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

Monday, September 7, 2009

That Thing's Operational!

Ugh, Sorry this is late, Hopefully I can get something written here, this computer I am using is possible the worst I have used on my mission, slower that a bucket of snails eating a stop sign. I am writing this on Monday because We had a lot of work to do on Saturday and so we moved it to Monday this week, but then even more work has come because president is going out of Kingston tomorrow and for the rest of the week and he wants a bunch of stuff done, so really my preparation day consists of this hour long email session and then it is back to work. Next week I will probably have the same situation and so Monday will be preparation day again.
I got the card reader this week so that is great! This computer is not really equipped to utilize such a fancy piece of technology, I think this computer barely handles the mouse and keyboard. But next week I will get some pictures sent to you. Glad that BYU won! That was a needed victory to make this season any good.
Overall this week has been hectic. The office has had way to much to do. We had 5 houses that needed to be moved out of by the end of the week and so that was worked on all week long. The most interesting part was when we moved out of a house in Portmore. We found a most unique piece of furniture! A Coffin! Somehow the missionaries had gotten a coffin and had been using it as a bench press. We didn't know what to do with it and president graff had told us anything we don't need to just leave it on the side of the road till it is stolen. So that is what we did. Left the coffin outside by the road. The next day we get a call telling us that a crowd had gathered and that people were proclaiming that the mormons were issuing death threats. Which was ridiculous. Thankfully a man had known where the missionaries had gotten the coffin and why it was there, so a group of people took it to a nearby field a burned it.
Tuesday was our zone meeting. Our zone is the biggest in the mission with 26 missionaries and so with interviews by president it had potential to last a very very long time. We got interviewed first and then left to go move some furniture. We got stuck in traffic and missed the entire zone meeting. But interviews with president were good as always.
Saturday night we needed to get into the Spanish town chapel, and it has a nice security system. So we have no clue what we need to do to disarm the alarm so we call the branch president, he tells us to make sure we have the right keys then call him back immediately after we get the doors open. We get the doors open and then he doesn't answer his phone and there is a nice beeping noise coming from the building. We call him back frantically and then the alarm goes off. It was extremely loud and could be heard for quite some distance. He finally answers his phone and immediately knows what has happened since he can clearly hear it over the phone. He tells us what to do to turn it off and all is good. It was about just as much fun trying to turn it back on when we were leaving.
Oh yea, I just remembered about your question mom. Everyone's emails arrive just fine, quotations, apostraphies, etc. I don't know why mine go all crazy.
The office has been hectic this week but I enjoy it most of the time. I love working with Elder and Sister Cheesman, they are a lot of fun. Teaching has been fairly low this week, but this upcoming week we should have a lot of time after today. I will be happy to get out and help our area improve once again. We met a less-active who lives really far away, a good 30 minute drive at least. But he made it to church this week! That was great! At first we didn't even recognize him but when we did we were amazed that he had made it all the way to church.
It is to bad that the 3rd ward has shrunk so much. It is still bigger than our branch by 50 people but I can imagine that it is still a struggle to operate. I am glad that CJ and Shea are doing well. This computer is slow and is terrible to work with, I am nearly out of time. Sorry this is so short haha just isn't working so well on this machine. I will email again on Monday most likely.
Thanks for the email Grandma and Grandpa. Sounds like quite the summer you had, and it sounds like it was a lot of fun. That is one nice part of being in the office is that We have to travel a lot to get missionaries things and so we get to see a lot of the country and it is amazing! The kids here don't play football at all. Only soccer, cricket and running. If you mention American football they all look at you funny and think it is a dumb game haha but it is a favorite among the missionaries.
Well that is all for the week, I love you all and look forward to your next emails!
Elder B. Kent Talbert

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Your problem is in the Hydrocoil

Great to hear from you again! Well this letter might have spacing issues, the keyboard I am using is moderately broken and when I type fast the space bar doesn't register and so there are no spaces in my words. Actually amendment to that, the person sitting next to me just left and so I took the keyboard from that computer. I am glad that school is going well for everyone! Sounds like it is fun. You did guess right mom, I have a good guess when your birthday is and when Nathaniel's is-but I am not sure so I just made sure that the cards got there in September :P I am glad they got there. Gma and Gpa can email me, not a problem there.
First off this week we had a Baptism! We have been teaching a girl named Lassarnla Morgan for a while now and we finally got her baptized! It went well! Haha, probably the craziest week yet. On Sunday we had planned for the baptism on Saturday, then we learned that she was going to YW camp thingy and wasn't going to be here on Saturday. So we changed the day to Wednesday. Wednesday came. We had an hour till the baptism so we were going to go to the ministry of labor to work on some papers for new missionaries. We get there, hop in the elevator and it breaks! We get stuck in an elevator! Luckily it got fixed quickly and we left to the chapel. At the chapel the water pressure was low so we only had about a knees depth of water. Since we had changed the day to Wednesday not many members knew and everyone was at work. We frantically tried to find a priesthood holder to be there as a witness. Eventually we got a few and everyone showed up. We started an hour late but we had a lot of members there. Lassarnla goes to put on the baptism suit, and the zipper breaks. Luckily one of the members knew where some next baptism suits were hidden and we pulled out those. Unfortunately they are all big suits so the one we gave her was quite large on her, but oh well, it worked. Eventually the baptism happened and all was good. The larger suit made it even harder to do the baptism in shallow water because it just wanted to float. Crazy day but we were happy that it all worked out and now she is with the YW of the branch. It was good for her mother to. Her mother has been a member for a while but has been fairly less active and this has been a good opportunity for her to begin to come back to church.
That was the most eventful thing of the week. This email is coming a bit late, the assistants had a baptism this morning that we went to and then our car battery died because we had been using the cd player without the car being on. It was weird that it died so quickly, but oh well, it is working again and all is well.
On Sunday our dinner appointment fell through because the sister who normally feeds us went out of town. Thankfully I had gone to pizza hut and hadn't eaten all my pizza so I just reheated what I had saved and at that. Made for a decent meal, but I would have preferred fresh cooked food.
Twice a week we go to the post office to get all the mail for the missionaries. The post office is possibly the most untech place in Jamaica. They have a few light bulbs on the ceiling that light the building poorly and other than that not a piece of technology is in that building. When we have packages to pick up it takes forever, they have to write down all this random information from the box and fill out all this paper work. It would be a lot easier if they had a computer and utilized bar codes. Jamaica doesn't have much of a mail delivery system, you pretty much have to have a P.O. box. It is possible to get it delivered to your house, but you have to pay extra. I saw one of the mail delivery men earlier this week - He rode a bicycle. I don't know if that is how they all do it, but it made me chuckle.
Things in the office have been going well. This week we have been closing a lot of houses and moving missionaries around. It has been a big pain and a lot of driving. I will be happy when we are done with all these houses that are closing. There has been a lot of extra furniture that we don't know what to do with, our original idea was to just had it out for free (we gave a table to a guy who was walking down the street and asked us for it) but now we are trying to sell some of it and it is just making it more trouble than it is worth. Oh well
I got the cards from the reunions, that was nice! I enjoyed reading them, good idea. Sounds like donette and cal are doing good in elko. Hopefully they get into their house soon, haha.
Yet again I have run out of things to say. We have some good investigators. A Mother, her daughter, and the next door neighbor. All three of them are doing well. They enjoy the lessons and don't have any major concerns that we know of. We met them last week when they randomly showed up to church and we hope to see them again tomorrow. It is always weird to see how we get our best investigators. It seems that all the investigators that we have from just calling out at random houses normally don't go anywhere but it is always the ones that the Lord puts into our path that turn out to be the best investigators.
Driving has been going well. The switch from left hand drive right side of the road to Right hand drive left side of the road was actually really easy to make. The hardest part, initially, it the turn signals. They are also on the opposite side so for the first day of driving, a month and a half ago, I kept turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals.
On Sunday we were going to a members home to teach them and randomly a marching band walked in front of us at a stop sign. It took forever to pass, it was weird, I have never seen a parade or band or anything like unto it in Jamaica. Turned out it was for a funeral and a casket eventually passed. The casket was glass so you could see inside. Sort of creepy.
That is about it for the week. I hope that all is going great back home! Enjoy the week at school. I liked your insights into the war chapters dad. I am almost their, by next Saturday I will probably have finished them, depends on how much of my study I devot to just reading. Congrats Nathaniel on your Arrow of light! I love you all!
-Elder B. Kent Talbert