Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week #11 - Blessings of Faith and Stiff Necked Turkeys

What up Fam,

This week was awesome!! A lot of things happened.

Last Monday, I was starting personal study and asked in a prayer how I can help investigators gain faith. I was reading in the Book of Mormon and got to Alma 32 which talks about planting a seed and nourishing it and partaking of its fruit (a huge analogy which explains EXACTLY how to gain faith). That was a blatant answer to prayer it was great!

Tuesday we went to Tamara's to have a lesson. At the end, she told us she was going through a bit of a hard time and wanted a blessing from us. When we asked who she wanted to give it, she pointed at me. I usually don't get nervous for giving blessings but for some reason my heart was pounding out of my chest. I had no clue what she was going through, just that she was going through a hard time. So I just started talking. I basically centered it on avoiding temptation because that was the only thing coming to mind. Afterward, she told us that that was exactly what she needed. I was starstruck. I've never felt so much direction from the Spirit before then so that was an awesome experience. Tamara has great faith and an awesome testimony. 

On Wednesday, the zone leaders came to Yallahs and did a little trade off with us. Elder Rammell and I took the truck all the way out to Pondside so he could interview Ashanie for baptism. It was kind of nice having a truck but I don't know if I would like to have one permanently because it would be hard to meet people on the street.

Anyway, our teaching pool is getting a bit small, so we took some time on Thursday to walk around and just talk to people. We met a guy named Peter who was great. When we asked when a good time for us to come back to talk with us some more, he told us that he wasn't interested because he was already in a church from birth, but he wants to just talk religion with us. Got our hopes up and then crushed our dreams but no big deal. Thursday night was pretty weird. First, there was like a 20-minute power outage at like 2 am. Then later in the night, we kept hearing stuff falling down in the house. So we checked, and a cat had weaseled its way in the house and was getting into our trash. Super odd haha.

Our Friday Night Activity was great. We bought some supplies to play some of the games from Minute to Win It! That was WAY fun!

Ashanie's baptism with his mom, Sister Nicely
Ashanie got baptized on Saturday. He bore his testimony after and it was great. You may not expect much from a 10 year old boy, but his testimony of the church is absolutely awesome. Later that day, his 13 year old sister, Zadie, told us she wanted to be baptized now (this family is so great)! So we told her to pray about a date and get back to us. We're still waiting on her answer, but it's really cool to see such a desire from such young kids!

Quick side note: Some white (European?) rasta man came over to us before the baptism and was like "You can't tell me anything about Jesus, you're way too young." Wrong thing to say to a missionary!! I went off talking about the life of Christ and how it influences our lives and how we can know for a surety if God was real and stuff. He just said that he had nothing else to say that wouldn't offend me and then left. Bless his soul haha.

Stewed turkey neck
Ashanie asked me to confirm him on Sunday, so that was great as well! Later at Tamara's, her mom fed us stewed turkey neck which was DANG good! Kinda tasted like beef with the texture of chicken back. So good! 

That's about it for now. As always, love and miss you guys!


Elder Graham

Alton (the guy who gave us lobster)
let us see some of the fish he caught on his latest venture out to sea.
The beach in Yallahs is way cool even with no sunset

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week #10 - Blessings Gained, Hair Lost and a Norman Bible?

What up Fam!

This week has been awesome!! We've been teaching a girl named Kavia for about a month and a half now and she is showing some great progress! She is coming to church, keeping commitments, and pretty much learning from Tamara's example. 

On Wednesday we visited Sister Nicely and her family. Her two kids had been in Montego Bay for the past week so it was cool to see them again. The first thing she told us was, "Ashanie has something he wants to tell you guys!" Her 10 year old son, Ashanie, told us he wanted to be baptized on April 25th! The only thought that came to my mind was a quote from The Blind Side, "Well alright then." So we have been working with him every day since then to make sure he knows what he's getting into and all that stuff. He's way sick. He asked for Elder Fowkes' name tag and wears it every time we meet now haha.

On Thursday, we thought we would branch out and try a different cook shop than the one we usually go to. We found a place called Ian's One Stop Shop and their food is amazing. All cook shops in Jamaica are super good. On our way to Sister Nicely's, we were walking up a big hill to get to her house, when some construction workers called us over and asked us why we "hike this hill every day." We told them who we were and one guy spoke up and started going off about how he knows all about us. So obviously we asked him what he knew and this was his response: "Ya I know all about how your David Smith thinks he's Jesus Christ and you worship David Smith and..and..OH and he wrote the Norman Bible too!" On and on and on haha Elder Fowkes and I tried our best to keep a straight face. I just told him he seems to have a lot of ideas about us but that none of that stuff was even remotely correct, then we all shook hands and went our separate ways. Super strange but that's how it is here I guess haha.

Elder Fowkes bought Monopoly when we were in town a week ago and that is pretty much what we do at night until we read and go to bed. It is way competitive between the four of us but super fun!

No hair I mean new hair
Friday night I shaved my head because it is either that or pay for a less-than-good hair cut by a Jamaican barber.  Elder Stewart used normal settings on the trimmer last time on me and it hardly cut anything (we must have been on a low power setting) so this time I wanted to do a little shorter and... well... hahaha whoops. Happy accident though, now I don't have to do anything with my hair so that's good.

Reallllly annoying pigeons inhabiting our roof
Also, we have been super annoyed by all the loud pigeons that hop around on our roof at night. So Elder Stewart climbed up on the roof and (since pigeons can't see anything at night) went all special ops and caught a pigeon. We gave it to a kid named David who sells pigeons and has a coup and everything.

On Saturday, I went on a trade off with Elder Kuehn into his side of Yallahs. He is great. He is kind of quiet but super funny. Plus he's my age and not 21 like the other two elders in the house. 

Our questions this week for Elder Graham:  

1.  How do you wash clothes?  We have a washer and then we just hang our clothes up on a line to dry.

2.  What do you have for breakfast?  Usually oatmeal or some cereal or something normal (I've been a good budgeter so I can buy my precious milk).

3.  What's your favorite gospel topic to teach?  Favorite gospel topic is probably the Book of Mormon. Because everyone already believes in the Bible, all we have to do is ask them how they know the Bible is true and just say BoM is the SAME WAY, ya dummies, so you gonna read it it or what?!

4.  What would you change about your mission if you could?  I would make Jamaica not such a low-key third world country haha. Everyone thinks of only the tourist locations of Jamaica but if they go beyond that, people literally live in board/cement block houses with zinc sheets as walls and roofing...I have no clue how people do it.

The home of a member in our branch.
Jamaica is a lot different than people expect it to be...
Never mind - honestly I wouldn't change the fact that Jamaica is basically a third world country because it makes me seem cool. teehee  Glad to see the humility continues with our elder... Also there is a 16% sales tax at the grocery store which BLOWS. Why is the most necessary part of life the most expensive?? And I hate the way Jamaican men treat women. It's gross but luckily the women here are pretty independent so that's good. Other than that absolutely nothing.

That's pretty much it for now.  I'm working as hard as I can - gotta make the best of it cuz the clock is ticking!! haha

Love and miss you guys!

Elder Graham

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week #9 - Canned Fish and Handcuffs

Hey Fam!

This week has been great! We've been pretty busy all week long which is always a good thing.

Jamaican June Plum

On Tuesday one of our investigators gave us some plums from his tree and they are way good! They kind of taste like green apples but are smaller and have a huge seed in the middle. 

On Wednesday we did a trade off. Elder Fowkes and Elder Kuehn went together and Elder Stewart came with me. He is a really good teacher and has a ton of confidence. He knows how to be bold but loving simultaneously, and I learned a lot from him.

Everywhere we go, people ask us how old we are. We usually just ask them to guess because it's really funny how many different guesses people come up with. For me, people have thought I was anywhere from 19 to 24 years old. For Elder Fowkes, it's usually between 25 and 30 haha.

We ended with about 19 total lessons which is a way good week. We are working hard out here. We have one investigator who is 16 and lives right next to Tamara, one of our recent converts. Her name is Kavia and she seems way interested.  Tamara has been a huge help as we teach Kavia - they're pretty close in age, and Tamara's testimony is the best influence for Kavia.  She has trouble getting fare for taxis to get to church, though. Not sure what we're gonna do about that but anyway. Also a 13 year old daughter of a long-time-less-active woman told us she wanted to be baptized so we're working with her as much as we can. Still trying to figure out her motives and her true desire/commitment to be baptized and stuff but it seems good.  Tamara gave her first talk on Sunday on baptism and she did great!

For Friday night activity, we played capture the flag and it was awesome. We did us four missionaries vs the 8 or 9 other people there and you can probably guess that we lost. However, we lasted a long time. Later that night, we were cleaning up the church from the activity and we heard, "Come out with your hands on your head!" Obviously we were a little confused because we weren't doing anything illegal (as far as I know). We walked out toward the street and saw three cops who had a guy in handcuffs and were searching his truck. After a few minutes they put the guy in their car and took off, leaving the guy's truck just parked on the side of the road. That was a little strange. 

Tin Mackerel
We went to Sister Nicely's (recent convert, also Tamara's aunt) on Saturday and she fed us tin mackerel which tasted kind of like a mix of salt fish and tuna. We had it with some rice and this pepper sauce that she made. Super spicy but pretty good!

Yesterday at church, some random guy showed up for all three hours. After talking with him a little bit, we found out that he lives in the same housing scheme as us. He is a highway patrol officer for the road that connects Kingston and Yallahs. His name is Horace and he is really cool and super nice. Hopefully we can start teaching him. For the evening, Sister Meadow fed us (she feeds us every Sunday) stew chicken and rice and peas. Her stew chicken is the best! By the way, I pretty much eat chicken like a savage now which is kind of necessary for living in Jamaica.

Elder Stewart and Kuehn bought a fishing pole last week and went out this morning super early and caught two fish right out by at the beach. The Yallahs house is the best. The four of us get along great, except for when we play card games like rook haha

Cody's grandparents in Pocatello, Idaho asked if he knew an Elder Rammell from their stake.  YES! Elder Rammell is my zone leader and got his Patriarchal Blessing from Grandpa Briggs!  He's way cool, super chill and going to BYU-I in the fall.

That's pretty much it for this week. Not too many pictures this week, but I got one decent one. Anyway, love and miss you all! Have a great week!


Elder Graham

The view from above Sister Nicely's house

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Week #8 - Got My Buns Through Easter

Hey Fam!

Our P-Day got switched to Tuesday this week because yesterday was 'Easter Monday' in Jamaica so stores and things were closed down.

Conference was great! We got a 32 inch TV at our church the day before conference which we hooked up wirelessly to our computer monitor and streamed conference from YouTube.

I thought about Grandma Briggs a lot yesterday for some reason, guess I know why now. She's in my prayers… We let Cody know that his grandma in Pocatello, Idaho is struggling with some health challenges.

On Wednesday, President Brown came to Yallahs for some interviews. He said he wanted to come teaching with us but his interviews went too long so he wasn't able to come with us.  The AP trade off was way good. Elder Whitlock said I was a great teacher, and also we went contacting in the richest part of Yallahs, South Haven (for obvious reasons) and he is a wizard with talking to people about the church. Like people who say not interested at first I would usually be like "k see ya" but he would just keep the conversation going and figure out some way to bring up the gospel again. I learned a lot from Elder Whitlock, although he almost lost the key to my bike lock when he was trying to lock missionaries' feet to chairs haha. He is getting transferred tomorrow though so he won’t be AP anymore. Yep, one transfer in already for me. On Saturday I hit two months?!?!?! Time is flying for me, almost too fast!

Transfers are tomorrow (April 8th) and no one in the Yallahs house is going anywhereI’m still being trained, six more weeks before I’m no longer a trainee. So May 20, Elder Fowkes will probably leave because he’s been here since October.

Easter Bun & cheese
So for Easter, the tradition here is Easter bun and cheese. They are basically spice buns with raisin and other fruits in it. It tasted pretty much like fruit cake...with cheese. So not something I would die to have in the future. I'll be totally honest, we were given a huge spice bun and cheese, and I stuffed it in my bag like a wimp, and when we left I tossed it as far as I could. Not my proudest moment but I repented. 

Tamarind is super bitter
Our friend Paul has a cashew tree in his yard and they are finally ready to be picked and roasted. Crazy how that process happens. But home roasted cashews are fantastic! Elder Fowkes and I ate so many on Friday hahaha! We also got some tamarind to take home from Paul's place. Not sure how to describe what it is except for it is way bitter and really sour.

I got a card from the Zundel family at zone conference a couple weeks ago that I forgot to tell you about. They are awesome. Tell them thanks from me will ya? Also Dave Luman sent me a nice email this week. Mail took about a month to get here haha so tell mom if she wants a package to get to me, plan at least a month in advance if not longer.   Was that a hint, maybe??

That's it for this week. Not too much happened other than teaching and learning some new things as I continue. Tonight is reach out night where we go visit a few less active members and share a spiritual thought.  Talk to ya next week!  Love and miss you guys!


Elder Graham

Elder Kuehn's machete

One more sweet pic that I took just now right outside our house
The Spanish Town & Kingston Zones