a 28yo, newly married couple has far less decision-making power here than in the US.

That’s about it. I just spent 1000 rupees buying new shampoo, aftershave, sweet lassi, a journal, and other food supplies for the week, which is by far and away the most I’ve ever spent in a week. Ai-yo – at least I’ll be eating lots of eggs nuts and muesli in the next week. And hopefully next week won’t be too bad. Alas.