Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Week #7 - Faith, Fish & Family

What up Fam!

Zone Conference - Elders Ostrowski, Palmer, Evans & Graham
This week has been slowly getting better. It started pretty good, but it ended awesome! On Tuesday we had zone conference in Kingston which was combined with Spanish Town so I got to see Elder Evans, Palmer, and Ostrowski and it was cool to see how great they were all doing. We heard from President Brown and the president of the Area Seventy for the Caribbean, Elder Martinez. We also got to see Meet the Mormons (again for me) which is basically the best documentary the church has ever made.

We need to clean our house before Wednesday. Pres Brown is coming to interview someone in the branch and he's gonna go proselyting with Stewart and Kuehn, also the AP's are doing a tradeoff with me and Fowkes tomorrow to "see how we are doing". I'm not worried. I know the area like the back of my hand now (even tho Mom probably knows it better than me because she googles Yallahs every day haha). Let it be noted that Mom takes exception to this. I have not Googled Yallahs… much.

I tried a lot of new food this week. Ackee and Saltfish tastes like scrambled eggs and fish together which was really good. Papaya is nasty haha I don't recommend that to anyone. The same guy that gave us the lobster gave us "doctor fish" this week. We haven't cooked it up quite yet but we plan on doing that soon. I think that's it for new food.

Ackee and Saltfish
Doctor Fish

On Wednesday we finally got Elder Fowke's bike back and functional again so we can now get around like we used to be able to. Walking for a week and a half really made me appreciate having a bike, BUT we were on foot for a reason because one night when we were walking home, we met a girl named Sashana who seemed interested. When we met with her for a lesson, she was with her neighbor/boyfriend/friend/guy/ whatever/not sure and his name is Kemoy. He told us that he loved how we approached everything and how the Mormons were all about the basics and fundamentals and stuff. He also said that if everyone was Mormon, the world would be a better place haha so we will see how that plays out! So what I learned from walking was that a tender mercy is usually the result of a trial. HOWEVER, it is nice to be back on bikes.

On Saturday we were talking to some of our favorite people when we were at our friend Paul's shop, Patricia (Paul's girlfriend, not members or investigators) and their friend, Keisha who we are teaching.
We made a book for Cody to take and remind him
he was loved and to showcase every
embarassing photo of us...
surprised this girl wasn't terrified!
They saw my family picture which fell out of my scriptures the day before and told us to bring more pictures next time so I brought my book full ofpictures. Every picture she saw she would say how much fun my family has and how awesome we all look. She especially wants to meet Lindsay because, "She looks like a ball full of fun and she's gorgeous" (I wish I could type Patois but I can still barely understand it) So Lindsay, don't go getting all prideful, but there is someone in Yallahs who would like to meet you haha. Showing them pictures was really good for our lesson with Keisha. It's rare to see a family here with a mother and father who are married so we related the gospel to eternal families and Keisha really liked that.

I never realized how big my area was. It's actually pretty much the whole parish of St Thomas so it technically goes all the way to the southeast coast. No point in going over there because our church building is three hours away from that so no one would ever commit to go from that far away.

The way the sun was setting behind the clouds looked way sweet!
That's pretty much it for this week. I think I'm going to buy a set of Jamaican Domino and send it home so I can teach you all how to play when I get back. It is way fun! Anyway, love and miss you guys!

Until next week!


Elder Graham 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Week #6 - They See Me Rollin'... They Hatin'

What up Fam!

This week has been a little difficult because Elder Fowkes' bike has been broken since last Monday. He let a member borrow it (his name is Alwayne and he's 18) and apparently someone crashed into him and broke 4 spokes on the back rim and put it out of alignment. I wish I would've learned more about bikes and how to fix them before I came out.

On Tuesday, Elder Kuehn (sounds like Keen) came from Mo Bay. He is from Utah and is hilarious! He's been out for eight months. So we're no longer in a trio which is a great thing. Hopefully we can get back on track in our area.

On Fridays we have Friday night activity at the church for members and nonmembers

(mostly for investigators) and every week we do a different eating contest. Last week was cream crackers (basically saltines and Ritz mixed together) and this week we did a Ginger Beer drinking contest. It was crazy. I'm not a big fan of the ginger spice that runs down your throat but ginger is pretty popular in a lot of drinks out here. I took video of it so hopefully I can send it. Next week maybe?

Saturday something interesting happened. I think I said before how Jamaica is making me not like dogs because they look nasty out here and they are savage beasts. Well Elder Fowkes and I borrowed the other elders'

Probably not the attack dog, but appropriate nonetheless!
bikes and rode up to Alwayne's house to check on Elder Fowkes' bike. As we were riding, a dog darted out of a yard and was running with Fowkes and trying to bite his leg and stuff. Never seen a stray dog this aggressive, so I thought if I sped up and got closer to them, the dog would just run away. I was wrong, instead the dog saw me coming and tried to stop and turn on me. Worst mistake of his life. I couldn't stop or move out of the way so instead I barreled right over the dog. I flew off the front of my bike and the dog got smooshed underneath my bike for a second before it scurried away like a little punk. I got just a little scratched up (lucky me) and I heard Elder Fowkes say "that was so awesome." It was probably the craziest thing that has happened to me so far haha.

Garth (an investigator) came to church yesterday which was awesome! He is really cool and down to earth.

Is milk was as expensive as we had heard?  Yes it is and they sell a liter of milk for the same price they would for a gallon in the states.. so dumb but whatevs. I'm learning how to deal without it.  Quite the sacrifice, since cold cereal was a major food group to Cody while growing up!

My favorite fruit so far has been Jamaican Apples (not the same as star apples), then Julie Mangos and then the 10 or 11 other kinds of mangos after that.
Jamaican Apple
Julie Mango

I tried jackfruit on Saturday and it kinda tastes like banana and celery and rubber. Not great, not terrible.


Thats crazy that Dad got released! Dad was released as second counselor in the bishopric last Sunday. I wasn't expecting Bishop Peterson, although I could've guessed Brother Oberg (shout out to Bro Oberg, Cody's Scoutmaster extraordinaire).

Do we really send paper mail to the mission office, and how do you get it?  We have zone conference tomorrow so I'll see the office elders/ZL's who will give me mail if they have it. I DID learn that if you wanted to send mail that you could pay the weight fee so I don't have to. You're supposed to send mail to the office so it doesn't get mixed up or lost.

That's all for this week - Love and miss you all!

Elder Graham

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week #5 - Don't Let Your Chicken Foot Walk a Mile in My Shoes & A Baptism!

What up Fam!

I can't email for very long today because I've been in Kingston at the doctor getting some athlete's foot cream. It looks disgusting on my feet but doesn't hurt at all. Dr. Sinclair isn't worried and I'm not worried so you don't need to worry (I think we’ve established that no one is worried here… even Mom!). Also since we're in Kingston, we HAVE to play ball because there are no good courts in Yallahs.

The baptism was awesome. I got some great pictures. Elder Stewart baptized her and Elder Fowkes and I witnessed.
Elder Stewart, Tamera, Elder Graham, Elder Fowkes

Tamara's house has pretty much become our home base. Her mom always makes us dang good food and her sister is way chill. Hopefully she starts taking the lessons soon.

Elder Banton went home on Friday, not sure exactly why. So Stewart and Fowkes and myself are now in a trio until they get a replacement out here. Yes, that means covering two areas.

Nothing like chicken foot and mashed potatoes.  Sooooo good!
That's all the time I have for now. I will make up for it next week!


Elder Graham

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week #4 - Keanu and Curry and Rastas, Oh My!

This week has been pretty crazy!

One thing I forgot to mention last week was a homeless guy named Reggie loves the missionaries and always gives them nicknames based on actors. Elder Fowkes is Paul Walker and apparently I am now Keanu Reaves? Can't say I know exactly what he looks like but I'll take what I can get out here (I DO know he's in the Matrix movies).

See the resemblance?  Hmmmm....
Every Sunday, Sister Meadow (from the branch) feeds us dinner and holy crud she puts SOOO much food on our plates, but I've been destroying them which is good. Last week was stew peas and yesterday was brown stew chicken. Everyone says they're really different from each other but it is all just rice, peas and chicken to me so it all tastes the same, but I like it all! I also tried Elder Banton's curry goat on Wednesday which was pretty good but it smelled horrid.

So I'll let you look up what this stuff is but I think the greatest inventions Jamaica has so far are Bulla and bag juice. Soooooooo dang good and really cheap. I also love Jamaican Kola, I don't know how to describe it but it's just Jamaican soda and its way good.

Bag Juice
On Tuesday, we were biking back home when we saw a guy flagging us down. His first question was "Do you keep the Sabbath Day holy?" So yeah we got ambushed by a Seventh Day Adventist but it was fine, Elder Fowkes is really good at being bold and honest with people while also being respectful. Not quite sure how he knew where we were going to be, when we were going to be there or how long he waited for us but anyway, bless his heart.

Elder Fowkes, (left) Elder Stewart (middle,
he is our branch president) and I with our lobster feast
On Wednesday, this AWESOME guy we know, Alton (sea fisherman) gave us probably $50 worth of lobster for free and so we feasted that night!

On Friday night, I bought some jerked chicken that must have been way undercooked but I didn't see because it was dark.....I wasn't feeling good Friday night and Saturday so (being the genius that I am) I took some pills to try to get better asap and I might have taken too many at once sooooo yeah haha. I think I got a little dehydrated. So I was getting up from closing prayer of our comp study and my ears plugged and my vision got really dark and cloudy and so I stumbled to my bed and just layed there until my head stopped spinning. I tried to get up but I was still dizzy so Fowkes told me to just stay down...I felt bad for screwing up the day but he understood.. 3 hours later I was able to move around without passing out so we went out and finished the day's appointments like nothing ever happened and I've been great since then. Just a minor speed bump hahaha but no biggy.

Our church building (usually along with the goats
who do our landscapting for us)

Sunday was way cool! I gave a talk on the Priesthood, then some guy walked into church and after talking, we found out he's an elder's quorum president in New Jersey but he is visiting family down here. He took us to his aunts house where we taught her and she seemed pretty interested. He is WAY excited that he introduced her to us. After that, we went and taught another lesson to these two ladies, Marvia and "T West" (that's all we know her as). Turns out, from the last time we saw them to this, Marv read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon...she read it in a week?!?!?!?!? how crazy is that! We will see what comes of that, she didn't pray about it at all but she said she would this week.

Oh also, we played Jamaican Domino with some super old rastas (Apparently one of them is a reggae artist and just got back from tour in Belgium?? You do you, rasta mon). But we got their info and gave them some pamphlets so that is pretty cool haha.

So for Tamara's baptism on Saturday (March 14) Elder Fowkes will baptize her but I get to witness which means I'll be getting in the ocean as well!! Elder Fowkes is awesome. We get along great and have a ton in common. Like I said, he is really bold when teaching and I admire that about him. He's a dang good trainer and this companionship was definitely inspired.

The pictures that Anakay sent you were just pics of us talking after church. Explanation: I received a friend request on Facebook from Anakay, a lady in Cody’s branch. She posted a bunch of pictures of the elders after church – it was fun to see candids of them! 

Our branch has about 35 active members and maybe 60 total members so we work a lot with less active members throughout the week.

My bike is not great but not terrible either. It works. And no I am not sun burnt, and never did get sun burnt so that is good.

That's all for this week. Until next time. One love!

Elder Graham

"One Love" is Jamaica's motto/slogan, just so you don't think I'm turning too hardcore of a rasta, I just like to talk to them, that's all. I don't even accept the weed they offer so I'm staying obedient!

Our house
Bucket shower (when the water stops running)
Embracing the stereotype Step 1:  Wata
View of Yallahs Pond with the ocean behind it from a recent convert's house
The awesome view from a part of our area

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week #3 - Holla for Yallahs!


Jamaica is so freaking cool and the people are awesome!

When we first saw President Brown outside the airport we thought he was one of the missionaries! haha He is THE MAN. He told me in our interview that he sees something really special in me and told me to be ready for early leadership... I guess I’m still on the path hahaha. Honestly though, leadership is cool and all but I’m not all that excited for it. But YOLO...

We spent the first night at the AP's house in Kingston, then went to transfers in Spanish Town. I am in Yallahs east with my trainer, Elder Fowkes from Gilbert, AZ. He is so cool, and he knows his stuff. I’ve already learned a ton from teaching with him!

So on Thursday, I taught my first actual lesson to a girl named Tamara. She's 19 and has been meeting with the missionaries since January. She is our top investigator and really the only one that has progressed at all. Anyway, I extended a baptism date of March 14 and she said YES! It was sooo awesome and a huge confidence booster!

Yallahs is so cool. It is on the south side of Jamaica in the "bush" which just means the sticks. It is one of like three areas that can baptize in the OCEAN so that will be awesome!! It’s really humid here but in Yallahs, its super windy so we get the nice ocean breeze pretty often and that is so nice.

Every building in Jamaica is made out of cement and all buildings have gates/bars over doors and windows. Our house is no different. Since we don’t have AC (just fans) we just leave everything open and close the door gate with a padlock. Probably half of our electrical circuits are shorted out or not working and our water shuts off randomly sometimes, which means for some days we have to do... dum dada DUMMMM! BUCKET SHOWERS!! yayyyyyy. They’re really not bad though. There’s only one temperature that the water is anyway and it’s not too warm not too cold, even water from the kitchen sink (but don’t worry we have a filter on the kitchen sink so no one dies or anything crazy like that). I like cold showers here though, they are refreshing.

We live with another set of elders that cover the west and north side of Yallahs: Elder Stewart (our branch president as well) and Elder Banton (Jamaican, soooooo funny...also our branch clerk).

As you can see, things are great here in Yallahs. Though it’s a little 3rd worldy, (even though some people manage to get androids and BMW's) it’s a TON of fun and I’m excited to continue the work here, it is moving!!! I’ve seen some cool things, some weird things, some funny things and also disgusting things here so far and I love every minute of it!

One weird thing is that dogs and GOATS just roam the streets and coexist with people here haha it’s odd but I’m used to it now. Plus, goats make a great lawn care service for our church building... ;)

Also, apparently the work in Yallahs is the best in the entire mission so we have a rep to keep up.

Going off island might not happen because there’s only one set of elders out there and three sets of sisters, but that doesn’t bother me too much, I’m fine with Jamaica!!!

We’re about to go into Kingston (hour drive) to play ball with Elder Evans and his comp... and to pick up glasses for Elder Stewart, so until next week!


Elder Graham

Pictures to come NEXT week, I don’t have a usb adapter for my SD card so no pics... I gotta keep you wanting more SOMEHOW right??