Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rule number three, I can't bring people back from the dead

Well first off I got a new email address. Our mission finally upgraded to the better email system. My new address is the new system is by google and looks like gmail...only less haha it is much better than the last one. I now have a mailbox with 8gb instead of 50mb so that is good. The week has been good, unfortunately it has been very repetitive and so this is going to be a struggle to think of things to write.
Yesterday at church was our first branch presidency meeting, it was funny, none of us knew what in the world was supposed to be discussed and no one had prepared an agenda so it was fairly scatter brained, but we learned a lot and will have a lot more effective meeting next week. The Branch is doing good. we got everyone a calling and have begun on the records. Elder Tonks and I have also been going around visiting with all the members. we have been using the members to try and find new investigators and help the less active ones get back to church. Hmmm....well that is about all I have to say about that.
On Tuesday last week we went on a tradeoff with the Junction Elders. It went very well. The best part was after it was all over Elder tonks and I were driving back to Santa Cruz and we came to a fork in the road and didn't know which way to take, so we guessed and after about 5 minutes we had left all civilization and we were driving through the jungle. so we weren't sure if we should turn around or just keep driving. we chose to keep driving. after about another 15 minutes we exited the jungle and entered santa cruz. turns out it was a much faster path between junction and santa cruz that we had found. it was a lot of fun just driving out in the middle of nowhere hoping that it would exit somewhere we knew, we kept joking that it would be great if it exited in santa cruz, and then it did.
Teaching was pretty difficult this week. Monday was p-day, tuesday we were in junction, wednesday was a holiday and so no one in santa cruz wanted to meet with us, and the rest of the week just sort of carried on like that. haha I have never had such a struggle to find someone to teach, we spent about 7 hours on wednesday just street contacting people in random neighborhoods and taught only 2 lessons. It has been a most unique week, I have worked harder than almost any other week and yet had signifigantly less success than that of any previous week in my mission. But oh well, that is just how it goes sometimes, this next week will be a lot better!
On Saturday we went looking for a less active, sis. smith. Well we found her, she was really old and mostly deaf and had a lot of health problems and no way of really getting to church. We helped her in the morning do a bunch of yard work. Towards the end she had us collect some coconuts from a tree in her yard. Interesting thing about Jamaican culture is they eat all fruit very unripe. Bannanas are exceedingly green, coconuts are exceedingly green, oranges are green, etc. They don't let anything ripen. I think it is in part because the more unripe a fruit is the less chance their is that either it will be stolen by someone or they pick it unripe so that it won't fall and get destroyed on the ground. Either way unripe fruit really isn't all that good, but I have gotten quite use to it. Anyways, back to the coconut. We go to get these coconuts off a 20-25 foot tree. Unripe fruit is a pain to get off of trees, it is still very stuck on and so when you are trying to get something 20 feet above you it is an even bigger pain. Eventually we got down a few and brought them over to her. she wanted to give us one to open up. Unripe coconuts (they call them jellies) are fairly terrible tasting. Well I took a sword to the coconut and open it up. it is full of water when it is unripe, after it is ripe it is full of coconut milk. after all the water is gone their is the jelly, it is like coconut fat and is really really gross. unripe coconuts taste nothing like ripe coconuts, they just taste like leaves. sort of like eating pork fat that only tastes like leaves..... haha but oh well. The yard work was nice, the reward not so nice.
I have been reading through the doctirne and covenants during my lunch and dinner times. I have enjoyed it so far. It is interesting to read about all these little problems the church had at the start, especially with who was in charge of who and who was supposed to do what. During my studies I have been reading through the Book of Mormon again and I spent the week at the end of alma. It always impresses me how good of a man Moroni is. He is just an all around good guy.
Well I am going to attach a few photos here. I don't have to compress them anymore because my inbox/sent box can handle it. Oh wait...DAH! I am using the dumb computers again that don't accept things through USB. This weird internet cafe program that this place has running to keep the computer in control has a weird thing that you can't attach external things to the computer..... oh well, I guess I will try again next week.When I plug things in it just does nothing and then pops up telling me it can't use it. well in that case than you can just imagine that pictures were attached. one was of me washing laundry outside, and the other was of a view of St. Elizabeth (parish name) from the top of a mountain that we were driving up.
Hmm...I also noticed that this new email system doesn't have any form of auto correct spelling errors or spell check, so hopefully their aren't to many errors spread abroad through this email.
Haha well the week was good, I am excited for this next week. Time is nearly finished so this is the last paragraph. I hope this next week goes great for everyone, enjoy the weather. I love you all!
Elder Talbert

Fish! Fresh Fish!

Well it was great to hear from you again. I did get the package that you sent, very good choices. The socks and the beef jerky (can't be found here) were especially nice, I have also enjoyed making complex sentences. In answer to your question mom we always have cold showers, our house has no way of getting hot water unless we personally heat the water on a stove and dump it ourselves haha but it is all good. Sounds like you had an interesting conference this week dad. Did they alter the dna of the mouse after it was born or before? If it was after then someone could start a new form of tattoo where the genes are modified and then the person gets glowy tattoos.
Interesting things to note from this week: Zone leader council, Zone Conference, and Branch Conference.
Zone Leader Council was splendid. It was in Kingston and Elder Coleman of the 70 came. They also flew Elder Sizemore and his companion in from the Bahamas for it. So that was awesome to see him again! He had also brought with him a new rubiks cube that someone had given him that he didn't want to even try solving (Sudoku cube) so he gave it to me and I have enjoyed the challenge. Elder Coleman gave some really good instruction and overall it was a very good meeting. I am glad I got to attend.
Zone Conference was on Friday and it was also very good. The very best part was the assistants had made a video of recent convert testimonies that they showed. In the video they had interviewed Ignatius Dale. It was awesome to hear his testimony and his conversion story. I am going to try and get a copy of the video from the assistants. The instruction at Zone conference was nice. They had a power point with a bunch of graphs on it that they were explaining and showing to all of us - Elder Stevens and I made all the graphs so it was fun to see everything that I had done being put to good use. Zone Conference was good, don't really have much more to say about that.
Branch conference was yesterday. It was really good, very full. We had nearly 40 people at church! Way more than the 15 from last week. So Pres. Graff was there and he was doing some reorganization of the branch presidency. I have been assigned (as a missionary you don't get called) to serve as 2nd councilor in the Branch Presidency. That will be interesting. Between Zone leader, 2nd Councilor and regular missionary I am plenty busy. I don't know how long I will be in Santa Cruz but in the few weeks I am part of the branch presidency pres. Graff wants every member to have a calling (many currently don't), and wants all the records and files updated and current and functioning properly. Our Branch president is an excellent man but is very busy so many things like record keeping haven't been happening so well. I am excited to work with the branch even more now.
That is nice that you got a letter from Sister Cheesman! The Cheesmans are possibly the thing I miss most about the office, they had gotten to the office shortly before I did so in the 7 months I was there we had to figure out how to do everything in the office and became good friends with both of them.
We have begun to have success finding people. Yesterday night we found a lot of good potential men. I don't know if I already mentioned this, but we more or less only teach men. The branch desperately needs priesthood holders so that is what we are looking for. Unless we find families we don't really have to opportunity to teach children or women. We have met a lot of very stubborn men but we are finally seeing success. I am hopeful for this upcoming week and look forward to what will be accomplished.
We didn't have any water one day and as such it is hard to cook. I thought about it and created a decent meal. I took two slices of bread, a package of ramen, and a plate. Put the bread on the plate, and sandwiched a block of ramen with the seasoning on it between the bread. Sort of like a dry ramen sandwich. There aren't really any members in Santa Cruz that feed the missionaries so we are mostly just left to ourselves in preparing our food. Santa Cruz also only has 2 fast food places so that narrows the choices even more haha. Pres. Graff was explaining to us how to make tuna noodle casserole and so maybe I will try that.
Quick thing I just remembered about zone conference. Sister Graff wasn't feeling well so she stayed home. President Graff did her part for her. She normally goes through health issues and nutritional stuff. It was moderately amusing to have Pres. Graff doing it instead, he didn't really have instructions from his wife, it was a lot of just what came to his head - like tuna noodle casserole, or microwaved potatoes. Haha
A lot of missions have gotten their new email address/system. And finally our mission is switching! Next week I am supposed to set up my new email on the new system. Hopefully it is better. Well that is about it for that. For finding new investigators we have been attempting to think of creative ways. Aside from the standard we have considered jumping in front of cars so that while one of us is lying on the ground injured from the crash the other one is teaching the driver who has no where else to go. Another idea we have thought of would be to run taxi with our car and teach everyone that needs ride, that way they have to way to run away! It is always amusing to see the sort of excuses we get from people as to why they can't listen to us. The most common is that they just got home and so they are tired (???) pretty lame excuse. I normally attempt in such situations explaining how it was perfect timing that we showed up right as they got home.
Well I had intended on sending some pictures today - but as I am sitting here trying to do it the computer won't use USB. So that is a problem. I guess I got a broken computer, slightly unfortunate. Oh well, I will just have to attach them next week. I don't think I would ever want to be dependable upon computer labs and internet cafes for my computer usage. To many issues with everything. Time is starting to run short. Things are going well. Santa Cruz looks like it has a bright future in store for it. I look forward to next weeks emails and hope that school/work is great this week. I love you all!
Elder Kent Talbert

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm Going to Duel Him Left Handed

Well thankfully I am using a moderately better computer this week, but still nothing worth purchasing. Thanks for the address mother. Still haven't gotten the package yet, but then again it could be in Kingston, no one has come out here since transfer day so it could have arrived a week and a half ago and I wouldn't know, that is the one problem with being out in the middle of nowhere, mail gets sent to the mission and then they send it out with other missionaries whenever they will be passing through an area. Thankfully though tomorrow we are going to Kingston so hopefully it will be there.
The week was good. Tomorrow we are going to Kingston, as previously mentioned for zone leader council. It should be really good, they are having a special meeting with a member of the seventy so that will be interesting. My birthday was good. Very uneventful, just like any other day, but it was still good. It is sort of odd to think that a year ago I was doing missionary work.
Church yesterday was nice. We had a final count of 15 people at church. It is weird to be in a small branch on fast and testimony Sunday. Everyone gets the opportunity to go up and it is almost expected of you to go up in order to effectively use the time.
Part of our job as zone leaders is to go on exchanges with other companionships. We are supposed to go on a 24 hour exchange with every companionship every 4 weeks. So last Wednesday we choose to go on an exchange with the Mandeville elders. I was going to stay in my area of Santa Cruz with Elder Hammond and Elder Tonks was going to go with Elder Allen in Mandeville. Elder Hammond is possibly the weirdest man I have ever met. We had a really good time, a lot of the same hobbies back home. Well aside from doing a lot of missionary work we also started talking about what we were going to do after our missions (I had heard rumors of Elder Hammonds goals and so I had to bring it up). Elder Hammond intends to go home, be with his family for a week or so and then go out into the wild and live as a hunter/gatherer. Sort of like a wilderness survival man thing. He decided that he hates be reliant on other things or people and wants to be 100% self reliant. He wants to get his own food, his own clothing, his own shelter, etc. It was interesting discussing all his plans with him. The best part about it all is that he will do it. I will not be surprised in the slightest to someday hear on the news about some guy that lives out in the middle of nowhere in a tp that he made himself. We also have to go on exchanges with Negril so I will be excited for that.
Something my companion and I have been laughing about this past week as we have attempted to find investigators is how mad men seem to just gravitate to me. We have meet some of the craziest most mentally inept people in santa cruz this last week. It seemed everywhere we went crazy people would walk up to me and begin to have conversations with me. I normally try to hold a conversation with them and make sense of what they are saying to a slight degree. I had a good conversation the other day with a man named delroy all about the battery crisis which has struck the country. I had another amusing conversation with another man named Dwayne about doctors that come around and trick people into making food for other people.
Last preparation day washing all my laundry went alright. It was a pain in the neck. In Jamaica about 90% of people if not more wash their laundry by hand so I had seen it done many times and now it was a matter of replicating it. We have like a big sink outside and 3 wash buckets. Pretty much you just use soap and water and scrub…not to difficult. We have no plan to get a washing machine so it looks like my stay here in santa cruz will be full of washing laundry. My biggest problem with it is determining when something is really clean and when it is not.
The Work in Santa Cruz is rough. It is such a small place that everyone seems to have met the missionaries before and they have no desire to meet with them again. Another problem is that most the people we meet don't live anywhere near santa cruz. It just happens to be like the shopping center of nowhere. We have struggled a lot to find new effective investigators. But we are still trying. We more or less have no investigators but yesterday we met a really cool man. We were slightly lost just wandering around a neighborhood looking for someone to teach and we met a man who was just sitting around studying a physics text book haha. Well he doesn't have a job right now, he use to be a supervisor at a local boxite mine and since the boxite mine closed down he is just getting a better education until they reopen the mine later this year. In case you are unsure what boxite is it is used to make aluminum. Probably the biggest export of Jamaica. They don't have the means necessary to make aluminum but they can at least ship out the raw mineral to the states.
Hmmm- what else of interest happened this week. We have no hot water so showers are unfortunate. Our car has gotten really dirty this week because of all the dry dirt roads. People have been writing in the dirt on our car "wash me"  it has made me chuckle that no matter what culture you are in people have at least one thing in common and that is to draw in the dirt on peoples car. Traffic is always really bad in Santa Cruz, it doesn't make any sense. There is only one road. Somehow it is always backed up. Nobody seems to be able to effectively drive out here.
Something I have been thinking a lot about this week as we have been out walking was the idea of sacrifice. When we walk past other churches they always have their schedule of events posted. It seems like everyday they have some sort of service going on. people can just go to church at the time that it is most convenient for them, they don't have to put forth any effort to make it to church. They can just show up when it fits in their schedule, there is no sacrifice made, and it isn't even that big of a sacrifice to go to church for a few hours on Sunday morning.
Well that is about it for this week. Thanks for the emails, it sounds like things are going well back home. I am doing good. Hopefully school and work this week are nice. I am hoping that the work here in Santa Cruz will finally go somewhere. Well I love you all and look forward to next weeks emails!
Elder Kent Talbert
ps, haha your increased security email made me laugh dad
pps sorry, no pictures this week, next week!

Monday, February 1, 2010

He wanted me to change into that mindless hulk

I got transferred!! Also I am using the most worthless computer in the world so hopefully this email isn't too short, it just is slower than a snail dragging a mill stone down the road. First off to answer moms questions. I haven't sent the 5000 yet, I was just thinking of that today and intend to do it this week. I worked at Selerity Technologies in Salt Lake City (801-978-2295). I haven't received a package yet, but it is likely in Kingston right now. I just am far from Kingston! haha hopfully their isn't too many spelling errors, it is hard to edit when I miss type, it is just so slow!
Well exciting news, I was transferred! I am in a place called Santa Cruz! Haha It is like being taken from New York City to Malad, Idaho. This is the smallest little town around. Haha, just out in the country, lots of space between houses, large empty weed fields with livestock, etc. I am serving with Elder Tonks, a missionary from Washington. We are Zone Leaders for the Mandeville Zone. In our zone is Mandeville (obviously), Hopeton, Negril, Sav, Santa Cruz, Junction. Good zone. Elder tonks and I white washed the area (meaning 2 missionaries transferred here with no one from before, a new start) Santa Cruz is a very small struggling branch. 1 melchezidek priesthood holder who lives an hour away from the church, and then 0 other men, just a bunch of old ladies who are all good friends haha. The area is struggling so president graff decided to white wash and send the zone leaders there to fix the area. So far it has been quite rough and challenging.
That is great that they are building a temple in Payson! They are still hoping for a stake here in the next 5 years! Things that have happened since I last emailed- Well I finished everything up at the office and have now left. I loved working in the office with Elder and Sister Cheesman, but I will see them again. On Tuesday night before I left we had a big dinner at the Mission home with pres. & Sis. Graff, assistants, and office elders. We had some really good hamburgers and hot dogs and corn on the cob. Very good meal.
Kingston is still booming. Trench Town is ready for the gospel and things are going great there. It is a shame that I will miss so many great baptisms. Santa Cruz is a nice area. I am enjoying it so far. We don't have much going for us right now but we are hoping for a very good week. The Branch President is a very good man. He is from the States and is working here. His wife and kids are still in the states so who knows how much longer he will be here. If and when he leaves, a missionary will have to be the branch president. Elder Tonks and I are focusing on teaching only men. This branch desperately needs priesthood holders.
I am attaching two photos, hopefully this computer doesn't crash when I attempt it. The first is of my last day at the office with the Cheesmans. The second is of the office staff celebrating Elder Stevens birthday. His was just earlier this week. Sister Graff bought him a cake and brought it into the office.

Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone, I don't have the computer capabilities to effectively respond to everyone so this will have to do! Unfortunately at our new house we don't have a washing machine. So today I have to go and hand wash all my clothing. I think it will take a lot of my time, but oh well, maybe it will be entertaining. Our house is fairly large. Very empty so everything echos. Well I am excited for my new area, The office has been great, I have made very good friends there with the assistants and elder stevens, I could serve with Elder stevens again haha. Santa Cruz is hot and dusty. It is sort of a common joke to see the fire truck everywhere putting out all the fires that keep starting because of how dry it is.
Life goes well, I am short on time and short on patience with this computer haha. Good luck at work this week dad, I am glad that you will miss laura when she leaves in a few months almost as much as when I went to the MTC, I am glad to know that I was missed more and that she will be missed only almost as much but not quite as much haha. Congrats Heather on the play and congrats Joseph on the license. Thanks for the emails, I love you all and look forward to next week. I think we will find a different internet cafe next week, this one is too slow!
Elder Kent Talbert