Wednesday, February 6, 2013

8/19/2002 – It’s Already Monday

Dear Family,

It was nice to hear from all of you. I don’t have time to write you all back today let alone just this letter. I’ll make it short. Jamaica is treating me wonderful. But before I tell you all about it let me say that mom, I got your Canada letter a day or two ago…I’m sure I will get the rest soon. They say mail here is slow but very reliable. Today I mailed you the negatives of some pictures. I would have sent the actual pictures but it costs more and I like to save money so I can buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch to go with my powdered milk. I’m trying to eat healthy though. I am starting to get a lot of fruit, so many different kinds of passion fruit, breadfruit, guineps, ackee, and much more. If you need explanations remind me and I’ll tell you more about the food another time. Let’s just say there is enough chicken to last me a while…its strange because chickens and goats roam around Linstead. Today I saw this goat wondering around the town among people and cars and markets and such. It struck me as darn funny.

I know how you feel dad about not knowing anything at the first of the mission. I have learned a ton already and the language is getting better. Here are some quick stories: We got cast out of a church we were invited to visit (a great story). This Rasta guy told us God was black and that he had dreadlocks, and we taught this guy name Alamo Black (this is the best story of the thousands I wish I could tell). We found him on the streets. He looked distressed and told us he was running from the law and a gang because he cut one of the gang members hands off with a machete. (We have machete’s that we use to carve coconuts—and kill rats if we see any.) We got together with Alamo at our place (which we admit was stupid) and after convincing him that we wouldn’t tell the police, we taught him a powerful first discussion. I finally have the first discussion memorized which feels great. Alamo wants to change his life and serve God. He was sincere and we committed him to baptism. Honestly, before that he confessed to have murdered seven people, was a coke addict, and lived with a girl (though that last was isn’t really uncommon in JamDown). For some reason it didn’t bother us that we had a murderer scheduled for baptism on Thursday…then we called President Angus…(silence)…”FORGET IT!” I guess murderers need to talk to the first presidency and serve their sentence according to the law. So we had to break it to this guy that he couldn’t be baptized unless he served a life sentence. We felt horrible. Luckily, the guy disappeared. Hopefully he was caught by the police and not the rival gang. I hope he serves his sentence and remembers the missionaries and the Spirit that he felt. The Lord used us for this Alamo Black, I have no doubt.

Hopefully that makes sense. I have to go. Thank you so much for the letters. I promise to write you some better replies next time. Sarah, did mom use my old gentile CDs to get you a CD you wanted? I hope so. I hope you had a happy birthday. Thanks again. As the Rastafarians would say: “Bless, one love, peace my brothers (and sis and mom!).” By the way, Rastafarian’s are guys with dreads who rarely cut their hair (kind of like Samson). Sanka off Cool Runnings is kind of a Rasta. Speaking of which I have seen a lot of push carts.

So much to tell, no time to tell it. I love my family and am very safe and happy, excited to be learning, teaching, and growing in the gospel, the only true gospel of Jesus Christ. Bless.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

8/12/2002 - “THIS IS ELDER KING!!!”

I’m just enjoying the happiness Preparation Day brings! I will always have access to email at my hotmail address so let’s use it. I’ll be online every Monday for an hour to read all your letters. And tell Seth and Jessica to write me too…well actually send me their address so I can add them to my list, then tell them to write me. I can only write family so don’t get to loose with my address. No need for added temptation.

So let’s talk about Jamaica and the caravan of Kings. I love it here. It was a definite culture shock but not too bad. And don’t worry about me getting any fatal bug bites…the missionaries here think it is all nonsense. I’m serving in a place called Linstead in the North Coast Zone. Before I was called I was scared I would get stuck in Kingston…which wouldn’t be bad except given the tour (including Bob Marley’s Trench town) and thought I would rather serve away from the city which is full of poverty and crime and not too pretty. The Lord heard my prayers which is both good and bad. The A.P. told me my area and said it was deep in the Bush (that’s what we call the less populated places in the tropics). He said it wasn’t the worst, but it was the worst assigned to the district.  After a sad goodbye to the elders I’d spent so much time with, I left President Angus and the mission home. He and his wife are awesome. She has a really quite voice, almost a whisper. President Angus says: “I’m deaf in one ear and can’t hear in the other.” They are an odd but powerful couple. When I had my interview with him I was sooo darned pumped. Then I entered the Bush…

It is sooo beautiful here. There is poverty and such but the mountains are so green and I feel like I’ve stepped on the island in Jurassic Park. And it is hot. Not as bad as I figured but it is definitely hot and humid. We played basketball for P-Day and the heat saps your energy so fast. I’ve never been so hot and sweated so much. My companion is a Canuck named Elder Jordan Smith. He is great. He is a nice guy, laid back, but a darn hard worker just overflowing with obedience. My prayers were answered, we should do well. I taught a first discussion and it went alright. We had a Book of Mormon stand where we did some street preaching…it was fun (truth be told it was really scary)…the biggest problem I am facing is memorizing the discussions and worse…I can’t understand a word they say. Even the English is tricky! The Patois seems impossible! What would you say to: “Eh tall bwoy, whagwon? Eh? Ye bockle slip out!” Translation: Hey tall boy (that is all I understood), what’s going on? Hey your bottle is falling out.” (my water bottle was falling out of my backpack.) It may not sound to hard but throw in an accent that is sooo different and I am one lost tall boy among a ton of Jamaicans. My companion assures me it will get better…I hope so…because it puts a barrier in front of people. I gave an eight minute talk in church on happiness through trials (because they have a ton of trials and most of them smile and smile). Speaking of which, the kids here are the cutest kids I’ve ever seen. I was afraid of coming home and loving black girls…I didn’t think I would fall to what the missionaries call the Coco Puff Theory. But I think already with the kids…so darn cute and funny and they love you and talk to you, etc. I’ve seen none cuter except likkle Lydia. The branch is small but there are plenty of strong members. One new member named Eurton is so on fire. He comes speaking in that loud Jamaican voice: “Me broders, me elders! Me cummin to visit me church of God. I stand to it. You stand to it. Let us find dose lost sheep. In de good lords name, amen!” This guy sounds a likkle (little) crazy, but he is planted firmly on the rock. They like loud music and I’m in chicken heaven…let’s see…write me soon. So far so good. Encouragement and updates from the home is needed. Oh, and if you can, send me my ab roller, a small digital alarm clock, a cheap watch, and prayers. With any luck I’ll get that stuff for Christmas (mail is reliable but slow) except the prayers: those I feel now.


Oh yeah, before I go, people say hello here in so many ways: “Alright!” “Yes!” “Good day!” “My brother!” “Peace!”