Monday, August 31, 2015

On a Rock in the Middle of a Puddle


So the week was good.

Sounds like stuff back home's going good. I keep having these weird realizations that I'm on a rock in the middle of a puddle. Pretty weird. How often do you realize I'm in JAMAICA!? Pretty weird. How I'm here, and everyone else is home. But it sounds like life goes on pretty normal without me, so that's good I guess.

Comp stuff's good. We're getting along really well. The first week was a little shaky, obviously we come from very different cultures with very different views on how the work should be done. But we've worked it out. That's one of the very few things I'm good at, working things out. I haven't served around anybody that I haven't gotten along with, so plus 1 for me I guess. He's been in the church his whole life. His family sounds pretty cool. He's got a lot of family support, and a lot of nice ties. 

I asked him how much eating out costs......
And when I go out to eat it usually ranges from like, 100 Jamaican dollars if I'm feeling pretty ghetto, to maybe like, 300 to 500 if I'm feeling less ghetto, but if I go American then usually more like 500 to 900. I could survive off dumpling and rice for like, 1000 a week if I wanted, but I don't want that. Why?

That's great to hear about Jared! I really do include him in my prayers all the time. More so as he gets older and older. It's just always nice to know that everybody's got a place somewhere. I really want Jared to find his place. Has he ever mentioned or blinked at the thought of a mission? I know a stereotypical mission might not be in the picture. But does he understand why we serve missions and things like that? I know people with challenges like his that do temple missions or service missions, all from home.

But, week's been good. Kinda slow. Starting to rain. I've been teaching Elder Lafayette to drive and stuff. That's been fun. I'm glad I'm not a crappy driver. Taught some pretty interesting lessons. We were challenged at Zone Conference to use the Spirit of Elijah in our teaching and missionary work, so in a first lesson with a lady we taught her about the temple and eternal families and work for the dead and family history work and stuff. And we both felt really strongly that this would work, before we went into the lesson. And as we got closer to the lesson, it wasn't a good day, we were just kinda praying for the minutes to go by faster so we could go to bed, even though it was only 3. But we sit down, and start teaching, and I don't think I've ever in the past 6 months I've been in Jamaica, felt what we call the Spirit of Elijah. You know, the hearts turning to our ancestors kinda thing. But it was a powerful experience. She asked about her grandmother, who she knew wasn't Christian, what would happen to her, and we explained that in the temple she could get baptized for her and whatnot. Just a cool experience, very rewarding. We're going to have another lesson with her tomorrow I believe.
Normal week, just going along, trying to work as hard as I know how, which is changing every day. I hope all keeps going well at home!

Elder Zeck

Editor's Note: I sent James these pics from an accident his dad has this weekend and his response was the following:

Dad looks like a crack addict in those pictures. Like he got in a fight over a meth lab or something. I've realized on my mission he kinda looks like Walter White from Breaking Bad, or Homer Simpson, but less yellow. I'm already looking forward to probably looking like that too.

I miss that sense of humor..........

Monday, August 24, 2015

Busy Week / Mission Stories

Week's been good! Very long. Just lots of work. I haven't had a free moment. So no pictures this week. But lots of good work.

We had a weird experience with one of our investigators. He was super excited to be baptized and stuff, but then we found out it was because he's Roman catholic, and they get baptised when they're babies, because they have this terrible belief that an innocent child could go to Hell for their non-existent sins. Talk about APOSTASY! But he wanted the experience of being baptised again, but only for the experience. He wants to remember it. So like... It's a nice thought! but it's also a dumb thought. Because he was probably going to end up back at his Roman Catholic congregation, which is cool for Terrestrial beings. So we're working on that. He also refuses to pray, but he loves the Book of Mormon. Some people confuse me. I love him a ton! He's one of my favorite investigators right now because he's intelligent, and he's very dignified to some extents, but man it's just impossible to get it through to him. It kinda sucks loving people. So that's a work in progress.

Broke my 6th watch last week. Whoops. I don't know what my problem is with breaking stuff out here. I broke a blender, I broke 6 watches, I broke a table, I broke a chair, amongst other various odds and ends around the house. I've broken my bicycle many many many times. I even broke a tie once, because my bike was broken. So we took a tie, and tied it to my handle bars, and then tied the other end to Elder Sinea's bike, and he towed me all the way to a bike store, but the tie snapped a couple minutes away from the shop. That was a funny story. But yeah, if you could mail me a cool super cheapo walmart watch that would be cool. I know I've been out for almost a year, so you've probably mostly stopped caring about me, but if you ever send more packages just beef jerky, juice crystals and like.. Mostly letters and pictures, that would all be cool. I just got your package by the way, thanks! It's much appreciated. Also a Kendama. It's a nice stress reliever, catching a ball on a wooden hammer. Elder Smith has one so sometimes I sit on my bed and play with it. But yeah, thanks a ton for the package! Beef Jerky and Nutella are golden commodities! Also thanks for the talk!!! The fact you found it is a miracle, did you read it? It's debatably my favorite talk of all time, and for some reason it's impossible to find. We watched it in the MTC and most missionaries regret falling asleep in it, because it's so fantastic. So yeah. Thanks

Did I tell you the story about D? I can't remember?

Otherwise stuff's good. There are 5 trainees in our zone. Lots of newbies who will remember my name forever, because that's what being a Zone Leader is all about! But it's cool, I get to play some sort of small role in the development of these new missionaries. Making lots of friends, having lots of fun, and teaching lots.

We had Zone Conference this week, Elder Martinez came and spoke. Super good.

Hope the week's good!

Elder Zeck

He added later on........

The Nutella snacks were great! The only issue is that because they were in snack form, I ate them all in one sitting. All during my Personal Study the next morning actually...

The investigator who's confused about getting dunked. We gave him a President Monson talk, called To Learn, To Do, To Be.. Or something like that. we're hoping the whole modern day prophet thing will help make it a little more real. Because no other church that I can think of has a foundation of Prophets and Apostles. Either our church is true, or the Restoration hasn't actually happened yet. No other way.

But D, probably one of my favorite mission stories, but I just realized I don't think I emailed this home!

So, Elder Jernigan and I were going to an investigators house, he lives about a 30 minute drive away, so when we got there and found he wouldn't be home for another hour, we were pretty upset. So we decided to walk back out to the car and start making calls in the back of the truck, with the intent that maybe someone will walk by and ask us who we are, or we can call out to someone. Well, a guy walks up to us. His name is Desmond. I actually have some recordings of him singing his original music, I'll have to find it and send it someday. But he's talking to us about God and tells us he used to have a Book of Mormon, but got water damaged and he wanted a new one. So we gave him one, and learned that he was taught in the past but he's never really thought about it since. The spirit was there, so we just dived right in to the important stuff. Elder Jernigan said, "Well, we're Mormon Elders with the authority from God to baptize, would you like to be baptized?" And Desmond thought for a second, and said, "Yeah, I would like to be baptized." Elder Jernigan asked what he needed to do so he could be worthy of baptism. He thought about it again and said he needed to stop smoking weed. So I held out my hand and said, "Alright, if you truly want to quit we'll help you. All the weed you have on you right now, put it in my hand, and you can quit tonight." And Elder Jernigan and I kinda laughed a bit because it seemed a little ridiculous. But then I feel a small weight in my hand. It's his spliff. Kind of surprised, I ask, "is that all?" "No" and he put a couple dried weed leaves in my hand. "Is that all?" "No" and he put a couple more weed leaves in my hand. "Is that all?" "No" and he reached into his other pocket and put a bunch of spliff paper in my hand. I ask, "Is that all?" "No" and he puts his lighter in my hand, and he says, "That's it, I've given you everything." That was honestly one of my favorite experiences on my mission. In the moment, we were a part of something potentially pretty huge for this guy. He wanted to change so much, he decided to do it then. I don't know how long it lasted because he moved to the Bahamas, but it's a good lesson I think. How often can we say to God, when he asks us to give up something for him, "That's it, I've given you everything" As a missionary, it's something I want to be able to say every day. Just a cool experience.

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Week with a New Companion and the Adventure of Transfers

First week's been good, lots of hard work, lots of finding, a little bit of teaching. We're working with some pretty great people so now we're just trying to find more pretty great people to keep working with. Elder Lafayette's from Kingston. Transfers was good, pretty hectic but it was good. Everyone got where they needed to be. We drove pretty close to 1000 kilometers between Tuesday morning and Thursday morning, when we got home. Pretty crazy but fun.

This week's been good. Just lots of logistically confusing days, driving people around. Monday was good, just finished our preparations for the week. Tuesday we got up at 4AM to start driving Elders around so we could be in Kingston with 3 other Elders for trainers meeting at 10AM. I was invited to role play a situation with a trainee, in helping them learn and stuff. That was cool. I loved training. That went from like, 10 to 3, and then we spent like 5 hours driving everyone home. Then the next morning we got up at 6:30, regular time! And then we had to leave at 7 to drive for another 6 hours to pick up more elders for transfers, got to transfers at 3. Barely made it. There were like, 15 new Elders in! Which is crazy, but cool. Most of the mission is going to be green in the next 3 months. I'm only 13 months out and I'm already an old missionary. Drove everybody home, had to stay the night in Negril because it was too late. Finally got home on Thursday morning. So crazy. But good, I like having responsibility I suppose. 

Nothing too crazy this week. Still just going along, trying to work as hard as I can! Because I can't really do anything less. Wicked tired, as usual. Zone conference is next week. I think when I get home to Canada, I'm just going to spend my first 24 hours sleeping. That sounds great right about now. Also eating Mexican food. That'd be nice.

So yeah, things are great. It's nice to hear things at home are going well as well. I hope it keeps it up!

Elder Zeck

Picture of the front of our house

Last District Pic

I'm sure you've never seen a sunset before, so here's a picture of one

This is my posterity photo!
Me (Grandpa Zeck)
My son, (Father Palmer)
And my grandson (Elder Dawson) I think his name's Dawson. So that's cool

Monday, August 10, 2015

Transfers - Staying in Montego Bay

I thought this was pretty funny. In newer prints of the Book of Mormon I don't think this is in there.

The Zone meeting Elder Jernigan and I taught. It was really just 4 hours of us proving how unqualified we are. But it was pretty fun. This is the zone

I always have effective studies in the morning, so I drew this.. I use this for teaching some times. But this is my Plan of Salvation diagram. People respond well to visuals.

We went to the beach in Negril for preparation day last week or something. That was pretty cool. Played some beach volleyball and ate some over priced tourist food. I've never been so tempted in my life, as I was sitting next to the ocean...

District Pic.

This is where I spend a good chunk of my life. I recently finished the Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, New Testament, and Book of Mormon. I only read the Books of Moses this transfer. Numbers was a page turner.

Editor's note:  I asked if he wore contacts anymore because he's wearing his glasses in every picture. His reply was.... "I started wearing glasses because Elder Jernigan wore glasses and I wanted to achieve perfect companionship unity with him. So we wear glasses!"

I won't bother you with any more pictures.

But the week's been good. It was Jamaican Independence day or something, so that was kinda lame, because nobody wants to see us, so we did like, 10 hours of street contacting this week. 4 of which was just on Thursday. I think in normal missions that's probably pretty normal, or like, not very much. But out here, that's a ton! I've gone entire months without needing to street contact. So that was weird, but it's good. I enjoy it! Which is lucky for me. Not lucky for other people who see us coming. I've never felt like a menace to society as much as I do as a missionary. Just ruining people's day every day! Telling them weird stuff about God.

Transfer calls came. So I'm staying, I"ll probably be here for 3 more months. Elder Jernigan is going to Santa Cruz to be a Zone Leader which is funny because he wanted to go to Bahamas, ah well. We call it Sister Cruz zone, because it's like, 60% sisters, as opposed to every other zone which is like, 8%. He's excited though. I'll miss him, he's been a great companion, he's taught me a lot, he's a way better missionary than I am, so I'm hoping that it rubs off. My next companion is Elder Lafayette, a Jamaican, which is going to be great! I'm pretty excited. First full time Jamaican companion. Elder Bennett and Smith are staying here which is good. still 50% Canadian, as it should be. So this week is going to be pretty nuts with transfers and what not. Today we get to pack and prepare and clean and stuff, then Tomorrow we're leaving out at like 3 am so that we can pick up a bunch of Elders to take to Trainers Meeting at 10 AM in Spanish Town. I was asked to do a short demonstration because I'm obviously the best missionary on the island. So we'll see how that goes. Then Tuesday night we race home, then Wednesday morning we get to perform a logistic nightmare and pick up a few elders from various corners of the Jamaica Kingston universe and get to transfers in Spanish Town again. I'm not going to get to proselyte until Thursday afternoon probably, which is lame, but I've gotten used to it. The past couple weeks we've taught a lot, so that's been a blessing.

Elder Koegler is white wash training in Spanish Town I'm pretty sure which is awesome! And I think Elder Palmer is white wash training in Old Harbour which is also great because that means I now have a grandson! White wash just means both Elders are brand new there, fyi.

But yeah, slow week. Just lots of walking around and talking to strangers. The mission is a pretty bizarre experience. The hardest part, and probably the most fulfilling part, is simply staying motivated. I've never been one to enjoy doing the same thing over and over again. So it's nothing short of a miracle that I'm sane, and I've been doing the same thing every day for the past 13 months. It's also crazy to think I've been out for 13 months. Goes faster and faster. I've decided I'm going to write a book after the mission called, "How to Have a Happy Mission" and I'm going to become incredibly wealthy and respectable because of it so I don't have to go to school! Or something... But that's been my goal, to have a happy mission. It's been interesting, because no one taught me how to have a happy mission, I've been figuring it out on my own, and it's been a long and uncomfortable process, but I think I've finally got it down. I think I understand how to have a happy mission! So I'm excited to look back after 24 months and see if it worked. When missionaries go home, they usually spend the last 2 weeks in a frenzy trying to do as much work as possible, and then they kinda mope around for the last 24 hours. Seems terrible. I just want to be able to say at the end that I'm content with the work I've done. And I'm on the right track. I'm finally at a place where I feel good about the knowledge I have and the way I apply it, I've gotten some good formulas down. It's great. I love it. But I'm exhausted all the time. I look forward to hibernating when it's all over.

Nothing else super exciting this week, hope all's good at home!

Elder Zeck

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fun P-day

Editor's note: We got a short, late email today but it sounds well worth it.

So we just got back, it was pretty fun. Played beach volley ball pretty much the whole time. I'm not awful at this sport so I found I could enjoy it and not be a total embarrassment. So that was cool. Then I got a super over priced resort meal!

So I don't have a ton of time, but it sounds like everything at home is going really well. Glad to hear things are still moving along. I'm sure your trip will be fun.

Not much to report this week, taught a ton, have 5 on date, 3 were at church working towards to baptism which is awesome. I love the branch here, it's going to be one of my favorite areas.

One of them that came to church is super stoked to keep coming, she wouldn't stop saying that it felt like home, and she was crying and everything. Super cool. Her 6 year old daughter is really fellowshipped in the primary as well which is awesome, her daughter's half white, so she gets bullied at school and stuff sometimes, so her mother is glad that church is a safe environment.

My favorite part about being a missionary is just the chances I get to watch the gospel change people's lives. In this country, every meaningful baptism is a miracle. And I'm helping a few people feel of these miracles, it's pretty cool. I find that black people in general are incredibly accepting of messages about God. Look here, or in southern states, or in Africa, where religion is booming. If Mormons were in Jamaica way earlier, we'd have the whole island, but because other religions came in with the slave owners and stuff, there's a ton of false stuff floating around. billions of churches with good parts, but not all the good parts. Christ's church was not here, until we got here. So now, trying to change these traditions that have existed for a long long long time, is near impossible. So when it happens, that's pretty cool.

Sorry it's short, but thanks again for the email!

Elder Zeck