Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hyderabad, July 13

I'm getting transferred to Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu, and will be leaving on Friday morning. So much for all my Telugu. I hear it's a very beautiful place and hope to see some of it on preparation day. That will require convincing my new companion Elder Riley. I knew him in Chennai, he's a pretty good guy, hard-working and goofy.

With love,
Sam

Hyderabad, July 1

Dear mother,

Everything is going well here. I've been with Elder John for 15 weeks now, which is the longest I've been with any companion. It's really good, because by now we've figured out pretty well how to work together. Also, he was only out 9 weeks before he came with me, so by now being my companion is basically his mission experience. I hope it's a good thing.

Elder Gervais had kind of the same situation (after being out in India six weeks, he was with the same companion for 4.5 months, but told me that he was pretty stunted by it -- his companion never really let him do a lot, so he never learned a lot, and after being in India for six months he was still only pulling 20% of the weight. I kept that warning more or less in mind, and tried to divide the workload fairly evenly.

It was challenging at times, because sometimes Elder John will do things differently than me -- be more bold and direct in telling people they need to change, for example. Is it wrong? No...it's not how I would do it though. But over the last few weeks, I've gotten a better sense of what is wrong and what is style, and what he actually does better than me. As a result, we can work better, and work together.

It's been especially encouraging the last couple weeks to hear my usually quiet companion offering suggestions here and there - "Let's read from the White Handbook twice a week." "We should study patience." "Let's take Raju to see Kumar." Or when I start to see him doing or saying (good) things that I do and say. "So brother, if understanding correctly you think that...." And when we split up and cover different appointments, it's exciting to hear his enthusiastic reports of what he did, pretty much all by himself.

Sometimes Elder John looks at me, and it's clear he has no idea what to say. But heck, I was thinking about what I was like at his mission age. At this time, I had finished being Elder Tuscano's companion and was with Elder Bartlett. And I remember when I had no idea of how to relate to the guitar-toting college student Anthony that we were teaching, so I would just be quiet and let the more talkative and macho Elder Tuscano take care of it. Or Sister Jerry would burst into tears and unload her heart to us and I would just look at Elder Bartlett because I had no earthly idea what to say. So I went through this too.

I was different than he is, sure. Some of the strengths I had then he hasn't developed -- but also vice versa. That's a reminder to me to shut up and hold my tongue before I re-do or un-do something he just did differently than I would have done it.

That's my life, in short --
With love,
Elder Bhagwat