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