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.