Sunday, July 12, 2015
June 1, 2015 The life and times of Jamaica
Wednesday we had some researchers come from Salt Lake to learn and get feedback about missionary resources and programs. Pretty interesting stuff. One of the researches observed our nightly nightly planning. They showed us three new pamphlets. They look super amazing! But… They said maybe our grandchildren would see them released. So kids: Yep - Papi seen those a long time ago. Thursday we started off the day with a significant upgrade in our standard of living when maintenance finally came and got our power working. We only had about one and a half outlets working in the entire apartment, which also meant no oven and such amenities. When Elder Honey came in it took me about two weeks to convince him to light the stove burners by hand. "Are you sure it won't burn my hands?" Well.... not if you're fast.... I suppose you can hardly blame the man after just leaving the care of Elder Buckner. Oops. Hand joke. Too soon?
Anyway, more importantly, we met with Benjamín on Thursday. This teaching pool, (like all others, I suppose) has been like you progressing investigators, even though we have several super solid ones – they just aren't coming to church and progressing towards baptism. So Elder Honey and I were teaching and felt to reestablish expectations. We invited him to be baptized again (at least I dearly hope this is not the first time). He wasn't sure he could commit to a date, but it's because he realizes how serious the matter is, which is good. It was a great lesson, and he really wants to progress towards baptism. Before that, our only progressing investigator was Chris Melchor. We've been worried for a while now, because his baptismal date is this Wednesday, and he has been a little bit shaky about it. He said that he knows he will get baptized one day. But doesn't know if he can do it right now, because of his girlfriend. She doesn't care for the church, and makes it really hard for him. Well, on Thursday we found out that he was fasting for the courage to talk to Judy about it and to live the law of chastity. Wow. So we decided to fast as well. We found out on Sunday that he is going to delay his baptismal date. If it were just him, he would be able to do it. But having enough faith for two is a tall task. He will get there one day, but not yet. It's so sad to see how hard people's hearts can be - the positive change that the gospel has brought to Chris's life is incredible, and he appreciates that so much, but his girlfriend doesn't even see it. Chris was heavily involved in gang activity, alcohol, and illegal drugs just one year ago. He is so grateful for how the atonement has enabled him to change, but Judy just sees it as him not going to the bar with her.
Here in Jamaica we do "finding" events a few times per week with the other districts in the area called ellipticals. On Friday our elliptical was a shoe shining/sneaker cleaning event. We set up shop right outside of Jamaica Center and essentially tried to compete for attention with all the other street vendors. You'd think it would be easier since we were the only ones offering something free. I think our most successful sales pitch was something like "have YOU ever had a white guy (yeah that would be me) shine your shoes?" I swear sometimes you could see a tortured thought process going on in their mind as their conscience was torn in half between wanting a free shoe cleaning and avoiding well dressed people promoting something - "hmm.... I'm black.... I clean my shoes..... so no, I have never had a white guy shine my shoes. Argh, what do they want!? Is it worth it? I might be more comfortable with that guy that does it for $10.... Ahhh where are my feet going.... oops ok I guess I'm getting my shoes shined." I'm about 95% sure that's what was happening. It was pretty fun though and we got 7 contact information in less than an hour and a half, which isn't bad.
Later that day, we were on splits, and Brandon and I were in the church trying to call or FaceTime people when a man walked in whom I didn't know. I asked how we could help him, after which he proceeded to tell us quite the story. He had just gotten out of jail two days ago, and now he had nowhere to stay. All his family either would not permit him to stay with them, or lived with someone who had a court order of protection against him, due to violent anger problems. It was so sad to see. This man was so sweet and humble, and had good desires, but obviously something is wrong with his brain that makes it difficult to keep his temper. He had come across us during the shoe cleaning event earlier that day and still had our card, so he came to the church looking for help. Anyway, we taught him a real solid lesson and then swiped him onto the subway system and gave him directions so he could go to the nearest shelter which is in Manhattan. He also told us he would come to church on Sunday, which we were a bit skeptical about, but he showed up! We went to the English ward just in case, but headed home after waiting in their lobby for fifteen minutes. Well the English elders described a man to us that came to sacrament meeting and it was him! They said he was about thirty minutes late, so we missed him. Much to our dismay, nobody had even said "hi" to the man. As a missionary, we beg the members to be as friendly as possible to any new faces, and here three sets of English missionaries reported that our guy came and didn't so much as shake his hand. "Um excuse me, can you help me understand why you did that?" Please, please, please - never do that. This guy doesn't have a phone or a house so the only way we are ever going to see him again is if he comes back to church.
After church on Sunday we had a nice rainstorm of Biblical proportions. Well kind of. If it had continued another forty days I would be wanting a large boat. My walking shoes hold water impressively well, it felt like I was wearing ankle weights. Anyways. Many of you know that I love the rain, and let me tell you that was so refreshing and energizing after the energy-draining heat. I don't know how Danai survived the Philippines. I do not do well with the heat. And it's nuts because Elder Honey is from Vegas, so he hardly feels it, and Elder Vi literally is cold when I am woozy with heat. He still wears sweaters. So that rainstorm was beautiful.
To close, a thought that's been on my mind since I met Johnson (the man that needed a place to stay) is how much God has given me. It's sobering to think that he never really had the same chance as me at a lot of things. His dad died when he was just a baby. He never had an education or a stable home. Life was never meant to be fair, at least not this one, but I am so grateful for the vision and eternal perspective the Plan of Salvation gives me. In the Book of Mormon we find that the first will be last, and the last will be first. The Book of Mormon, along with modern day revelation give me the comfort that God in fact is no respect or of persons, and is unchanging yesterday, today, and forever. I testify of that. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
.....One little homemaking tip for everybody out there: microwaving hard boiled eggs is some seriously risky biscuits. I did so several days ago, and then when I tried to bite into the peeled egg, it exploded. Big time. Anybody ever gotten burns on the inside of your upper lip and front gum? Yeah that's a thing. That egg injected concentrated, high-energy sulfur steam right in front of my teeth and it doesn't feel good. Chemical warfare is not over.
Posted by Sirrine Family at 10:04 PM