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