Tuesday, March 23, 2010

These aren't the Droids were looking for


Good to hear from you all again. sounds like things are going well back home. don't worry mother about the package you sent, it will get here, it just can take quite some time, it all depends on traveling. When you send it to Jamaica they then put it in a pile of stuff for the Turks and then whenever president graff comes here or to the bahamas he carries that pile of stuff with him. If he comes here we get it, if he takes it to the bahamas then pres. ockey takes it to us when he comes to visit. So everything eventually gets to me, their is just no speed at all. It all depends on everyone's travel plans. thanks for the other email mom, it all worked out great, the photos didn't have any problem. 

This week was good. We had a few baptisms and plenty of people at church. The island is very small, at some parts you can see the ocean on both sides of you due to the narrowness of the land. Hurricanes are about the same as in Jamaica, same threat level. not really worried about it at all. Most of the people we teach are from Haiti or other Caribbean islands who came here at one point to work and then all the work dried up and now they are all stuck here and they just live in these strangely built houses that are all connected and really small. Our elders Quorum president lives in a house that has about 60 square feet (really really small) and he has 2 room mates and they pay $300 a month to live there. The currency used is American Money, Turks doesn't bother to print their own money. so living conditions are fairly poor for the people here. everything is very very very expensive and I am quite unsure how all these unemployed people survive here. 

Church yesterday was good. we had about 80 people at church, 10 tourists and then a bunch of members/investigators. I am once again in charge of the piano, the nice part though is that this branch actually has a good piano and not some really cheap keyboard like the last branch I was in had. This one has weighted keys and feels like a real piano so that is nice. Hymns are pretty funny and sound fairly terrible. when you have multiple languages all singing the same hymn it just sounds like everyone is making a ton of noise and not really singing any words. The worst part is that they all love to sing and sing as loud as they can and so it just becomes a huge mess of words and tones and what not haha. on Saturdays we have choir practice and I play the piano there to, thankfully everyone in the choir sings in english, those who don't speak english are taught how to pronounce all the words in the given song that way it sounds less hectic. 

It sounds as if your exploration of Mars was quite good dad. I have always found it odd that they have all those little hiker guy pictures, but then again maybe it would be a good idea to plan a hike there. I suppose their are some good caves here, I have seen pictures but I haven't personally visited any of them yet. The Herberts sometimes take us out to some of those places on preparation day so I will make sure to get some good pictures.

The reason for the large amounts of men in the branch is that they all came here for work and all of their families live in other countries. Most of the men now have no job and no way to make money to return home so they are just living here indefinitely looking for more work. hopefully more comes soon, it is all random and based around the tourism industry. The branch has a lot of potential to produce some very good leaders. Our Branch president has been out of town (in Utah) and should be back today, I am excited to meet him as I am yet to meet him. He is from Argentina and supposedly speaks english not so well but spanish very well. 

Conference is coming fast. I have been working with elder herbert here and there trying to figure out how we are going to get conference to work. We got permission from the church and access to the priesthood session (they don't stream it over the internet where everyone has access) so that is good and now we have been trying to figure out the whole language thing. we have to have it in multiple languages so that everyone can here it in their own tongue. We are probably just going to keep it really simple and use multiple laptops in different rooms of the church all playing conference in a different language. we are working on getting some projectors this week so that everyone doesn't have to try and see it on a tiny laptop screen. we currently only have one but we want one more, but the branch president should be able to help with that.

I will attach a few pictures here.

 one is of the branch choir, 

the other is of a group of members being transported to a baptism! we have the baptismal service first at the church and then we head down to the beach for the performance of the ordinance. 

Well time is running short here. Things are going well. I am enjoying my new area. hopefully things continue to go over well. Hmm.... well that is about it. It sounds as though things back home are going well and hopefully this next week is great! March is nearly over, weird. Well I love you all! hopefully I answered all your questions haha there were a lot, if I didn't just repeat them again and I will get to them!

Love you!
Elder B. Kent Talbert

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Whole New World


Well it is good to hear from you again! Before I forget, in Jamaica they use raw sugar from sugar cane, it is one of the biggest exports of Jamaica, so the sugar is sort of a brown sugar, but not like american brown sugar. You can still find white sugar and powdered sugar but it is more expensive then the cheap raw sugar that is sold every where. sugar cane is also pretty good, eaten it a few times. glad to hear that things are going well back home, and I am glad to know that that letter arrived, I had sort of begun to question the santa cruz post office.

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that I have been transfered! but before I mention where I have gone to I will finish up everything with Santa Cruz. The last few days in Santa cruz were really good, we had some really good lessons and I think that at least one of them will be baptized here in the next few weeks. The branch is awesome! probably my favorite members that I have met are in that branch and I would quite happily serve in santa cruz again. So tuesday I got a phone call telling me to pack my bags and drive to kingston in the morning. Elder Tonks and I traveled around and visited some members my last day and taught some excellent lessons. wednesday we drove to kingston and I was left with Elder Jones all day, the Kingston Zone Leader! it was great, the ZL area in kingston is the same as the office elders so we went around and I got to see a lot of the people I had served around for so long and I got to see a few of the people that I had helped get baptized. The area is doing great, lots of people have been baptized there in the last few weeks, elder stevens has been having a lot of success.

Well thursday I finally made it to my new area! I am currently serving in the Turks and Caicos Islands! so we went to the airport, got in an argument with the flight people who said we didn't have a ticket even though we were showing it to them. well eventually they figured it all out and I got through. Walked across the runway to some small little two propeller powered plane that held about 20 people and then flew...really slowly, to the turks and Caicos island of Providenciales (everyone here just calls it provo...ironicly). It is great! I am the 4th missionary to serve here. The branch is only like a year old or something. We have a senior couple here, the Herberts and then my companion Elder Brough, other than that we are just sort of left alone out here.

It is great out here! the trickiest part of the whole situation is that English is not the language spoken, which is a problem for me. The branch speaks French, Creolle, and Spanish, to make it even more confusing most of the members know 2 languages (not english) and they mix the 2 languages into one language. The ones that speak spanish speak sort of a french spanish, and the creolle speaks some french and it is a big confusion. We have a few members of the branch who know english....sort of. they come around with us and translate for us in our lessons. I think a lot is lost in the translating process, our translators don't know english so well and so they sort of guess at what we say. We make sure to bring members who know the gospel really well and who can translate so that they can still teach truth and not mixed up things. most the members have only been years for a year or less so a lot of training is going on. We have about 50-70 people at church on sunday. all the talks are translated into english and they have different classes for english speakers and non english speakers. The oddest part of the branch is that their is about 65 men and about 5 women, a complete opposite to Jamaica where their are few men and a lot of women. Every tuesday and thursday and english class is held and it gets nearly 80 people a week who are all men who want to learn english.

People here are jumping out of the trees to be baptized. I have had multiple people who I have never met come to me and tell me in broken english that they want to be baptized. It is a complete opposite to Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz people hide from the missionaries and here they come flocking in huge numbers to the missionaries. On Thursday I met a man named Manuel, he is a member who speaks spanish and is from the dominican republic. he introduced me to his son and I taught his son a lesson and then the next day we taught him everything else and on saturday he was baptized. so that was great! The whole family is now members and they are really good, the only problem is the language barrier, they speak only spanish and have a hard time with the french. They are learning english and are getting better, especially the children, but Manuel still has a lot to learn. I am going to attach a picture of Manuel's baptism (I can attach pictures again!) so enjoy that.
We had zone conference yesterday. It was cool, it was the first zone conference like it in the mission! we set up a video conference across the turks and bahamas and so we the whole zone (12 people) could all see each other and hear each other. It was really good, pres. Graff gave some good instruction and it saved a lot of money, they used to fly everyone to one spot and have zone conference, but now they can just do it with this new video system the church has set up. Elder Sizemore is in my zone now and so that was cool to see him again! The only annoying thing that they are working on is the echo. When you say something, it goes to everyone and then their microphones pick it up and repeat it and so everything you say is echoed 5 or 6 times, really annoying, but oh well haha it was cool, my next job is to figure out how to get conference hooked up in 3 weeks. we don't have a satelite, but thankfully the church now runs it live over the internet. it shouldn't be to hard to set it up to the TV but I figured I should begin working on it now just incase we need to purchase any cables (which I think we will).

We don't have to do any finding any more, it is really nice, everyone just comes to us and we have full days. hopefully it continues to do that. Most of the population is Haitian and they are all living in a little neighbor hood together and they are all just joining the church together.

Life goes well. The branch is good, sunday school is nice, but no where near as good as it was in Santa Cruz. my companion is from Utah, he is a good man. This is potentially my second to last area in my mission (weird to think) it costs a lot of money to get a work permit so when they send missionaries here they keep them here for a long time I will probably not return to Jamaica till October or November and then I will be mostly done.

I have no clue how much time I have left (uh oh!) but I think I am mostly done, I don't know what else to really say. Turks is nice, looks like America, a lot of the population is super rich, except for the members, they are dirt poor. the island has 2 extremes, no middle ground. everything is sandy, the island is just a massive pile of sand above the water, a hurricane would be quite destructive. mom, could you forward Alex's emails to me? thanks! It was great to hear from everyone, hopefully this next week goes great! If you send anything to me via mail it will take an ultra long time (1-3 months) because it has to go to Jamaica and then they send it out here and they just send it when pres graff comes and visits (like every 3-6 months) so it can take a very long time to get mail, just as a word of caution. Keep Santa Cruz in your prayers, that branch needs a lot of help. Once again hope things are great! enjoy school and work. I love you all and look forward to next weeks emails!

Elder B. Kent Talbert

Monday, March 8, 2010

This picture is of Kent, Elder Huffaker and Elder Tonks. They just got haircuts. This was actually from Elder Huffaker because Kent doesn't actually send pictures!

Gotta Eat to Live

Great to hear from you all again! I am glad that you found that picture mom haha, it was a really awkward picture to take, we were like 3 feet from the camera and their was a table behind us so we couldn't get farther from the camera. The rest of the pictures also worked great! question, did you ever get an envelope in the mail in the last few weeks with coinage in it? I sent it maybe 3 weeks ago....I don't remember if you ever mentioned getting it. I have sort of been questioning the reliability of the post office here in santa cruz. Postage went up this week, it now costs $120.00 to send a letter to the US haha. It looks as though the press conference went well. that is good.
This week was great! Not much of note really happened but none the less it was still good. On thursday we drove to mandeville and had interviews with pres. graff. That went over very well, I had an excellent interview. I also got a slight hint that maybe I will be transfered, but not positive yet, I won't know for sure till either later today or tomorrow, so you will just have to find out next week what really happens. While we were waiting for our turn for interviews we got to listen to a talk by elder holland given at the mtc last summer. It was really good, all about following the spirit in your teaching and what not.
This computer is really annoying, I am typing faster than it is showing up on the screen and it doesn't seem to remember if I push a button twice, I keep having to fix any word with repetative letters, like good.
Church yesterday went over very well, the branch is doing good. we had 24 people at church. The only slightly annoying part is that their have been no baptisms here in such a long time that everyone is in gospel doctines class and they don't have a gospel principles class so investigators are occasionally really confused. Thankfully the teacher is very good at making things understandable to even investigators, but none the less, occasionally their is a lesson that is just way over their heads.
I made a delicious pot of rice & peas this week, it lasted 4 days so that was good, rice is a pretty cheap food and isn't to bad at all. rice & peas is sort of a pinkish rice with red beans in it that for some reason are called peas. umm...well that is all I have to say on that haha
We have a few good investigators. We have this one lady, samantha, she is a single mother who just moved to santa cruz. She is doing well and hopefully she will be baptized before the end of the month. Yesterday we had the best lesson with a 7th day adventist that I have ever had. 7th days are some of the most hard hearted people in Jamaica and are very hard to baptize. The moment you start teaching them they begin asking you about the commandments and if you keep them and more importantly if you keep the sabbath day. But I managed to completely avoid the arguement and explain how I have no way to prove to her with the bible that the sabbath is sunday and taught a really good lesson on the restoration and the importance of having living prophets. she actually listened, unlike 95% of the 7th days I have met, and hopefully she will sit down and read what we left her in the BoM and pray to find out if it is true.
This week I ate something that looked similar to dirt. We showed up a a members house to ask him if he could come teaching and he was busy take dried corn and crushing it into a powder. we asked him what it was and he explained that it was crushed corn...we already understood that so we asked him how he ate it. he just added sugar and eats it as corn dust. it looks like dirt and tastes like corn puffs. sort of weird...but then again this member, khani, is one of the oddest people I have ever met haha.
So interesting thing about this new email, it is a lot easier to guess someones email address. The church assigned email addresses and it is the same pattern for everyone. just firstname.lastname@myldsmail.net.
Hmmm....what else do I have to say. Thanks for the update on all my missionary friends. I got a forward today of Ryan's email, it sounds like he is doing good. That is great that bryce enters this week, he must be excited...hopefully haha.
Preparation day should be relaxing. I woke up and managed to finish most my laundry this morning so I don't have much more to do. I have been reading the old testament in my free time now, (finished D&C and the pearl of great price this week). It is sort of amazing how much time you can find to read if you really want to. I made a bunch of rice one day and then everyday after that I just got a plate threw some rice on it, and maybe grabbed an orange or something else, then I just sat down and could read for an hour while eating my lunch. The old testament is good so far, I really like the book of Genesis.
Every friday night we have this thing called friday night activity with the branch. All the other branches I have been in did it but I never felt inclined to go. Now that I am in the branch presidency and I am the only one that can make it on fridays I sort of have to go. well normally they just play dominos and uno. but that is boring week after week, so this last friday we organized a gospel themed pictionary. It worked out really well, I think people liked it a lot and enjoyed something new. we had 2 teams, but for some reason everyone wanted to be on the same team. so it was Elder McClean and I and Khani vs. everyone else. We dominated, Khani always had the best pictures that made no sense, we could never guess his right haha for Jerusalem he drew three stick figures with beards. They were supposed to be jewish people living in jerusalem....I never quite connected all thos dots haha.
well time is running short. Things go great! This next week for santa cruz should begin to see huge improvement, we have a lot of really good potential. I hope that school and work goes well this week. sorry if this is sort of short, I lost 15 minutes due to a confused employee at this computer place. I love you all!!!
Elder B. Kent Talbert

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Strong as ten regular Men, Definitely

The week was very good. I am glad that all is going well Laura with all your different thingys. You got a new general manager? that is to bad, where did Andrew go? Heather, the only article of faith you can find at the circus is obviously the sixth, "we believe in the same organization that existed in the primitave church namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangalists and so forth". Sorry, but you won't get any pictures today, this computer has like stickers or something blocking the usb port....inconvienent. The new email is nice, it is more or less gmail, only no fancy features, on the positive side I have a huge mailbox size now, whereas before I had a small useless one.
Well on Wednesday we drove out to Sav and went on a trade off. I was with Elder Huffaker. He is a good man. One of the things we focus on a lot while on trade offs is commiting investigators to baptism. Frequently missionaries wait to long to commit someone so we show up and commit them to baptism. It was quite successful, Elder Huffaker and I commited 3 people for baptism and all of them accepted and still are progressing towards their dates. Also Elder Huffaker happened to have some hair clippers so I got a haircut at night time. I started off by giving it to myself and then elder huffaker finished it, he also did Elder Tonks hair. He took a picture afterwards that might show up in an email of his at some point, so you might want to watch his blog for that. It looks good, it is nice to have short hair again. I think their is still a longish spot on my left side, but oh well. Pres. Graff has a saying that goes a little like this "the only difference between a good hair cut and a bad hair cut is two weeks"
Also while in Sav we had a huge rain storm, probably one of the biggest storms I have ever experienced. Lightning struck every 1-2 seconds and wind was traveling fast. It was a lot of fun, it kept us up all night since it was ridiculously loud. Most roofs in Jamaica are made of concrete covered with zinc. rain pelting on zinc and then echoing into the house is loud and abnoxious.
Our week went well here in Santa Cruz, we had some really good lessons. Saturday was especially effective. We had a good amount of investigators commited for church, 8 or 9 and we were pretty confident that a good amount of them would come. But we were wrong on that one, not a single one came! AH! haha, so we had a great start to the week and then it all just crashed and collapsed. But we are working on it again and plan to have people at church next week. It is weird that we could go to sav and help them do really well and then come back to our own area and just have it go nowhere. We have 3 really good investigators who would all be baptized if they would just get married so that is a hinderance. Things go well on the teaching side, this next week should be really good.
In other news, the Negril Elders have someone scheduled for baptism this saturday, someone who elder stevens and I and later Elder Hillam and I taught. She is the granddaughter of one of the members who lives close to the church and she was just always very stubborn, but she is finally getting baptized! so that was good news.
The branch is doing well. I have now met every single member of the branch except for 6 people. and those 6 we have little or no information on them so it has been very tricky trying to find them. We don't really know where to go to find them. One of the biggest problems in Jamaica that I have found is that addresses don't really exist, in Kingston they do, but everywhere else it is just vague areas. When we ask people where they live we just get an area name and then we have to try and find their home. It would be like asking someone where we live and saying near the Timpanogos hospital and that was all the information you gave them. So it is a pain to find people, especially less actives that no one knows.
Church was good yesterday. Our sunday school teacher, Sis. Osbourne, does an excellent job teaching. She doesn't have much else going for her in life other than church so she just prepares for her lessons. The Branch here has 3 members that if they left the branch would struggle a ton and would be mostly run by missionaries. The Branch President, Pres. Durrant is a really good man and the only priesthood holder for the job. His family lives in the states, I think he would move to the states also if he didn' t feel that the branch needed him so badly, He has been branch president ever since he arrived. Sacrament meeting the missionaries spoke, not elder tonks and I but 2 other missionaries in Santa Cruz, so that was nice.
I should finish the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants this week. I read the Book of Mormon during studies and the Doctrine and Covenants during breakfast, lunch, dinner, night time. It has been really good. I don't remember if I mentioned this before but at Christmas pres. graff gave everyone a gift of a book of mormon. We were to read through it and mark the all the words of christ. he told us that at Easter he will reveal the next part of the study of that copy of the book of mormon. I am pretty much done at this point, 3rd nephi slowed me down a lot, it takes a long time to mark the words of christ in 3rd nephi, for obvious reasons. I had done the same thing at the start of my mission but it was nice to repeat the exercise. The book of mormon is filled with the words of christ.
Hmm....I don't know if I have that much more to say. The place I am sitting in just turned on the AC and it is really nice. Transfers are next week. I don't think I am getting transfered yet, still got one more to go here. As I look through the options for the email it makes me wish I had set up a bunch of filtering systems and auto organization things on my home email account, it is just going to be a huge mess after 2 years of emails just flooding it. It is also odd that at the start of my mission I always felt rushed to email and now I still have 20 minutes left and I feel that I have typed a whole bunch and don't know what else to say.
Today we woke up to no water and no power. that made for a dry morning, not much you can really do with out either of those when it comes to getting ready for the day. But eventually the water all came back and the power came back and all was well again. I bought fake potatos, that was a good idea, I have enjoyed eating mashed potatos, I bought things to make gravey also but everytime I get ready to make gravey it just sounds like to much work, so I just add butter and eat them plain haha. This week I think I will live off lots of rice, it sounds really good right now, and whatever sounds good on preparation day normally ends up being the food for the week.
Well life goes well, I think I will be done just rambling on now haha. This next week should be great, we have a lot of investigators who are ready and just need to actually commit to doing something! I hope that school/work is good this week. I love you all!
Elder Kent Talbert