Monday, July 29, 2013

Wagwaan white-mon?

Wagwaan white-mon?  (note from wikipedia: means "What's going on?" in Patois)

Welcome to Jamaica. A land a rolling green hills and people that hate to make commitments. Surprisingly, the hardest commitment to get out of people here is getting them to church. We always get an "I'll try my best" rather than an "I will". 

Welcome to Jamaica. I am beginning to be able to understand people better. I feel at home now and I love May Pen. We end up riding upwards of ten miles on our bikes each day, so it is a good area for me. I am able to get the exercise and rush I need through weaving through the pedestrians, pushcarts, potholes, and cars of May Pen. It is a crazy town with a lot of personatlity to it. There is nowhere else like Jamaica. Hopefully the photos I am attaching will come through. 

This last week was district conference. President Brown got up and gave everyone the vision on the work. There is going to be a stake in Kingston by the end of the year, and a stake in May Pen by the time he is released. Now is Jamaica's time. This is a very exciting time to be called to the work. 

For dad's question about being a minority- I get called white-mon simply to identify me and as an insult several times a day. People think that I have money to give them because I am white and they are lazy. There are tons of jamaicans that don't work. They don't have house payments because they build their homes. As long as they have food for the week, they chill and roam the streets. This is not true of all Jamaicans, but you do not have to work to live in Jamaica. People have the mindset that they will take what comes as God gives it to them. If you ask a Jamaican where they see themselves in five years, most will say "I can't tell the future". If you ask them what their dream job is, they will say "I will take whatever God gives me". The mindset that you can go out and get whatever you want simply does not exist here. This is a generalization. Not all Jamaicans are like this, but you do tend to hear it a lot. Don't think that I am dissing the people. It is important to understand this to really get a feel for Jamaica, however.  I love it here and the people are great. They are friendly God-fearing people. But we should all be very grateful for where we live. We are definitely blessed.

By the way, we do do our wash in a bucket. We have a wash lady that does most of it for $500 every monday. We hang them on a line to dry out behind the house. Our showers are... refreshing and come from a single pipe with no head. Welcome to Jamaica. And it's not our apartment that is ghetto. Jamaica is ghetto. All of it. Our apartment is nicer than a lot of places we've been. Love you mom. And I like the pillowcase. Thanks for everything. I will see if I can figure out the mailing info for you and give you a list of what I need next week. 

I love jamaica. I love the work and I love the people. I miss you guys and I love to read about the happenings at home.

Good luck with the play matthew and rachel. And good luck getting rich beyond your wildest dreams lydia!  (With her Fair Days entries.)

Love, Elder Pullan

Elder Barber
our apartment
a house in the process of being "built"

Monday, July 22, 2013

Welcome to May Pen

companion: Elder Barber

area: May Pen

Hey everyone!
Welcome to May Pen, a small bush town a little bit over a half hour from Kingston. Life here is constantly moving and crazy, and yet no one is ever ever ever in a hurry. When you drive in jamaica, there are two things you do: you drive with your horn- thats how you let people know where you are and make yourself known to other drivers. Second, you drive like there is a rabid tiger in the backseat. If you don't keep moving you become an obstruction to traffic and a risk. So that first drive from the airport through Kingston was eye opening for two reasons. The insane and constant switching lanes while driving, and the extreme poverty. I never imagined anything like this. Nothing is new in Jamaica. Just like ukraine, people build their house a piece at a time from the outside in. So you end up with empty shells of houses with rebar sticking out of them all over the place. Building materials include cinder blocks, rebar, stucco, and corrugated metal sheets. Every house has some sort of fence (either painted rebar or corrugated metal) outside and gates are always locked. Although I am living in a ghetto, people, including me, are happy here. Jamaicans are sort of shy on first meeting, but the ice is easy enough to break and they become very friendly quickly.

Just to kill and confirm all of your jamaican stereotypes, 

Jamaica is: Beautiful, tropical, lush, ghetto, and 100% african american. (The only white guys in May Pen are me and the three other elders in my apartment).

Jamaica has: tons of stray dogs with loud barks and no bite. All you have to do to get them to leave is bend down and pretend to pick up a rock. They will scatter in every direction.
Goats. Jamaica has goats. All over the place. 
Crazy drivers.
Lots of bikers.
Open air markets.
Hot, humid weather (although the humidity is not much worse than Maui, so thats a relief)
Its own definition of on time. Most of our appointments fall through, so we don't plan ahead much. We call investigators as the day goes and try to meet up with them. And it doesn't matter it you show up two hours late. It just doesn't matter.
Push Carts. Like for real. No races though.
and hardcore patois. I can only understand people when they know jamaican english and address me. When jamaicans talk to each other they use patois. It is a whole different language based more around ideas and phrases than actual words. It is flowing and impossible to understand until you have been here for at least three months, from what I've heard. Even the Jamaican english took me three days to begin to understand and is still hard sometimes.
My call packet said I would be preaching in english. That may be true, but jamaicans nah speak nah english.

I have: No hair on my right thumb because we have to light our stove with a normal lighter every time we use it.

My bike is pretty awesome. It was probably new sometime around the year I was born. So much for "get the nicest bike you can and take good care of it" dad. Don't think Im complaining, but like I said, nothing is new in Jamaica. My bike has been pieced back together time and time again as needed by a man in spanish town where we picked our bikes up. It has lightning blue rims and makes people jealous. Thats why I picked it.

When we met at the church in spanish town to get our trainer and our assignments, President Brown gave a fantastic message about how this is Jamaica's time. He told us how he had read (I think it was) 3rd Nephi 22: 1-2 where it quotes a song about a barren land recieving the gospel. He told us that that verse had stuck out to him and a strong voice had come to his mind telling him that this is Jamaicas time. There are the ancestors of jamaicans beyond the veil, born as slaves. He told us that he doesn't even know his own real last name, and he doesn't know how they are going to trace all of those people so that their work can be done for them. He counseled us to teach with the temple in mind as the goal. Many need their vicarious work done.  He told us that there will be stakes in jamaica. There will be stakes in jamaica by the time I leave. Now is Jamaicas time. 

Jamaica is a country that needs the gospel badly.  There are a few investigators that we are working with and I feel are close to baptism. Elder Barber and I had the same thought that we need to get our investigators, specifically Dwayne, Brittanya, and Marsha to read their Books of Mormon and pray daily in order to get them to commit to baptism. 

That is one thing that jamaicans dont like to do. It is very hard to get a commitment out of them. Most of the time you get a "its too soon" or "later" or "eventually" on baptism, and a "I will try" on invitations to church. They are a good God fearing people that have no problem with talking about God. It is hard to get them all the way into the fold though. And then we have to retain them. No one has cars or motivation, so they don't get to church. Church is actually one of the hardest commitments to get them to make, and we actually require them to get to church at least three of four times to be baptized. It is a very important piece that we have to push.

My companion is Elder Barber. He is a great kid, also from utah. He is a good missionary and we are connecting pretty well. We share our apartment with Elder Bateman and Elder Whitlock. They have the May Pen 1 area (we are May Pen 2) and they are both great guys.

We end up riding our bikes at least ten miles a day because our area is actually on the other side of May Pen. We have to ride a good mile up the hill through the main street of may pen to get to our area. And our area extends quite a ways from there. 

Our apartment is a decent size. We live in the upstairs of a house owned by a non member jamaican family. At this point we eat mostly ramen and rice mixed together and strained for dinner, although I am going to get some better food when we do our shopping today. Jamaican food is delicious. Outside of the house, we eat a lot of fried and jerk chicken, and rice and peas. I also had krill, mangoes (pronounce mongoes here) and sweet potatoes at a dinner appointment last week. The krill was salty, but not bad. They grind up the whole krill in the dish though, so you end up with tails and legs here and there. The mangoes were delicious. When you eat them, you simply pick them up, peel the skin off with your teeth as you go, and dig in. They were ripe and amazing. They were actually our dessert. We also had a delicious mango puree drink. Jamaican food is good. I also got my first patty this week, and I approve. It is a nice hot, flaky packet of meat. We buy it with coco bread. You put the patty in the coco bread (like a bun) and dig in. Good food. 

Going to church for the first time was cool. I love the people and the congregation is strong here. Nothing like Utah, but strong. I was able to bear my testimony to the branch and get to know a lot of them. We also teach a mission prep class every sunday night at five with the other two elders in our area.

At first I was having trouble understanding, talking with (because I couldn't understand), and connecting with people, but I am getting better and beginning to adjust to the mission life. Things are going well! I love May Pen and I love the people. 

As for the art gallery- I don't really want to get rid of anything in my portfolio without going through it all, but you can display my big painting and priest ink drawing and anything else you think is good at your discretion. I don't mind my work being seen. Its great that uncle kevin is doing that.

I hope you all are doing well. Tell Nathan and Lydia to be good and that I love them. I want you all to remember to say your daily prayers as they provide us strength against temptation. Tell Matthew to enjoy himself and to stay strong. As for Rachel, I  hope work is going ok. I love you mom and dad. Thanks for being such great parents and raising me correctly. I think you did a good job of making me ready to leave and self sufficient enough to do it when I did. 

I love you guys!
One Love,
Elder Daniel D. Pullan

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Safely Arrived"
July 18th

Daniel departed on Tuesday morning with a group of 12 missionaries heading to Kingston, Jamaica.  He called us from the Salt Lake Airport early Tuesday morning.   It was really great to be able to talk to him for a few minutes before he departed.  He had layovers in Dallas and Miami, arriving in Kingston at 8:30 pm.  We anxiously awaited word of his arrival and we were excited to get an email from his mission president on Thursday informing us that he had arrived safely.  The email said his companion is Elder Barber and that his first area is May Pen.  Two photos were attached which I will include in this post.

May Pen is about 30 miles west of Kingston.  It is a largely agricultural region and the city numbers about 60,000 people.   It is located on the Rio Minho river (Jamaica's longest), and is a major market centre for the Parish. Boasting a large open air market and transportation centre along Main Street and Sevens Road, the town's centre is often chaotic with activities of shoppers, vendors daily and motorized traffic.   May Pen is also an important citrus packing centre, famous for oranges and a hybrid citrus fruit called anugli. (Summarized from Wikipedia)  We were also excited to read on a missionary couple's blog that in May Pen, "the church is stronger on the south side of the island...  a real church building... and a strong community of faithful saints." 

We are looking forward to hearing from Daniel on his P-day (but we are not sure when).  Thank you for your love and support!

Daniel is on the back row, on the left, next to Pres. and Sis. Brown.  This is at the mission home.

Daniel is on the far left - happy to finally be in Jamaica!  This picture was taken at the airport.

The LDS church building in May Pen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Welcome to the MTC"

July 11th- our first P-day letter

(P-day is short for "Preparation Day" in the mission field)

Hey Fam,
Welcome to the MTC. It is a beautiful campus with covered walkways and powerful missionaries. This place is so strong and full of the spirit. The first three days I was here were really really really really long and painful. We have pretty much every second of every day scheduled, but the shock of those first days were way worse. Now I am doing fine and absolutely loving it here. My normal day consists of waking up at 6:30, studying till breakfast, zone teaching at 9, class from 10-1, lunch, TRC teaching, class from 3-6, dinner, study time, gym, and then bed. My companion is Elder Norman. He is african american, but no, he is not jamaican. He was adopted and has lived his whole life in pleasant grove. I love Elder Norman. We make quite the missionary duo. I love our district, which consists of Elders: Adams, Humphreys, Brimhall, Peterson, Thomas, and Jeppson. The first three are headed to Jamaica with us, and the last three are going to Michigan. There is another group of missionaries going to Jamaica that we havent meant yet, but there should be something like 12 of us on the flight over. We fly out early tuesday morning. We have layovers in Dallas and MIA. I will purchase a calling card and call from one of those so be listening for the phone.

Yesterday for TRC, Elder Norman and I got to teach Jorge. Jorge is a 50 year old man whose 14 year old son died of cancer a few years ago. Jorges wife has breast cancer now, but she is doing ok. We got to teach him once before. When we were preparing this time, I recieved inspiration through being reminded of something he said. Jorge had told us that he was afraid of the future, afraid of another one of his family members dying. We had told him that he needed to replace faith with fear. He asked us how, but we didnt know. When this came to my mind, I was prompted to look up fear in the index, and was directed to Moroni 8:13-16? (I think, I would have to check). It talked about how if a child dies without baptism, they do not go to hell, and that fear can be replaced with pure love. His pastor had told him when his son died, because he wasn't baptized, he was in hell. We were able to read this with Jorge, and the spirit there was incredible. We told Jorge that he needed to pray and ask god if he loved him, and that the spirit could tell him all things. I expressed my love for Jorge, and told him that even though we hadn't known him long, we had prayed for him and that we love him. He told us that we are very unique, and that he felt like we had known him for years because we had told him everything that he had wanted to know. We were able to get him to pray on his knees. He gave a sincere prayer asking if his son was safe and asking for comfort on the matter. We told him that he was feeling the spirit after the prayer, and he told us that he was going to go home and tell his wife where their son is and about the church. It was incredible testimony building experience. 

I am running out of time to write, but I wanted to tell you about that, thank you for the letters, and tell you I love you.

Love, Elder Pullan

My District
Me and Elder Norman

Elder Peterson and Elder Adams chilling in our room

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A surprise letter from the MTC...
dated July 6th  
excerpts from the letter, leaving out the parts about being homesick and needing food

Hey fam-

I am loving the MTC.  I am learning a ton about how to teach, care for, and bring people joy.  They keep us moving almost every hour of the day.  I wake at 6:30, shower and get dressed, study from 7-8, eat breakfast, go to zone teaching from 9-10, go to class from 10-1, eat lunch, study from 2-3, go to class from 3-6, eat dinner, study from 7-8, gym time 8-9, change and study and hit the sack.  It's busy, but strangely I'm happy and we find plenty of time to mess around and have fun.  Elder Norman is an awesome companion and we click very well.  We make pretty much the best companionship ever, (although our first teaching experiences have been less than perfect).  The food is not bad, and we're working hard.  Don't worry about me.  Just pray that my Visa comes on time so that I can get down to The Rock.  P-day isn't until Thursday, so don't expect any emails until then.  

I love you all, but I am trying not to miss you.  Just got to keep focused.  I will keep you updated on my need for candy and food, but right now, we are doing ok.

Love you guys,
Elder Pullan

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Called to Serve

Our first letter from the MTC! 

(hand-written)  received on Monday after a very long wait...

The first day in the MTC was quite eventful.  They kept me going for hours all the way till bedtime.  This place is so full of the spirit.  It is an incredible place to be.  My companion is Elder Norman.  He is great, and I love him.  I am glad to finally be here and begin to adjust to the new mission life.  I love you guys!    Love, Daniel    Elder Pullan

My second day included 2 classes on recognizing everyone as a child of god, recognizing their needs, and tailoring our lessons to meet what they need and bring them the happiness that the gospel brings.  I also had 4 hours of study time, and planned my first mock lesson for Elder Norman and I's MTC investigator, Kerlyn.  I hope that it will go over OK.  I am doing great here.  The days pass SLOWLY, but I have heard that it gets better.  We ended the day with a Long 4th of July devotional with a ridiculous amount of prelude hymns and a long film on uncomfortable chairs.  We then got ice cream and watched fireworks.  My P-day isn't until next Thursday (11th) so you won't get any emails until then.  I love and miss you guys!   Love, Elder Pullan

P.S. - I need my small hymnbook and loads of candy.

Pictures from Laurisa taken on July 3rd:

Our Family Home Evening activity on Monday was to send Daniel "loads of candy" with correlating scriptures attached.  Derek will drop it off at PostMart in Provo and he will receive the box today!