Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coimbatore, November 7

I have learned a new language on my mission. It's called, "Indian English."

When I am trying to get someone to hurry up, I tell them to "Come
fastly." When someone is late and I call them on the phone, I ask them
"Where you are now? How many minutes you are coming?" When I need to
know how many of my 24 hours I've used, I stop and ask someone on the
road, "Brother, what is time now?" Moreover, I sign whatever I speak.
When I say "think," I point to my head. When I say, "feel," I point to
my heart. Occasionally, Indian English includes basic local language
words like "romba" - pronounce "ro" as in "rowing" - for "very" or
"uthkaringa" for "please sit down".

Sometimes I still speak the language we used at home, known as
"American English." Because my companion speaks good English, there
are other American elders, some members of the branch can understand
this language, and I'm in contact with you, I still remember how to
speak it.

Unfortunately, due to lack of usage, while I have maintained my skills
in "American English," I do slip up now and then and am certainly not
improving.

Life here continues to be crazy. For various reasons, including being
senior companion again, I am back on my organizing drive. On Saturday,
I finally was able to turn a long-awaited plan into reality.

There's a basic principle I've learned on my mission. Everyone likes
elders, but the amount they actually trust you and are willing to do
stuff for you is usually directly proportional to the amount of time
you spend with them.

I told you about M., the kid from the orphanage we're teaching.
Well, we really wanted to get him some mature people to be his
friends. We were thinking about it, and the best candidates were
actually J. and S., the family we are teaching that I was
telling you about. All the necessary steps -- introducing them,
setting up the appointment, finding the house -- were easier because
both already trusted us, we knew their schedules, where they lived,
etc. This is pretty unorthodox -- you usually introduce them to church
members -- but it was the easiest thing to do. So on Saturday, Elder
Prabhakar and I pumped up our cycles and cycled 30 minutes on some
pretty washed out roads to get to M.’s orphanage, picked him up, and
walked a mile and a half to J. and S.’s house.

In addition, while I was trying to work out all the logistics through
calling M. on his friend's cell phone, we also talked J. into
sending their daughter R. to a church picnic for children on the
same day. They're pretty protective of R. and it was the first time
R. -- who is 9 --ever went somewhere without them but she really
enjoyed it so it worked out.

It was also good before we thought having J. and
S. serve someone else would be good for them, and we plan to
continue this in the future. Also it was a megalith of planning, and
it worked and they really developed a strong bond so it was good.

So I'm getting a new companion, Elder Meservy. Actually this is
because some elders finished their mission and are going home so they
are combining our two companionships in Coimbatore. So now there are a
couple million people in my area. And we're going to have 15 people
coming to church every Sunday. While I'm excited for the new
responsibility, I'm afraid my head is going to explode.

(My companion Elder Prabhakar is going to a nearby city Erode, and
Elder Meservy's companion Elder Ludlow is going to Hyderabad to be
companions with Elder Gervais, my old companion. I really like Elder
Ludlow; this will probably be the last time I see him on my mission,
though he lives in Modesto so we'll probably meet again.)

Thanks for the election news. I read about Jerry Brown when I was
learning about California political history, I didn't know he was
still alive and hopping! So in the race to replace a mucle-packed
weight-lifter and action movie hero, married to a daughter of a
dubious dynasty, a semi-antique, semi-hippie former governor beats the
former CEO of the dot-com era's top 5 success story. Here in Tamil
Nadu we've had the same chief minister for the last 20 years. I'm not
sure which form of theater -- excuse me, government -- I prefer.

Also as you may have heard, Obama is in India. All the Coimbatore
elders wore red, white, and blue ties on Sunday in honor of his visit.

Love,
Sam

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