Monday, December 30, 2013

Last week - #24 - in May Pen

...And if you want, we can jet to MONTEGO BAY...

Transfer calls came on Saturday. I will be headed off to the big city tourist capital of Jamaica, the beautiful Montego Bay. I am very excited to get there. I was hoping I would get to serve there. Right on the ocean. It should be amazing. I will tell you all about it when I get there. As far as I know, I will be getting picked up on Wednesday morning this week to go to transfers in Spanish Town, and then up to Mo Bay. I will be in a new area for the new year. It should be cool. 

This week has been awesome. On Christmas, we went over to Andrew's house and enjoyed a wonderful meal of roast fish stuffed with callallou and herbs, ackee and saltfish, rice and peas, roast breadfruit, and pasta with the fam and some other friends. The food was restaurant quality stuff. It was amazing. We had a fun night over there and did a little ukulele caroling while we were at it. No one really wanted to see us in the following days because of the holidays. Everyone is finally starting to get back in town, so things should pick up pretty soon here. 

I had the oppurtunity to speak in church this Sunday. I gave a good (well, in my opinion) talk on following the Savior, and tied it into missionary work. We had a lot of people at church for Christmas Sunday,  so that was cool. Goodbyes are hard. I said goodbye to all of my good friends here in May Pen. My convert, 8-year-old Sandre was crying as he told me goodbye. There are so many good people here. I am sad to go. 

I dont really have a lot else to say this week. We did have a good lesson with Andrew and his girlfriend and kids the other day. They are a great family, and I think they will be baptized eventually. The work in May Pen is slowly progressing, and I have to leave. That is about the way it is going everywhere though. It is a slow progression, but things are picking up. 

Enjoy your week!
Happy new years!

Elder Pullan

PS- Yes, you can get out my guitar dad. I am glad that all of the boys got ukuleles too. The principal on both is the same. Learn your basic chords, and you can do just about anything. I love having my ukulele. I jam on it almost every night for at least a half hour. It makes for a lot of fun. Good luck.

Me with Pauline, Crissy and baby Carry

Grand Market on Christmas Eve

Grand Market
The drawings I did on my ukelele this week.

Cooking up saltfish and ackee on Christmas day.
(The light is a light bulb that has been pulled from inside the house to give light outside.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas! (for real)

Merry Christmas everyone!

First off, I would like to thank everyone for the gifts they sent me. The elders in my apartment have enjoyed eating all the christmas treats. The books, money, and cards I received were all very nice. I really enjoyed the christmas tree notes from everyone! 
Grandma and Grandpa Pullan, thanks for the treats and mini christmas tree. It really helped to put us in the Christmas spirit. 
Thanks for the treats Aaron and Melody and fam. 
Thanks for all the good dried food and the book grandma and grandpa molen!
Thanks fam, for all the treats, the wonderful chex mix, the exercise stuff, ties, and anything I am forgetting. It is all much appreciated and has made for a wonderful christmas. 
If it wasn't such a pain, and I had the funds, I would mail some gifts back, but I guess you will just have to wait another 18 months instead.

My story of the week:
The AP's picked us six May Pen elders up in the 14 man mission bus on Thursday to head to Mandeville for our christmas party. Upon reaching Hunts Pen, where two of the May Pen elders live, we found we had a flat tire. We whipped out the jack and spare tire and set everything up, only to find that our jack was broken. So what do 8 elders (two of which are half Samoan) do with a broken jack and a flat tire on a 14 man van? The answer was obvious. Lift the van. So that is exactly what we did. We lifted the van and got the tire changed. We didnt even lose that much time in doing it. Just another epic jamaican story for you. That is how we do it down here. Welcome to JA my friends.

Thanks for the email Rachel, Dad, and Lydia. Your poem is great dad! You are really talented when it comes to writing. My writing on the other hand... is going downhill quickly. I am going to be so dumb when I get back from jamaica. Oh well. Just another side effect of patois and jamaica.

Have you set up your own skype account? What is your skype username and email?
I will be on around 11 to 2. We will have to see. I will email you before, and we can figure it out.   I don't really have a ton to say this week. It can all wait until I can talk to you guys. I am looking forward to it! 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Bless Up,
Elder Pullan

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas from Jamaica!

Hi Fam, 

Merry Christmas!

This week is pretty much christmas for us missionaries. We have parties, meal appointments and devotionals for pretty much the whole week. What little free time we have is already filled with service. (Chopping heavy bush with machetes. Yes. So cool!)  Christmas should be fun. Its not the same as american christmas. Its more an excuse to party and get drunk. We are going to have to go in early on Christmas Eve in order to avoid "grand market" in May Pen town. I have heard that grand market gets crazy. So that will be fun. Jamaican Christmas also includes a lot of rum cake and sorrel. Sorrel is a flower that you boil down, add sugar and ginger to the drink (and sometimes rum, we have to be careful) and then let it sit and chill for a couple days. It is really good. The ginger has a sharp taste that kind of burns your throat as it goes down. Good stuff. 

That is Christmas in JA for you. 

Make sure to enjoy your Christmas for me. Christmas day will consist of riding around and caroling to people with our ukes. Should be fun!

Cool story- On our way back from zone meeting in Mandeville, me and the 5 other missionaries in May Pen loaded up in our taxi bus with at least ten other jamaicans. We whipped out our hymn books and had a somewhat forced sing along of christmas songs for a good hour. Unfortunately, we did not get a whole lot of participation from the bus, but we enjoyed it.

This week has been fairly uneventful. Just more missionary work. Oh, I need your skype information for Christmas. We will either call or skype. We haven't figured out if we will be able to hunt down a web cam though, so I will let you know on next monday.

You should be getting an email with a link to our Jamaican christmas devotional, being broadcast straight from Spanish Town. The event will be this Saturday starting at 1:30. It will include singing and speakers. Elder Fowkes will be singing in it, and I will be watching it from the May Pen chapel with some investigators and the rest of the branch at the same time. (An important thing- When you get the link, do not go into it to see if it works, then close out. The email will come a little before the broadcast to try and prevent this. For some screwy reason, if you open the window, then close out, it will change the URL for everyone... I dont know what up with that. But the point is- open the link once. watch the concert. close out when it is over.) It should be a great devotional. It is the first time they are doing it here in Jamaica. It is a big event, and you are all welcome to tune in to it with me!

Enjoy christmas for me!
Take care everyone!

Love, Elder Pullan

Nathan- here is some Patois for you:

wagwaan- hello / whats up
wa't'gwaan- hello /whats up
a'ight- informal acknowledgement of another
w'appen (woppen)- whats happening / what happened?
m'day'ere- my day here / im here (response to wagwaan)
Bless / Bless up- bless ( in response to a greeting, or as a goodbye)
fi- to, for
me gwaan fi de- I am going there
wa una do?- what did you do
wa yadealwid?- what are you dealing with?/what are you doing/how are you?
una- you
whe'do / wa'ya'do- what did you do?
whitey- common racial slur. both derogative and not depending on how used.
tek cyare- take care!
One love.

Cute little JC- what a funny girl!
A Black Santa- there is a white one around the corner.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Week #21 - Getting hit by a car without a scratch

Hey everyone, 

I am glad Nathan enjoyed his birthday.  I was thinking about him this week.  As far as sending Christmas things for the family, I feel that it will be okay, but keep them small and cheap. There is a fine line between missionary work and families becoming dependent on missionaries. I think they will enjoy them though. 

Say hi to grandma Burris for me. I don't think I will get to see her again. So tell her I love her.

I got hit by a car about a week ago! It made for quite the experience. We were riding up into May Pen town on Tuesday when I  became aware of a silver car that was backing out into the road. The silver car stopped, so I did a quick head check and saw a black car that was coming up on me pretty fast. The silver car was stopped though, so I went to dodge around it. As I committed to this line of action, the silver car began to back out more. I quickly realized that with a car coming in the oncoming lane, there would not be room for all of us. I prepared to catch my handles on the silver car and do all that I could. The silver car backed into me pretty hard as the black car ran by me. I managed to pull a full on superman-dive to roll out on the asphalt. I stood up without a scratch on me. Not even on the palms of my hands. I grabbed my bike and dragged it off the road. The front rim had taco-ed, and the back one was shaky. The guys that backed into me were pretty cool. They apologized and helped me bend my rim back. I managed to get my bike to rasta man gary's to fix it up. He miraculously saved both of my rims and put it in pretty good working condition. My bike is indestructible! I love it. So that is my crazy story for the week. Just another one to add to my big bag of stories from Jamaica. Don't worry for me. Er ting good. My brakes are working just fine dad. Thanks for sending them.

As far as my Christmas package goes, a ukulele book would be awesome. Maybe with jack johnson? Just a thought.  :)

Oh, another story for you. I was on trade off with our ZL, Elder Burrell on wednesday. We were riding our bikes past a mother dog and two little ones. They were scurrying off the road. Elder Burrell said "I hit a dog once". You could just count the three seconds of silence that preceded the "Bang! Aroooooooo!" As the car that just passed us slammed one of the puppies. I said "Elder Burrell, you jynxed it! That one is your fault".  We both got quite the kick out of it. Of all the times to hit a dog. I have only seen one other dog get hit on my mission, so it is not that common an occurance. Hahaha. I hope you all enjoyed that one as much as I did. If you feel bad for the dog - don't. It is a jamaican mutt. I used to sort of care for dogs, but not these. I will never ever own a dog of my own. Not after Jamaica.

That is what I have for the week. It has been a pretty good one. Enjoy Christmas for me!
Bless and love,
Elder Pullan

Oh, Jamaica!

My favorite family!

The Ukelele Trio

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week #20 - A Trip to Kingston & a few more pictures

Hey Fam,

Thanksgiving sounded like a lot of fun! Good job attempting to have fun without me. You did a good job of it. Luckily for me though, I didn't have to put up with missing you guys because of the Thanksgiving season. It is simply non-existent here. Barely crossed my mind at all. I will take this oppurtunity to say thanks though. I love you guys. Thanks mom and dad, for raising me the way you did. For always being home and having a complete and loving family. Thanks for making sure I got to travel, learn, and have all the experiences I did. I am only now beginning to see how much I really have done. I have been all over. I have a ton of random knowledge from trips to different places. I have also been able to work on my art skills and pursue that career because of your support. Thanks brothers and sisters. Thanks for being there for me and spending so much time with me. I love you guys! Good luck!

My Thanksgiving was interesting.  I took a trip to Kingston on Thanksgiving day to get my chipped tooth fixed. Yes, it is the same tooth that grandpa took care of before spring break. It didn't last too long. I know. The lady in Kingston did a pretty good job with it though. Not quite as good as grandpa, but I can live with it. Kingston is a sweet city. I love it. It reminds me of ghetto California. Elder Pace and I shuttled into Kingston on a trade off. Our shuttle driver was bumping 90's rap and reggae the whole way in. I have to say, I enjoyed it.  Elder Pace and I had no idea where we were going the whole time. We started out in the downtown taxi park, and ran, shuttled and taxied around searching for the dentist office and a "music mart". After plenty of buses, asking directions, and a considerable amount of luck, we stumbled over both of them. They weren't too far from Halfway Tree. (“Uptown” meets “downtown” in the constantly entertaining and lively road junction that is Half-Way-Tree. -wikipedia)  I got my tooth fixed, and then Elder Pace and I went and bought ukuleles. I had been thinking about getting one for a while. I figured that if I was going to be here for two years, I may as well learn a useful skill. So, I will count it as my birthday/christmas/birthday/christmas present if thats ok with you. I pulled a ton of money off my card because I was told I would have to pay cash for the dentist appointment, and money for the ukulele.  After the appointment, the office elders, Elder Pace and I had some really good mexican food (jamaican standard at the only mexican restaurant in jamaica. It really wasn't that good. Enjoyable though.) We shuttled back to May Pen and have enjoyed the rest of the week. We sit in the apartment and jam on our ukuleles with every spare second. We have a lot of fun. 

That family in those pictures is getting baptized next week. The mom and the oldest girl are at least. I am excited for them. There were three baptisms in May Pen this week. Elder Packer got to baptize R (a former rasta with a head full of dreads ), and a lady named C and her daughter. They are in the other elders' area, but I taught them a few times on trade off. I was very happy for them. 

The rules of ghetto hopscotch: They are just the rules to real hopscotch. I didn't know there were actual rules to it, but it is a lot more purposeful with them. I am sure you can google them if you don't know them. It involves throwing and picking up tokens as you go. The thing that made it ghetto hopscotch is the fact that it was drawn on the dirt with a piece of charcoal in a compound surrounded by zinc fences. It was a lot of fun. 

I love you guys. Take care this week!
Bless and love, 
Elder Pullan

And Happy Birthday Nathan! Have a good one! You are becoming a big mon!
Love, Daniel

Sunset over the river - the picture doesn't do it justice.

The fam again

Same fam - Anthony was going crazy with the camera for a bit.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week #19 - A Trip to Savannah La Mar

The trip to Savannah la Mar was incredible. We woke up at four o'clock so that we could be ready to catch our ride at five. At five am, the AP's and the mission bus roll up. It is our 15- man Jamaican bus. It makes for quite the spectacle when it is full of white guys (most of the time). We always get weird stares and even more frequent calls of "Whitey" and other various jamaican swear words yelled at us when we are in it. We slept for the first bit of the drive, but once we picked up Elder Creager in Santa Cruz, things got a little more lively. We enjoyed just chilling in the bus on the four hour drive to Savannah La Mar. I got to see the ocean for the first time since I arrived on the island. And wow!  Jamaica is an absolutely incredible place. Its almost like I am living on a vacationer's paradise or something. Well, I guess I am. 

The ride back happened to be pretty fun too. We got to pass the ocean as the sun was setting on it. Elder Famuii would slow the van down for pictures here and there, but most of the pix I got are a little shaky and blurred. It's all good though. I am sure I will get to spend a lot of time on the ocean before I head home. I have heard that the north coast highway is 100 times more amazing. I can't wait to serve up there. 

On Sunday, I went in a tri-companionship because Elder Fowkes had to go to Spanish Town for choir practice. Thats another story though. Elder Packer, Elder Pace (Elder Whitlock's replacement, he got transferred to Spanish Town on Wednesday) and I got to go to a belated birthday party for one of their investigators. We played ghetto hopscotch (which makes soooo much sense when you know the rules), ninja, black magic, and ate some delicious fresh cut cane from the back yard. I have to say, my life is pretty cool.

Elder Pace is a really funny elder. He came out at the same time I did. He just got transferred here from Montego Bay. So I am officially the oldest missionary in May Pen (I have been here the longest). I will be six months in by the time I get transferred! Time flies. 
I am also one  of the youngest missionaries. I still have not met a whole lot who are still 18. Just a cool fact. 

Good news! They are going to give us enough money to live well on as of next month. I will have to starve for the next week, but after that, we will be good! Inflation has continued to go up.  I have been able to see prices rise even in the time since I got here. But, we will now have a little more money to spend. I am excited to be able to eat a little better. 

I will be going to Kingston to fix up my chipped tooth on Thursday. That should be a fun trip. I have not spent much time in Kingston, but I remember it being a very cool city.

I realize that my English is probably degrading. Oh well. Bare with me. Patois can do that to you. 

Dad- You said something about "Swerving to stop" on my bicycle in your letter. To correct you, the theme here is "Don't stop". It keeps you on your toes. And even with the new brakes, you have to keep it up. Moving is safer than braking in some cases.

The brakes and cookies made it to me on Friday in sav la mar. I really enjoyed the snacks. The brakes work really well. Thanks for the support everyone. For the Christmas box- I could use some more tolnafate stuff. Treats are good. Don't spend too much on it. 

I love you guys! Take care!
Bless and love,
Elder Pullan
Elder Packer, me and my favorite fam
Elder Pace playing ghetto hopscotch

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week #18 in May Pen

Hey fam,

I chopped a yard with my machete this week. That's right. I cut grass. And I own a machete. Kinda cool. Its a Jamaican ting mon. On Tuesday morning we woke up and the four of us prepared to go to miss D's to chop her yard. We rigged our machetes on our bikes in various ways with plastic bags and took off. When we got there, miss D was surprised. She didn't think that we were actually going to come. She was very touched and grateful as we chopped her yard. It took a lot of work in the hot sun. The sweat was literally running and dripping off me. That is what the humidity will do to you. After a couple of hours and blisters later, we looked at the chopped yard and were satisfied. We loaded back up with our machetes and rode home. 

I got to attend a zone conference in Mandeville last week. The drive to Mandeville is awesome. We weave through little mountain roads for over an hour to get there. Mandeville is a slightly bigger city with a very unique feel to it. I have found that every Jamaican city is totally different, but they are all definitely Jamaican. This week I will get to go to Sav (Savannah La Mar) for a combined conference with the north coast zone. Sav is right on the ocean, so I just might get to see the beach for the first time since I got here. It should be cool. 

We are working with a lot of members now. It takes a lot of work and patience, but we are going to start utilizing them. It will be a slow process, but as we make the shift, finding and missionary work will be done by members. Our job will and should be simply to help teach. 

I have had another enjoyable week here in Jamaica. 

Lydia- I never did get to meet with Lucky and Eyeball. That was on a day that Pres. Brown went out with us, so we had to readjust our schedule a little bit.  It worked out though. 

Nathan- Here is some patois:  "Wagwaan my ute, waayadeal wit? "
(What's up my youth?  What are you dealing with?  What are you doing?) Now you will know some Patois for when we come back to Jamaica.

Take care guys. I love you.
Bless and love,
Elder Pullan

Elder Fowkes, having been "floured" on his birthday.  (A little about the Jamaican tradition from the internet: Whether you are 9 or 99, no-one is immune the birthday tradition of Flouring. Loved ones buy bags of flour  and spend days devising cunning ways to liberally throw the stuff on you, the unsuspecting victim. It isn't uncommon for crafty relatives to top off your 'Flour Shower' with a liquid of some kind, resulting in you being covered in a sticky mess of floury goo. The nanosecond that the calendar lands on your big day, you'll spend the entire time figuring out this year's attack plan.)

A Jamaican girl, apparently celebrating her birthday on a different day.  
Daniel's "broken soccer ball hat" he made on P-day.

Elder Whitlock and Miss. D - cutting her lawn with machetes as service.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week #17 May Pen

Hey fam-

Info on baptisms:  It is a boy and a girl. Not two boys. The boy, Sam, his grandmother is a strong member. His mother is not baptized, but comes to church here and there. The girl is his cousin. Her sister is a member, and has encouraged her to get baptized too. They are both a handful, but I am supposedly good with kids, so they like me. They are great kids, and they really desired to do what their heavenly father asks of them. They were both so happy after they were baptized. You could tell that they were feeling that same warmth and acceptance that I felt at my baptism. They are still a little crazy, but that's expected. They will learn more as time goes on. I met both of them through Sam's grandma. They live in the half of May Pen that got cut out of my area, but they still wanted me to baptize them. 

I've included a picture of  me, Sam and Valerie right before their baptism. That was an awesome experience. Valerie was scared to go all the way under the water when she got baptized. Really scared. I reassured her, and continued with the ordinance, baptizing her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. As she came up out of the water, you could see the joy she felt. It was the same joy and acceptance that I felt from my heavenly father when I was baptized. She was so happy. I will never forget that moment. 

I may leave May Pen in about a week at transfers. We will have to wait and see. I love the play pen, but a change of scenery wouldn't be bad either. 

Nothing huge happened this week. More teaching. No investigators at church. We are trying hard though. They will get there. President Brown is now putting a big emphasis on finding and teaching through members.  Missionaries are simply there to help the members teach their friends. It is not our  job to find. We can't always be there for our converts, but if the missionaries are simply helping, the members will always be there as a support to their friends. Then we can all share in the wonderful gospel together. 

Christmas list- I would appreciate some jack johnson, mumford and sons, bryan adams, billy joel and some new ink pens. Music is an amazing thing. And I miss it so bad. I need something other than EFY songs to listen too. Of course there is dancehall music blasting all over the place here, but I can't say I'm a huge fan of that either.

I love and miss you guys. Take care,
Bless and love,
Elder Pullan

*Names of converts have been changed.  Daniel sent a great picture of him at the baptism, but we aren't supposed to post pictures of converts without their permission.  I could not crop the other people out of the picture.  I will email the picture to family members, but if you would like to see it please email me and I will forward the picture.  

This picture is of Elder Fowkes holding his bike seat. He rides with his seat really high because he is tall. His stem broke the other night, so he had to ride all the way from Juno standing up. We tied the seat to his bike frame with scandal bags to get it home. Its a jamaican ting mon.  (Wikipedia: Scandal bags are what Jamaicans call the polythene bags which supermarkets use to pack groceries. They are given that name because their translucent quality often allows people to discern what groceries they contain.) 
Our Risk game. Which I happen to be winning. Yes.  (This picture is in reference to his letter last week, in which Elder Fowkes was sick for several days and they found a Risk game in the apartment.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week #16 in May Pen -A Baptism!

Hey family-

The baptism this week was awesome.  It was an amazing experience to see these two young kids make that commitment to the Lord.  And to be able to be the one to baptize them.  Sandre ran up to me when he got to the church and gave me a big hug. He was yelling, "You're gonna baptize me!" and walked around with me until the service started.  Finally having some success is a huge strength to me, and I thank the Lord for it. 

This week has been slow. Between torrential rainstorms, finding the board game, Risk, in our apartment (yes), Elder Fowkes birthday (I got floured pretty bad on accident. Its not fun), and Elder Fowkes being sick, we had fun.

I got to draw for 10 hours while Elder Fowkes was sick.  I have another masterpeice in the works.  Yes! I really miss the days of drawing all day and friends all night. That is just another part of the work though. 

We have to drop Leonardo. He is reading the Book of Mormon, but he has not made it to church, and he does not have the desire to progress. That will be a sad lesson to have with him.  I am not looking forward to it. 

I bought some milk this week! It cost an arm and a leg, but it was soooo worth it. 

We got to go and help out at the Carribean day of service. We painted one of the wards in the infirmary here. The conditions there were terrible. I was just glad that I could help out. The ward looked very nice by the time we were done, and it was good to spend some time with some of our awesome ward members. 

Halloween sounded like fun. My halloween was rather uneventful... oh well. It looks like you all had a great time.

Lydia- We live in an apartment above Mama and Papa P's house. They are our landlords. They are great people.

Nathan- I would love a reggae cd for christmas. I get sick of  EFY music sometimes. Most of the time. All the time.

I love you guys. Keep up the good work everyone. Enjoy the cold and the snow for me!

Bless and love,
Elder Pullan

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week #15 in May Pen

Yes mon!
Wagwaan fam?

This week was pretty good. It included a lot of bike problems, and a lot of good times. 

A few things I wanted to discuss so that you can know Jamaica better-
Meal appointments:
When we are fed by people the food is always delicious. We are given heaping plates of rice and peas topped with fried chicken or curried meats. It is always delicious. You are expected to eat all of it though. It gets hard sometimes. I manage. It just took a little expanding my stomach. We really don't get fed all that often, but when we do... Mmmmmm. Good stuff. The other thing about meal appointments is this; It is Jamaican tradition to not eat with the people you are hosting. We are served, and then we sit in our own room and eat and talk together (me and the other missionaries). It is just another Jamaican ting mon. 

We did a lot of riding around on our bikes and teaching this week. We found a lady named Graciela who recently moved here from Guatemala. Her english is not great, and when I try to speak spanish, I mix it up with patois. Yeah, tell me patois isnt its own language. Ya cyaan tell me dat mon. Ya jus cyaan. She was taught in guatemala by some other missionaries, and was ready to be baptized when she moved. She was looking for the church for a while here, but never found it until... two elders rode by. We got the refferal the next day. She is an awesome lady. We are excited to keep teaching her. 

One thing we love to do is grab bag juices on hot days. You can pick up a bag juice for 15 bucks pretty much everywhere you go. Why? Because there are small shops everywhere you go. It is a common trend in jamaica. As for supply and demand? It is a foreign concept here. But a good old bag juice and donkey kong (hard sweet cracker) can lighten up any day. It nah get nah bettuh.

We attended Mama P's daughter's 40th birthday party at Mama P's invite. We enjoyed some good food, and some good american music. I miss music soooooooo much. It was an enjoyable time though. We have not had water in the house for the last few days. It has been out since three days ago. It came back on for about 24 hours yesterday, but when we woke up, we were without again. I hate being out of water. We have to resort to bucket showers and filling containers at the pipe downstairs in the yard. Its all part of the experience though. 

I may get to baptize one of my past investigators on Friday. He is an 8-year-old named Sandre. I taught him for a while until we got two more elders in May pen. Our areas split, and he ended up on there side. He told me he wants me to baptize him though, so I am excited for that. It is very rewarding to see that you have actually made a difference. 

I love you guys. It sounds like you are all having a great time. Enjoy David and Susan's new little one for me. It sounds like the kids are.

Till next week,
Elder Pullan

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week #14 in May Pen - a funeral & a new investigator

Hey fam,

This week included a Jamaican funeral and a few disappointments.  Jamaican funerals last for 9 nights. The whole family gets together for nine nights of drinking, smoking, eating, and dominoes. I have never seen so much ganja in one place.  Wow.  Leonardo's uncle was shot by the police a while ago.  We had the chance to drop by the 9 nights and the funeral.   The nine nights was uneventful, but a great cultural experience.   The funeral was a classic Jamaican funeral.   It took place at the Bethel Temple Apostolic Church near Mack corner.  It was full of songs by a black choir, and praises to the Lord. Once again, it was quite the cultural experience.

We took some time not long ago to help the family build the grave.  We hauled wheelbarrows full of dirt and rocks to the grave for the mixing of cement.   We were just walking straight over graves, and most of the family was camping out on them.  Most of the graves were unmarked and breaking.  Family history work is going to be a nightmare here. 

When we dropped by the 9 nights on Saturday night, my favorite investigator was smoking and drinking.   It almost broke my heart.   We have not seen him again yet, but I am hoping and praying that he will be able to kick the drugs and get on the right path. 

Other than that, we met a short Guatemalan woman who recently moved here.   She took the missionary lessons in Guatemala and wants to be baptized.   She had been looking for the church for over a month here when she ran into some missionaries.  We got the referral, and we are excited to start working with her.  Her english is not great, and its honestly wierd that she is not black.   But, that's just part of this mission. 

Mission prep is going well.   All of the youth in the branch are slowly trying to find the motivation to go. I really don't know what is holding them back.   I am confident that most of them will get there though. They are a great group of youth, and I love them very much.

We got to "chef a pot" with Leonardo earlier this week.   We went over to his house and picked ackee off the tree to eat.   We pitted it, and then cooked it with saltfish over a charcoal fire.   It was delicious food.   It is so cool that you can just pick your food off the trees here and eat it.  This is just another reason I love jamaica.  Ackee tastes a little like scrambled eggs when cooked.   You eat it with rice, saltfish, and fried vegetables.   Saltfish is preserved fish.   It is salt cured and can be eaten raw.   It is really salty and not that great raw though.   Overall review- ackee and saltfish when cooked well are amazing. 

Mom- I need a no bake cookies recipe. A branch member, brother R. said some missionaries made them for him once, and he wants them again.   Bro. R. is a great guy.   He has had a lot of problems in his life, but he is getting through. We saw him while he was on a date the other night.   He was soooo happy.   It was great to see him like that.   Anyway, no bake cookies recipe would be great- and thanks for the UW info.  I love you all.   Enjoy halloween for me and let matthew watch that movie he wants to watch at his party.

Love, elder pullan

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week #13 in May Pen & some great pictures!

Good News!  We started talking to more fruit vendors and have been able to track down some delicious plantain, pineapple, guinep, and june plum.  I love Jamaican food.

As for the guy that bolted during the lesson the other day - apparently he is in jail now.  From what I've heard, he got arrested for marijuana possession, but I have heard other things that happened around here that he may have been involved in.  BUT- You know you suck when you get arrested in Jamaica for weed.  Nuff said.

My good friends Leonardo and Akeim have been reading their Book of Mormons every single night.  They are both 18 years old, and really are my friends.  My new Jamaican nickname is Puldoski.  ALL Jamaicans have and use nicknames.  I have met people that don't even know their friend's real names because of the nickname thing.  One of my favorite ones I've heard so far is Bigga Pop.  Ha. I love jamaicans.

Elder Fowkes is a great companion.  We get along well, and the adjustment from Elder Barber to him was easy.  The work is beginning to move in May Pen.  We got two new missionaries here and split our area.  There are now 3 areas in May Pen.

Thanks for the box, Mom.  The hair clipper is great.  They have saved me a buck or two.  The dried mango and pretzel bites were awesome.  I really enjoyed having a little extra to eat this week.  I got the stuff for the jack o lanterns, but I don't think we will do it.  They don't celebrate Halloween here, and honestly, a reminder of the seasons in this everlasting summer would probably slow things down.  No Halloween.  Oh well.  Thanks for the thought though mom.  I enjoyed thinking back on doing them with the fam each year.  

Love, Elder Pullan 

The District
They have these signs at the front of schemes all over jamaica. They vary, but the message is the same. Neighborhood watches in action. This is one of the best ones I've seen. Enjoy.

Leonardo & I (note the new buzz haircut and new pants - we sent him a box last week)

Me with Elders Ashby, Bateman, Barber, Reusch, Gill, Whitlock & Dawkins

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week #12 in May Pen

Hey fam, wagwaan?

This week went well.  Conference was awesome.  It's the only time that we as missionaries get to watch TV, so we made sure to enjoy it.  We all splurged and bought a box of american sugar cereal to eat during conference.   The talks offered a lot of good advice.  One recurring theme I saw was building an enduring testimony.   In our world today, we all need to be doing the gospel basics that keep us safe. These include daily scripture study, prayer, church attendance, going to the temple, striving to keep our covenants, repentance, and seeking to apply the gospel to our lives.   By doing these things, we can, like lifting weights, build our testimony.   We need to be doing these things to make it.   If you are not in the habit of doing these things, start now!    As Elder Nelson said, "you are never too young to learn, you are never too old to change."  I would encourage all to do these things so that when trials and temptations come, they can stay strong.

As for the rest of my week? Elder Barber and I found a man who I had taught the restoration discussion to and talked to for a while two or three weeks ago.   He had told me about how he doesn't have the money to get his young daughter to school and back.   He also told me about how his father was killed by a "bad-mon" when he was seven years old.   He said his father was robbed by one of his own friends, and then shot because "dead mon tell no tales".   Jamaica is no joke.   This man, like most in Jamaica, is unmarried.   He seemed interested in the gospel as I taught him, but I neglected to get his phone number, and he disappeared.   A couple of nights ago we were on our bikes and he called out to us as we were passing.   Luckily we stopped.   We began to talk to him and he told us that he studied the restoration pamphlet and that it makes sense.   He told us "Joseph Smith is a prophet.   It's true".   We were a little taken back, but happy to see another one of the ways that God prepares his children for the gospel.   We went back to teach him a couple of nights later.   We were in the middle of discussing his feelings and questions about the restoration when a car pulled down the gravel lane.   We were sitting out on the incomplete foundation of a house in this big family compound when he saw it.   Without warning, he took off at a full sprint and disappeared.   Some big guys got out of the car and talked to us for a bit.   They were nice enough guys, but not the type you want to have against you.   I think he owes them money or something.   It was an interesting night.   We haven't been able to hunt him back down yet, but  I will keep you updated. 

I will be staying in May Pen for at least another transfer.   We are getting two more missionaries in May Pen, so my area will probably get shifted, but I am glad to stay.   The play pen really is a cool place. Elder Barber leaves today to serve in Freeport, Bahamas.   The Bahamas are supposed to be really Americanized.   Lucky!  I will be serving with Elder Faux.   I have only seen him a couple of times, but he is supposed to be a cool guy and a great missionary.  I will be in a tri-panionship tomorrow, and Elder Faux will come sometime on Wednesday.   I have loved serving with Elder Barber.   I have learned a lot from him and I am sad to see him go.   It's all part of the mission though.

One thing that we don't really get back in utah is lightning storms.   Here in jamaica, it isn't rare to have cooler days of grey skies and lightning.   No rain, just lightning flashing in the distance all day long.   This week I learned the difference between a lightning spark and a lightning bolt.   The gigantic flash of light that lit the coconut tree on fire and left my ears shell shocked two weeks ago: that's a bolt.  The small "tck" sound and spark I saw ten feet from me while walking over on sunny side: that's a spark. It was a little scary to see it so close.   Immediately after, loud thunder sounded right over our heads.   Are sparks as cool as bolts?  Sadly, no.   Could they kill me?   Probably.  Just another day in beautiful Jamaica.

Jamaica is a land surrounded by sky.  The clouds and sunsets are always beautiful here.   The sky seems so much bigger than back home, and the depth to it seems to surround you.   The sun sits high in the sky each day.   Almost directly above your head. If you look up at noon, you can't see it.  You would have to lay on your back to find it.  You can always feel it there though.   It's constant presence leaves a burning sensation on your skin some days.   The landscape is tropical and beautiful.   When it rains here, the colors get deeper, and stand out against the dark grey sky.   It really is an incredible place.

It seems so strange to me that it is snowing back home.  I totally forgot about seasons.  It is supposed to get a little colder in the winter, and there is always more rain in the fall, but other than that, the only way to tell the seasons apart is by the fruit you can get for cheap.  Mangoes and guava are now out of season.  You can still find guinep all over and we are starting to see a lot of June plum.  A June plum is tough with a rough peel and a spiky core.  You can buy them on the street for thirty dollars and have the vendor peel it for you.  It is a sour, slightly bitter fruit with an odd sort of cinnamon taste to it.  I can only say that I am a fan.

I went on a trade off with President Brown on Wednesday.  I was with Elder Whitlock too, so it was like a double trade off.  We had to quickly re-schedule our day to make it a little more effective, and then try out hardest to make it work.  I loved teaching with President Brown.  He is an amazing teacher.  He is so bold in teaching people, but you know that he really cares about them too.  Boldness is something you have to figure out here.  If you don't simplify things, say things boldly and lay things out in black and white, they will make no impact.  This boldness always has to be balanced with love though.  It has been interesting learning to teach better here.  It is an ongoing process.

Tell mom that it's awesome she met Elder Whitlock's mom.  Elder Whitlock is a great elder.  He actually went to college with my friend, Braedon Cook, for awhile.  So we have that connection too.

The mission is going well.   I feel totally adjusted and at home here now.   I love you guys and thank everyone for their support.

Till next week.  Likkle mo' (little more, goodbye)

Elder Pullan

Monday, September 30, 2013

Rain, Cricket & New Friends

Hey fam-

It rained pretty hard this morning. We had to forgo lifting weights because of it. We have a one-month membership at a sweatshop about a mile from our house. We wake up, leave by six, pump weights for an hour, and then ride our bikes home in time to shower, eat, and be ready for studies by eight. I love getting out in the mornings. The mornings are cool and nice.

Did all the pix come through? I think I got them all to send. I figured out how to convert them to email size on the camera, so they shouldn't be too hard to send anymore. 

We have had a couple days of rain this week. It can be fun to go out and ride in the rain, but being wet all day isn't quite as nice. Our investigators are doing well. Gary (up in Canaan Heights) disappeared for a couple of days. We need to hunt him down again. He has word of wisdom problems, but he really does want to do the right thing. We have two kids (8 and 10 years old) that we are working towards baptism with. They all come from part member families who don't really see the importance of baptism at such a young age. They think that they should wait until they are old enough to make a bad decision and not really care about religion. It makes no sense to me. Jamaican culture really is foreign though. It has taken some pretty intense adjusting. 

Elder Barber and I got to play cricket with a 13 year old boy named Kenneth on Sunday. Cricket is actually a really fun game. It is easy to learn and would be really fun to play when I get back. We took turns bowling (pitching), catching, and batting. I'm actually not too bad at it. The goal is for the pitcher to knock the wicket over. The wicket sits right behind the batter. The batter wants to protect the wicket, and hit the ball far enough to get points, or run to the pitchers line and back to the wicket before the other team gets the ball and  knocks the wicket over. That explanation may seem confusing, but it is not as bad as it sounds. Our bat was an old 2x4 with some bent nails in it. Our wicket was a piece of sheet-metal leaned  up against a cinder block. We played for a while with Kenneth, another kid with a weird Jamaican name around his age, and a little girl around Lydia's age. She was pretty good at cricket. I think Lydia and her would be good friends. After Lydia learned to understand Patois that is. 

I am pretty good with the Patois now.  There are still some people I can't understand, but there are ones that Elder Barber (who has been out for eight months) can't understand either. 

We ran into a Rasta and his friend. The call themselves Lucky, and Eyeball. They gave us some good sugar cane to eat and showed us how to pit ackee so we can cook it. We are going to hike into Canaan Heights on Wednesday night and Lucky and Eyeball are going to show us how to make ackee and saltfish. It should be pretty fun. I am sure I will come back with a story to tell. You usually do in Canaan Heights. 

General conference and transfer calls are coming up on Saturday. I am really excited for conference. I hope that each of will pray and think of a question that they need answered this week. Then watch conference and it will be answered. It is one of many ways that we can recieve answers. I would encourage all of us to do it.

I guess I will know where I am going on Saturday too. I think I will be staying in May Pen, but Elder Barber will probably be leaving. I will let you guys know. 

Good luck! Keep me updated on everyone.
Thanks for the support and stay strong!

Elder Pullan

Canaan Heights - The most dangerous and ghetto area in our area

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lightning Strikes, Chicken Foot Soup & A Baptism Date


First, my event of the week-

This last week, the coconut tree in our front yard got struck by lightning.  It was just another one of those "run downstairs and tell mama and papa P (our landlords that we live above) that their coconut tree just got struck by lightning and is now on fire" moments. You gotta love them. The tree was only about thirty feet from where I was sitting inside. The flash of light was blinding and the noise left my ears minorly shell shocked.  We tried to put the fire out but couldn't reach it because our water and power was out.  The power and water go out pretty frequently here.   We ended up just having to let the fire get rained out.   So that is my exciting experience of the week!

This week we were able to get a couple solid investigators that are now working towards baptism. One of our investigators can't read, so we hike up into the sketchiest place in our area every day to read the Book of Mormon with him. We met him through teaching a late night restoration lesson at a bar.   The next day when we were riding by, the bar owner told us that his friend wanted to talk to us.   We found him that day.   He told us that he is looking to turn over a new leaf and that he couldn't get our message off his mind all that night.   He has a good heart and a baptism date for the twelfth of October.  There is no greater calling than that of rescuing our brothers and sisters and assisting the Lord in his work. 

This week also included my first chicken foot soup. Mama P (our land lady downstairs) made it for us.   The chicken feet are rubbery.  They have hardly any meat on them.  If you're a real Jamaican, you eat the bone too.  The bone was interesting, but not too bad. Maybe we will have to get some chicken feet when I get home so you can give it a try for yourselves. 

We got a little bit of rain this week. Our biggest storm was the lightning storm I mentioned before.  I was home with Elder Packer that day because he was sick all week.  Elder Whitlock went out with Elder Barber that day so he could teach some.   Elder Packer is doing fine now.   He had a lot the same thing that I had two weeks before leaving, but less severe.  (A para-tonsilar infection).  They ended up spending ten hours at the hospital getting drugs that you could pick up at smiths for a couple bucks.  The med care here is free, but it would be for the best if I can avoid it.  I would not trust anyone in the hospitals to keep me alive if it came down to that.  So, as the Jamaicans say, pray for me.  The storm knocked our power and water out for a long time that day.  I spent most of the day drawing and studying.  There was quite a bit of lightning really close by.  It is amazing to see the power of a lightning bolt dropping from the sky. 

A conference ensign would be awesome mom. 

I love you guys. Enjoy your week and keep pressing forward. I am going to try and get a few pictures off with the time I have left.  

Elder Pullan

(note: no pictures came through today :(

Monday, September 16, 2013

The work progresses in May Pen...

Wagwaan Fam?

My week consisted of a couple of rainy days and a couple of promising investigators. We got two of our investigators to church this week! Its the first time we have gotten an investigator to church in weeks. We have found a lot of people that we are starting to teach, and we currently have two investigators who are working towards a baptismal date. The work is starting to pick up. The Lord labors with us in the vineyard, that is something that I cannot deny. I love the people here, and May Pen is sweet.

I also got to try Rastafarian food this week. Rastafarian food is all natural and really good. It consisted of rice, beans and soy, festival (a mini scone type thing), and some delicious peanut soup. One of the other missionary's investigator went with us and we sat on the steps and talked as we ate. 

This week also consisted of quite a bit of dodging traffic and close calls. I'm alive though. And its nothing to worry about. Here in Jamaica, you simply learn to swerve rather than brake. This is something I happen to be pretty good at. Since most bikes have terrible brakes in Jamaica (don't ask me why) swerving becomes a necessity. I have tried to fix my brakes, and no, nothing helps. It's just the low quality of the supplies they have here. Honestly, I can't complain. It adds a little spice to my day, and is just another crazy story to tell upon my return home.

Elder Barber and I went to some shady places this week, talked to some crazy people, and bashed with an absolutely insane man who insisted that we are CIA and that the only reason we aren't driving benzos (Mercedes Benz) is because we go to areas that are too rough for them. Not because we don't have any money. I also saw the biggest ganja spliff of my mission to date this week. Wow. Talk about destroying your body and blackening up (getting high). Some people just don't understand how terrible it is for you. I guess thats why I'm here though. I have to help those that don't get it to understand so that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, they can change their lives and come unto him. Likewise, we are all to do the same. Through the atonement, we can all be clean again and return to live with our Father in Heaven. Never forget this. Always strive to be better and to draw closer to him. As we "draw near unto him, he will draw near unto us". I love you guys. I will try to send a couple pix before time runs out.

Elder Pullan

Happy birthday mom! I love you and I appreciate all of your help and support. I love the fact that you were always home and that I lived in a home with two married parents that were strong in the gospel. I love you and can't thank you enough for everything you taught me. Enjoy your birthday!
Love, your son,
Elder Pullan