Monday, February 23, 2015

Teaching, Service, Transfer News, and that Haircut

Hey. Emails are a bit late this week, we were at a restaurant a member owns, he taught us how to make rice and peas and curry chicken, my fingers and nails or stained yellow from the curry, but it was really good! I gotta learn how to cook better, I'm getting tired of oatmeal and peanut butter toast. I've basically survived off that for 7 months... Can I have a recipe for those death by Oreo cupcakes I found forever ago?

I haven't met a single aggressive pit bull out here, maybe it's the weather, but they're awesome! Our neighbours dog just had puppies, those are kinda cool. They're running around now, it's been a few weeks. You might see my hair cut today if I have time to send pics. The Internet is awful here.

How was dads talk?

Transfers was good. Elder Brown is going to Negril to serve with Elder Tuala, he's my grandpa, he trained Elder Hunt. He dies this transfer. Then Sinea is going to Junction, and Bateman is soon dead. So Elder Campbell is getting Elder Pace, which is cool, because he was my district leader in Portmore, and now I'm his! And then Elder Davidson and I don't know our comps yet, we're both training I think, that'll be cool. I've always wanted kids.

Most P days we email and shop and then go home and just relax. Nap for a couple hours or bake or something. Elder Davidson likes to sing so we play music. Mostly nap and study though. I've been trying to memorize scriptures, I started a couple weeks ago and I've already got about 37 verses memorized. Only 163 to go!

Elder And Sister Hall are in my ward, so that's kinda neat. There's about 150 missionaries in our mission I believe.

This week was pretty cool. Did some service for a recent convert lady, she lives at the bottom of this rocky hill, so Elder Brown and I carried sand bags for an hour and a half from the top of the hill down to her house so she can add on to her house. That was pretty fun, her two youngest sons helped us out, they were pretty crazy, wrestling and stuff. They didn't move much sand, but they were a lot of fun. I got some pictures with them. Just reminds me how white I am. My hair cut is awful.

It rained really hard the other day so we couldn't teach, because when it rains the whole country turns off.

Didn't have to teach district meeting because of zone meeting! And no meeting this week for transfers. I think I'll see Elder Groesbeck and Elder Hunt on Wednesday which is exciting!

We have an investigator that we started teaching a week and a bit ago, he was doing really well. He was going to come to church and he was reading the book of Mormon and he really liked it all and he was on date for baptism, but then his mother of a different denomination found out, and started cussing him out and threw his clothes on the veranda, and threatened to kick him out if we continued. That was pretty lame. We can't teach him now, which is stupid. He's also like, 35, he should move out of his moms house. But i don't know. I got his moms number off him and decided I would call her and see if she'll explain herself. She very kindly told me she wanted nothing to do with me or my religion, and to leave her alone. So that was that. Stupid...

Had real jerk chicken! That was good.

I got to do my first baptismal interview this week as well. A young lady, she's been investigating for a while, and it was a really neat experience. I knew memorizing the baptismal questions would pay off! But, alas, at the end she decided she was not ready, I think she's just being nervous and difficult, but she didn't feel ready, so she's putting it off, and I'll be interviewing her again probably in the next couple months. So that was kinda cool, a neat first experience.

Otherwise, things are good. We've got 3 or 4 solid investigators that are getting baptized in the next couple months for sure, of course depending in if they read the Book of Mormon. I refuse to baptize anyone into less activity, for the sake of a baptism. But working with these people is awesome. I've come to know the scriptures a lot better over the past transfer, memorizing these scriptures has helped a lot! Especially in lessons. The interview would've been much less spiritual if I didn't have these scriptures on tap. Like it says, the scriptures were brought to my remembrance as I needed them, I never really payed attention to the line in my patriarchal blessing that told of my gift of memory, I decided to put it to the test. I have a list of about 150 more verses I'm memorizing right now. We'll see how that goes!

I'm pretty excited to train, I guess that'll be the big news next week! Hope everything is good at home, sounds like things are good. Tell everyone I say hi! When I get some money I'll probably try and send out a few letters, I've had letters sitting on my desk for months now.

Elder Zeck

Moving sand with these boys.

The district pre transfers

Monday, February 16, 2015

7 Months Out Today

Hey mom!

The weird thing about teaching more, is less cool stories. But this week has been pretty good. This has probably been Elder Brown and my best week to date with teaching. And it sounds like this is the best this area has done in months! So I'm glad to see the fruits of our hard work!

I totally forgot about Valentines day. There was a youth activity here I think.

I think I'm good for pants and stuff, I've lost about 10 pounds since coming to Spanish Town, but my quads are getting big and it's making my pants a little too tight for my liking, I can't put things in my pockets or else I'm afraid they'll split! These hills are a trial, that's for sure. But I kinda like it. Portmore was totally flat, no hills at all, so I didn't really get much of a workout unless we were really biking hard.

You know, i was thinking about dogs this week, because our neighbours mutt had puppies a couple weeks ago, and their eyes are opening and stuff, and I didn't think I'd miss our dogs. I kinda do... a little. I really wanna get a pit bull when I go home now though.

So tie trading is basically just trying to get your own tie to last in the mission, and with as many cool missionaries signatures as possible. So when one missionary passes a tie on to another missionary, usually they sign it to prove they've owned it. Then there's the heritage ties, passed down from fathers to sons (trainers to newbies). I kinda hope i get to train a couple times to start my own heritage tie! But yeah, we just trade ties we think look good, mostly to just get our name out there I think. It's kinda fun, especially talking to missionaries who've been out for a year because then they always have cool stories about the elders that have owned ties. I recently traded a bunch of ties though with a youth in our ward, he's going on a mission soon and he only had 3 ties, so I traded him a bunch for his 3, I don't plan on trading his ties. I keep some of the nice ties I get though, as Zeck originals. I'm sure I'll give them all away before I leave, but that's not for a while. Today's my 7 month mark, fun fact.

Nah my memory card is good.

Well, this week we taught about 24 lessons which is really good! 19 of them were investigators, we have a goal of 20 per week, so hopefully that'll happen. Our first week we had about 11 lessons, so the area is doing really well. Miracles are happening, and we're meeting tons of people who are prepared for this gospel. We're teaching 5 or 6 people who accept it like they've heard it before, which is funny, because they have! They just don't remember. So, soon come, hopefully, many new additions to the church! The other areas are doing good too.

One of the missionaries in my district is from Edmonton, he goes home next week, so we talk a lot about Canada, and we try and make all the American missionaries denounce their citizenship. Doesn't work, but it's pretty funny. I've only met one American missionary to denounce their citizenship for Canada.

This week in District Meeting I taught about progression. The importance of our personal progression as members of the church, but more importantly, how we help the progression of our investigators. As far as numbers goes, we can count an investigator as a "progressing investigator" if they have a baptismal date, and if they're coming to church. We have 3 on date at the moment, hoping for 7 by the end of the week if our plans go like we want them too. But we discussed a lot about what it means to progress, what we're progressing towards, and how we're not just making progressing investigators, but we should be making progressing members! In the long run, every member should be progressing for their whole life. There's a cool quote from Joseph Smith, I can't remember exactly, but essentially he talks about how the principles of the gospel work kind of like a ladder. We have to take it one principle at a time, until we've reached the top, being exaltation. But it would be impossible to reach the top of the ladder in this life, so we'll spend a lot of time in the next learning all we need to do. But we need the head start in this life. So I thought that went really well actually. Lots of fun! My district kind of participates, so I don't feel like I'm suffocating anyone for answers most weeks. The Zone leaders came too, it was good.

Look up Smile for me Jamaica, by Chronix, I think that's a good song. I wouldn't know...

Hopefully I'm learning to jerk chicken today!

Met a guy who professionally races pigeons, I think I'm going to get in on it when I go home! It sounds awesome!

Got a haircut, awful experience, you aren't getting pics of me for a few weeks.

Had some great lessons though this week, we were able to teach a lot of first lessons, and the people we saw, the gospel just clicked. We had to push one young man's date back a few weeks and he was really upset. We taught tithing to another lady, and we committed her to live the law of tithing after she was baptized, and she immediately complained that she wanted to live it now! So, I don't know, watching the gospel make sense to people, watching all the hard work we do pay off, is some of the most rewarding experiences. I've got a goal of 104 baptism before I leave Jamaica! I think it's pretty reasonable.........

On the flip side though, we do have investigators that we put a lot of work into, and they just completely blow it off. They stop seeing us, they deny the spiritual experiences they have, and they shut down. It's probably the worst thing I've ever experienced because it's just sad, and depressing. I don't think I've ever been this stressed out in my life, and I remember in the MTC I didn't think I'd get stressed out, but as I come to understand the gospel, I just realize that I need to be stressed out for these people, because they don't understand what they're doing. It's great though. Nuff blessings.

Cool, well. Things are still good. Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday, whatever that means. Transfer calls are this Saturday, then another six weeks! Everyone thinks I'll be training by my third transfer here, which would honestly be pretty cool. But we'll see. I just want this area to keep going up, we're teaching a ton of great people right now. I hope everything at home is still going good! That first aid course was pretty awful, so I hope they all survive that. It's weird to think that I can see my 18 month mark on my calender. The past 6 weeks flew by, I feel like I've only been in Spanish Town for a couple of weeks. But I'm getting along with everyone really well.

Cool, Hope all's well, I miss you all I guess

Elder Zeck

P.S. have you started preparing for those triathlons this summer?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lots of Biking

Elder in the middle was James' MTC companion.  First time seeing each other since they arrived in Jamaica last August
This week I think we had fewer appointments, but we've been focusing a lot more on bringing members to lessons, because those are the lessons that go the best! It's nice to hear the testimony of a real person, and not some dumb white guy with a name tag.

The Jamaica Kingston mission, I have found out, is the most obedient mission in the Caribbean, and one of the most in the world, which is kinda neat. Feels cool to be a part of something like that. We hear stories of crazy stuff that goes on in American missions. Never really thought of that kinda stuff before the mission. I used to think missionaries were these really holy, and awesome guys, I now know they're about as dumb and childish as I am! Kinda weird to think about it. Church is true.

We only taught 17 lessons this week, we have a goal, we want to get our area up to 28 per week in the next 4 or 5 weeks. We've almost tripled lessons since I've got here though, and the area is still picking up which is great! We have one lady on her way to baptism this month and she's solid. We just picked up 3 or 4 more that want to be baptized and already love the church, one of them even asked about the details for missionary work.

Something kinda cool, we went up to Sligoville. Basically mine and Elder Brown's area never ends, so we got a member to drive us up this huge mountain to a town called Sligoville, still in our area, we think... But we decided to go up and street contact for a few hours, and we ended up getting 4 or 5 potential investigators, one of which came to church this Sunday, and gave away two Book of Mormons to his friends. He came and he's obviously been prepared for this message. It's a shame he lives so far away, we can only go up on Thursdays because it's a half hour drive to get there. Brother Harrison is awesome for agreeing to take us every week. It's kinda neat though, it felt like we were opening an area, it was obvious that missionaries haven't been up there in years, because no one knew what or who we were, and we got a lot of questions about Jehovah's Witnesses, which we cleared up pretty quick. We're hoping we can capitalize on the excitement of a new religion while it lasts. Kevon made a funny, but true point. Talking about how our church kinda threw him off because there wasn't any clapping, or dancing, or loud music. And he said that that was how it should be! The point he made was that when Jesus taught, you never see any exclamation points. No where does it say that Moses rolled around when he was talking to God. I thought it was a pretty humbling experience to see a young man (17) really paying attention to, and being receptive to the Spirit. Church is true.

fun fact: we ride about 100 miles a week.

I made really good friends with some random old ladies the other day while Elder Brown was on the phone, I don't think they like our message. But I found, when in doubt, just talk about food. Food is always my go to topic for conversation.

It was Elder Bateman's birthday this week so we all got together and ate food at a member's house. I bought a cake for it. It was a lot of fun! Weird to think in 3 weeks he'll be home in Edmonton.

Played basketball on the weekend with the other Elders in Spanish Town. I actually scored some points! But I'm still awful...
Played football (soccer) with some Jamaican kids and some Elders, that was pretty awesome. I got stuck in goal, and I surprisingly didn't play too awful! Still not good though...

This Wednesday for district meeting I taught on making "full proof of our ministry" Before my mission, I wouldn't have been able to teach for an hour on one verse (2 Timothy 4:5) But somehow I did it! I thought it went really well. I enjoy being the District Leader, it's a whole other world of service in the mission. It's nice being able to do what I do for the district. Still figuring it all out though.

Other wise, kind of a stock week, not a whole lot went on. Didn't eat anything crazy. Had some curry goat, which was okay. I don't really like goat. Too many bones.

I think I'm getting a hair cut today. How much money is in my account? I need more money for postage and stuff for letters. I've also spent 3000 dollars on bike repairs this month already. I think I'm going to start learning to fix my own bike on Mondays. I took apart the crank and then put it back together once, but that's about it. I'm tired of getting ripped off by bike guys to just have to go back the next week. My pedal crank fell off while I was riding down a mountain. I suppose better that than my brakes, which is a legitimate fear of mine. because I'd die. So hopefully I can get that figured out. Other wise though, the bike is good. I think it's just all the hills, it can't handle them. But neither can I for that matter.

I don't need a blanket, I just put on my corduroy pants and I'm usually good, or a second pair of socks. It's starting to rain so mosquitoes are becoming a nuisance, so I have to be careful at night. I've used a quarter of the AfterBite this week probably.

Things are going good with the companionship too, I've been really tired lately. I don't think I've gotten a good night sleep since I got to Spanish Town, we've been so busy, I don't even have time to write in my journal some nights, and some days we end up missing lunch. Which is good! But, rebuilding this area has been a tough one. Last night was probably, actually, the first time I've woken and felt good about it. Every day it's tough. Sometimes I nap at lunch but that's a risky move because I might just get groggy. I've never been so tired. Eight hours of sleep is not nearly enough, but somehow we get through it. I'm still happy!

Well, hope things keep going well! say hi to people for me!

Elder Zeck

Monday, February 2, 2015

Working Hard

MAMADEB: I asked James about some things like depression in the mission and updated him on US/Cuba relations because Guantanamo is part of the Jamaica Kingston Mission. I asked about shoes and food.......

I think it's funny how Lethbridge was the hottest place in Canada. Some nights it gets down to 15 or 20 degrees and I'm shivering all night long. I don't know how I"ll survive coming home.... I've still got like, 2 years anyway.

What's the Super Bowl?

Yeah I've seen missionaries get home sick, and I've seen missionaries who suffer from depression and stuff. I guess there was a study, and the average BYU student experiences stress around 45 (whatever that means) and then a missionary usually experiences around a 65, and I think a missionary learning a language can feel stress all the way up to an 80 or 90. So, there's that statistic. I don't really know how it's dealt with, there's a book called adjusting to missionary life that the church has concocted and I think it has a section on it, but I never really read it. Praying is pretty good though. I knew an elder who went home, but he also suffered from bipolar and clinical depression, so it was probably best, I saw it coming. I get anxiety now and then, but I don't think it's debilitating. I've noticed the longer I'm out, the more stressed I get, maybe because I'm understanding the weight of my calling more and more. But if I didn't have the stress then I wouldn't be working so hard to do better. But i don't know, it's just something I've learned to manage. I don't really need to deal with it.

Yeah the whole Cuba thing. I know missionaries Skype teach some people on the Naval base, but no one goes over there. I've talked to missionaries who've been in leadership for a while, and they wouldn't be surprised if Cuba allowed a couple missionaries into the country in the next 3 years. President Brown goes over every once and a while with his wife. I don't really know much more no the topic than that though. It would be part of our mission though. It'd probably be Spanish speaking.

My shoes are good, they don't stay polished for very long though. I also don't really know how to polish shoes properly, but I think i do it right?

Recipes, most things are pretty accessible, so just send whatever. I'm buying a Caribbean cook book today I think, or maybe a cake cook book... I don't know, I think I'm losing some of the weight from Portmore, but it's hard to tell, I don't eat as crappy but I think I destroyed my metabolism, so it's going to be hard to get rid of. I work out like, once a week, I'm so exhausted, waking up before 6:30 AM is impossible.

Sounds like everything is good!

My week has been alright, the area is still getting better, we taught 19 lessons this week, which is better than last week! I went on a couple trade offs with some other Elders. Sinea from Bahamas, and Bateman from Edmonton! So that was kinda cool, being a district leader is definitely a different view of the work. All leadership means is that I have to do more service, but I enjoy it. I'm still learning though.

Met a guy named Farkison

We helped a less active guy get a new wheel chair, and he came to church for the first time in forever this Sunday. This Sunday was the Caribbean Conference broadcast. Bonnie Oscarson, Holland, and Packer spoke. It was pretty cool! How old is Packer? Soon dead probably, but he's still got it.

I've been compared to Robert Pattinson and Justin Bieber too many times this week.

I had a sad moment where I cut myself shaving and didnt' realize it, got blood on my collar...

I don't know, it's started to rain a lot this week, but the lessons are still going well.

We got to have a neat experience this week where some Elders from Linstead called us and asked us to visit a guy in the hospital in Spanish Town here. I guess he ate some Aki that wasn't prepared properly and got really sick, and then the doctors found gall stones inside him, so we went in. He's a less active guy, but he really wanted a priesthood blessing. As we were leaving his mom walked in and talked with us for a while. I think the amazing part is that earlier that morning while reading through my patriarchal blessing I felt as though I should pray for more opportunities to exercise the authority of the priesthood. Not even 8 hours later we got a call. The other elders didn't pick up their phones, and the hospital was in their area, but we happened to be passing through there on the way to our area. I just think that the fact that God is listening is pretty awesome.

Well, I hope this week goes well! Hope everyone is doing good. What classes does everyone have? Hopefully this next week will be more lessons for us! the transfer is already half over, which is crazy. I feel like I just got here. And I'm so busy all the time, I'm working from the time I wake up to the time I get to bed, I'm amazed some days that I can get through them, it's physically and mentally strenuous. But some how I do it! I did not expect it to be like this.

I forgot to mention I had my first long bike ride this week. We have an investigator that lives an hour bike ride from our house! That was pretty crazy. Not a fan, so we biked an hour, taught for an hour, luckily she gave me some OJ, then biked back for an hour. I was glad it didnt' start raining until after we got back to our house after.

I also destroyed at a 7 year old at ping pong, I don't know if I mentioned that before. That was awesome

And something else that was kinda cool, we're teaching a couple right now who's pretty.. well, they don't always get a long. But the wife is a member, and the husband isn't, and it's pretty evident that they don't hate each other, but they don't get along. We started teaching her husband, and we invited her to join us in the lesson, and at first it was kinda weird. We taught about the Book of Mormon and we went over why it was important and what it means for us. And as we discussed, as we asked them both questions, and as they both gave insights, it almost got to a point where they were asking and answering each others questions, there was a good chunk of time where we didn't actually talk much, and it was kind of adorable watching them testify of what they know, basically at the same time. The Book of Mormon made a lot of sense to him after that too, so that was really cool! They physically got closer and closer as the lesson went on. Just goes to show that the gospel really was made to bless families, being the primary unit of the church. It's easy to forget that the home should be a holy place, comparable to a temple. Hopefully the couple starts to read together, it was just kind of a neat experience.

I've also made a new hobby of buying jewelry off of Rastas I meet on the street! I got a cool necklace for 500 the other day!

And some guy got stabbed, shot and had his throat slit last week near our area. Yeah the guy died, it was pretty rough on the neighbourhood, he sounded like a nice guy too. There were more murders in my area in Portmore than my area here, although Spanish Town is probably one of the more sketchy parts of the island. I love it though!

And I had goat brains one day. True story. I didn't know it was brains until I left. It's called mannish water, there's usually testicles in it, but I guess he forgot?

Tell everyone I say hi and stuff. Send me more ties! I keep trading them with Jamaicans, and I need more ties to trade.

Cool. Also, ants got in my Nutella. I'm eating it anyways.

Elder Zeck