Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Photo Week!!!!

Editor's note: Our letter was via voice recordings of his journal entries for the week. They are not mp3 files so at this point I cannot post them here. BUT Elder Zeck sent a bunch of pictures......finally.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

More Teaching This Week


Week was good. Did a lot of work, almost taught 20 lessons, but not quite there. We've pretty much only taught first lessons for the past 4 weeks, which is pretty boring. But it's because we couldn't teach anyone who was remotely serious about the message. Luckily, after this week we have about 6 or 7 people that seem to be genuinely interested, so we'll see how that goes!

Nothing super exciting this week. Zone conference was this week, and myself with some other elders sang Savior, Redeemer of my Soul. I thought I did good. There were a few tone deaf elders in the group. 

I started compiling a list of reasons why this mission was perfect for me and it's a pretty long list. I just think it's funny how many things I said and did pointed me toward this mission. I remember specifically saying that I needed a mission that spoke English, but I wanted something culturally different. I wanted to go somewhere warm. I wanted to go somewhere where our church was lesser known, but where religion was widely accepted. And I wanted good food, and good missionaries. This mission fits every single requirement to the T! I think it's interesting how the Lord does bless us with the things we desire. However, when the Lord gives us things we don't desire, it just means we need to change our desires. But it matched up. I also realized in 8th grade I decided my new favorite word was vex, which isn't a common word in Canada. But down here, people are, "vexed" with everything. I thought that was funny.

MoBay is pretty cool actually,  Portmore is still the hottest place on the island. And had the most mosquitoes, i haven't had mosquito problems for a while now. A little more humid, but that's cause it's always cloudy and rainy. People are freaking out over hurricanes just because we haven't had one in forever and it's kinda windy. I don't think one will come. But I forgot my weather balloon at home so I won't know for sure. 

Talked to some white people yesterday at church. Cool guys from Utah. There was a family at church on Mothers Day when I gave a talk, the lady said she would call you, but maybe she was joking. 

There's still a good amount of ghetto, we cover some pretty rough and sketchy areas. There's a lot of like, voodoo weird stuff here. More so than I say in Spanish Town. But Spanish Town was probably more violent. Some guy tried to give me his ring that had a demon in it, and then when I offered to buy it off him he changed his mind and said I couldn't handle it.

Driving is good, I'm accustomed to it, it wasn't a hard transition. However, the other drivers freak me out. I drive fine, the other people drive fast. Speed limits don't really matter here, which I think is kinda fun. But at night, everyone drives with their brights on, and that's really annoying. But oh well. I deal with it. 

The branch is good though. It's only a branch, but the members are solid for the most part. Just not enough of them. But we're working on that, obviously.

There's like, 2 singers in the whole zone, so I don't need more music, but they were good.

But cool, I was just asking about the gnostic gospels because we found a cool talk that made some comparisons between those and the scriptures and we wanted to compare. Purely out of Elder Jernigan's and my nerdy aspirations to know as many weird gospel facts as we can. But I guess we can wait. I'll send you my comprehensive list of books i want next week, and then my homecoming present can be a huge library of books that will help me not adjust to real life and be one of those guys that never moves on after their mission. Because that will TOTALLY be me.

But yeah, this week:

Taught a guy named Curry Powder. Turned out to be crazy and tried to get his 7th Day dad to Bible Bash us. That was funny. No one can argue against the Book of Mormon.

Went to Negril on a trade off, that was pretty fun. I miss biking. Got fed twice which was great.

Some guy walked up to me on the street and asked if I believed in speaking in tongues, and I said, "kind of, yeah" And he began to speak at me in tongues, which was a load of garbage. But it was funny.

Elder Campbell got ET'd (emergency transferred) to serve with us for 2 weeks because he hurt his knee, so he gets to be in a tri with us which is way fun.

I went to a 4 hour branch council meeting on self reliance the other day. That was not as fun.

Most of this week has been teaching, which was nice. Lots of driving as well. The area was pretty low when I first got here, but it's still steadily growing which is great!  

My study plan to finish the standard works by next July is on course. I've almost re-memorized like, 50 scriptures, so that's going well. I've been studying a lot on revelation lately but I've got nothing conclusive to report.

Cool, I hope everything goes well this week!

I miss you all

Elder Zeck

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pretty Great Zone

Week was good! I've set a goal this transfer to be more humble, and to find more energy and happiness in the work through said humility. It's working.

We had to go to Savanna La Mar this week for a trade off. That was pretty cool. We also went back to Ocho Rios to do a baptismal interview for a guy who used to be Rasta. I guess he didn't show up to the baptism on Sunday, but he still came to church. Hopefully that all works out. Unfortunately that means we'll have to drive back eventually to re-interview him. But it's all good. Going to Sav was fun, I went to Elder Koegler's old area for the day. There's a lot of nice places. Our zone covers half the island, so there's enough space for diversity. Some super wealthy areas are in our area, but the people there are too happy to want the gospel. Driving is kinda stupid. But I'll deal with it. Still no hot water, but that's good. I hate hot water.

Our zone's pretty great for the most part, nothing too crazy goes on. For the most part it's a bunch of missionaries who are far better than I am, so I learn a lot more than I teach, which is good. Dealing with sisters is weird. There's 11 companionships, 2 are sister tripanionships. I had to relearn how to work with Sisters, but for the most part they're all way cool so no complaints.

Before I forget to ask, you should totally send me a kendama in my next package. One from Japan! good luck

Well, we're preparing for zone conference next week, that'll be fun. I don't have to teach. Every quarter I get a month off. But we're singing Savior Redeemer of my Soul or whatever it's called as a musical number. We were going to do the Vocal Point version of Nearer My God To Thee, but it's too high. You should listen to it and tell me how high it is. It's pretty high.

I bought marshmallows last week to treat myself and the ants got at it before I could have more than a dozen, and they demolished the bag. So.... I might try again today.

We've been finding a ton, like a lot. We've had 20+ potential investigators every week so far. So 3 weeks.. But it's great, I love street contacting, it's my favorite thing to do! Other than teaching of course. I've found the secret to a happy mission is enjoying street contacting. That's really it. Once I learned to love finding, I've had pretty much all good days.

We've been getting lots of street cred lately, unfortunately that's not measured by the mission so no one will know. But we go through a lot of ghettos and sometimes a bunch of smokers and jokers will be on the side. So we give out a bunch of pass along cards and try to make them laugh and not want to shoot us, and it's worked 9/10 times. Most places have respect for us now because we're not a bunch of weirdos. And they remember our names and stuff.

Gave one investigator a bible marked up with references to how to discover the true church, he was pretty excited to get that. Really nice guy. I can honestly say though, and this might sound awful, but I've taught probably 8 people, where if their parents and/or spouse were supportive, the individual would've been baptized. It's a classic tale.

Learned about supererogation which is kinda weird. Being so holy you can like, save other people with your saint-points. Which is weird because then that kinda makes a mockery of the Atonement. 

Created a pretty good study plan to finish the standard works before I die, and I've planned a good comprehensive study of the Book of Mormon which will pretty much take up the whole last year of my mission, so that'll be cool. Only a missionary could get this excited.

If you could find a chart or picture or something to send me that was a map of Book of Mormon events, that'd be way cool. Also a time line of Book of Mormon events, that'd be great too! I don't really want to take the time to make them, because I know they exist somewhere.

Cool, hope the week's good!

Elder Zeck

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Don't Understand How One Gets Tired of Air Conditioning (His Mom Says)

Yeah the zone is big, I hope I'm not a zone leader for long. I like it, but I'd rather just be a normal missionary. I don't like driving in this country. And we don't teach much because we're always doing stuff, but I still enjoy it. I'll just deal with it. We get to see a lot of the island, because North Coast is a huge zone, so that's a plus. We get A/C too, but, I like the bike.

I didn't get grandma's package, no.

The Bednar talk is an MTC address I think.

So this week was pretty cool. Just tons of street contacting, looking for people who will take this whole message thing seriously. It's tough, but I actually enjoy it. Street contacting is one of my favorite things to do! Maybe I just like being a little obnoxious and imposing on people's days, but I enjoy just talking to random people and sharing the gospel with them.

Elder Jernigan and I have been trying to perfect our lesson planning, trying to help our investigators learn better. We've been finding a few people who seem interested, and now we want to really get down how we can best help them to see the importance of the message. Sharing the Restoration with people is always a cool experience because immediately, people shut off, or get kinda nervous because we're talking about prophets, and more scripture, and how some white guy from New York saw God and brought forth new scriptures. And people usually get kinda defensive, so we're trying to figure out how to teach it best, without scaring people. We usually just try to hit it all home with a lot of scriptures, because there's proof of all of it, even in the Bible. It's cool, I've been able to study the scriptures enough now to pretty confidently say that there's not a chance that this isn't the true church. The Bible proves our message. The Book of Mormon proves our message. It's just neat that I've had this chance to really get to know the scriptures in this kind of way. Who would've thought that studying the scriptures every day would help me grow?! That's been a huge lesson too. I used to read the scriptures, but I never knew how to study. Big difference.

We went to Ocho Rios for a trade off and a district meeting in Port Antonio, so that was a lot of driving, but it was fun. Then we had Missionary Leadership Council on Thursday where the zone leaders and others in some sort of leadership position come together and have a meeting type thing. There wasn't much counselling but I learned a lot. It was neat. I loved being a district leader, and training. I'd gladly just do that for the rest of my mission. I'm pretty tired of the air conditioning in the truck to be honest. But the meeting was good, and I love this chance I get to work with so many Elders and Sisters, and help them fulfill their calling! I wouldn't rather do anything else. Elder Jernigan's a really smart guy too, I find I learn very specific things from every one I serve with. Elder Jernigan and I are going to get along real well. We're both into the whole apocrypha thing and we both have a theories and insights on the gospel. It's just gonna be good.

No investigators at church unfortunately, but such is the life of a missionary. We were out of town most the week, and we didn't get our goal of 21 potential investigators. We got 18 though, we taught 7 lessons. For being gone for like, 3 days, I'd say it wasn't that bad.

The week was good, just trying to do better. I've started doing something kind of silly, I like to call it, "Continuous Personal Progression" Something I've studied on for a while. Just the idea that our exaltation to a degree will depend on how much we choose to grow and learn in this life, so I keep a notebook, and a list, of things I want to learn and do and improve on, so I'm constantly progressing. I like it.

Any way, thanks for the letter! I appreciate it. I hope everyone at home is doing good. I'm not getting fat, so all is good here. Just getting through it.

Elder Zeck

Monday, June 1, 2015

Zone Leader and Driving.....on the other side of the road

Elder Palmer (son/grandson), Elder Zeck (son/father), Elder Hunt (father/grandfather/mother)
It's a missionary thing.
If you get a call from a Utah number, just answer it.

Hey, week was good. Learned a lot of stuff about the stuff I've been doing for like, a year now. I'm almost at 11 months. That's weird. Half way through! Unless I request an extension, but I haven't really thought about that yet.

So yeah, I'll confess, I'm a Zone Leader and I drive a truck most of the time. Sometimes we will do trade offs so I'll need my bicycle, but the truck is nice. A/C. seats. I have to watch what I eat, my metabolism is still used to being on a bike 24/7 so if I eat too much my body will freak out and just blow up. But it's pretty awesome. It's easier to proselyte in the rain which is great, on a bike it feels impossible. But we can still drive places, stay dry, and then street contact nobody because it's raining. I'm also really glad we drive because the hills here are ridiculous.

So zone meeting was this week. Considering we only had 6 days to prepare it, I thought it was really good. One of the best I've ever been to anyway. We made a goal of getting participation out of everybody in attendance, all the missionaries, and we succeeded! We got everyone to do something, and I felt it really enhanced the meeting. A senior couple spoke at the beginning on the Book of Mormon, then we got the 3 trainees in the zone to give talks on success, and the enabling power of the atonement, and Christ, then Elder Jernigan and I taught for 2 hours on how to use time effectively in missionary work, because it's easy to waste time and trick ourselves into thinking we're using time wisely, when we aren't. We taught about the importance of teaching our purpose constantly, and how to properly drop investigators for not doing what they tell us they will, and then most importantly, why finding is one of the most important missionary activities that pretty much no one does enough of or views properly. But people came up and said they loved it after, so I'm confident our message was taught. I learned a lot. We've been finding like crazy. But yeah, zone meeting was fun, I'm a big fan of teaching people about stuff I know, and I know missionary work shouldn't be depressing and disappointing, and when we teach flakes, then we'll have a sad mission. Elder Jernigan and I have a goal that we will both have happy missions. Which means teaching cool people, finding cool people, and then baptizing lots. But we'll see. It's all fun

Our zone is huge, pretty much half the island. We have Negril, Montego Bay, Savanna La Mar, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio. I've only been to Negril, Sav, and MoBay so far, but we're going to Ochi tomorrow and Wednesday for a trade off, and then we have a big meet on Thursday, so that'll be cool. Lots of driving though, which means less teaching, which is too bad.

So we've done a lot of finding recently. Learned a lot about finding by our faith. Trying to put our trust in the Lord as we go out and look for people seeking for truth, and we've found some! One night in particular, we ended up street contacting at 8PM which is usually just a hopeless battle. But we contacted a bunch of people, no success, walked around. And I made the comment, "I haven't felt impressed to talk to anybody all night" Which was my way of wondering if we were even doing the right thing at that time. I just didn't feel like I was being directed at all that evening. Elder Jernigan voiced the same concern. Not even a minute later, without even thinking, turned and got a good feeling about talking to one more person, a lady sitting with her two kids. Immediately, she asked for a card, a Book of Mormon, and we got her number. Over the next 10 minutes we proceeded to contact and get return appointments with 3 other people. It was a humbling experience. I was thankful I was receptive to that very specific spiritual prompting, right before I was ready to give up. I wasn't in the best mood but I got over it. And there was the miracle! It was all kind of neat.

I gave a talk in church about the importance of Motherhood. So I basically just spent 5 minutes talking about how awesome you are and how much I appreciate you and blah blah blah. Testified of the importance of mothers. I have a bad habit of turning talks into stand up comedy routines, I should probably work on that. It's just my pride kicking in and me craving attention, but everyone laughed a lot and I got my point across so mission accomplished I suppose. It was only 5 minutes.

If you can find a copy of a talk by Elder Bednar called Characteristics of Christ, or something like that, and if you could email it to me, You'd be my favorite person in the world until further notice!

70% of the mission is going to be new missionaries in the next like, 3 months, so that's kinda crazy. Pres told me I'd probably train again which is really cool. I'm excited for that! but it looks like my job for the next little while as a zone leader is to prepare my zone to pretty much have everyone ready to train. I'm excited for that!

Did family history. That was fun

Made rice and peas and fried chicken for our house, I didn't ruin it! That lemon pepper is genius!

Talked to a lot of smokers and jokers this week, nothing too crazy. Just trying to keep the spirit and stuff.

Well, hope everything at home is still good! Sounds like things are good. Jordan was sick?

Mosquitoes are only bad at night when I sleep. So just the absolute most important part of my life.

Mobay is pretty nice, still some sketchy areas. We cover the most violent area in the city, but people respect us. I have street cred here already, so you don't have to worry about me mom.

Apartment is alright, hard to keep clean for some reason. Leaky shower so our room floods a lot but we deal with it. Tiny fridge. Big kitchen. I need a big kitchen when I grow up. The missionaries are cool. I serve around Sisters now too, which is freaky. I haven't served around sisters in 5 months. But there's Sisters Dill, Judd, and Mundle. Elder Peters who was my ZL in Spanish Town when I first got there. And he's training Elder Smith. They're both way awesome. and then us two. Then in our zone we get to serve a lot of people who I'm now going to list because I got like 4 emails and have nothing better to do. I'll probably read a bunch of talks or something because that's my life now. Elder Wilcox, Campbell, Layton, Brown (my comp 3 months ago), Williams (My ZL from Portmore), Pulsipher, Stever, Fowkes, Gardner, Galbraith, Muirhead, Evans. Sisters Peynado, Mashabela, Barlow. I think that's everyone. That's the North Coast zone.

Yeah I'm way busy, just lots of stuff to do. Being a zone leader is cool because I'm supposed to be an example to my zone. We taught about the need to find 21 potential investigators a week. And we found 22 this week. No big deal. So I think we're doing alright.

Tell Jackson I hope he feels better, or that I hope it gets worse and they amputate his arm.


Elder Zeck