Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don't fail me again, Admiral


Well it hasn't really been to many days since I last emailed, but then again the last email was cut very short by an unexpected meeting. Life has been good. School has started once again in Jamaica, as it has back home, so that is good...although it doesn't really affect me. The chair I am sitting in now is really uncomfortable, so that is not so nice, but then again it will keep me awake.
So to answer a few questions. Hopefully I didn't forget to many of them. E. Tanner has been in the office as an assistant for eternity and his mission was finally over, so I replaced him. He is now back in Utah, which is too bad, he was a lot of fun. I am serving in a different branch in Kingston, their are 3 branches in Kingston. The Office Elders are in the Kingston branch whereas the Assistants are in the Constant Springs Branch. It isn't very effective with so few missionaries in the mission to put 4 missionaries who all teach for very little into the same branch, so instead they put the office elders in one branch along with a random companionship and then the assistants in another branch along with the zone leaders of Kingston. I get about as much teaching time as I did when I was an Office Elder, sometimes I might even get a bit less with a lot of the random things that we are in charge of doing. Elder Anderson's visit last week was good, it was largely about staying strong in the gospel even when life is really hard, sort of like it is for many of the members in T&C. It was good, I really and truely don't remember much of it, it was just something that happened a week and a half ago, I can mostly only remember the piano playing, but none the less it was good. I will attach a picture of that today

This week has been good. We haven't had a ton to do, but we have kept ourselves busy enough. the First Presidency about 2 months ago issued some new training for missionaries that I missed because of my location. Well next week we are having a big 3 day conference where we are training all the missionaries on this new material. The fun part about it is that E. Mcgrath and I are in charge of presenting the material, which is just fine and dandy except for that I don't know the material. We spent this week going through all the material and preparing for that this week, so that was fun enough. It wasn't really anything horribly new, but I do like the direction that the first presidency is trying to take missionary work. It is a larger focus on helping investigators learn how to receive personal revelation from prayer, scripture study and church attendance. the idea behind it all is to help create a stronger link between the investigator and our Heavenly Father then between the missionaries and the investigators, that way when the missionaries leave the converts don't leave the church with them, which seems to be a common problem. really good training and I look forward to going through it again this week.

We get about 4 hours of teaching a day, sort of varries on what is going on. We have some really great investigators right now. We have these couple, Jodi and Shabba that are living together but are not married, so we have been working on getting them married. Yesterday night they decided that they want to be married at the end of September so that is really great! They are really nice people. We also have this girl, Akeilah, she is one of the smartest investigators that I have ever met. She wants to get baptized, but wants to wait till the end of September, so we are going to run out of things to teach. She will probably have The Book of Mormon finished before she is baptized, she is plowing right though it. She is really cool, I enjoy going over and teaching her. There is this new senior couple, the Flakes, they just got here like 3 weeks ago. Well they are in our branch and we invited them to come out teaching with us from time to time, so this week they have come out with us twice! It has been really good. Especially with Jodi and Shabba. the Flakes are really able to help them see how marriage is a good thing. It is one thing to have two 20 year old single men telling a couple to get married and that it will be good for them, but it is better when a couple who has been married for 44 years tells how that has been a blessing in their lives. The Flakes have been great so far.
Alright, I am attaching 2 photos.
One is of the T&C branch at the fireside, some people are missing, but a majority of the people we got into the photo. I am in the back right by E. McGrath, the really tall people.

The Second is of me and Miguel and Yessenia, probably one of my favorite photos from my mission. I would send you something from here in Kingston, but I actually have been sort of lazy and haven't taken a single picture since I got back to Kingston. Oh yea, I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but I am living in the same house that I lived in when I was an Office Elder. It is nice, If I stay here till the end of my mission I will have lived in that house for 9/17 transfers of my mission, more than half!

Anyways, in response to your testimony questions dad. I don't really know when I knew I had a testimony before my mission. I just sort of always knew. It was pretty much either this church or no church. I don't really recall any particular time where I just gained a testimony like that. I think it just came from growing up in the church. I grew up in a home where the gospel was lived and as such I always saw the blessings of living the gospel. It was just sort of always there, I don't really have a very good answer to that question, sorry! I knew I needed to serve a mission because it was the right thing to do. I had been taught that I was growing up and I knew that it was important. ummm...hmmm...I wish I had a better response. My mission has influenced my testimony in that before my testimony was that of yea I know it is true and all and that is great. but now it is more of I know that it is true and as such I am going to do something about that. I have come to see more that the church is a church of action, just passively believing doesn't really get you anywhere in life, it requires service, it requires going out and magnifying your calling, it requires living the gospel all day everyday. That is probably the biggest influence in my testimony from my mission, I see the importance of actually acting on that which you know. My testimony has also been strengthened greatly as I have gone out and acted on that which I know. The more I live the gospel the more I can feel the spirit in my life and the stronger my testimony is. If I could go back in time I think the biggest thing I would change would be my study habits. I was a really lazy scripture studier before my mission. Sure I had read The Book of Mormon all the way through, but I really hadn't studied like I wish I would have, I wish I had known the scriptures a lot better before my mission, for two main reasons. First off because it helps a ton in missionary work to know your scriptures, and second the more I read the scriptures the more I learn and the more converted I become to living the gospel of Jesus Christ. If someone will take the time to read the scriptures everyday for a decent amount of time, and say their prayers and attended their sunday meetings, they will more likely than not be doing everything else correctly to. Well hopefully that was somewhat what you were looking for dad.

Things are going well here. I am running short on time. We have some great investigators. My companion is great, I love serving with E. McGrath. Things are a bit crazier and busier, but it is nice, I like not really having any down time, I like being up and everywhere. Pres. Hendricks is a great leader, I am excited to be around him a lot for these last few transfers of my mission. I hope that everything goes great this week, enjoy work and enjoy school! good luck. I love you all and look forward to next week!

Elder B. Kent Talbert

At Dawn, look to the East

Letter from Aug 24

Well a lot has happened this week. First off you are probably wondering why you didn't get an email from me yesterday....well it was just really really busy and I actually was just going to wait till next week to email you all and what not but I decided instead I should try and squeeze in a bit of time today to at least let you know that I am still alive and that a giant talking banana has not eaten me. This week was great! much random things have happened that I can barely think about it all, I don't have much time so I will quickly mention the highlights and hopefully get to the rest some other day.

First off we had Wednesday! Amazing! We had Elder Anderson of the 70 come and visit us, which is fun in the Turks because there are only 4 of us so we just got to hang out for a whole day. Anyways he gave us some instruction, we ate dinner, and then had a fireside. The fireside was great! Pres. Hendricks and his wife spoke, and so did Elder Anderson and his wife. We had 120 people in attendance, that is really good since a year and a half ago there was only like 10 members. Well for the fireside we had a special musical number with the YW and I was the pianist. Well I have practiced this song a billion times (How Shall I Live) and I could play it nearly perfectly. But I was worried that in front of such a large group I would get nervous and fail. Well I have been playing in sacrament meeting for eternity now and I am used to it and it doesn't bug me, but this time I had a member of the 70, and my mission president, and the assistants which are me peers and I was sort of nervous and worried that this was going to be bad. So finally the time came for the musical number and it came out almost perfectly! I made a few very minor errors but I was more or less able to keep all my nerves in control! I am quite happy about that, I have always struggled playing the piano for groups of people, but I am finally getting to the point where I can play in front of anyone and do nearly as good as when I am just by myself. I am still more prone to make mistakes in groups, but they are very minor and don't bother me, I don't have any sort of shaking problem with it anymore like what seemed to be common before.

Anyways, so that was great. Next on the way home from the Fireside we were with the assistants and they needed to go see Pres. Hendricks real fast as his resort so we drove there. then they went and talked to him, then he wanted me to come in and talk to him. Well I had been slightly preparing myself for what he was going to say because I had a very strong guess. He told me that I was going to be leaving the island. well I had thought that, I didn't really want to leave, but I had had a feeling for the last few days that I was going to leave. He told me that I was going to leave on Saturday (3 days ago) then he said what was a slight surprise, I was returning to Kingston to serve with Elder McGrath. I was going to be replacing Elder Tanner. So that was interesting.

So Thursday and Friday I said goodbye to the Chalas family, wow I miss them already! haha, They are one of my favorite families from my mission. Anyways, so then on Saturday I flew out. Then things have just been crazy. I am going to have to be really fast here, Pres. Hendricks just showed up and we have a meeting with him in 30 seconds so I don't really have time to say what I was going to say. Things are awesome here! I am sort of lost haha I don't know any of the missionaries these days. Life is really busy but I like it that way. My preparation day is Saturday again so make sure to email me on friday night or something like that. It is cool to be back in the office again, only this time on the other side of things. The Cheesmans are doing great so that is awesome! I am doing well, I have eaten very well the last few days. I will talk to you all again on Saturday. I will definitely miss the Turks, I love that branch there and the people there, but I look forward to the challenges ahead. You're welcome mom for all that stuff last week. Thank you, I love you!

Elder B. Kent Talbert

ROUS? I don't think they exist

Letter dated Aug 16

Well this week was good. Had a lot of random crazy things happen, but it was good, we had a lot of fun. First off immigration has been the biggest trouble maker this week that I have ever seen. Everyone was running everywhere. The big scare was Thursday night. At the church we teach english class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7pm well we normally get a good turn out, about 40, and all are illegal. So we are just doing the normal thing, in english class and then out of nowhere we look out the windows and see about 75 immigration officers outside of the church. Well this freaked everyone out, but we just kept everyone inside and put them away from the windows, immigration won't come into a building unless they have high guesses that illegals are inside, so we wanted to ensure that immigration couldn't come in. Well we turned off the lights and locked the doors and just pretended that no one was there. Things were all good, E. Herbert was downstairs in the office and kept calling me upstairs telling me what the current situation was, He was acting as our decoy in the office. Well in the end E. Herbert saved the day, immigration came to him and had him open the doors and somehow he was able to convince them to only search the womens bathroom...there was no one in there. Well after nearly 2 hours immigration left and everyone was okay. It was a lot more crazy, but I am sort of lazy and don't want to waste all my email time explaining it all in detail.

This week we have a general authority coming to visit the island, so we had a branch activity on saturday of super cleaning the church and making it look nice, it was a lot of fun! and things look pretty good now, we could still use another cleaning day to get it looking really nice, but we have made great progress. The meeting should be good this week, but I will tell you more about that next week.

Well mom, in response to your question on living within your means and still being happy. Ironically this week I have thought a lot about that as I have been around the Chalas family and watched them. On a quick side note here, the Chalas family is quite wealthy compared to those around them, they have a family of 6 and probably a yearly income of close to $35,000 USD a year and live quite happily. They are building a new house for the family to move into that looks quite nice, definitely nothing compared to US standards, but still very nice. Well in the new house they are going to have a water heater. I was looking through the house and the 14 year old daughter asked me what it was when she saw it and I mentioned that it was a water heater and explained its purpose. The house will have hot water! So funny thing about it though was that when I was done explaining it none of the kids looked excited, they were confused why they would even want hot water, they have grown up only using cold water and can't figure out what is so great about hot water haha They said it is already hot outside so why would they want to use hot water for anything.

Anyways, so living frugally. That is a skill that the people here have. I think a big part is getting rid of all the stuff we think we need, we can save a lot of money if we realize how many things we have that really aren't necessary. The people here are happy, none of them have cable, none of them own cars, mp3 players are unheard of, texting on the phone is an unknown concept, etc. The people have all seen these things but they don't have the money for them so they just go without. One of the biggest things I have noticed, amoungst all the people, but especially the Chalas family is that of sharing. They share everything, I think that brings about 2 effects, first it makes it so they save money, everyone shares everything they own in a family, if someone owns something well really it is sort of owned by everyone in the family, why does everyone in the family need an mp3 player when you can just have one and share it. They are very unselfish, they are willing to share what ever they have. second benefit is that I think it really strenghthens the family when they freely share what they have with one another. Another thing I have noticed is that they eat cheaply. Food can get expensive. They never go out to eat, that is also unheard of. Next they eat the same things all the time. About 6 out of 7 days in a week they eat rice and chicken. They save a lot of money by just accepting something simple and cheap. They don't bother with all the fancy food. Ramen for lunch, rice for dinner and all is well. A lot of people also try to grow their own food and save money. Something else is being willing to walk. Gas is expensive, and it is probably good for your health to have to walk a mile or two. Walking isn't too bad at all. Now how they stay happy in all this....hmm.... well I have talked to the Chalas family about this and it just comes especially with just a feeling of gratitude, they are very thankful for everything that they have. They don't complain, complaining will only bring depression and hard feelings and make you not as happy. Just be thankful for what you do have and keep trying.

On a side note, One of the common things that we get a little bit of a chuckle about is you can always tell who someone is, from far away by what they are wearing. Most of the members only own maybe 7 shirts and 3 pairs of pants, so you just learn what everyone owns and so you can tell who it is by what clothes they have on, even when they are in the far distance.
Same with I think the Chalas family only owns 4 or 5 plates. It always seems that when they eat dinner only part of the family eats, then the dishes are washed and then the next half of the family eats, that is just how it goes. In the end everyone gets fed and everyone is happy.
Entertainment is another thing to, going to the movies is unheard of, too expensive, same with most other types of entertainment that we are use to. A lot of the people for entertainment love to play board games, even if it is the same one over and over. Also a lot of people just do random things with their spare time, they do art, or go and play some sports, many of the adults will just sit around and talk. It is possible to find entertainment for free, I have had a lot of fun on my mission and it never came from spending money.

Hmm...well those weren't the most organized thoughts, but maybe you got something out of it all mom, and maybe you can use some of it for your Relief Society lesson or something. I think the big things are be willing to sacrifice, a lot of things that we think are essential really aren't, if you have water and power and shelter and some food you are doing better than vast parts of the world. Just be thankful for what you have, don't complain. Work together with your family and those around you, you can save a lot of money by just sharing. Find cheap entertainment, do something with your time that is free. Well hopefully that was useful.

Anyways, things are great here. The week was good. We have some good investigators that are doing well. I am having a great time. time is running short. Good luck this week, hopefully everything is going great back home. If you have anymore questions about that mom or if you want me to try and reorganize it a bit better I can give it a go. I was going to attach some pictures, but I am feeling really lazy and I am short on time, so next week! Transfers are coming. I really don't want to be transfered, but I could see it happening. Anyways, I love you all and look forward to next week!

Elder B. Kent Talbert

Friday, August 13, 2010

No Subject

(No letter from Brad meant no movie to quote)
Well another good week gone by. Thanks for the emails, although I didn't get one from Dad, I will just blame it on an evil oven mit. Sounds like things are going well back home. Hmm.... Where to begin.... Not much really happened this week that was to much out of the ordinary. This week immigration has been out in full force chasing everyone around, so that has been sort of crazy. Funny story about immigration, It all started on Wednesday. I was on splits and I was teaching some lady named Imacula with Ruben helping me out. And then someone said that immigration was coming, so all the Haitians ran. Ruben, he is illegal, and so he left and Imacula, she is illegal, she left and so I just went outside and figured I would just sit there and wait it all out as normal. Well then out of no where Michala Chalas (the 6 year old daugther) started freaking out and yelling at me to get inside because immigration was coming and she was very worried that immigration was going to get me or some member of her family (her entire family is legal residents) so I went inside and just hung out with the Chalas family until everything outside calmed down. I don't know why I found it so funny. Something about Michala freaking out about immigration when no one was in any danger made me laugh. Immigration would never give me any problems because of my skin color, they don't talk to lighter skinned people, even if I was illegal I would be just fine, I look too much like a tourist.

On a similar note of immigration they have banned taxis. So now no one can get anywhere. I am sort of baffled at this. The economy is terrible here and they just destroyed 200 jobs by getting rid of the taxis and those that do have work can't get to work because they don't have a way to get to work. Well this makes it really annoying to get anywhere for us too. We live an hour away from the church (walking) and so now without our bikes which have been retired, and without a car we just get to walk. Good exercise, but really annoying. Church attendence was really bad yesterday because no one could get to church without the taxis. I can't understand the logic behind the no taxi thing, I don't even see how it will help them catch all the illegal Haitians, it seems more like it is just going to annoy every person on this island, many of the legal people on the island taxi everywhere. And when school starts at the end of the month a vast majority of the students taxi to school and now there is no taxi.... I sort of expect all the taxis to return in a week or so after everyone complains about it.

The Ockeys visited this weekend so that was fun, it is always fun when they come visit. Pres. Ockey gave us some new training and we had some good dinners. A nice visit. Well on a similar note of food, the Chalas family grandmother runs like a shop thingy where people come and buy stuff. Everyday Sister Chalas when she comes back from work always brings a pickup truck full of stuff to fill the shop with, and everyday I get left with the job of carrying all the food inside the shop, but I don't really mind. Anyways, Sister Chalas is a cook for one of the restaurants and always brings home pizza everyday that she just gets from work and this week after I finish carrying all their groceries they give me some pizza, so that has been good, it is nice pizza, I like it.

Hmm...somehow I ran out of time unusually fast today, that was weird, I got distracted from a conversation going on, oh well. My eyes have still been having this really weird problem where when I put in my contacts 2 days later my eyes are flaming red and then I wear my glasses until the red leaves a few days later then I do it again. I have tried everything to solve this problem and nothing works. Well I had started to wonder if maybe it is just that my eyes have changed and so my prescription isn't for my eyes and so my contacts have been irritating my eyes. anyways, I tried one last thing this week of just buying new solution. It worked just fine, I haven't had the problem since then. Which is really weird because I have been using the same brand of solution for quite some time and the problem didn't develop until about 2 months ago. Weird, but problem solved for now...if it comes back again I will probably just resort to wearing my glasses until the end of my mission and worry about it when I get home.

The work is going good. We don't really have much of great investigators. Immigration picked up some of our better investigators, so that was unfortunate. We have this one Jamaican we have been teaching who is really cool, but she works on Sundays very often so it is hard for her to come to church. It is always fun to teach Jamaicans, they are always surprised by our knowledge of Jamaica and I just love the culture of the Jamaican people. Ruben is an all star, he has been out trying to find new people for us to teach. I want to try and work with his father this week. His father was against him getting baptized, and hasn't really been interested, but this week his heart has softened quite a bit from some random things that have happened and I have been trying to help him out as often as I can through service and what not and I think he is about ready to sit down and actually listen to our message.

Life is great here, I am doing excellent. My health is great, the work is progressing quite well. The Chalas family is awesome, I have been working on them for a while with tithing and yesterday they finally payed tithing for the first time ever!!! So that was really exciting, Miguel said that he is going to put the yellow slip in his journal to remember the first time his family payed tithing. They were really excited to pay it too haha it was great, I was so proud of them! I am out of time, but things are good. I hope that this next week is great for all of you, I will make sure to get some good pictures next week. Thanks for the emails again, good luck, keep being awesome!

Elder B. Kent Talbert

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

And I thought they smelled bad on the outside


Well sounds like things are going well back home. This week was good. The weather has been nice. Funny instance this week, I was sitting in the back of someones' car just sitting there waiting for someone else to climb in and I was thinking, wow, it is a very nice night, very cool. Well then I looked at the thermometer and realized it was 90 degrees outside, I have gotten a bit to use to the temperature here, I didn't think I ever would.

Ruben got baptized this week! At the start of my mission at the MTC I set a goal to have 24 baptisms on my mission, on Saturday Ruben was my 24th baptism! He is going to make an amazing convert. He is one of my favorite converts, it is hard for me to decide an all time favorite, I love all my converts, but Ruben is special. He really is my convert, I have mostly taught him alone everytime I have taught him over the last 5 months I have been on splits with my companion. I have taught him everyday for 5 months and slowly pushed through all his concerns. He also knows a ridiculous amount about the church, after about 2 weeks I had taught him everything the missionaries teach and so I just kept teaching him different things until now he knows a lot. Anyways, the baptism was awesome, Ruben is awesome, he is very happy and he is doing great! I will attach a picture here of the baptism. I am not really sure what we were all looking at...we sort of failed to look at the camera, but so it goes.

Well every Tuesday and Thursday we have english school, and so I leave Kingstown and walk to the church with Ruben, and Miguel and Kenyel and anyone else that wants to come. On Thursday we were walking and for some reason or another Star Wars was brought up. There is this Star Wars Cartoon on TV that the kids watch. Well turns out no one besides myself had ever heard of Star Wars the movies, they all thought that the TV show was all that ever existed! Since then Miguel has been asking me all about the Star Wars movies and now he really wants to see them! I didn't think any 10 year old boy had never seen star wars. Oh, I will attach a picture of us walking to english class, Sis. Herbert spotted us and took our picture.

Hmm....what else happened this week. We have a ton of great potential investigators, just need to get them to do more than just come to church. They are willing to come to church but that is about the end of their commitment keeping, we really need them to be reading. Ruben has been giving us a ton of referrals so that is great, makes finding new investigators a lot easier.

I don't remember if I already told you this, hopefully I am not repeating myself. But everyday we walk to Kingstown and teach, it sort of our teaching area these days until we can't get anymore work done there and give it a break. So Everyday we walk into the yard (a yard here is deemed a group of houses, a house normally consists of one room made of wood with a total area of 50 sq ft, in a yard there can be anywhere from 10-100 houses all poorly constructed leaning on one another, a hurricane would rip them all out) anyways, so we walk into the yard everyday and it seems like within 20 seconds Kenyel and Michala find us, they have some strange missionary sensor, they just appear out of nowhere. They then just follow us around all day and sit in all our lessons. It always makes me laugh with how fast they appear and how they just follow us around. The other day Kenyel (he is sort of a monster) had found a baby bird that he was carrying around. The bird just sat in his hand or sat on his shoulder, it was strange but funny.

Hmmm....What else.....Things are going well here, life is good, we have a good teaching pool, the branch is doing great, Elder Packard and I get along just fine. I sort of wonder if I will get transfered on August 25, I would rather not, but if I do at least I feel that I will have left the branch stronger than it was. Elder Packard has had all these random health concerns this week, so that has been slightly funny. Ughhh...yup, that is pretty much the week. I was just looking through photos to see if I had anymore to really attach, but I don't.
Well time is up. Things are great here, I am healthy and well, life is good. I hope this next week is great and all goes well back home. I love you all!

Elder B. Kent Talbert