Monday, September 29, 2014

He Got the Gunya Virus

The past couple weeks have been pretty lame because of Chikungunya, because everyone is sick or pretending to be sick, so we only teach a couple lessons a day now, which is just frustrating, because it makes the days go really slow and boring. These past two weeks have felt like the MTC all over again, just boring and long. I got Chikungunya last Sunday, I think I forgot to mention that. But yeah, it isn't very fun. It's like having arthritis all over your body! I imagine that's how old people feel. I got a really bad headache and a high fever, and my mouth got all swollen so it hurt to eat, and my gums swelled up to the point where they would bleed, and then my hands and feet were swollen too, so my shoes were really tight and it hurt to bike. It was pretty awful to say the least. So I took some Advil and it helped, and then I learned that Aspirin and Advil make it worse, so I stopped taking the Advil and all the symptoms came back pretty quick and I'm finally getting over it now. It made for a really boring, and long, and uneventful week. But I'm fine now. I think it'll probably spread around the world like Swine Flu did, so if you hear about it in Canada, just take Tylenol. There's no antibiotic or vaccination for it yet, so they just prescribe painkillers. The ibuprofen in the Advil has a bad effect with it or something. I didn't really know. But yeah, that's basically my week. I didn't want to stop proselyting because we've had so few appointments lately any way, so I went out on my bike anyway. I probably should've rested but it was whatever. It wasn't as bad as I just made it sound I think. I'm still really tired all the time though, I hope that stops quick. Once this virus blows over hopefully the time starts to fly again, we're slowly getting back to the amount of teaching we had before.

Other than that, this week was pretty boring too. Nothing really happened. We had a couple good lessons with some new investigators, there's potential with them so I suppose we'll see what happens.

Tell Jackson I say congrats on the medal!

Something cool that happened, is I've started a craze in our apartment. We call our apartment the Gunye House because all 5 missionaries that have lived here since the Gunya virus has gotten it. Elder Ashby is just getting over it too. But anyway, more importantly, 97 percent of Jamaican males wear chains around their necks. So I ask everyone where they get their chains, it helps break the ice a little bit. I've been obsessing over chains kind of as a joke for a month now, but it's turned to real obsession. I've even acquired a real chain for Elder Hunt! I've been asking older members in our ward that I know pretty well, if they have old chains they don't wear anymore, and this one guy in our ward, Brother Lawrence, actually said yes! So Elder Hunt got his old silver chain, and it looks pretty fresh. My goal is to collect a chain from a member of every ward I serve in. I might be buying a chain off of Brother Malcolm this coming week, but I guess we'll see. So we talk about chains a lot in our down time. It's kind of funny. I don't have much else to say this week. I'm just tired maybe. Nothing really happened. I just got sick.

The week before I ate an entire large dominoes pizza by myself in one sitting, did i already tell you that?

Love,

Elder Zeck

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Short Letter/Slow Week/ Chikungunya :C

I told him I loved his tie idea from last week's letter) Yeah I thought the tie idea was good. We'll see. And that's really too bad about Robin Williams. I don't think I'll get over that. Genie is dead! I have like, 15 razors left maybe? I've been using them for a long time. That's really good to hear about Jared though! What kinda toque? Beanies are American mom.. And yeah, I haven't spent any of it yet (some extra money), but I'm preparing to spend it soon. We've been meaning to go to Kingston to shop a bit but we haven't had the time the last few P days. No worries on the package, I'm just really looking forward to the bike kit. That'll be way useful.
Well this week was pretty boring and slow. Everyone has Chikungunya, so we haven't been able to teach much. We taught like, 6 lessons the whole week, which was a huge bummer. Most of our days end up us biking around trying to find people and visiting members. We're preparing people for general conference. I've never been so excited for general conference before, I think it's gonna be awesome! I get to sit in the church for two days straight, and I'm excited for some reason.

So as far as spiritual stuff this week, it was pretty slow. Nothing really happened. However, I learned how to play dominoes, and I may have dominated against a bunch of Jamaicans. Which I'm personally, really proud of. This week I also helped our landlady plant some palm trees outside. She said I can come back to see them in 22 years, and I can bring my wife and we can stay in her house. I think she's serious too... So that might be a thing.
That's about it, I don't have a lot of time today because the internet shop lady never showed up, so we had to find a different one, and we don't really want to be out very long today. But I hope all is well. I'm doing good. Hopefully this next week is better.

Love,
Elder Zeck

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Transfer In......He's a Real Missionary Now!!

That's weird to think about snow, because it's still really really really really hot out here. Some of the sisters from my district in the MTC said it snowed where they were, I think Elder Adams from the MTC is in Medicine Hat right now which is kinda cool!

No package as of two days ago, but maybe it's at the mission office or something. And the bike seat is awesome! I'm patching the tires every few days it seems, but it's nothing too hard. My only big repair was on my first day when my back axle melted and the tire wouldn't spin, so I had to carry my bike on my shoulder for a half hour until we found a bike shop, but other than that the bike is fine.

Yeah Chikungunya or whatever sounds pretty terrible. A good chunk of the people we teach have had it, and our land lord and land lady had it, and my companion had it, and Elder Groesbeck had it. And a lot of people in our ward have had it. It doesn't sound fun, joint pain and rashes. It basically turns you into an old person, and old people just get really really sick. I haven't gotten it. I don't plan on getting it either. I've said from day one that I wasn't going to get it, and I think purely by my own free will, I have repelled all disease carrying mosquitoes. I think I'm good. I don't use repellent often truthfully, I probably should. Sister Brown said we should, I wore it to bed a couple nights, and some times after it rains I throw some on, but I don't use it very often.

As for running, we sometimes run up a mountain on Saturday mornings, but recent events have made it difficult to get out running. That and we're so tired that we need the sleep anyway, we usually just work out in the morning. I hate running so I'm not complaining either, but maybe soon we'll start back up. Depends on how the next  couple weeks go, but if we don't run anymore, I'll be just fine with that. Running in a million percent humidity at 5:30 in the morning is not rad.

Yeah I ate another chicken bone last night. I still don't like it.

No I can't buy Nutella here, but it's not a big deal, I can melt tootsie rolls or something if I get desperate. I found Aloe Vera Vaseline that is awesome, I've only used it once though, it's more for Elder  Groesbeck, he gets really bad burns a couple times a week. Shaving stuff is abundant, it's just expensive, but it's not something I can't afford, so that's fine. Except razors might  be nice in the next package. I've been using a dull razor for a couple weeks now, I'm afraid I'll run out. But it's fine. I got a postcard from Moser the other day which was awesome! He's traveling Europe with his family, but he didn't give me his email so I can't respond... I can't wait to see him and we can eat taco in a bag in two years!

I hope all that answers your emails. I'll try and recap my week as painlessly as possible.

Out here, Pear, is actually just big avocado, and they don't have real pears here. So.. That was disappointing. But the avocado (pear) is really good!

I made a no bake Oreo cake, and I've become the pancake king. I made vanilla cinnamon pancakes the other day for everyone. I think it's going to become my staple food of consumption. I don't make it often, but the pancakes I make are really good I think. It helps that the recipe is just mix and water, so I don't actually have to do anything.

I carried a full conversation with a taxi driver the other day, which is awesome, because I actually understood the whole conversation! Then he tried to get me to buy him gas for his car, to which I laughed and said no. He didn't think it was very funny. He then tried to get me to buy him a phone card so he could have credit on his phone. I laughed and said no again, he didn't thank that was funny either.

Rain has killed our FHE plans for 2 weeks in a row now. Rain pretty much destroys every plan we ever make. The second it starts to rain, people don't leave their house for anything.

I learned that if you smoke lizard tail, it'll turn you into a mad man, so I guess some drug dealers out here put lizard tail in their weed that they sell, and that's why there are so many mad men in Jamaica, I thought that was kinda cool.

A recent convert we have (from before me) was wearing a Rolling Stones shirt, I was going to ask her if she was a fan, but then I didn't, because she's obviously not. They've never heard of the Stones out here. Not in Portmore anyway.

There's a Sister H in our ward that has a hard time getting around, she's super awesome though, I love visiting with her, and so we chop her yard sometimes. And I get a lot of satisfaction out of riding around with a machete in my hands. People stare at me from their cars and houses, and yell at me, 'cause there's this dumb white kid biking around town with a sharp machete in his hand. It makes me feel like I'm part of the culture, I feel pretty cool.

There's this cook shop called Taste of Art, and I think they like me, 'cause they hook me up with extra meat whenever I go, which is awesome, so I'm going to milk that for as long as possible. The ladies there are really nice, and I think one of them is looking for a husband to take her to the States or Canada, so I guess we'll see where that goes! She keeps asking us to pray for her.

There's another recent convert named "F" (also before me) and she has a Genip tree in her backyard, and of course the one day I don't have my camera, she asks if we want to climb the tree and pick some Genip for ourselves. So I climb up the tree in my proselyting clothes and dress shoes and I'm up there picking the fruits off. Then they pass me a really dull machete and tell me to cut off this one limb of the tree, which was a really cool experience. I felt like I was in Jamaica! I chopped the limb down, and we realized there was no fruit on it... So that was a let down, but the Genip was really sweet and ripe, so the experience was totally worth it. I wish I had a picture, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. I was a decent way up the tree too!

Is it true Robin Williams hung himself? I've been told that by two other missionaries now, and it's distressing me... Is it true?

I got to cut open a coconut and drink the coconut water straight from the coconut! That was neat. It was really good too. The boxed coconut water in Canada is disgusting! I got some at Booster Juice once and I wanted to puke.

"I", that one investigator where her mom banned her from being a Mormon, she called us in secret a few days ago to see how everything was going. So that was nice, she still thinks about the church and misses it. She still really wants to be baptized too. Hopefully she does!

I made a killer egg in a basket the other day. The egg was fried in the bread, and then I put on cinnamon roll syrup and strawberry cream cheese. I know I'm a genius.

I patched a bike tire all by myself yesterday! That was exciting. But then I started riding and realized there was a second hole... Not exciting..

I also think I have the whole missionary diet down, because I just buy a ton of eggs, and then I buy Nature Valley bars, and I scramble the egg, and just crush up nature valley bar in it. I'm going to come home and not know what to do with myself when the fridge has more than bread, eggs, and peanut butter in it.

As far as teaching, this week was really slow, not a lot of appointments, lots of lessons fell through. We had one investigator at church which was cool! She's been coming to church for 4 weeks now and no one told us she wasn't a member, so we got to teaching her, and she really likes our church. She has a good friend who's a solid member. Also, Elder Johnson got transferred to Montego Bay, so we got a new Elder, Elder Ashby, he's pretty quiet. I think he was a farm kid. But he's really nice, and obedient, and I think he's a good missionary. Him and Elder Groesbeck will do really well together. I'm doing well though. I've gotten most the area down, and I don't really have any issues. There was a single day a week ago where I was feeling really gross and I didn't want to be awake, but after that day I've been doing just fine! I love being out here, which I say every week. It's weird to think that I've been away from home for two months as of tomorrow, and I'll be in Jamaica for two months in a couple weeks! My first transfer ended this past Wednesday, so I'm officially in transfer two! I've been focussing a lot on just trying to be open and happy all the time. I wasn't a totally solitary person at home, but I cherished my alone time. Out here, alone time is non existant, and I'm in a social situation for pretty much the entire day, so I get tired some days. But I've been pulling through, like I said. I have no issues out here. I think the next 22 months will fly by, so I just want to start trying my hardest now so I don't go home wishing I had done more. That's probably the thing I worry about the most, is not doing my best. But I'm sure I'll be fine.

I really look forward to the package! I've been writing a letter to you guys for a few weeks but I'm so busy I don't get much time to really sit down and write.

I think your question from before is what can't I buy. I can't find sunscreen, although I hear it exists. and that's about it, I have everything I need out here. However, if you want to send anything, send sun screen, razors, white shirts, and sweat rags would be nice too. I just have the one and I wash it every night. Then you know, food and candy. pancake mix, or syrups or powders of any kind. I'm down with whatever, I'm pretty good at making food last.

Well I'm glad to hear everything at home is going really well! I like reading the updates from home every week, this letter is the first one I write every monday, so it takes up about a half hour to get all the info down.

I love and miss you all!

Love,
Elder Zeck




James decided that he will leave these ties behind with the following note....


Monday, September 8, 2014

Portmore, a Machete, and a New Bike Seat.....Finally!!

Hello!

Sounds like everyone is doing really well. It's cool Jackson is learning Card Tricks, I've always believed the coolest people were magicians. I think it's the most satisfying form of lying directly in someones face, and them never knowing it. I carry around a rubber band out here because kids always stop us to do magic tricks for them, so I do a couple. I probably shouldn't be perpetuating the stereotype that white people know magic, but it makes them think we're cool. Tell Jordan good luck with his test. I remember how nervous I was for it, and I made a few dumb mistakes. My only advice is don't try to befriend the instructor, because they don't care. It ended up just distracting me while I drove. I hope he does well! And as for Jared it's about time! Life is easier with friends, socializing is a good skill too. Especially on  a mission, I've found my ability to talk to people and relate to them makes everything way easier, especially with befriending members of the ward, that's been the most important part for me here.

I was thinking about Waterton the other day, I miss Canada. That's cool you saw the Orrs, small world.

 We taught a family home evening last week about being a child of god, we used a scripture from Romans. It was chapter 8, I don't remember the verse. But it talks about how our sufferings don't compare to our promises for enduring, and it talks about how as children of God we are heirs of his kingdom, I think that's reason enough for me to not do anything stupid. I've found on my mission, it's really easy to become complacent. I feel the spirit all the time, and I pray all the time, and I teach the same thing over and over again. It's really really easy to forget about the Lords part in that, and it's easy to just go with the flow and forget that I'm not in this alone. Every companionship is actually a tri-companionship. We've got to have the spirit with us too, and if we don't understand the spirit's role in our lives, I don't think we understand the Atonement. I remember, last week, I was having a hard time for a few days, I don't know why, but I was really distracted, and I just didn't feel too awesome. I was having a hard time paying attention in lessons and I wasn't saying much at all. I wasn't oblivious to it either, I knew something was up, but I didn't know what. At first I just thought I was tired, but it persisted for three days ish. One morning I just said a really long prayer, and I asked for help, I asked for a lot of things. Mostly for strength and stuff like that. In hind sight, at the time, my prayers were starting to lack, and after I said that prayer, the next day went by really fast, because mentally, I was right back in the work. I love being a missionary!

As far as my next package, and like, birthdays and stuff. By all means, put money on the card so I can just buy souvenirs. I saw a pair of Gucci sandals the other day for sale, which is funny, because I'm positive Gucci doesn't make sandals. At least like the one I saw on the side of the road. So yeah, money so I can buy cool stuff, or even just for extra grocery money , I wouldn't say no. However, I'm going to need more white dress shirts. The collars get really dirty really fast, and just because it's so dirty here, and I'm constantly fixing my bike and carrying stuff around, my shirts get pretty messy. A lot of elders have cream colored shirts because they've been wearing them for a year. So if you want to send out more shirts, I'd just save them until my current shirts are unwearable. Candy is always good. We have a 3 hour planning session every friday morning, where we plan for the whole week, and sometimes some candy is needed. Also nutella, I'd never say no to that. Or like, anything non-perishable that I can use for my meals, like hot chocolate powder, or pancake mix, or a giant chocolate chip bag. But honestly, white shirts would be the most useful thing. But I have the money here, I can afford everything I need, so you can totally send me things I don't need, like candy, or playing cards, or sun screen (which would also be awesome).

The week was pretty good. The other day some guys stopped us on the street and asked us for 100 dollars so they could buy some bread, we said no of course. And they started coming up with these ridiculous schemes to get more money. One of them, because these guys were serious, so I didn't know how to take it. But one of the guys really candidly said that they would call the police over and told them that we stole their bikes, so the cops would beat us up, and the guys would take our bikes and sell them. I just laughed at him, and he looked at me and asked what I thought was so funny? So I just laughed again. People always ask me to give them my bike.

Speaking of my bike, good news! I bought this new seat that actually feels good on my butt! No hemorrhoids for this missionary! It's got shocks in the seat, and it's really comfy, and I got it for a deal from my ward mission leader for 1000 dollars because it was used! So that's awesome. I hit pot holes on purpose just to spite them now. I used to stand in some lessons because it hurt so much to sit, but now, I can sit all day long!

The ward mission leader is super cool, Brother "L". He fed us the other day, and I ate a bone from the chicken he gave us. I'm still not a fan.

Also, for service this week, there's a lady in our ward named Sister "H", she's really cool. She fed us the best tasting corned beef I've had since I've been out. We offered to cut her lawn, or "chop her yard". We did it with machetes, which was way more time consuming. We didn't even finish, we're going back tomorrow. But that was a really neat experience, definitely not something I'd see at home.

We have a new investigator named "T", maybe I talked about her before, but she basically told us she was coming to church, and she actually came! The past few weeks have been slow and unproductive, so this will hopefully be a look up for us. She said she'd bring her son and friend next week too!

Just a side note, KFC here is way better than KFC in Canada.

The zone leaders came down from Kingston this week to go on trades with the two sets of elders here. That was pretty cool, we had Elder Ruesch come with us, and Elder Williams went with the other two.It was a really good experience, Elder Ruesch taught me a lot about asking inspired questions. Something I've struggled with since the MTC. I love teaching, and I think I'm okay at it. I love telling people what I know, so it's hard for me sometimes to ask more questions, and let the spirit teach. I like to just say it how it is, I'm more direct I guess. But that day I learned a lot about how to ask good questions, and follow the spirit there. Then the next day I made like, fifty chocolate chip banana pancakes for everyone! Service I can eat, is good service.

My week was pretty good. Nothing really crazy has happened. I'm tired all the time. I look forward to going to bed everyday because I'm so exhausted. It's more mentally draining than physically, but I love the work I'm doing. I hope everyone at home is doing well, and I love reading the emails! I barely have time to email my friends because I've spent all my email time sending letters to family, which is kind of cool. But yeah, I think that's about it. I'm doing really well, I'm surviving, I'm eating, I've fellowshipped a good chunk of the ward, which is nice, because if the ward trusts you, they give you more responsibility, which means more chances to get good work done! I think if the ward didn't like me, my work would be a lot harder, because we rely so heavily on the members here.

Also, quick question, who directed the Batman trilogy? Was it Michael Bay? I've been having a debate with another Elder about it, and I thought it was Christopher Nolan that directed the new Batman movies. But I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. We got in an argument the other day because he said Michael Bay was the best director ever, and I laughed and told him that Michael Bay was everything wrong with entertainment industry, and the other Elder didn't like that comment very much.

Well anyway, I love you all! I hope school keeps going well, I'll try to keep better record of my cool stories so I remember them for these emails. I finished the Book of Mormon yesterday!

Love,
Elder Zeck

James and a machete.  He has a tan line!!!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Portmore is More Familiar Now

Me and Elder Hunt are doing good, we get along really well. We teach well together too which is definitely a bonus. We have a few new investigators as of this week. We were trying to teach this one lady, "J", but she'd always set up appointments at times when she wasn't home, and we caught on pretty quick. But one day we came by and there was 8 people in her yard, and we ended up teaching them all the Restoration instead of "J", and we think out of the 8 we got 2 or 3 new investigators! One is "T", she was really cool. She called us the next day and asked when we could come and talk to her again, and apparently that never happens. So we met with her and she told us she was coming to church on sunday, but she had a back  to school emergency or something and had to leave town, but she said she was really mad about it, and she's bringing her 4 year old son and a good friend with her to church next sunday. She's really receptive to our message, and she really likes the members that she's met so far.

We had trades this last week which was cool because it meant I got to lead in my area. Elder Hunt went with Elder Johnson, and Elder Groesbeck went off with me, and I took him around our area and he taught with me, and it went really really well. I didn't get lost once, and I found all the houses even though there's no addresses on anything. I think i'm getting the hang of the area now which is nice, I hated biking around not knowing where I am, but now that I'm familiar with the area I find it easier to enjoy the travel time between appointments because I can look for new routes to places, and short cuts.

Then there's "H", he had a stroke, we talked about him last week, we set up a baptismal date, but the member that takes care of him doesn't think he's ready so she made us cancel it. Which was stupid. I was a little upset about that.

Yeah it was sad about "I", but she is too afraid to stand up to her mom, and because she's going to school and has no job she can't afford to live anywhere else, so she's stopped meeting us and gotten rid of her Book of Mormon. I was upset about that too. Hopefully something changes, but I guess it's her choice. We tried to talk to her about how she can overcome and her testimony but I guess she just doesn't see that the Lord would provide if she made that leap of faith. But, it's her choice, and her life, we can't force her... Unfortunately...

Yeah, I sent out an email to all the MTC missionaries from my district last week, and they all seem to be doing well.  The sisters are serving closer to Calgary I think, I don't know where the two elders are yet, I haven't read their emails.

Zone conference was good, I didn't really learn anything new, but it gave me some new ideas on how to do my missionary work. They're really pushing for more lessons with members, which is really hard out here because no one has cars, so everyone walks or taxis everywhere. So we need to find strong members in every area and neighbourhood and then start getting them to lessons. We had a meeting with sister "G", the ward missionary, yesterday and she's hoping to come out with us. We also have two recent converts, "D" and "H", who both want to come out and help us teach some days, and they have bikes which is awesome, so they can help us out with our teaching.

I had my first bad lesson last week, fun fact. We brought Donald along because he was in the area, and we went over. Her name is "G", and it was our first lesson, she seemed interested when we met her. But I guess that particular day she was having a bad day so the whole lesson she barely talked, and she wouldn't look at us, and she was texting, and it was just terrible and embarrassing. I wanted to just stand up and walk away. That wasn't a good time, but then it rained on her, which kind of helped...

I don't know if I've told you this but we don't teach inside people's houses because it's too hot. Every lesson I've taught so far except for a couple in the church, have been outside on peoples verandas in front of their house, we never teach inside. another fun fact.

It sounds like things at home are going really well!

I think I've got my budgeting down though. My problem isn't spending too much money though, it's eating too much food. There are weeks where I don't have enough food for sunday or saturday, because I eat too much at once, so I have to buy a lot of food on monday to replenish it, but I've started eating less, and I don't need to buy as much on mondays. I think I'm good though. We just got paid today for the month so now I can see if I can make the month without going broke. I still had money left over this month so I think I'm doing okay. Elder Johnson went two weeks without money last month apparently. I'll try hard not to do that.

As far as here, I don't have a lot of stories, it rained a lot this week so people cancelled lessons like crazy. A little rain and everyone shuts down. I don't think they're afraid of the rain, but they don't go out, or do anything, when it rains. There was even a huge thunder storm on friday night which was pretty awesome. Huge forks of lightning most of the night. Some people think a hurricane is coming, because it's hurricane season, and the past few months have been abnormally dry and hot. I don't think one is coming though. The rain is nice. It cools down the air a lot, and I don't mind biking in the rain either. The rain is warm here too, like in Victoria! (Rain is not warm in Victoria)  We were visiting a member who's daughter just got back from the states and she said she noticed something while she was out there. I guess it's a popular practice for young Jamaicans to bleach their face to make their skin lighter. And she commented it was funny how Jamaicans bleach to look more like white people, and Americans spend all day in the sun to look like black people.

That's about it though. Nothing too exciting. I'm afraid my bike seat is going to do permanent damage to my butt, or give me a hemorrhoid, so I'm going to buy a new seat this week hopefully. We almost caught the mouse in our apartment but it disappeared on us again. I haven't seen nearly as much weed as I thought I would. It's still really hot. We teach a lot most days. For service we painted tree trunks for two hours, because Jamaicans like to paint tree trunks.

How's everything at home? You said Jared was reading Isaiah before, how's that going? Is Jackson still Drumming? Are they all doing piano lessons still? Who're Jordan and Jared's teachers this year?

Well, thanks for the email, hope all is well at home!

Love,
Elder Zeck