Saturday, December 26, 2009

That's No Moon

Well it was great to talk to you all yesterday. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the afternoon. I only got 5/7 pictures mother. I didn't get the food bank or the mall singing ones that you mentioned. Looks like Christmas was a lot of fun. We had a good time here in Kingston. Thanks again for the Christmas gifts, I really liked them and that cube still amazes me!Haha!
Yesterday after talking to you we watched a new church movie about John Tanner (E. Tanner ancestor). Good movie, worth a watch. Called like Treasures in Heaven or something like that. I would Suggest it. I then messed around with airplane flights with president and got that all worked out and now I know who my new companion is-..Elder Stevens! He was my guess all along but I didn't want to say anything in case I was wrong. In case, for some random reason the name doesn't sound familiar, he was my trainer that I already served with for 3 months. I will be serving with him for another 5-11 weeks. We had a really good time the first round and I am excited to serve with him again. His flight lands in Kingston at like 3pm today or something like that, he got on the wrong flight somehow (didn't even know that was possible) so his schedule is crazy.
After we left the cheesmans yesterday we went home and E. Emery packed up all his bags and what not. I sat around and caught up on my journal and listened to conference talks. Thanks again for the CD's. ¾ people in our house got them for Christmas! Haha. E. Tanner got some really good CD's also. Some 4 disc set of the Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith. I am excited to listen to them and might have to acquire them if they are good. Not much else happened for the rest of the day. E. Emery just got ready and I just relaxed. Pres. Graff, for Christmas, gave every missionary a book of mormon (just the typical ones that we hand out everyday) but gave us a special challenge with it. He asked that we go through and read it marking all the words spoken by Jesus Christ (which I already did once 6 months ago) but then he asked us to keep this one special and only mark what he asked us to. He wants us to read that copy once a year. He said at Easter he will give us further instruction on what to do with our book of mormon. But for now just read it and mark the words of the savior. I am excited to get started on that again. Last week I started the BoM again but I am only in Nephi 18 so starting over won't be that hard.
Ummm-hmmm-..I don't know what else to say. I got a lot said yesterday during our phone call. Things are going great. I can't believe that it is nearly 2010. To cause us great confusion at our house we currently have 5 phones for 3 missionaries. So frequently we will be talking on one and another will ring. It was funny yesterday when E. Emery was left in charge of 3 phones and they all rang and he was attempting to hold down 3 conversations. Made me laugh. I was driving and therefore incapable of assisting. Well I am going to now look through some pictures and attach what I find to be pleasing. My memory cards are nearly full. But I will just put it all onto a DVD soon and clear off my cards. Some pictures I am going to attach. One is of Elder and sister cheesman with santa. Sis. Graff was in the way, but still a decent picture. A next picture is of a dry erase board that had the brackets of our basketball tournament, the real reason for this picture is the mud in the background. The big tire marks in the mud are from me. I was driving up and I saw 2 little cars parked at the side, a giant mud field and tire marks in the mud. So I assumed it was from the cars and that if the cars made it through the mud wasn't really to deep or that bad. I figured that the truck could easily make it through. I hit the mud and lost all traction. I just sat there and slung mud everywhere slowly inching around in a half circle like motion. It was fun and from that point on when anybody would show up we would quickly tell them to stop driving before they hit the inconveniently placed mud field. The third and last photo is that of the portmore chapel with some missionaries leaving the chapel. This was taken right after district meeting.
Alright, well I am running out of time and out of things to say. I hope that Idaho is great. Thanks for everything. Happy new year. I love you all!

Elder Talbert

Are you the Miracle Max who worked for the king all those years?

December 19
Alright, another week has come and gone, amazing! First off, while it is on my mind, Christmas calls/pday. Preparation day is the day after Christmas, but it will be cut short since we will have had the previous 2 days off still get to email though. Calling on Christmas is a messy situation-we recently decided to change every single phone in the mission to a new provider who was offering us a better price, we have been spending way to much on phones lately. So that has been all worked out but we are making the great phone swap on Christmas eve-so every missionary will get a new phone number Christmas eve! Less effective! But oh well. So I have no clue what to tell you. On Monday you will receive another email from me, a short one. On Monday we are all getting told what our new number will be so that we can email our families and let them know. Monday look for an email telling you when to call and what number to call. Most likely it will be in the morning and since there is a 2 hour difference it might be as early as like 8 am Utah time. But I will let you know on Monday. I still haven't gotten the package yet, but don't worry, mail is just slow in Jamaica at Christmas time. There are a lot of missionaries who we know have packages in the mail who just haven't received them yet. Parents have called the office and asked if we have seen their sons package yet. So don't fret, it will get here. We are checking the mail everyday this week. Haha
Transfers came. Elder Brown went home, his 2 years were up. By default I had to get a new companion. Elder Emery is his name. He is from Utah, so now our entire house is from Utah. He doesn't know this, but he is only my companion for a week. Next Saturday, the 26th, he flies out to the Bahamas. I booked him flights last week. At the moment he thinks he will be in Kingston for a long time haha. I have good guesses as to who my next companion will be by next Saturday, but I am not 100% sure so I will just let you know next week. It is weird to be sort of training elder emery how to do things in the office but at the same time I am not bothering to really teach him a lot of the stuff we do because he isn't going to be here long enough to really matter. We are having a good time, it will be a fun week that I get to serve with him.
Our area is doing good. We got some excellent referrals this week. Nigel and the rest of the members that live down in downtown have been near impossible to see. The war has gotten intense. Last time we were down their the neighbors were evacuating because their house had been destroyed from a bomb. So that is fun, we are safe and nobody even thinks of bothering us. Everyone down there still says hi and is happy to talk to us and then when we walk away continue fighting with each other. But for the most part we just avoid downtown unless sister buchanon tells us it is safe to come over. We met this man named Wade this week. He is great. 21, married (YEA!, nobody ever gets married), and really open to our lessons. His wife joined us the second time we came by and they are both interested and we are hoping to see them at church this Sunday.
This week for Christmas eve we are having a big mission party in Kingston and that will be a lot of fun. There is going to be a basketball tournament. Our team (the office elders, the assistants and the Kingston zone leaders) stands a good chance despite the hindrance elder tanner and I will bring to the team haha. Elder Emery played basketball in college and is really good, so he is our only hope. Haha but it will be a lot of fun. Then on Christmas nobody in Jamaica wants to be taught and so we get to call family, and then go out and see if we can find anywhere that we can do service or go Christmas caroling.
Ugh! hmmm- I don't have much to say. I hope that your new job is great dad, it is odd that you are now done teaching but it will be a nice adventure to start something new. I am sorry to hear about Helen. But it is great to know that she had the fullness of the gospel in her life and that we can all see her again. It sounds like elko has been a snowy mess, it sounds like a lot of fun and I sort of miss snow, but at the same time I know that if I was there I would remember how much I dislike it. And it sounds like the whole giving tree thing in the ward is doing well. They don't really do anything like that here in Jamaica.
I am glad that the first letter arrived. The second one will hopefully come this week. I got a 5000 on hand and just need to send it now. I will probably just do what you suggested mom and just put it in a card and assume no one in Jamaica will check it. Today we are cleaning our house. It has gotten slightly dirty so we are going to have a super cleaning of it. That will be nice. We are all tired of how dirty the house is.
Last preparation day we went and flew kites. Elder brown wanted to do it and so we agreed. Turned out to be a ton of fun! For 2 hours we ran around trying to get our kites in the air. We chose a day when their was absolutely no wind (bad choice) and so the only way it would go up is if we ran really fast. After 10 minutes we were all exhausted and had collapsed in the field. It was a good day. The other people in the park had fun laughing at us. 4 white guys who couldn't get their kites to go up running in circles. Right after we started some little 5 year old boy standing at a near by gazebo said "That's not how you do it" while he was watching us run around. Haha
Well I guess I will finish up here for the week. Life is going well in Jamaica. Look for my email on Monday. I am excited for Christmas and for this upcoming week, we have some good people that we are working with that I am excited to keep teaching. Enjoy Christmas vacation. Merry Christmas and I will talk to you then!
LoveElder Talbert

On the fourth day, he roped himself a couple of sea turtles

December 12
Wonderful to hear from you all again. Mom I have sent two envelopes with money in them, one with change and the other with bills. Hopefully they get to you this week, and hopefully they still have everything in them! I will work on the $5000, will be slightly tricky to get, the very hardest part though will be actually sending it home, I am unsure about just sending it in an envelope. I will think on it and come up with something. In answer to your other questions mom I have no idea! I didn't even know Christmas fell on our p-day. My guess is that our preparation day will move to Monday for that day. But I will do research and let you know. Same with the phone call, no one has heard anything about it so we will work on figuring that all out and getting you information by next Saturday!
This week has been quite uneventful, but I will see what I can muster up here. On Tuesday we probably had the most exciting day of all week. A general authority and a handful of area people from the DR came. That was interesting. Bro. Cordero, the Area fleet manager came to give me training on how to manage the mission fleet better. It was good, had like a 5 hour meeting but I learned a ton. Elder Brown was there at the start, but since he goes home next week he wasn't really interested so he went off and did other work. During the meeting bro. Cordero showed me some spreadsheets that he uses and explained how he wants them to be used. I also showed him one of my own spreadsheets. He liked it a lot (nifty sheet! Has a lot of conditional formatting and helps keep track of when things need to be done). The spreadsheet has been around since before I was in the office, but I have been working on it a lot, making needed changes and overall just making it work better. Now it is easy enough for anyone to use and works very nicely. Bro. Cordero liked it so much that as soon as I edit a few little things I am going to email it to him and he is going to have it used in the rest of the Caribbean! Haha.
It has been a frustrating week in terms of investigators. We just have no one that is going anywhere. This next week we are going to be finding a lot of new investigators to replace our mostly less effective investigator pool. Our only good investigator is Nigel and he is getting hard to see. The area where he lives (southside, downtown, Kingston) has broken out in a big gang war and so it is dangerous to go down there at certain times (don't worry, we are being safe!). Thankfully Nigel lives with members who can help him out. He can't really read at all, he can struggle through verses and eventually sound out all the words, but he rarely gets much meaning from them. Our reading assignments to him are normally only a few verses. He is a good man, just needs extra assistance, and that is where the members come in at this point. Hopefully he will be at church this Sunday assuming it is safe for them to all leave their homes. Haha
Unfortunately this week our power went out. Which wasn't to much of a big deal, sort of annoying at night time, but overall it wasn't to bad. The annoying part was after sleeping all night, with no fans, dying of heat, we wake up and find that our water had also gone out! So we had no power, and no water haha it was interesting. By the end of the day both were back on but it made for an unfortunate morning. The water has come back on, but has been unusually filthy. Thankfully we have our handy dandy water bottles! Now we will see if they really work or not! If we get sick then they don't work-but I think they work decently.
I don't remember if I mentioned this before but about 2 weeks ago E. Mcgrath and I went up to Bro. Williams house and we have been helping him to rebuild up his broken down car. It has been quite interesting I have learned a ton about how an engine works and what all the various pieces of a car are. It was a good educational experience. Also recently I was moving a washing machine from a missionaries house and they asked about an outlet in their house that wasn't working. So I fixed that right up too. Between bro. Williams and I we have become the handymen of the mission. It has been entertaining.
I have been studying a lot out of preach my gospel lately, I finished the book of mormon again last week and decided that I just wanted to really focus on preach my gospel for a little while. It has been really nice. Just by reading that book a lot it can really fire you up to do missionary work. Chapter 4 is one of my favorites along with chapter 6. On a quick side note, this week I was reading January's Liahona and I found a quote I liked a lot. "Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not." Thomas Henry Huxley.
My companion, as mentioned before, goes home this week, flies out on Thursday, so no matter what at transfer day I will get a new companion and I will still be in the office. They won't remove both office elders at the same time, that would be a terrible idea. I will be excited to see who my new companion is! I don't have the slightest idea who it will be. But most likely whoever it is will be my last companion in the office before I get transferred out. So they will have to know everything that is going on. I don't know if mail is getting faster or what, but lately Elder Rice and I have been able to send things to each other and have it reach fast. It only takes 5-7 days for a letter to go from Jamaica to Texas. So that has been good. I prefer that to the 3 week travel time that seems to take place all to often. I still haven't seen the package you sent, but it hasn't quite been long enough, I expect to see it either Tuesday or Friday of this next week.
Wow... this has been a slightly longer than usual email and I still have 25 minutes. I don't know what to say anymore. Happy birthday laura, I am glad that it was good. Weird to think that you are now 18. Still haven't received an email from dad, but hopefully I will in the next 25 minutes! I am still hopeful! And conveniently as I typed that last sentence I got an email from dad.
I am sad to hear about Helen. It is a good thing that we have temples! I hope that all goes well and that whatever happens turns out for the best. I liked the thoughts that susan had, they were nice. I don't really know what else to add to that.
I hope that everyone's week goes well. Things are going great for me. I will look into the Christmas questions mom. I love you all and pray for you always!
Elder B. Kent Talbert

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I spared no expenses

Another week has gone by. It has been quite pleasant. It is great to hear from all of you again! I am glad that BYU won the game. First off, before I forget. It is very possible for me to get all the different assortments of currency. The $5000.00 bill is a pain to get but all the others are easy, especially the coins, I have a very large collection of coins currently. It is about $20 US for one of everything excluding the $5000, that adds another $50 US onto the cost. I will see what I can do though.
Hmm-Where to begin, a lot of random things have happened this week that are entertaining. Two nights ago we got home, about 9:10 pm and I was thirsty. I walked into the kitchen, after I had taken off my shoes, went to the fridge, pulled out my water, it was empty, walked to the sink, began to fill it up, turned around and sitting in the middle of the floor of the kitchen was the biggest scorpion I have ever seen! About 2 inches long and a half inch wide with a very long stinger! It was just sitting there and I wasn't really sure what to do. Poked it with a broom, it just fell over like it was dead. Sprayed it with Pyro (ultimate bug killer) and the scorpion freaked out and started running around and my companion crushed it with his shoe (my shoes were off). It fought hard but in the end we killed it and that was the end of the giant scorpion in our house, though it has made me a bit more paranoid around our house.
Well there is this man named Nigel that we have been teaching. He lives in downtown Kingston, the part of downtown where law enforcement is little and life is crazy. So we were down there teaching him and during the lesson we just hear a series of gunshots, all fairly close to us. Everyone sort of quiets down and we walk out to the yard and peak over the cement fence. The street, once covered with lots of lights and hundreds of people is complete empty and there are no lights on. Made for a very creepy feeling. We decided it was best that we get going at that point. But we had parked out car 2 blocks away and so we had fun walking down this dark creepy street to our car. No one really bothers the missionaries, but none the less it was moderately crazy. When we get near our truck 3 police vehicles fly by with a ton of cops in them all carrying their large automatic rifles and equipped for war. It was fun, made for a good story to tell other missionaries.
Christmas is coming. Not to many Christmas traditions here that vary from that of the states. There are less lights and less decorations in general but you can still find them. One thing is that instead of drinking eggnog (bleh!) they have another drink called sorrel juice, made from sorrel fruit. Tastes good, but they like to put rum in it also so you have to know who you are getting it from before you drink it! Speaking of rum. The "Wrey and Nephew" rum plant, possibly the biggest alcohol producer in the Caribbean, burst into flames earlier this week! It was huge! We live about 5-10 miles away and we could easily see all the flames. Lasted all night long and everything just burned away. The weather is still blazing hot. It really does not feel like Christmas time in the slightest. There is no sign of season change at all. It has been the same since I got here. Everything is always green and blooming and hot and humid and wet. But I don't really miss the snow all that much. It is nice to have good weather, you just wish it would go away occasionally.
This morning we went up to Bro. Williams house for another interesting experience. We killed a pig and cut it all up. It was a lot harder then a chicken. The pig fought hard. They do it in a interesting and fairly painful way for the pig. First we tied up the pig to a tree, then we found a large club and a sharp knife. The guy who actually killed it walked over to the pig hit it in the head with the club so that it fell to the ground half knocked out, then in a 20 second window of opportunity attacked the throat with the knife until the head was half way off. Then we just waited about 15 minutes while the pig struggled to survive eventually dying. A very brutal way to kill a pig but it all worked.
I am attaching some random photos for you today. First is that of the pig, second is that of the fire, sort of hard to see it being night and their were a lot of other lights distracting the camera, but it is the brightest spot in the middle of the picture, third is just a random picture of myself, my cube and Kingston city! In that picture from two weeks ago the elder in the red shirt is elder tanner, not I. Just to resolve the confusion that my father is having haha.
Investigators aren't really going anywhere currently, we have been cycling through a good amount. Not my favorite thing to do but it will turn around soon. We will have some good investigators here in the next week. District meeting went well on Wednesday, we had a good time. The other elders in the district are possibly the most unique missionaries in the mission. Fairly strange and weird. One of them his goal in life is to be a Hunter & Gatherer. Haha it is fun. When we tell others who our district is made up of everyone gets a little laugh out.
Well I am sort of running out of things to say and I am running out of time! So I guess I will just finish up here. That Thing from Grandpa was fairly nice I enjoyed it, it was a good read. Got a good email from Donette to, sounds like they are doing well in Nevada! Congrats on your acceptance Laura. Dad I only got your email once. You must have sent the first to my gmail, before I left I had told my account to do that if people emailed me, good to see that it works to a degree. Happy birthday laura! Hope it is great! Thanks again for the emails, they are wonderful.
Enjoy the week and don't get to cold! I love you all.
Elder Kent Talbert

Probably some local fisherman, out for a pleasure cruise, at night... in... eel-infested waters...

November 28
Good to hear from you all again, as usual! Happy Birthday Joseph and Heather. Hopefully the game is Awesome Joseph! I don't know how good BYU is doing this year, but even if they get destroyed it will be a lot of fun haha. Congrats on winning a stuffed animal Laura! In the picture I sent last week I am not anywhere in the picture, so father the Widows mite t-shirt is being worn by E.Tanner. I am the one taking the photo. I am glad mother that you are taking such good care of my dog! I expect to see her healthy and well when I get home!
Thanksgiving was great! We went over to the Cheesmans and had a nice meal. They invited over all the missionaries in Kingston and the Mission President/wife. In total we had 13 people there. It was a lot of fun. We had everything American style and it was interesting to watch the Jamaican missionaries try all of our different foods, the tables had finally turned on them! Haha President Graff made home made stuffing, it was pretty good. Had pineapple in it. I forgot my camera at home so no picture today, but next week I will send a good picture of thanksgiving. It lasted about and hour and a half and then we went back to work.
Since I left my camera, and we are at the office emailing I figured I will send the next best thing-a spreadsheet! Haha I have been working on this one for a day or two. Every time a missionary has a baptism he gets a certificate. So missionaries just get this collection of certificates at the end of their mission. But what are we supposed to do with them? Make a piece of art? So we thought about it and decided it would be easier if each missionary just got one certificate at the end with every converts name on it. I wanted to make it as easy for sister cheesman as possible, so that she didn't have to go back and look up everything about each missionary at the end of their mission. I created this spreadsheet that has 3 different sheets in it. The first has each missionaries name, and then straight across in the same row you just type in the name of the converts as they come. The second sheet records convert information. As someone is baptized you type in the name and address. And finally the last sheet you just type in a missionary name into cell A9 and then it will automatically bring up all the converts for that missionary with information on them and already to print! When printed it is printed onto a fancy paper..not white paper. The third sheet was a pain to do initially. Everything I tried either had a limit as to how big it could be or if their wasn't any information it would just show a zero or a #N/A which I could just white out-except that the paper to be printed on is not white. So I spent a while working on that and now it is mostly working great! I also included a few small macros to alphabetize it all since it won't work unless it is in alphabetical order. Anyways, dad will probably find it more interesting then everyone else who is just rolling their eyes by now. Haha but you can have fun changing names on the third sheet between Elder Todd Tanner and Elder Bradford Talbert, those are the only two with any information in the sheet currently. I made it very simple and easy to use for sister cheesman and anyone else.
It has been a very calm week. President Graff's computer has been having internet problems but I don't know what is wrong. It has me completely baffled. I called the church guy in charge of computers in our area and he is now just as baffled as I am. We are thinking that something internally has just broke and that the piece will just have to be completely replaced. I have tried everything I have ever learned, and a lot of new things that I just learned, but no luck so far.
Hmmm-aside from Thanksgiving and the spreadsheet not much has happened. At church on Sunday somehow the hymn for the sacrament got messed up. The piano player was playing just fine but half of the congregation was 2 measures ahead of the other half. The piano was with the slower of the 2 groups. It was a mess, I was trying to conduct it but I was also trying very hard to not laugh during the song because of how ridiculous it sounded. All the missionaries realized the problem and were slightly laughing, but most of the members either didn't notice or they are just so use to it that they didn't mind haha.
At thanksgiving dinner they went around and asked what everyone was thankful for. Initially I thought of something really ridiculous and dumb, but then everyone before me (5 people, president graff and his wife, sister cheesman, elder Richards and elder mcgrath) all gave serious answers and tried to say something really meaningful. So about the time it got to me I was confused whether I should quickly think of something more in tune with everyone else, or just give my initial thought. After about 5 seconds of pondering that question I decided it was to much effort to rethink and I went with my initial thought. I was thankful that another year had gone by without Nuclear Warfare. It went over well-I think haha After me everyone went back to the more serious answers, except E. Cheesman, he was grateful for AC.
Christmas season has begun. Doesn't feel like it at all, still blazing hot, but some people have put up lights. I will watch for that package. We have begun to have a quite large pile in the office of Christmas packages. We are just keeping them here until Christmas eve when we will give them to all of the missionaries.
Funny story from last night. I was sitting at home, writing in my journal and the phone rang. E. Brown was asleep so I went and searched for the phone, answered it. It was E. Hill. He kept mumbling something and had to have him repeat it 6 or 7 times, sounded like he was saying that he had stuffed my leader-.and that made no sense at all. Finally he gave up and just asked me for permission to do something or other. Which made no sense either since I didn't know why he was asking me. Eventually we figured out that our district had become to big due to some changes and so they split it in half. President Graff made me the district leader, but forgot to tell me so I was completely baffled by E. Hill's request. Bleh, now I have to drive to portmore and conduct district meeting once a week plus other time consuming things as well as be a busy office elder at the same time.
Anyways, that will be interesting. Time runs short. So I will just finish up here. You will have to tell me more about your job once it all gets started dad. Hopefully things go well back home. I like laura how you are referring to the car as your car as if you own it-haha yea right! Have you figured out any more about school yet laura? Are any of your friends going up to that you will be rooming with? Well I love you all and hope the week is great! Life is going well here in Jamaica.
Elder Talbert
p.s. haha hopefully this wasn't to boring of an email, just got caught up in the whole spreadsheet thing.... :)
If you are intersted in viewing the spreadsheet please leave a comment and I will send it on to you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You Fell Victim to One of the Classic Blunders

First off, sorry for this coming so late today, we have had a crazy morning (more on that later). Secondly, in answer to your questions mother. The CD's and Ensign can easily be an excellent Christmas gift, I am doing good on about everything and can't think of anything that I really need, So just what ever you think of will make me smile. Congrats on the Job father-that is crazy! I didn't think my dad would ever be anything other than the physics teacher at pghs! Wow. That must be hard to leave, for you and your fellow employees. Hopefully the next job goes as planned and is what you expect it to be. What exactly will you be doing now?
This week was good. I have had a fairly crazy morning, but aside from today almost nothing happened. So I guess I will start out with today. We got up this morning at 5 am, threw on some clothes and drove 30 minutes to Troy Williams house (an amazing member) who needed some help killing chickens. We spent 4 hours cutting off heads, plucking feathers, pulling out guts and other such chicken things. It smelled bad. The worst part was that to prevent the chickens from running out into the jungle when the heads were taken off we used a big container of water so that when the heads were taken off they would just flop around in the water. It got really gross after the water was filled with blood and the body would flail around splashing nasty water all over us. Anyways, enough with that. When it was all said and done everyone kept working on the chickens but E. Mcgrath and I were done with chickens. Bro. Williams has a Car that he is refurbishing and so we went and worked on that for an hour. It was a lot of fun (better than the chickens). We are thinking that next week we will go up there again and work on the car for a while longer. After we did that we showered, cleaned up and went over to the mission home to get hair cuts and eat ice cream. My hair looks nice. I have been experimenting with different hair styles, who knows how long it will look nice. Finally after all that was done I am here emailing at the office!
This week we got a third companion. Elder Lee, a Jamaican in my group from Ocho Rios. He is awesome! He has an ankle problem that needs to heal and so he gets to be in the office with us where he has to put little stress on his ankle.
Recently we moved out of a house in Maypen. The house has been in the mission for many years and it turns out that the house was fully furnished when we got it, including kitchen supplies and sheets and everything else. Well many years later and many missionaries later a lot of stuff is missing, I am sure that most of the missionaries didn't realize that the stuff belonged to the house and they just took it with them to the next house. We got a list of all the missing things and we have been making some odd purchases. It has been fun to go around to different stores and look for random things. Sort of like a scavenger hunt-only if we don't find it we get fined! We are down to a foyer table and 2 cake forks that will be found tomorrow-somewhere (I am not quite sure what a cake fork is, I always eat my cake with whatever fork or spoon is available).
One of the mission vehicles was having some electrical problems so Bro. Williams and I went to work. It was a lot of fun going through it all. We eventually got it all fixed, but I sort of wish that another car would have electrical problems that I could examine.
I have attached 2 pictures for you.
One is of brother Williams and behind him is the scenery in which he lives (out in the middle of no where jungle). Brother Williams is a long time member. He was baptized when he was 8 (now 26) he served a mission and loves mission work. He is currently unemployed and so he just comes and works with the missionaries (either the office elders or the assistants) all day long everyday. He knows a ridiculous amount about Jamaican roads (he is like a personal GPS) and has a lot of contacts and can help us get about anything done around the office. He is awesome! The second picture is everyone working on the chickens at Bro. Williams house. It was muddy as you can see.
Well time is beginning to run short. I sent in the mail birthday cards for siblings. And mom and dad I sent you 2 letters also, but they can be opened whenever. I had some extra free time last p-day and decided to write you. Nothing great, but none the less it is mail! Haha.
In answer to your question about the water bottle dad. It is nifty. It has a cartridge that can be replaced and is supposed to be replaced every 100 gallons of water or 5 years, which ever comes first. We all got 2 cartridges, they told us to just change it after a year. When you drink out of it it filters the water. As it goes through the filter it puts some different chemicals into the water so that if you are worried about certain bacteria you and just spray the water into a cup and let it sit for a 2 minutes and the chemical will kill all the bacteria but still be safe to drink. The only annoying part is that you have to suck on the straw thingy harder than normal because you have to force water through the filter. But I like mine. All the water at the office is filtered, so unless I add something to it for fun I just end up refiltering my filtered water.
Alright, I need to go now. But I hope this week is awesome. It sounds like life is going well. Laura you will love college, just work hard! Haha. Next week I will tell you more about some of the investigators that we have these days. Happy thanksgiving, enjoy the food, eat some for me for I will get none! Happy birthday Joseph and Heather!
Elder Talbert

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You Bested My Giant

It is good to hear from you all yet again. This week has been good as usual. I must admit, It is quite weird to hear that the RG3 ward is gone! It was on its way out for a long time, but there was always a sliver of hope, but I guess not now haha. That is to bad. On a similar note mom or dad do you think that you could find me the address of Michael Phillips from the RG3 ward? That we would be splendid if you could. This last week has gone by very quickly. On Monday and Tuesday Pres. Graff was experiencing email problems. He had a Yahoo account and he wasn't receiving any mail from any missionaries or other church services. So he had me look into it and I messed around for a long time trying to figure out what was going on. I found that missionaries and other church services could email anyone except those with a yahoo account. Which was weird because it had worked the week before. I racked my brain for a long time and finally just gave up and went the slow way which was to email yahoo tech support and see what the problem was. I don't know if they ever replied, I never looked. We solved the problem a different way. Called the church computer people and talked to them about it. Learned that in the long run what had happened was yahoo and the church had had some sort of disagreement or something crazy and so yahoo had put a block on all mail from church services to their domain. Haha it was fairly ridiculous. I think since then it has been fixed and we can email yahoo, but I am not sure. Pres. Graff just switched to gmail instead.
Hmm- what else of note happened- oh yeah! The missionaries, from the church, all got these fancy water bottles that are made to filter the water from any source. Supposedly they are supposed to be like the best around and can work with any fresh water. They are made to filter out particles and kill bacteria. I got mine and at the office we all drank out of them for about 10 minutes. Then everyone went back to what they had been previously doing. I was curious as to how well the filters worked. I looked around and found different things to dump into my water bottle to see if it would filter it. Salt, sugar, Crushed pepper, etc. It worked fairly well, but I don't think it was designed for things that you wouldn't naturally find in fresh water sources (like kool aid). The water always came out clear and looking clean, but occasionally it had a weird taste to it. I don't know if that was some chemical released during the filter process or if it was the remains of salty peppery water. None the less it was entertaining and the water bottles are fairly nifty.
Yesterday night we had a lesson with a family of part members. About half are members the other half are not. It was a lot of fun. We got the whole family together, 10 people, and then had a lesson and played some weird card game I had never played but they enjoyed it, the game was 100% luck but it was entertaining. The best part about it all was that the whole family was together learning and playing a game. Family relations aren't the greatest in Jamaica and so it was really nice to see a family, that probably hasn't got all together In years, if ever, and see them just enjoy one another's company. I am attaching a picture, fairly generic, but it is a picture taken from our house which overlooks all of Kingston. It was taken at night during the sunset, in case you couldn't guess. Nice picture, to bad there are no people in it haha. The tallest buildings are only like 13 stories tall. Most of the things you see are the more developed parts of Jamaica. On the left side you will see a harbor that is a lot less developed, a lot more ghetto, that is where we spend a majority of our time teaching.
Umm-wow, it was a very generic week. Today we get to go to a CES fireside that is being broadcast from Utah, that will be nice. I hope that there are some good speakers (I doubt they would choose bad ones, but you never know haha). With it being such a dull week I have gotten a little bit of extra reading time in while I sit in the office. I am now in Alma 21. It has been nice to reread the book of mormon again. I have been going for a much more casual reading this time then I did the last. It is just amazing to me that if someone, who isn't even trying to hard, will just sit down and read the book will come to know it is true. You can't read it and say it is false without lying to yourself. Why would Joseph Smith, if he would have had the talent, have bothered to invent such a book, and claim it was of ancient origin, that would do nothing other than invite people to come to Christ.
Dad you potentially have a hard decision at hand. It would be weird if you made the change. I don't know how much you have talked about it to others so I will just leave it at that. I am starting to run out of time here so I will just finish up here and go on my merry little way.
Sorry if this email has been in the slightest way dull. I am doing well and I have enjoyed this last week, there just isn't much to say about it. Laura, at least you didn't do worse on your test! Haha are you going to take it again or just call it good? I am glad to that you are keeping your grades up Joseph. Keep trying and do as good as you possibly can, if you don't you will regret it someday haha. Well that is it for the week. I love you all and hope that this coming week is wonderful!
-Elder Kent Talbert

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Bog of Eternal Stench

Well another week has come and gone. It is good to know that you have tried to change when you email to Friday night, even if that is a bit crazy. I didn't get transferred yet (which means I will be in the office for a while, Elder Brown is on his last transfer and is still in the office so he will go home and then I will still be here for at least one more to train someone new in the office). I got the contact solution! That was good, I was starting to run very low, haha, but what you supplied me with should last close to the remainder of my mission. Thanks for the snacks and letters, I enjoyed them. Random information. The church supposedly (in an email we received in the offce) teamed up with Google to improve the email system by switching over to a gmail type system (I also noticed that mom changed to gmail, congratulations!). So at some point supposedly my email address will change but I will let you know more as I know more. I am excited for that though, The church email system has problems (no auto saving to drafts, poor setup, small storage space limiting attachment capabilities, etc.) so it will be a good change.
The week has been very hectic. With transfers we have had a ton to do in the office. On Monday a new senior couple arrived and I got put in charge of doing all their immigration paper work. So I went through the regular motions and got all the papers filled out and drove to immigration with the russells and stood in line for a long time and talked to the security guard and learned, to my horror, that immigration had changed the entire process. So the security guard explained to me what had changed and gave me a pamphlet that explained it all and then sent me to talk to someone else. I then talked to different people and got transferred around for about 3 hours talking to people and reading different pamphlets trying to make sense of it all in my head what really needed to happen to get the visas and alien registration completed. Finally it was making sense but I needed to go back to the office to get some more papers. Well after another day I was ready to do it all again and in the end it all worked out. When all was said and done I had learned a ton about immigration. After talking to half of the employees and reading everything, and trial and error I have now a great understanding of how it all works. I think I would be quite successful applying for just about anything at the immigration office now!
Just remembered that mom asked about sending wrapped things in a package. It is possible Customs is normally really lazy. There is a slight chance that they would unwrap it, but unlikely. Just make sure that the wrapped objects don't look like something illegal. And even if they do unwrap it, frequently, depending on the employee, they will attempt to seal it up again how it was before.
The mission is getting smaller. With transfer and what not we are now down to 66 missionaries and after next transfer we will be down to around 62. We were told that we would become stable around their and that we would stop losing missionaries at such an incredible rate. It is sort of nice having a small mission. I know ever missionary in the mission and it makes for a very close bunch of missionaries.
Random convert information: With transfers I talked to the missionaries in Negril and learned that Sis. Hylton is still doing amazing! She is still the Gospel doctrines teacher and doing wonderful! I am glad to see that Elder Hillam and I were able to witness such a mighty change of Heart. Natalie Brown is also doing well. She is in the primary presidency now and loves her calling. Elaine has also been called to serve in the primary presidency and is doing great. She has been reading a ton and wants to go to the Temple Next year! Other converts are also doing well, those 3 are just 3 that are doing exceptional and that I have gotten recent information about.
With office work being so crazy this week we haven't had much time for teaching, but we have still managed to find a little bit of time. This next week things should calm down and we will have a lot more time. Elder Brown is in his last transfer, as I previously mentioned, and so he is all fired up to do his very best in his remaining 41 days (he gets home like 4 days before Christmas). Today we will spend a lot of our teaching time looking for less actives so that will be good. Last week at church on Sunday we had nearly double the attendance we normally do and it actually looked moderately full! I don't have to play the piano anymore (a good and a bad thing, I enjoyed the practice, but I still fail a lot). Elder Doman just got transferred to our branch and he is known throughout the mission as being a very very good piano player, I haven't heard him play yet, but from what I hear he is amazing.
That is to bad about your phone this week Laura, haha It is sort of a funny story. Missionaries seem to break their phones all the time. I have had to replace President Graff's phone twice now in 4 months, I have spent a lot of time looking at new phones trying to find one that would fit his specifications. If you get a new phone I have heard rumors that Google and Verizon teamed up to make a sweet phone called the Droid (don't know if it is any good or what the cost is, but Google normally makes good products).
Well time is running short again so I guess I will finish everything up here. Good luck with the bridge dad, I think It sounds most entertaining. I never did get an email from Heather, so I will just assume she is doing well. Congrats on your scholarship laura (Even though BYU is cooler! Haha). I hope that this week is great. Life in Jamaica goes well, I am enjoying my mission. I love you all and look forward to next weeks emails!
Elder B. Kent Talbert
p.s. sorry, I forgot the card reader at home, so yet again no picture. Next week!

Everybody Remeber Where We Parked

Letter dated Oct 31, 2009
Another good week. Well first off, Shea got my email and emailed me so you don't have to worry about the address anymore mom, but thanks! He sounds like he is doing well. Happy Halloween everyone! They don't celebrate it in Jamaica, but if they did celebrate Halloween I would be afraid to go trick or treating haha. I think if you were to show up at someone's door wearing a mask that the entire neighborhood would go into an uproar, everyone would freak out a people would gather on the side of the road and a nearby pastor would begin speaking in tongues and try to cast the evil spirit out of you.
It hasn't particularly been an eventful week but it has been nice. Elder and Sister Cheesman went back to the states for a week (their daughters wedding, and their sons mission homecoming). The office has been moderately less effective without them, but we still got a good amount done. On Monday we drove out to Maypen to move missionaries out of one house into another. It went well. I have never packed a truck as full as we did then! In a small pick up truck we got a washing machine, 2 mattresses, 2 box springs, 2 boxes of Book of Mormon books, 4 pieces of luggage, 5 backpacks, 6 missionaries, 2 fans and some other small things. It was amazing to see how much could fit into a truck. When we showed up at the new house they live on the 2nd story with a balcony. So we lifted everything from the truck up over the balcony so that we didn't have to go up the stairs. The Washing machine was the one exception. We also had to move 4 missionaries into 2 new houses in Portmore. It took a lot of time and was a pain to do it in the hot sun.
I have got a good amount of practice changing tires this week. Sister Graff got a flat tire so we drove up to the mission home, put on the spare, took the flat one to a tire place to get it fixed. The next day we went to put it back on but the man at the tire place suggested that we rotate the tires, so we did. We took off the back tire, put on the fixed tire, moved the other tires around and in the end it was all fixed. The best part was that it was raining during the entire thing so we were covered in dirt and very wet.
At home we have been playing Chess nightly after planning. Before we did nothing, just sat around and ate food. So we do something slightly more productive now. Elder Brown and I have been keeping score. Currently I have won 10 games and he has won 5. A few of our games have been really close. It is a lot of fun to play with someone who is at the same level as myself.
We have this investigator, Sister Brown, but we just call her grandma (she was a referral from her grandchildren, that is how she got the name). Her daughter and her daughter's family are all members of the church but she is part of some other church. We initially met them but Grandma seemed slightly less effective, she was stuck on her old ways and it wasn't really going anywhere. We taught them a few times and figured that it probably wasn't going to go anywhere soon but the family really wanted us to keep trying. So we have been persistent. We found a member about her age who would get along well with her and have been bringing them along to every lesson and that has helped a ton. We committed the entire family to have family scripture study with grandma everyday and from the Book of Mormon. It has made a huge difference. She has become a lot more receptive to what we teach and has even begun considering baptism. Just the small and simple things bring about the greatest changes.
This week I finished the Book of Mormon again! Wahoo! I have since then just started over again. I thought of studying by topic for a while, but in the end I just decided to read It through another time before I change my direction of study. That is nice that most of you got to go and do baptisms. I will be very excited to go to the temple again when I get home. 2 years is a long time to not attend the temple!
I am starting to run short on time. I got Laura's and Dad's emails. With daylight savings time it will make me 2 hours ahead instead of 1. I am sad to hear about Helen's condition. It is to bad that nothing can really be done. At least she has lived a good life and is prepared for the end.
I don't got a picture to attach today, sorry! I will get one for next week. Transfers are coming up, so if you don't hear from me on Saturday it means I got transferred (unlikely, but it is a possibility). I am not horribly excited for transfers, it just means a lot of work is about to come my way and the office will grow very hectic for a few days! Haha
Life goes well, with winter coming the temperature is nice in the mornings, the rest of the day it is still just hot and humid. I hope that school is going great. That is about it for the week! I love you all and hope your week is good.
Elder B. Kent Talbert

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I am a graduate of Starfleet Academy; I know many things

Good to hear from you all yet again, and I think I started this email the same yet again. I forgot to mention this in the last email, dad reminded me, The Cane in the tilted picture. While cleaning out a missionary house we found a cane, and I claimed it. I take it with me just for fun, I also got a brief case so it is pretty classy. When we got to Port Royal we decided I needed the cane, it was a good idea, with wooden floors it made a nice sound every time I put it down. Thanks for sending me contact solution, sorry if it was expensive! Hopefully I can make whatever you sent last till near the end of my mission, I will keep my eyes open for the package. I am glad that my letter to Alex was searched, haha that makes me chuckle.
This week has been good, fairly typical, but I will see what I can get written about it. We got a new assistant, Elder Mcgrath, so he has joined our household. I am excited to get to know him better, he seems like a really cool elder, we have a lot in common. Funny story from Thursday: Elder Brown, Darling and I all went to the bank to pay for a Work Permit for a new missionary coming in. We parked along the side of the road behind another car, their was a whole line of cars in front of us. We paid, took about 20 minutes of line standing, and then walked back out to the car, the only problem was that our car was gone! The security guard told us it was towed, but he didn't know anymore information. Apparently you aren't allowed to park on the curb. Someone new had parked their car where ours had been. Somehow, out of the 10 cars parked on the road, ours was chosen when the road inspector people came by. So we taxied back to the office and got in another car and went and got our car. It was a harmless experience, just time consuming. Haha
This morning the Cheesmans invited us over for breakfast. It was really good! We got waffles, and bacon and juice! The best part, aside from a lot of food, was that they told us their engagement story. It was really funny, they had a ridiculous time. I am very happy that I get to serve around the Cheesmans, they are a wonderful office couple. They are heading back to the states on Monday for their daughters wedding and their youngest sons missionary homecoming. They will be gone a week so the office will be interesting and probably slightly less effective for a week.
One thing about the office is that I am around a lot of dying missionaries (term used to describe a missionary who has very little time left). As such I have gotten a lot of ties as they leave or get close to leaving. I am up to nearly 50 ties, so I have a good assortment for everyday. I get a lot of other free stuff that I frequently just redistribute. Elder Knowlton will be very confused next week when he receives a nice wooden hanger, with his name labeled on it, that I put in his Zones mail box.
We are getting a new senior couple from Vernal, Utah. The Waltons (not sure on spelling, just sound it out), I am curious to know if they know the Rusts. Elder White, also from vernal, thinks that someone related to the Waltons teaches institute or something like that. That is another nice thing about being in the office is that I get to meet everyone as they come and go throughout the week. So that is a lot of fun.
I am nearly done with the book of mormon again (I am in Ether), I will be finished by next week. I love reading that book and I will be excited to start it over again. During our personal studies and companion studies we are still only allowed to read the book of mormon and preach my gospel. Only during lunch or dinner or after nightly planning are we allowed to read whatever other church material we want. It is nice though. There is to much that I want to read and it is nice to have someone just tell me what I am allowed to read. Prevents me from continually jumping from one book to the next.
Hmm-I still have a decent amount of time left and I have written a good amount, to bad I am running out of things to type. Hopefully the ACT went well Laura. One thing I look forward to when I get home is returning to BYU and taking intense Physics or Math tests over in the Testing center. I always find it entertaining to just drain yourself on a nasty test.
That is nice that you got a new couch. We don't have a couch at all, we don't have space for a couch. Our house is just full of beds (we can house 8 missionaries, but we currently only have 4), tables, chairs, geckos, books (speaking of books, I have gained 3 dictionaries since I started my mission, yesterday I gave one to Elder mcgrath so now I only have 2).
I am attaching 2 photos to this email. They are actually the same photo but one has been edited. This was the photo taken by our landlord at the top of a very large hill overlooking Kingston. From left to right: Elder Darling, E. Griffiths, Me, E. Brown. The edited one was first modified by elder Griffiths, then I worked on it a bit, and finally elder darling added some final touches to it. Being unprofessional all we used to edit the photos was Microsoft paint haha. I compressed the pictures a bit so sorry if they lost a bit of quality.
We have been teaching a lot of less actives this week and hopefully we see the fruit of our labor at church on Sunday. If nothing else we have reminded them of the covenants which they made when they were baptized (or in some cases the covenants they made when they went through the temple). Our recent converts are doing really well. Elaine is doing exceptionally well. She is the primary presidency now and is nervous for this Sunday haha. Sister Hylton, back in Negril, is doing very good. I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but she is teaching Gospel Doctrines class now. I think I have said this before but it is amazing to see the changes that take place in these people as they accept the truth, and don't just accept it once but actually go a read the book of mormon daily and keep the covenants which they made.
Well I think I might finish up now. Thanks again for the emails and the contact solution, hopefully it gets to me this week, if not it should arrive by next week. Transfers are coming soon, so that will make the office slightly more hectic than normal. Enjoy the week and enjoy school. Is Halloween this week? I think it is! They don't celebrate it here. Well I love you all and keep you in my prayers. Hopefully I didn't ramble to much! Haha
Elder B. Kent Talbert

It Seems To Be An Unidentified Organism!

Well it has been good to hear from you all again. I didn't get the TT mom (at least not by email, if it was mailed I have seen it not) so you could send me one and that would be great! By mail would be preferred because it costs me money to print! I forgot to mention last week that I still am the piano player for sacrament meeting every week. I think I am getting better, I am at least getting used to the songs that seem to be repeated more frequently than others. I did get your joke about the ruler dad, to bad no one else caught on to it. I don't know how much it will cost, but I could use some more contact solution. I don't know how much it will cost in Jamaica but if it looks like it will be a pain to send in a package I can search it out here and get some.
This week has been good. President Graff has had zone conferences in Cayman, Bahamas, and Turks so he has been gone almost all week with the occasional stop in, as part of that he took one of his assistants with him (only one to save on the budget) so we had a third wheel with us all week. It was nice, on Monday and Tuesday we had Elder Darling and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday we had Elder Griffiths. We got a lot of office work done with 3 people instead of 2, we could send 2 people out to run errands and have 1 stay and work in the office.
We went to a Jamexican restaurant called El Chilitos. I got a burrito that was actually really good. I wasn't sure how much I was really going to like this strange Jamaican/Mexican mixture thingy. (That was Monday). On Tuesday we went to a place called Susan's Cafe for lunch. It was a Italian cafe place owned by a genuine Italian, the place was decent. I had a grilled chicken pesto sandwich, I enjoyed the it but I didn't really like how much I had to spend on it.
Funny experience from today (this is why we are emailing so late). Our Landlord, Bro. Miller, Is an old white guy who used to be a race car driver (that was his profession). He still has some very very very nice cars. Last night when we got home he called us over and asked if we could help him close up his garage, the door was giving him trouble. So we went over helped him out and then looked at all his cars. He told us that today we could return and get pictures in the day time. So we did. This morning we got up, cleaned the house, studied, cleaned some more and then went around to the garage. Bro. Miller was ready and so we got pictures and then he offered to give us a ride, so we took it. We had to squeeze really tight to fit into the car we took. A sports car is not made for 5 full grown adults. It was horribly uncomfortable but the ride was really nice, we drove up the mountain and once at the top took some pictures (they look fairly terrible, I think elder brown would only take pictures when I wasn't paying attention or when I was making dumb faces, I couldn't figure out what was taking him so long to take photos) that over looked all of Kingston. That took a long time but it was nice. Anyways, none of that was particularly funny and I mentioned that this was a funny story. So we are on top of the mountain and brother miller offers to take a picture of all 4 of us. So we hand him the camera. This camera has a screen that is the same size as the back side of the camera, doesn't have much in terms of buttons. Apparently brother miller had never seen such a device being very old. He would look at it, then put it up to his eye, about 1 inch from his eye like he was trying to look through a little view box on an old camera. So he is twisting and turning the camera trying to see something and we keep telling him to move the camera away from his eye and look at the screen and in the end we just had him push the take picture button while pointing the camera at us. I don't think he ever got the idea of the digital screen. That was a lot funnier actually being there then I think I made it sound, but oh well, maybe you can laugh at my spelling errors.
The office work has been good. I have been working on fine tuning many of my spreadsheets so that if and when I leave the office someone else can handle it without knowing how it all works. For the most part all of it works wonderfully. I have been working on trying to figure out how to make a button that will open a word document template (got that part down), but will then let me edit it, save it, but only save it for a specific cell so that if I open up the same template in another cell it will let me save it again but only to that cell so that each cell has its own, edit able version of the template, but I don't want to make 500 different templates, I want to just have one and let excel do the rest. (did that make any sense?)
We have been visiting a lot of less actives. One that we visited was one of the first members on the island long ago. He is very knowledgeable about the gospel and has had about every calling a branch has to offer. While we met with him we talked about just random things happening around the church, learned that he still continually reads from the bom and just went less active for a silly reason but that he plans to come back in a few weeks (he has only been less active for a month now) So we then got ready to go and while asking him where another less active member lives he decided it would be easier to just show us so he came with us for the rest of the night and helped us teach a handful of other less actives. That was the first time out of all the less actives I have visited, that we have got one to come out with us.
On Monday we had family home evening with the Sutherland family. The whole family is members but only Bro. Sutherland is active, he is the former branch pres. And now the elders quorum pres. He is an amazing man. Family home evening was very nice. Their 15 year old daughter did not want to be there at all and was very angry that she thought she was forced to endure it. But we got her to talk and in the end we had her laughing and enjoying the time she got to spend with her family. It was nice, I think if did well for the entire family, since then we have visited a few other times and everyone has been excited to see us and things appear a lot calmer around home. It is amazing how the simple things like FHE can work such wonders with families.
Oh yea, I just remembered. Last week on P-Day after emailing we drove out to Port Royal, the old british fort that sank in an earthquake. It was entertaining. We were the only people out there so we just wandered around the fort and took pictures. The place is fairly well kept, it has just been hit by a lot of earthquakes and hurricanes so a lot of it has just disappeared under the ocean. I attached a picture (lowered the quality so that it wouldn't take so much space) of me standing in a building that has half sunk so it is all tilted. I am standing straight up in the picture, it is the building that is sideways.
Wow, I got a lot written today. Other than what I mentioned not much has happened recently. Things go well, our house is clean and so that is nice. Our P-Day is mostly over thanks to our car ride this morning, but oh well, it was entertaining. This up coming week will be good, not much on the agenda so who knows what I will be doing. What is Shea's mission address? I don't have the slightest idea. I hope that you all have a great week, I am glad to hear that Jospeh's checkup went well and that all is good. It is weird to think that Laura is preparing to apply for college, it doesn't seem like that long ago that I was doing that (quick tip on that, it helps if you mention the word sponge somewhere in the application, don't ask me why, it just does). I have no clue how to pick up a message on an unmonitored frequency. I will think on that one. sorry if the subjects of my emails are getting lamer, my store of star trek quotes has been diminished so I just make something up something every week. Enjoy the week and I love you all!
Elder B. Kent Talbert

Friday, October 16, 2009

Captains log, Stardate 2431.32

The following is Kent's entry that he submitted to our family newletter, "The Talbertimes". As his mother, I am glad that he is creative but grateful that his weekly letters are easier to understand!

Life in the Jamaican Quadrant has been great. The headquarters located in Kingston has been running smoothly for the last little while. Elder Rebeiro, an excellent crew member, recently was reassigned to the Maypen region and Elder Brown from the Spain System has been transfered to join us here at headquarters. Tasks have been moderately similar day to day with the occasional distress signal coming our way. We have been in a sticky boarding situation in which the native inhabitants of a nearby system have insisted that we increase the amount of credit they receive. That has caused us to be on a diligent search for new systems on which we might house our crew members. Activity on the Waters surface down on the Rousseau system has had a slight increase as of recently, we had 3 ensigns go down and enter into the waters to perform greater research. The Warp engine has been performing magnificently on our Galactic Cruiser but we have heard rumors that a nearby Cruiser of ours has been attacked by enemy war-birds and is now steadfast and immovable. The admiral has been making a lot of inspections on the distant regions in this quadrant and that has kept us busy. Overall life at headquarters is going well, we are entering the winter months but their has been no indication of a change of weather, we might need to look into that and see why that is happening. For now we are keeping busy with our assignments and no difficulties are arising, things go smoothly and life is good.
Captain out -Elder B. Kent Talbert

The Dilithium crystal needs to be recharged!

Thanks for the emails yet again. This week has been fast and not much has happened since I last wrote 5 days ago, but I will see what I can get in here. Jamaica goes well, the temperature is still hot and the rain has been scarce.
Wow, I have written only 3 sentences and already I am drawing a mind blank as to what I should type. On Tuesday we had a Multi Zone Conference with half the mission, it was huge! The original plan was to take the Mission bus to the conference and transport all the missionaries in Kingston, Yallahs, Port Antonio, and Portmore to Spanish Town. But the bus wouldn't start and we all hoped into different vehicles instead. The Bus was later fixed by a helpful member. The conference was good. Pres. Graff spoke to us about being bold in our teaching and just reviewed a lot of things he has previously shared at zone conferences. We had pizza for a lunch and then returned to the office to get back to work.
The trunk of our car broke, I don't know how, but it just wouldn't shut. So we had a bike rack on it holding it shut and kept it like that for 2 days. Then Troy, a member who comes to the office everyday to help out, went to work on fixing our trunk. Turns out that somehow part of the latch had lowered itself or something had happened that had lowered the bumper, not really sure. But to fix it we took a ratchet strap, hooked it to the latch, tied it to a tree and then began to tighten the strap until it lifted the latch back into place and straightened everything out on the car. I really like using ratchet straps, they come in handy in many situations.
On Thursday we had an Elder flying out and so we got put in charge of taking him to the airport. His flight left at 6:40 am, we got up at 4:00 am to get everything and drive to the airport. It was a long day, but in the evening Sister Graff fed us dinner and we were happy. Then Elder Griffiths, who had been with sister graff, came with us for the rest of the night. Then Friday his companion was back in town and so we had to go and get him from the Graffs and got fed dinner again! It was good, we had Mexicanish food for both meals, it was nice to have something other than rice and chicken for a day.
We don't really have much in our investigator pool, we have only taught like 3 lessons this week, the office work has been keeping us busy. In our teaching we have been focusing a lot of just reading the book of mormon. Those who actually take the time to sit down and Read a chapter a day make enormous amounts of progress and feel the spirit a lot more than those who just make up excuses as to why they didn't read, or read half a verse a day.
Elder cheesman has a spreadsheet that I made that has all the landlords, the account numbers, info on when to pay the bills, addresses, to do lists, etc. It was quite simple and nothing fancy. But then Elder cheesman had some ideas he wanted to try and implement into the sheet. He always fills in the Cell of the Landlords name with a pink color, after he has paid the bill and types in the amount paid. At the bottom he has different sheets for different months so he can track how much is paid per month and so he can see differences. But he wanted a way where he could just click on the land lords name, have it fill in with color and then take him to the cell where the amount gets paid. I created a button that did that and put it at each of the bill payments, one for water and one for power. So now it worked nicely, he just had to click a button and it would color the cell, and take him to the correct cell for amount paid. (due to how the spreadsheet is organized it is not a straight line, the landlords info on water and power bills is farther down the spreadsheet from where the amount paid cells are located). Now at the end of every month he just makes a new sheet and copys the last months sheet in there. The only problem is that all the amounts paid are filled in, things are colored according to when paid, or if paid at all, and since it is a new month all that needs to be cleared. I created a macro and put a button on the sheet so now when it is a new month he just pushes the new month button. It takes everything from the last month, puts it into a new sheet, and then edits it to be for a new month with out all the last months info. It does it all with one mouse click and about 2 seconds. I was quite pleased with how it all worked out, I am interested to see what he asks for next in the spreadsheet. It always amazes elder cheesman (and myself) that I am just able to figure out these things on excel with no training, though there has been a lot of trial and error.
Now that I bored you all with that information I will try and think of what else has transpired in the last few days. President Graff wanted a new phone, he didn't like his last one and it was giving him trouble, so we went to go get him a new one. Unfortunately phone selections are a lot more limited in Jamaica and president graff has already tried numerous phones and he was down to 4 choices, 2 cheap ones, one that we were unsure about its structural capacity, and a very expensive phone. We went with the one we were unsure on. Turns out he loves it, he had a similar version back home and so already knew how to use it. Now we just have to hope that it doesn't break since we are running out of choices.
Email time is rapidly coming to a close, I am surprised how much I got written. To bad it was just about all that office work I do. Thursday night we were so tired that everyone in our house fell asleep by 9:30 and all the lights had been left on. I got up at midnight and turned off all the lights and went back to bed. Wednesday night our house was nearly empty, the assistants were out of town, so I took all their fans and had 5 fans blowing on me as I slept, it was nice.
We got a new senior couple this week and we are in line to get another 2-4 couples in the next 6 months. That will be great! Our numbers have dropped significantly and we have been running out of senior couples. Aside from all the other work they do they inspect missionary homes for cleanliness. Which is something that hasn't really been happening. We have been moving missionaries and their houses have been just disgusting and a pain to move out of. It will be good to have inspections start again.
Well now time is really starting to run short. I don't know what else to say anyways. I did learn that out of everyone I live with I send the longest emails. They normally send 1-2 short paragraphs to their families weekly, where I send 1-2 pages from Microsoft word. Speaking of Microsoft word, I have learned to use Microsoft office 2007 really well, I like the setup of it all. Initially it took me forever to find everything and I didn't like it, but now I prefer it to 2003. Anyways, that is about it for the week.
Life goes well, I am doing quite well, I got a new tooth brush, that is exciting. I hope that school goes great this week and that the whole painting of the car thing works out. I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Elder Talbert

Monday, October 5, 2009

Full Speed Ahead

For some reason this computer naturally types in Italics and I haven't bothered to turn it off for this first sentence. Any ways, This week was good, and it was good to hear from all of you again! Sorry that this email Is late, general conference pushed our preparation day to Monday instead of Saturday. First the random nuts and bolts, the door looks nice, especially the window thingy, glad that Joseph is doing well again and that it was just a minor illness. For things to send in a package, the conference ensign for this last weeks conference, and it would be great if you could even get the CD version of conference so that we can listen to it as we drive around. Lately we have been listening to Jesus the Christ after we got tired of April 2009 conference. That will probably take a while for both of those items to come out (at least a month) but that is all I can think of that I want/need. A new rule was made by Pres. Graff, we can now email anyone and receive emails from anyone, so if anyone asks for my email you can give it freely, but I can't promise I will respond other than maybe a one liner in the email I send to the family. I just thought of this, if you could send me a copy of the TT that would be great! (whenever the next one comes out). Good job on the Camera dad, I think I would have enjoyed trying to fix it.
This week has been good. Last week we had 5 baptisms in our Branch! 2 from my companionship, 2 from the Zone Leaders and one child of a member. It was a very wet floor, partially because we had 5 different people performing the baptisms. Unlike back home, the font does not exit into the bathrooms but into the hallway. So everyone walks down the hall wet and leaves a trail of water behind them. It was really good and since then the 2 that we taught are doing great. We are teaching 2 more referrals from the same Member and hopefully that goes over just as nicely as the last 2 did.
On Tuesday Was Zone leader council, which means car inspections from the office Elders, but we didn't have to do it and got put with another task. A missionary had a 200 lb dresser fall on his hand and had split one of his fingers open really bad. He had ignored it for a day and it now looked like a big blob of strange meat coming from his finger. It was really gross and we got put on hospital duty. For 5 hours I sat in the waiting room while his finger was x-rayed and repaired. It was a very dull day, but oh well, afterwards Sis. Graff fed us dinner and that made up for it! Haha.
Bike Transfers happened on Wednesday and our final stop in Old Harbor presented itself with a lot of traffic and so we sat in traffic for 2 hours moving nearly no where and Elder Brown sang a good 50 hymns as we sat there. Another random event, Elder Brown and I one night, after teaching, were bored and decided to have a water drinking contest from bowls, the only rule was no hands. So We got everything ready and while elder Brown wasn't paying attention I pored a ton of salt in his. We then proceeded to drink the water. It was funny, he made it for about 2 minutes before he stopped and told me that their was salt in his water. He had just been drinking it trying to find out why it tasted so funny. Haha
General Conference was amazing! We had satellite problems due to a giant storm on Sunday so the morning session kept coming in and out. We missed out on a lot but we will get to read it soon. I think my Favorite talk was Elder Holland's talk on the Book of Mormon. That was a very powerful talk. Pres. Uchtdorf's talk on Charity from Saturday was also very good, I liked a lot of the things he said. I would be a bit more insightful here but I don't have my notes with me. One thing from Elder Bednar's talk that I remember was about Family prayer/scripture/Home Evening. He talked about being consistent in those 3 activities, That is the only thing I can really remember from my childhood was that we were consistent, I am sure I learned things, but as Elder Bednar mentioned, most likely we will just remember if we did it or not, and that was true. One of the biggest problems here in Jamaica is that no one does those 3 things. There are few strong family relations, the parents might be active but rarely are the children active.
Something else I just remembered, on Monday we had family home evening with a family from the branch. They had never had it before and I think they had a lot of fun. The Lesson and activity that we planned were connected in that we read from the scriptures, discussed them, and then had fun acting out the story that we had read. We read from Mosiah about the sons of Mosiah and Alma persecuting the church.
Elder Ballards talk from priesthood session about father/son relationships was really good, I enjoyed that one. I also liked That member of the seventy from Sunday afternoon who talked about a change of heart, that was a good talk that made a lot of sense to me haha. The main themes that I saw in conference this session were to listen and follow the promptings of the spirit, and Love one another. Well that is about all my conference garble for this email.
During sessions we just ate food, thankfully different members prepared food for the missionaries between different sessions. We had some good ham/cheese sandwiches, and some delicious rice/curried chicken.
I am running short on time again. But I attached a photo of our most recent baptism. In the photo Elder Rebeiro and I are on the right/Left. Sis Buchanon is in the middle wearing the green shirt, she is the one who referred us to the baptism candidates. Shaka is the guy wearing white by elder Rebeiro and Elaine is next to me in the white. Overall a good baptism. Confirmations in sacrament meeting took a decent amount of time.
Well life goes well in Jamaica, I am having a good time and the work is progressing forward. I think that We stand a good chance at getting 1000 baptisms next year if we keep moving forward at the rate at which we have for the past month. Winter is coming, but I can't tell at all, the weather is still 90-95. It was odd, the other night we looked at a thermometer and it was 82, we all thought it felt nice and cool and we were glad it had dropped so low.
I hope this next week is great and I will be having my next p-day on Saturday. Enjoy school and don't get lazy in homework! Haha. Hopefully there aren't to many spelling errors in here, I try to type moderately well. Good luck with your calling mother, you are fully capable of doing all that is required. I love you all.
Elder B. Kent Talbert

Thursday, October 1, 2009


It has been a good week. And I am yet again thankful for the emails. I am glad that Nathaniel had a good birthday and that he enjoyed the money (In Jamaica that would almost buy him a Twix bar depending on the store). Recently (like last week) Jamaica came out with the $5000 bill, so that will be exciting even though I will probably never get one, the missionaries rarely carry more than $1000.
Transfers happened and I am still in the office. I was also told that I would probably be in the office till at least January so that will be good. My companion Elder Rebeiro got Transferred to Maypen and now I am with Elder M Brown (the M denotes which brown since there are 2) He is a dying missionary, goes home in December and It is looking like I will be his last companion before he goes home. He is really cool, from Kansas (not so cool), but went to BYU and enjoys learning random things. We get along really well and it is going to be a fun 12 weeks serving with him. He is also a fast learner so he is catching onto the office work quickly.
Interesting story of the week. We have been looking for a new house and it has been a high priority, 2 missionaries needed to move by Friday. We looked and looked (a hard thing to do in Jamaica, no one puts up signs, or uses the internet, or uses classifieds) we had to go door to door and ask people if they knew anywhere for rent. We found a ton of places but all of them had some strange problem-like the power lines ran through the house, flashlights were needed to see, it was on the same lot as a church, etc. finally yesterday, Friday we found a house at like 2pm. The landlady talked with us over the phone and negotiations were made. So we were going to meet her at 4 and move in at 5. We met her but learned she wanted a check in her hand now and not an electronic transfer into her bank account. So we had to go back, get a check, then argue with her about the price formally agreed to, and then begin moving in. we got everything done by 10pm and missionaries moved in at that time. It was crazy trying to find a house, sign everything, and move In all at once. Since then the land lady keeps calling us telling us that she needs a name to put on some document. We keep telling her the church name but she tells us that it has to be the name of a person, we have tried to explain that the church name will be fine and it has worked on hundreds of other houses but she doesn't believe us. We just told her to call the office on Monday and she can talk to Elder Cheesman about it.
Today we have 2 baptisms. Elane and Shaka. Both are doing great! They are excited for today and everything is planned out nicely. The zone leaders have been a wonderful help! We have been so busy with housing that we have had no time to plan a baptism so the zone leaders did it all for us and now we just have to show up and make sure the investigators get there. I will make sure to attach 2 photos next week of both people. The only thing I just realized is that I don't know if we ever found baptism suits, I guess I will have to get on that soon. On a side note right as I typed that the zone leaders called and asked if I had found suits yet and now they are out looking for baptism suits, yippee! Teaching them has been great. They have both been very receptive. Shaka asks a lot of questions and has a lot of doubts about his commitment and if he really could do it but he is ready and now he feels ready.
On Sunday we had a big district conference. It was great! Their were tons of members everywhere! The talks were good, they reorganized a lot of the branch presidencies and the mission presidency was changed (everyone who was in the mission presidency was moved to a branch presidency) and it looks as if they are setting up all the branch presidencies to prepare them to have a stake in the next year or 2. They are putting people into the branch presidencies who really know what needs to happen and how to get it done. The conference was a lot of fun, afterwards we had to ship all the chairs back to where they came from so that was good.
Nearly finished the book of mormon again, it has been a great read so far, I have really been paying attention to the cycle that just continually happens, righteousness to pride to humility back to righteousness, etc. It happens so fast and it just amazes me. I can see it all around me in the church to, there are a ridiculous amount of less actives who, for one reason or another fell away and are willing to work their way back to church.
I am short on time I got distracted during my email time looking for a flight for president that he wanted, (got that done!) and so I will just finish up here. I am attaching a picture of a tie you got from missionary mall, it would be great if at some point in the next few months (doesn't have to be soon) if you could see if they have another one similar to it and send it to me! That would be great! If you can find a duplicate that works to. Also a random thing that Elder Cheesman brought up. He was looking at his credit score for something or other and asked about mine (non existant! Haha) he mentioned that when his boys were on missions they added the boys names to their cards and such so that it would affect the boys credit score so that when they get home they have something to work with (don't know if it is a good idea or not, don't even know if it is possible but just a thought).
Mission life goes well, I am glad that CJ and Shea are doing well. I know that Alex is soon out of the MTC haha, hopefully he enjoys it but my guess is that he is tired of the mtc. I like the work you have done on the door dad, I think it looks good and should be kept with a gaping hole in it, its cool that you saw Mr. Mayntz, I liked that guy he was a good teacher. I hope that school goes well for everyone this week, and happy Birthday again Nathaniel. I love you all!
Elder B Kent Talbert

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Life, the Universe, and Everything

Thanks again for all the emails. I like the pictures dad, it looks like a nifty device. You could potentially make a night vision system out of it. Create a attachment for your glasses that would have the same effect as looking through the camera and then just bring your flashlight with you. Think of how cool it would be to go camping and be the one with the flashlight that looks like it is off but really works quite well if you have IR visibility. I don't know why I looked sunburned, I doubt I was. Haha part of being in the office is that I miss the sun. we get to the office in the morning and stay till the evening. Normally sunlight is fading by 5 pm when we leave. The only thing I can think of is if we were out moving stuff all day, then I would look sunburned if I had failed to use sunscreen.
This week has been good. Doesn't seem that long since I emailed, only 4 days. So not much has happened! Yesterday night President and sister graff invited the office elders and the assistants over for dinner. It was really good! Sister graff made a Nacho type thing that was tasted amazing and we had some pink salad thing that was great and then a chocolaty dessert that was really good and I wish I hadn't been so full so that I could have had more dessert! After dinner we went and picked up a ton of chairs from our chapel and brought them to another chapel to be set up. Tomorrow is our big district conference and it should be huge! It was really weird to go to the church last night and see it functioning more like it does in the states. Their was choir practice going on, and some youth like class and other youth were playing sports outside, chairs were being set up, etc. The only annoying thing is that the building is 2 stories, bottom floor is classrooms upper floor is sacrament meeting hall. We had to carry all our metal folding chairs up the stairs over and over and over.
We have some great investigators, Shaka and Elane (I think I mentioned them previously) are still doing well. They are both scheduled to be baptized next week, it looks like we might have to push Shaka back a week because he might not be able to make it to church on Sunday. But we are still trying! He is really good and still asking amazing questions. We also met another lady named Mavis. She is a bit older (50ish) but is really nice. We were originally teaching her son but she always sat in. Her son is still moderately interested but not like she is! She is scheduled to be baptized in between sessions of general conference (it is odd that GC has already come again, 6 months went by way fast). We also have a few other progressing investigators that will hopefully have a baptism date by Sunday.President Graff set a goal for our mission to have 1000 baptisms next year-that is a very large goal, on average this mission has like 300-350 a year or something like that. And now we are losing missionaries, we will be down to 30 companionships by next year. So you can do the math, but in order for us to get a 1000 baptisms each companionship needs to have a lot of baptisms! I think it is reachable but it will be a struggle. He has been preparing us for next year and having us use different techniques of finding new investigators. It will be interesting to see what really happens.
Earlier this week I went and investigated a mysterious internet bill we were getting from the old mission office (3 years back). I drove their wondering how I was going to find our old office in a giant office complex, I didn't really have an address, but thankfully they were less effective and still hadn't removed our name from the list of offices after 3 years. I walked up to the door, it was locked. But I noticed a gap in the doors and pushed by finger in and pushed the lock out of the way so that the door opened. Walked in, it was completely empty. Not a thing in the building. But I was hearing strange music coming from a room in the back. I walk back their and there is just this 40 year old lady sitting in their, has a whole office setup and is just typing away. I was astonished greatly insomuch that I fell to the earth, not really but I had no clue what to say. Eventually we figured out the whole bill thing and all is well again. Definitely the oddest experience of the week. My guess is that she is using the office illegally just as she was using our internet.
Well unfortunately I am short on time and I don't have any pictures on me, but I will get a good one this week and send it on Saturday. This week is transfers, so if by some unlikely chance I do get transferred then my p-day will be Monday. So if next Saturday you get nothing from me you know I have been transferred. I am jealous that I am missing out on all the peaches and pears. You can't really find them in Jamaica.
Life goes well. Time is flying by (already been out for 7.5 months and rapidly approaching 8 months). I love you all and hope the coming week is great!
-Elder B. Kent Talbert

Stay on Target

Sounds like Things are going well back home. I have no clue how well dried fruit will handle the weather. Other missionaries have gotten some so I assume it works but I really don't know. You can experiment and I would be happy. I am jealous of your fancy flashlight and camera dad, I will be interested to see them when I get home, assuming that you haven't taken them apart and changed them haha. First before I forget, My next p-day will be this Saturday, so you will have to email either Friday or early Saturday. Then it will be back to just Saturdays unless something crazy comes up again.
Interesting story: There is a man in the branch, Bro. Downer, about 28. He is a really nice guy and likes the missionaries a lot, he is exceedingly wealthy, the wealthiest man I have ever met, CEO of York, a real estate company. He is from England and likes to argue with the missionaries about why England is better than the States, We have had some good debates. But that is just a side note to the story. Bro. Downer has health problems and this week had to go to the hospital. His health has been steadily declining. He has to have open heart surgery tomorrow and then is on a waiting list for a Heart Transplant. It is weird and sort of Deja vuy (is that even a word?). Who would have thought that I would have to witness this whole heart transplant thing again haha.
This week has been good. We have been teaching a man Named Shaka, He was a referral from a less-active that we visited. Shaka is a really cool guy. He is very smart and asks a lot of questions. The thing I like about his questions is that they aren't hostile in anyway. He isn't trying to twist us in a knot or anything but is genuinely curious and just wants to know the truth. On Sunday he was going to get a ride to church with the less active and another investigator but their phone was off and so when he called they missed it. They showed up to church without him and he had no money or any way to get to church. We told him to try his best. After 2 hours, at the start of priesthood he walked in! He had gotten a free taxi to a big crossroads area and then walked. He had no knowledge of how to get to the church, he had no address or anything so he just walked like a mile and found the church after an hour of wandering. It was great to see him at church and hopefully by Saturday he will have a baptism date.
On Saturday we had our big Sale where the mission sold all its extra furniture. It was really slow and dull. After like 3 hours we dropped the prices to ridiculously cheap and sold everything. A member, Troy Williams, he came with us and did our advertising. He was a great sales man and made everyone laugh and consider purchasing our extra furniture. He made all the faults look like they were intentional advantages.
Laura, in answer to your question on my favorite thing to do in the office, Probably would have to be making spreadsheets. This week I have been making a sweet spreadsheet that is connected to all the other spreadsheets I have made so that it is all connected into one main place. That way if anyone wants to know about anything they don't have to search through files, just have to go to the main sheet. It is pretty snazzy and does some nifty things. I keep learning more and more about excel. It is a great program!
Random thing, In Kingston they have a bus system similar to the states. The only difference is that the bus drivers drive like maniacs. It is a pain to drive around them. The biggest vehicles on the road are the ones that are driving the worst. They fly down the roads honking their horns weaving In and out of traffic. Pretty much if they want to change lanes you just have to get out of the way because they are coming over and expect you to move.
Well I am going to find a picture to attach and then I will be out of time. Sorry if this is a bit short, I will think of something to put in next week.
Hopefully all is well at home and school is going well. I have passed my 7 month mark and 8 month mark seems to be coming faster and faster, it is crazy how fast time is passing.
Happy Birthday mom. I love you all!
-Elder B. Kent Talbert
ps. Picture is Bro. Dawson and I standing next to the giant lion of Judah painted on the wall. My eyes are way red, but oh well haha, picture was taken at lik 8:30 pm