Monday, March 30, 2015

Zone Conference and Making Brownies

Zone Conference - Kingston Zone and Spanish Town Zone

The Canadian Missionaries of Kingston and Spanish Town

Week was good for the most part. Meetings and stuff, taught a good amount which was nice. Went by quick! Yeah I mailed the form back a couple weeks ago, I just signed it, I didn't date it.

Zone Conference was good, I learned a lot about some stuff that I don't really remember. The only thing I remember learning was something that they didn't actually teach. Elder Martinez teaches fairly simply, I think because he wants most of the learning to come from what the Spirit brings to us, not necessarily what he is teaching, and I think it worked. I learned a lot about receiving revelation, even though he was teaching about the worth of souls or something. I found revelation works in a cycle, where first you show obedience to the light that you've received, then that obedience will entitle you to further revelation to add upon what you already have, then that revelation will become knew knowledge or light, then you exercise faith on the light that you have in the form of more obedience, and so on. It was interesting. But a different spin on how I learn things. Elder Martinez didn't teach it, but that's what I got out of the meeting. Something we need to teach our investigators more I guess.

My hair's growing but I look like a q-tip, I gotta get the sides trimmed. Singing went well. Harmonies were harmonious. We sang hymn 100. I can't remember what that is anymore for some reason...

I Need The Every Hour? we sing verses 1 2 and 5.

Also learned this week that fasting without a fast offering is the equivalent to starving, that was a good thought.

Training is 12 weeks so I'll stay here, then I'll leave just after Mothers Day I think. Good Friday will be the same, EasterMonday will be the same. I think the ward is having a cook out or something so we might go to that.

Bike's good, just some flats this week, I ran over a glass bottle I think, I haven't bothered patching it yet though. Also, my gears are bent now so I can't switch gears, which just means I'm really slow now. Other wise it's fine, helmet's good.

But cool, this week was good. Our neighbour has a farm so she gave me a ton of stuff like pumpkin, tomato, onions, pop chow, kaliloo, and other stuff, so I made a huge pot of pumpkin rice and stir fry type veggie stuff for all the Elders in the house. So that was cool, we didn't have butter though, that would've made the rice WAY better! Made those Nutella brownies too, wasn't thinking and accidentally used protein powder instead of flour, so they became very very expensive brownies, but they still tasted good!

We get asked this a lot, but this week we probably got it like, 5 times, because we've been inviting people to Conference and people usually think the opportunity to listen to a modern day prophet is a neat experience, and pretty much every time they get all uncomfortable because they want to come, but they always ask in some stuttered way or form, if they'll be the only "person like them" there. Then we tell them that we are the only white people and their minds are blown! The church has a weird look to the outside, every one calls us a white man church, I always think that's funny. We also were told a few times this week that we worship Joseph Smith, we cleared that up pretty quick.

I feel like conference was just yesterday, weird it's up again already.

A young man we've been teaching, his baptismal interview is this weekend! should be baptized next week, which is cool. He's latched onto the gospel so quickly and fully, I just hope it doesn't start to die out as he goes back to school and everything, he's been fellowshipped really well but he's a pretty introverted guy so I'm still kinda worried that he might fade away. But at the same time, he's so solid and loves this church so much, It's just really exciting. So many people blow off this message, and they don't even give it a chance. It takes a little bit of work, and I think that scares people sometimes. Even members have to do it though, I think that's something we take for granted growing up in the church. We're baptized at 8 and don't understand anything. Then we coast along until something shakes the boat a bit and suddenly we don't know what to do! These converts aren't allowed to be baptized until they have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, I would never let someone be baptized until they've received a spiritual witness. It's something the mission pushes very hard on the missionaries, facilitating conversion. It's cool to watch, I wish I had started on my own conversion from an earlier age, but I didn't understand. We talk a lot about how you can't convert someone past your own conversion, not that we "the missionaries" convert anyone. But the Spirit felt is dependent on the people bringing it in.

We've got probably 5 people getting closer to baptism, but we'll see how that goes.

Power went out so I'm a little behind today, hope the week goes well for everyone! Weird to think I have my six months to sexy marked on my calendar back home! It's going by all too fast! Nothing too crazy this week. Just the usual. I recorded our neighbour lady screaming.. I mean praying.. It's pretty hilarious, but she obviously loves God.. Or Jesus? I couldn't tell who she was praying too. I always think it's funny when people ask God to cover them under his blood, because that doesn't make any sense!

I'm also 200 pages into Jesus The Christ, that book is pretty awesome.

If I made goat brain soup when I get home will you all eat it?

Elder Zeck

Monday, March 23, 2015

Work, Work, Work

My bike is fine. Lots of flat tires this week, I patched it but I think there's another puncture somewhere, I'll have to fix that some time in the next 8 to 10 weeks, because that's usually my response time to such things. I'll gladly pump up my tire every 3 hours if it means I don't have to actually take time to find a hole in my tube. The new handle bars are great though! They're kinda raised handle bars, looks way cooler than it did before. Other wise, other than just being constantly dirty, it's doing good.

I realized that if I wear my watch for a week straight, that part of my wrist goes back to the same shade of white as the rest of my body, so I've officially given up all hope for ever getting a nice tan for the rest of my life, because it is fleeting and I'm destined to be a vampire for ever.

That sounds fun with the music stuff. I was informed a couple days ago that myself, Elder Pace, Phippen, and Davidsen are singing Lead Kindly Light for Zone Conference tomorrow. We're getting a practice today, and then we're performing. I think Elder Martinez is the only authority coming tomorrow, so that'll be fun. Iverson is playing the piano, so the program will probably read "Lead Kindly Light performed by Elder Iverson, accompanied by vocal backup." Because he's really good. And from Vancouver.

Doctrine and Covenants is pretty cool. I'm going to try and read 40 sections per transfer, so I'll finish it within the next 18 weeks. It's pretty cool. I had a neat experience at church with the scriptures being called to my mind when I need them, like it promises in section 100. But in gospel principles the teacher on the spot just looked at me and asked me to pull up that scripture about the proper usage of the priesthood. For about .7 seconds I was freaking out because I had no idea, but then I just flipped it open and turned to section 121 and I had it. I'm never sitting in the front row again! But that was neat. Proof that God loves me.

We had a pretty cool conversation today, just on the topic of interesting gospel discussions, because as missionaries we have them in the house all the time. I'm sure if our neighbours heard us they'd be pretty confused, but we had a really cool conversation on the idea of families being together forever, and how when we receive the Holy spirit of Promise and when we're sealed in the temple how it all kinda ties together, and then how we can mess it up and the different kingdoms and stuff. I like knowing stuff and being in a house with two newbs, because I learn best when I teach, and I get a lot of chances to teach here.

Week was good, best week of the transfer, almost met our goal of 20 investigator lessons a week. Would've done it if the people we taught wouldn't stop cancelling. It rained but surprisingly it didn't mess with our schedule much, thankfully. Made some boiled and fried dumpling, that was pretty easy though. We get fed twice a week usually, Sunday and Wednesday by the Moody's and the Harrison's. However, I've got a couple ideas on how to make it 4 appointments a week! I got really good at getting meal appointments while I was in Portmore, I kinda stopped when I got here because I ended up getting incredibly sick of food and I would get depressed when people would offer to feed us. I used my talent a little too much and got way out of hand. No missionary needs 10 meal appointments in a week. So I have retired that particular gift until a later day.

Week was good though, we're working with some good people, we have 15 new potential investigators that we're hopefully seeing this week. We've got 5 people working towards baptism, ranging from next month to June so we're praying for their success! 3 of those 5 will probably get baptized while I'm here, we're planning for 4 or 5 people to work towards baptism mid summer, which is really exciting! I've found that nothing makes time fly like teaching. I love teaching! I enjoy contacting, and finding, and stuff. But if I could just be supplied with a schedule every morning and they would just send me out to teach, I would do that happily. Just teach all day long for two years about the gospel. Maybe I'll go into CES when I go home, I thought about that a lot before my mission, but I don't know if it's for me. Church history is cool too.

I almost got a Koran off some Muslim guy last week. Their religion sounds incredibly similar to ours in a lot of ways, but completely different in most other ways.

Works still improving, we're working on being more bold with people. I don't know what it is, but people love to lie to us, and it's getting out of hand. So we're going to start confronting these people and asking them to be adults about it. It's really annoying, teaching grown people, and they don't have the decency to be honest. There is nothing worse than planning for 8 people coming to church, and having 0. It's probably the worst feeling we get. We're working with some great people though, we usually have 3 to 6 at church which is wonderful. I wish I could go back to Portmore with the knowledge I had now and serve there, maybe do a better job.

This week flew by, watched a lot of doctrine and covenants resource DVDs. Those things are great. Watched some conversion stories, like W.W. Phelps and Brigham Young and stuff.

Well I hope the week keeps going good, tell everyone I say hi! I might just forgo buying any form of real food and just buy a dozen cans of sweetened condensed milk and live off that for the rest of the month.

Elder Zeck

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bike Issues - Still Alive

Elder Palmer and Elder  Zeck
It rained yesterday, which was too bad because my bike broke again.

I should probably just make a part of this letter dedicated to my weekly bike issues.

BIKE ISSUES: Elder Palmers bike held up pretty well this week actually. I was riding one morning and suddenly my left handle bar snapped off. I almost fell off, however, my incredible mongoose-like reflexes saved me. So I rode the rest of the day with one handle bar attached, and I just held onto the other one because it was still connected to my brakes. People thought that was hilarious. That evening I bough new, way cooler, handle bars, installed them. Later that night I hit a pot hole and the handle bars fell forward. Luckily I still have pretty good reflexes so I didn't get catapulted over the front. So i essentially rode with no handle bars home. Then we walked all day Sunday, and this morning I bought a new neck and installed my new handle bars. I think they should be good now. I think I'm going to need to buy new gears soon too, they're bent way outta shape, but they've been like that for a while now.

I'm awful at basketball. I made one basket on saturday, and that's because I took a crappy shot, the ball balanced on top of the back board for a half second and then rolled off into the hoop. I can't lay up either. All I can do is tune pianos.

I saw Elder Koegler today, I had to give him some extra baptismal suits today so him and Elder Adams came to Spanish Town. That was cool. He says hi.

How do I make my baked chicken less greasy?

I need a recipe for brownies as well.

Palmer's doing well though. We've had a rough couple weeks though, literally almost everybody is cancelling. So that's been really tough. Cooking is good. I make a lot of rice and peas and chicken, crepes. I like to fry up rice with veggies and seasoning and stuff, and then I add some mackerel in it with a little ketchup and I just do a bunch and fry it all together and it'll last me 4 or 5 meals.

I haven't worn those new shirts yet, I'm still fat and I'm afraid to wear them. I'm good on everything though. I've acquired some new pants too.

Week's been alright though, we're helping a less active guy learn to walk, it's pretty cool. To show his faith that the Lord can help him he left his wheel chair at home and only came to church with his walker, which was really hard for him, but he knows that's how he's going to help his body recover. He was stabbed in the back like 20 years ago, and the doctors said he should've been paralyzed for life, but miraculously he has the potential to walk again, so he's finally coming back to church and I guess he's finding a lot of support there. He's awesome.

Not much else happened though, lots of new people to teach hopefully. We're going to have to start dropping investigators who haven't progressed in the past couple months. I made that mistake in Portmore, dragging people along for the sake of teaching lessons, it was a waste of time. But, we have 4 investigators that I'm pretty confident will make it to baptism. At this rate, I might not be here to see it, however, that's not the important part, obviously.

I just realized today that I've taught myself how to play ukulele, so if you want to find me a cool homecoming gift, a ukulele would be cool. Like a nice one. Or a car. Or a Vitamix or something.

The other Elder took my camera cord again, so if I get it back I'll send some pics today.

Hope stuff's still good! I'm doing good, just tired.

Toiletries are fine. I ran out of shaving cream, but I'm getting more today. I don't like shaving, I can't wait to go home and never shave again.

Elder Zeck
A culinary masterpiece

Monday, March 9, 2015

Loving Training and Worried About Estrogen??????

Sounds like things are good!

We recently had a member of the stake presidency speak in sacrament meeting. He taught a part of it on the doctrine behind receiving the more sure word of prophecy, I'm pretty sure it completely flew over most the congregation's heads. But it was really powerful! Very interesting topic to study.

Being a trainer has been good. Elder Palmer is doing well, he's picking up the teaching aspect really quick, so we've been able to get into equal teaching fairly easily, which is really nice. I've been exceptionally tired the past couple days though, I feel like I've been fighting a flu for almost 3 weeks now, but I haven't actually gotten sick, so nothing to worry about! But, I've just felt like I'm about to get sick, for a while. Probably just tired. I'll go to bed early tonight. It's all good though, training is fine, the extra hour of study where I teach him some of the fundamentals of missionary work is alright, it means we teach less, which I don't like, but it's definitely important and I like having the chance to share my experience with him. He's doing really well though.

Every group is different when it comes to missionaries coming in and leaving, 10 came in for this transfer. It all just depends I guess.

I got that letter the other day! Thanks for the pictures. If you ever want to send more, feel free! I'll sign that letter and try to send it out next week. I just need to sign it right? I can't remember all the other info it needs. The recipes are good though. I've been cooking more this week, it's a little cheaper. I've been eating a lot of rice and mackerel, I made rice and peas a couple times. The fried chicken went pretty well actually! For dinner one night I made rice and peas with fried chicken and roasted breadfruit, it took up most of our dinner hour, but I was surprised with myself! It actually tasted good. You can even just email these, but I want a recipe for crepes, I need to know how to make fried rice, chicken karrage, curry chicken, and chocolate chip cookies. So those are some ideas.

Also, is it true that consuming soy product will make me start to produce estrogen? Because I love soy milk, and I found this really tasty cheap stuff the other day, but... I don't want to start to produce estrogen! Is this fact? Because, I NEED to know! I've drank a lot of it...

My bicycle is pretty crappy. I have to take off, and then put back on, the pedal crank almost every day, and I cracked another pedal the other day. I bought a tuning key, so... If you could send me like, a pdf, or a link on how to use one, that would be great! I watched a bike guy do it, but I don't think I completely grasp the concept yet. We had to walk to church last Sunday, and that wasn't as fun, so I'm hoping the worst of my bike issues are over!

The week was pretty good. Only got to teach like, 20 lessons which is too bad. We're shooting for 30 this week. We had three consecutive days, where every single lesson for the whole day cancelled, I don't know what it is. It was a little frustrating but we were still able to scrape something up, which was a blessing in itself. We're hoping to have 4 or 5 people on date for baptism by the end of the week, which would be great!

Conference is coming up, it feels like it was just yesterday.

No cool stories this week, other than I'm basically a master chef. But we've had some good lessons, the work is still picking up! This area has gone from nothing to something in just over a month! I feel like a lot of the people we teach are sad right now. Maybe it's just in the air, part of the season.

I'm just glad that the Lord has blessed us with the amazing people we get to teach. We have some pretty humble and genuine people we get to work with, people who have diligently and sincerely sought out truth, and has found it! As members of the church it's easy to take this stuff for granted, and feel like because we've already found truth, that we don't have to search for it anymore. Then a breeze of doubt comes along and we've got nothing to hold on to. If I've learned anything from my mission it's how to sincerely seek for answers. Something that every single person on the Earth will have to do, whether they're a member or not. Every body needs to sincerely search, with real intent, and then ask God. I feel like a lot of people just don't get that. I've learned a lot, needless to say, who would've thought?

I hope things continue to go well at home! Tell people I say hi! And please answer my soy question honestly, inquiring minds need to know...

Elder Zeck

Monday, March 2, 2015

Training - Still Spanish Town

Week's been pretty good, just going through the motions! I got a letter from Grandpa Young but nothing else yet.

The week's mostly been full of bike issues. We received our trainees on Wednesday at transfers in the afternoon, and we didn't get to find out our trainee until they announced it, so I got Elder Palmer. He's from Moses Lake Washington, he's pretty cool! I got to go up and bear testimony at the front and welcome him to the mission, and from there we went home and started teaching. Elder Davidsen, fellow Canadian in my house, got Elder Ostrowski, from Utah or something. Layton I think. They're both really cool, and it's kind of a neat experience having two trainees in the same house at the same time, because they knew each other from the MTC. Lots of good stuff to come.

My hair cut still freaks me out when I look in the mirror.

I was told once by a member that when he first visited America, he thought that all white people were rich, and the sight of a homeless white man was a shock to him. So that's what people think of us I guess.

But yeah, bike issues. Elder Palmer came in and the mission didn't have enough bicycles for the new missionaries, luckily I knew where a bike shop was nearby so we went over and got the bicycles, they were pretty good, and about 100 dollars cheaper than the price the mission sells bikes at. I don't know how they price those things, maybe they have a bad supplier. So first day, Elder Palmer's bicycle brake somehow gets inside his tread, and blows up his tube, so I had to tow him everywhere, which involves him side-saddling my crossbar in front of my seat, and I just sit and peddle. I'm sure that looked great for the missionaries, to see some white guy straddling another white guy on a bicycle. So that was a thing. Later that night we had to go somewhere and I gave Elder Palmer my bicycle and Elder Davidsen towed me Bohemian style, where I just sat on the centre of his handle bars. That was pretty cool too. I ended up running for a good portion too along side the bikes, it was hectic. The next day we found a store that sold his size of tires and I helped him take off his tire and put it all together. Then that night we were biking down the main road and my crank (where the pedal is connected) snapped off, so I only had one pedal until this morning. We got the Zone leaders to give us a ride to a bike store and we ended up teaching a guy that lived close by while my bicycle got fixed. I tried putting the crank on myself once, but right when I got to the last piece I discovered I didn't have the tool to get it all off the bike, so I had to put it all back together and walk to a bike shop. So I've had to drop too much money on bicycle repairs this past month, I hope it's over. My bike runs pretty good now.

We had a trainers meeting on Tuesday where Prez and the APs taught us how to train, that was pretty cool. But training is good, he's a pretty good guy, we have enough in common. We get along really well, and I'm just doing my best to help him adjust to the area as soon as possible! There were 5 Elders and 5 Sisters that came in, and quite a few left, including Elder Groesbeck and Bateman. But yeah, training is great.

Played Basketball on Saturday with all the Spanish Town missionaries, I actually didn't embarrass myself this time! I made some points and stuff. I still don't know how to play though.

Our numbers this week weren't very good, so I'm hoping that's just because of the two days lost due to meetings, I'm sure this week will be back up to par, or better.

Because of the bicycle stuff we had to walk all day yesterday and I'm still tired. We walked about an hour to church and back and to all the lessons, but we still ended up teaching 4 lessons, so it was still a good day! Hopefully this week will keep getting better. I was comparing our numbers now to when I first got here, and it's nice to see our hard work and prayers pay off. There's been a huge improvement, and I think it'll keep getting better.

Other wise, it's been a good week, not a whole lot happened. We've still got some solid investigators working towards baptism, and quite a few new ones with some great potential. I've made a lot of peanut butter cookies lately and I think I made myself sick for a while, I'm going to start cooking real Jamaican food this month, we'll see how it goes. I don't think it'll be too hard, I'm an awful cook so I guess I should learn now! I've lost about 10 pounds since I came to Spanish Town, so I'm gonna try and eat better so I can lose the rest of what I gained the last few months. Hopefully Elder Palmer won't make us start running. That would be lame...

cool, tell everyone I love 'em! I'm exhausted right now, but I'm doing well. There's a lot of great missionaries out here. I'm excited for my 30 minute nap tonight.

Elder Zeck