Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hyderabad Happenings...

Namaskaram Family,

Thanks for spelling Namaskaram right for me dad. we don’t see much written out here, so the spelling is always gonna be a little sketchy. you would actually be surprised that most people out here can speak like 3 or 4 languages but really can’t write or read many of them - only their native tongue. but it actually makes sense because all the languages are so different; telegu and tamil are nothing alike and written, they are very different. people up here in Andra Pradesh speak a telegu but its like mixed with english and hindi. my companion always brags that he speaks "pure" telegu. the cities are so diverse so the mixture of language is inevitable.

this week was good. brother singh came to church (which is like monumental)! when you get people to church here it’s a big deal. actually this week we did really well for church. we had like 7 investigators there. but only 4 counted because 3 were late. India Standard Time is far more distorted than Mormon Standard Time. so you take what you can get. but anyway millusingh came and was able to meet a lot of members and learn about the priesthood. i am so grateful we were able to find him, please keep praying for him. he is working towards the big day on dec 21. we have a few more people who are progressing towards baptism. one is brother santosh, who my companion taught like months ago, showed up at church. we taught him the next day about baptism. we had a recent convert named manoj there and he shared his experience with baptism and it was so powerful. i think santosh will be baptized soon.

the past few days we have been walking a lot! we are searching so hard for an apartment, but we can’t find one. we need to have one by monday because we have to be moved out by the end of the year. actually that brother singh knows people here and is helping us find an apartment. the two main problems are the fact that we are bachelors and christians. Indians have no problem being prejudice. anyway, we really are having trouble finding a good apartment. but ya there has been a lot of walking in attempt to find one, and people to teach as well.

i have mentioned the lack of unity here and i continue to see manifestations of it daily. yesterday was a muslim holiday here, I’m not sure what it was called but its a fairly big one. so what the muslims do on this holiday is basically try to irritate the hindus. and they do a good job. we were walking down the street and passed a hindu temple. right next door there was a group of muslims slaughtering a cow -- like in the open. not a pretty site for me, an american who has spent his whole life enjoying hamburgers and steaks. imagine a hindu who holds the animal sacred and is vegetarian watching that take place right next to their temple. the conflict between religions here is huge.

last week i got a chance to give a training lesson in district meeting and it went really well. i think all the members of the district were able to get something out of it. i taught about the pre-earth life and God’s purpose and plan for us. it was nice because I’m used to only teaching basics to investigators, but when you get a chance to teach people who already know, then you can go deeper. i really enjoy that. the scriptures are so incredible. I’m really finding that they truly can unlock the mysteries of God.

Another guy we are teaching is named Murthi and he has been getting taught almost a year now. he is great he has wanted to get baptized for some time now but his wife is really rooted in her hindu traditions. she even comes to church, but she won’t give up her old traditions. this week we will meet them, maybe you could pray for her heart to be softened? the members here are so great, they are always willing to go on exchanges and they spend a lot of time at the church. the chapel really is a sanctuary here.

i have realized a trend with the church and its growth here. the converts are mostly kids younger than 30. there are few families here compared to YSAs. The kids are the ones who speak english. the parents oftentimes do not. when we go finding, i try to pick out the smart looking kids. they are usually the ones most receptive to the message. so in twenty years there will be plenty of families to build up the church in India. but now it’s kind of disheartening because so many kids are having to go against their parents to join the church.

So, mom never told me this, but the indians are very affectionate and touchy people. only, not in the way I’m used to. they show their love towards members of their own gender. here, it’s very common to see grown men walking down the street holding hands, and women too. but to see a boy and girl giving PDA is unheard of. I’m getting used to it. members will always put their arms around me when we are walking and yesterday this kid, sudheer even held my hand, ya, i was like uhhhh this is really weird. but honestly, for now, i just pretend it’s a girl or something. sorry mom and dad, probably shouldn’t be thinking about that on my mission, but it’s the only way to keep my sanity! maybe ill get used to it. anyway that’s probably enough for the general letter this week. love you

(below are snippets from his individual letters to us)

…we took a video on the way over here today so maybe i will send that. It’s pretty funny -- it has us crossing the street and catching an auto (rickshaw) and stuff.

i hear gas prices hit the floor after i left! just my luck.

thanks a ton for the college bowl games info. we all loved that. that national championship game will be sick, so will utah vs bama. BYU in the vegas bowl. what's new?

anyway thanks for all the advice. actually i wanted to thank you and mom for being such great examples throughout my life. i see now how much i was privelged to have parents as faithful as you. there are so many members out there that don’t enjoy the same blessings. anyway love you and thanks for everything.

…i will probably call dad’s cell on Christmas, and i am not sure what the limit is. we get a test call like a day before though. I’ll know more details next week.

i am starting to gain a little fat on my belly and it’s bothering me. is it the rice? i have been drinking a lot of cool drinks (soda) so maybe it’s both? I’m not gonna drink anything but water and juice now. i don’t have that much time to exercise in the morning. when we move i will get a gym pass so that will be good.

my district has 6 people. five americans including myself. district leader is elder toleafoa from Hawaii. he is such a good missionary and a great example. he sings very well and we have fun writing music together. his companion is elder Sorensen. he was from my batch in the MTC but not my district there. so i didn’t know him that well till we got to india. he is from texas, he went to the same high school as Deron Williams! the other two are elder evans who you know about, and his companion is probably my favorite in the district, elder ward. he is from a tiny town in idaho called almo. i am trying to convince him to go to BYU when he gets back because i think he would be chill with all our friends. he served in chennai! mom i can’t wait to go there. apparently the people down in tamil nadu are tough but i don’t care.

the people out here are naturally flaky so i see where i got it from. but they are still good people. finding is tough and can get discouraging when no one wants to hear the message. but it’s great when you find someone who does want to listen.

there are so many cockroaches and they are everywhere. It’s hard to get away from them. and there are rats in the street all day man! still haven’t seen an elephant but I’m looking.

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