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