Monday, August 26, 2013

Rainstorms, Taxis and Testimonies

Hey guys,

Everything is going well. Today I want to tell you about Jamaican rainstorms. But first, my address. I don't know my address. If you want to send anything, send it to the mission home. It will find its way to me from there. Pants, a couple snazzy ties from my collection, and some snacks would be good. I don't really need anything though. 

So. Rainstorms. When it rains it pours. Not that I'm not enjoying my mission. This is meant in the most literal sense possible. The clouds open up and the next minute you are drenched. There is no build up. They come and go in the blink of an eye. And all evidence of the storm disappears as quickly as it came. Some of the roads flood to the point that we dip our shoes into the water with every pedal of our bikes. And Waterproofing is a lie. Nothing can really withstand Jamaican rain. I end up soaked every time it rains hard. I got here at the beginning of a two week dry spell, but now it rains at least once a week. It's honestly pretty enjoyable. Soaked and riding through puddles. We end up with mud sprayed all the way up the backs of our shirts every time. So that's rainstorms. 

The next subject is taxis and shuttles. There is always room for one more. 5 seats in a taxi? Pssssh. Try eight people. Including a large woman. 12 passenger vans? 20 person minimum every time. Giant shuttle? Just keep em coming. Its pretty ridiculous. Another thing- Shuttles and vans ( what we take to spanish town for meetings ) don't leave on a schedule. You arrive, and you wait until they're full. Welcome to Jamaica.

The branch here is small. There are not a whole lot of solid members, but I love all of them. We attend sacrament meeting (which starts anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes late), go to Gospel Doctrine (which we end up teaching half the time because the teacher is gone), go to Priesthood meeting, which usually ends up being a large argument over stupid doctrine. Kind of like a bible bash. But where everyone is supposed to believe the same thing.  After church, we are fed lunch by Sis. Nelson, and we go teach until Mission Prep.  This week, all of our prospective missionaries are going to bring a friend to a cottage meeting at the church. We are going to teach the group the first discussion. It should be awesome. 

Don't be afraid to share the gospel with others. Be bold. We have something that everyone needs. Simply bear testimony to them that it has blessed your life, and can bless theirs. Then involve the missionaries. Support them and invite them over to the house to take the discussions. Misssionary work is not all my job. Missionary work becomes effective when it is done through the members inviting their friends. Then the investigator has the support they need to come to church. So be bold. Let people know that they need this. Pray as a family to know which people have been prepared to hear this glad message. Then act.
Elder Barber is awesome. We end up in a lot of deep discussions over both doctrine and psychology. He is actually a lot like me. But he has got me thinking on another level than the one I am used too. We make a good team, and I love him. Elder Bateman and Whitlock are awesome. They are really solid missionaries. Elder Bateman is getting transferred to Kingston, and Elder Whitlock is going to be training. So we will have a newbie in the apartment as of Wednesday. I love you guys. 

Elder Pullan

The bug that was sleeping with me last night. It really didn't even bother me.
 It was the size of the palm of my hand. But it aint nah thang in Jamaica.

Monday, August 19, 2013

You gotta love Jamaica...

Hey Everyone! Wagwaan?

You gotta love Jamaica. Its not always ideal, but it is quite the experience. We are teaching a couple people out in Raymonds now. It is a good mile or two past Hayes. You should try putting in Racetrack (where our apartment is) to Hayes or Raymonds to figure out how far it is for me. All I know is it is a 45min. to an hour bikeride over rolling hills and a really flat space both ways. I enjoy the biking though. It keeps me strong and gives me time to think. This week has been pretty slow, but we are trying hard, so hopefully things will pick up. 

We got to visit a Pentacostal sunday school  yesterday morning. The teachings were quite simply wrong, it felt uncomfortable, and at the end of the lesson we were asked for "offerings", or money. It was honestly kind of disgusting. I have been able to connect the Book of Mormon to the Bible quite a bit while being here. And everything connects. Our church is actually logical. Every single teaching connects, and there is so much to learn. Study time is actually one of my favorite times. Its all pretty great though. We are dropping most of our investigators this week and working to establish some consistency with other people weve found. Like I said, its been a slow week. 

We are working toward baptism with one awesome family though. We just have to get through the Law of Chastity with her though. It is a single mother family (like most families here). Everyone has baby-mamas and baby-fathers and boy and girlfriends, but no one gets married. When we ask teenage kids, even a kid as young as ten if they are going to get married, they tell us no. Marriage is what bonds families together and builds society. Jamaica is in part the way it is because of their marriage problem. The moral of the story is that the Law of Chastity is a blessing, not a curse. Obey it with exactness and you will find joy in your life. Disobey, and things will fall apart for you. 

On P-Days, we study, email at an internet cafe, shop for the week, talk and clean the apartment, do the wash, and play basketball or football (soccer) usually with a couple Jamaicans from the ward. Its a lot of fun, but we are going to go for a hike along the river sometime soon. You gotta love it. I am in a tropical jungle, and it really is cool.

What do I mean by interesting experiences? Jamaica IS a dangerous place. It seemed like people were joking at first, but I am beginning to realize that its no lie. The cops are corrupt. The cartel is dangerous. Jamaicans have short tempers. I have heard stories of death threats, shooters, gunplay, dealing, dropped shipments, cartel beheadings, police corruption, and murders. The funny thing is- its all true. No matter where you go, someone will tell you that another area is dangerous. This adds up to pretty much everywhere being dangerous. Its not like these things happen all the time, but they do happen. There are missionaries that have been robbed at gunpoint and seen murders (not many, but a few). I can testify with all my heart that we are quite simply protected. As a servant of the Lord, he has my back. So don't worry for me. 

That is the work for me now. I appreciate your love, interest, and support. I hope that everyone is excited for school and ready to get back to it. Ill try and get a picture off to you here before my times up. 

Love you guys,
Elder Pullan

Me, Elder Barber and Elder Whitlock (in the background)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Third week in May Pen

Hey everyone, 

Wagwaan? We had a slow beginning of the week, but it picked up by the end. We did a lot of riding our bikes, and ran into a less active man who is interested in marrying his girlfriend and coming back to church. He is a great guy. 

Between stories about death threats from investigators that used to have shady lives, stories of corrupt police (literally everyone in jamaica knows someone that has been shot by the cops) and hearing my first gunshots, you would think Im in a dangerous place. I've had some interesting experiences, but I have yet to feel like I'm in danger. Dont worry about me. 

We are trying to rebuild our investigator pool into potential priesthood holders that can build a foundation here in May Pen. Once we have the foundation, the church here is going to grow like a wildfire. We are going to have a stake here by the end of three years. 

Pray for brother L.. He needs to accept the gospel and have a willingness to change. We think that he would be an incredible priesthood holder if he were to join the church. 

The gospel only affects us when it is applied to our lives. It is all about constantly repenting and striving to become better. As we strive to follow Gods commandments, repent when we mess up and strive to change, pray and read our Book of Mormon, and take the sacrament every week, we will begin to see a change in ourselves. It is incredible, the joy that this gospel can bring. We have to remember that no one is beyond saving. We have to "rely on the merits of Christ Jesus, for he is mighty to save". We have a loving Heavenly Father who is more than willing to forgive those that repent and change. We just need to show him were willing and that we are trying. 

We went to our wards Independence Day celebration, Jamaica night. We brought a dish to pitch in with the rest of them. Our dish was "Jambadoodle". Elder Whitlock's grandmas secret recipe. It was actually 5 packs of ramen. Shhhh. Dont tell anyone. We don't exactly have much time to cook. It was a semi-enjoyable night that included good food and a 2 HOUR LONG talent show. There was some good singing, some not so good singing, some really atrocious singing, some clever rapping, and some entertaining folk songs. The people here are great. I am trying to absorb and emulate all of the positive things from this culture in my own life. I love being here and I love the work. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer guys!
Love, Elder Pullan

PS- What is lydia's email? I want to start emailing her too. 
And are the kids excited to start school? When does school start?

The food is really good and I am eating better each week. If you want to mail something, it can be sent to the mission home address. I am going to get some good pics of me this week to send you guys. All I have now is cool pics of the landscape that aren't uploading right. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Day in My Life...

and the goat rescue!

Hey fam, 
An average day in my life-
I wake up at six thirty and pray with the four elders in my apartment. Then I pray on my own. Then I get up, lean my mattress back up against the wall because we only have two bed frames (Elder Bateman and I just put our mattresses on the floor each night at bed time) and take a nice refreshing shower. When the water is working, we shower in the small stream of water that comes from a tube in the wall. On mornings like today, we fill large yellow containers with water and dump it on our heads. That's right. The water doesn't always function quite like it should. But its all good. Then I make pancakes or toast and eat apples or mangoes. I have had a couple mangoes that I have picked right off the tree. Good stuff.  Gineps are pretty good too. Kind of sour and bitter. Tasty though. I iron my shirt and get dressed by eight, and then study on my own and then with my companion until ten. At ten we throw our stuff together and go teach. We ride all the way up  through May Pen town and out across the bridge. We ride up and down through the rolling hills teaching our investigators. 
My favorite investigator at this point is probably brother R.  Brother R. is a 65+ yr. old jamaican. He has a really deep smokers voice and his insights, like his voice, are deep. He has a lot of character to him and a strong will to find the truth. He has been smoking the ganja since he was seven. We challenged him with the word of wisdom, and he has been clean for almost a week now. We have a lot of investigators, but most are reluctant to commit. Jamaicans seem to fear change. They want to do everything "On God's time", not realizing that if we are teaching them, its probably God's time. Their mindset is one of avoiding commitment and stress. They have no plans for the future and don't understand that God will not help them until they move.  
Jamaica has many interesting challenges in bringing the work together. We are trying to find priesthood holders and men that could potentially hold the priesthood to build the church here. We work with a lot of less active people and look for people that can really lead the church. The church is weak and does not function quite like it should. We need more devoted members to help build it. It will come though. Now is Jamaicas time. 
Around one we either call the dollar meal guy to drive to us with the big speakers on top of his car and give us cook shop food (chicken, rice and peas) for 100 dollars, or go to Juicies Patties, or make the long ride home to cook ramen, grilled cheese, or something fast. I am eating a little better now by the way, and it gets better every week. We then continue proselyting until 8 at night where we head back in and cook dinner. Maybe spaghetti, rice, ramen, fruit, toast, and tons of water. You have to drink constantly when at home to stay hydrated here. 
When we get home, most days our clothes are DAMP with sweat. Like all the way through my inside collar, tie, and outside collar on my white shirts. I miss the cold. I then study, write in my journal, and draw until bed time. We move our fans from our study room back to the bedroom and lay our mattresses down on the floor. We pray with the four of us, say our personal prayers, sometimes talk for a while, then hit the sack to do it again the next day.   
I have already learned so much on my mission. It has solidified my testimony of the Savior. I am learning how to be happy with nothing but the gospel and a people to serve. This requires surrendering my will to the Lord and giving my whole heart to the work. It isn't always easy, but it is the only way to be happy here. I love you guys. Enjoy the rest of your summer and know that I am doing well. Make sure to read your scriptures, study, and pray each night. And be grateful to be born an American. That is a blessing that you don't realize until you leave the states.  
Love, Elder Pullan

By the way, I rescued a goat this week! I find it entertaining so I'll share.

So my goat rescue- I was teaching an old lady when we heard an eerie cry that sounded kind of like a small child getting beaten. That's what goats sound like. Something in between the sound that elmo might make if you kicked him in the face, and a small child crying. So the old lady starts getting worried. Her neighbors aren't home, and the "Goats are in trouble". So we run out the gate and around the fence and I end up having to go into the goat pen, which is made out of wood pallettes, old metal bed frames, and cut down trees. I go inside and have to pry the inside layer of one of the walls off because two goats are trapped behind it. When I do this, the big white goat that is on top of a smaller brown one still wouldn't move. He was apparently trying to smother the small brown goat. After some gentler coaxing in an attempt to get the white goat to get off the brown one, I reached in, grabbed it by the neck, and forced it out. Hooray for me. I rescued a goat. Just another experience to add to the bank. And the old lady was SOOO relieved and grateful when it was over. I couldn't help but to laugh at the randomness of the experience. Welcome to Jamaica.

Love, Elder Pullan