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