Elder Hayden L. Williams

Week #13 - Vizag - "Look at that pape' with my face gleamin'"

So remember last week when I mentioned that I went to a Hindu temple? Well someone took our picture and turns out he worked for a local newspaper. We ended up in two newspaper articles, one was fine and was talking about how tourism was going up near that temple, the other one was straight libel.... It quoted us saying that we were in awe at the splendor of the temple and stated that we had been Puja'ing, or respecting/bowing, to their idols. We were not wearing tags and so they just thought we were Americans and it blew over the day after but it still makes me mad just thinking about it. We were notified by a couple members who had read the article and recognized us but they all know us and they know that the papers here lie all the time. 

Well, in other news we had Zone Conference this week and that was really good! President had some really good points for us and discussed with us some important points from conference. 

I also met with the most insane person from our branch this week. There is no other way to put it, just hear me out. He isn't active because he has a big problem with word of wisdom. When I was sitting in his home I noticed a bunch of items that had to do with the navy so I asked him if he was part of it and he said yes, so I talked about how my Grandpa was in the navy and we talked about that for a little and then somehow he got into physics and started talking about takeoff velocity and such. He asked if I was a student of science and I said yes so he just started going off about a ton of things. Finally at one point I was able to turn the conversation into a spiritual message and then he asked me why I like Jesus. I got excited at this point and I shared with him a simple sincere testimony and then he looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Wrong." I was taken aback by this because he asked ME why I liked Jesus and then he proceeded to talk about how Jesus's Resurrection is why we all love him. Well, at this point I had almost given up but I decided to ask if he had anyone he could refer to us, I should have known better at this point. I really should have. He proceeded to tell us why he was a recluse and then to prove his point that he trusts no one he pulled out the nun-chucks that he had hidden behind the door and then was just holding them while sitting in front of me. At this point we quickly excused ourselves and  couldn't get out fast enough. 

Well, that was my week, most exciting one so far. No real update with anyone we are teaching. We are still struggling to meet with a lot of them because they are all seriously so busy. 

Elder Williams

PS (in answer to questions) Yes we have a washing machine and then we set our clothes out in one of the rooms to dry by ceiling fan. Yes, for the drinking water there is a big filtration unit. And yes we have one small crappy samsung for the companionship that we use to call people and set up appointments.

Week #12 - Vizag - "My old enemy... Stairs!"

So today we went to a big Hindu Temple on top of a hill called Samanchalem Hill. We weren't able to bring camera's inside so I will just say that the inside was like a line for disneyland. It felt like the waiting line for Indiana Jones but there were more idols and there wasn't a fun ride at the end. The inside of the temple made me uncomfortable. We took a bus on the way up to the temple but walked down the stairs to see the view. 

So in other news I have lost 10 pounds already. Kind of a terrifying prospect but not an unwelcome one. I also got told by Elder Barry that I have the best British accent he has heard on the mission. Looks like all that time we spent practicing at home paid off. 

So one of the pictures this week is with Brother Pedely this week. He is a member from Mumbai and he is high up in a company called HP. It is the main petrol company here. He likes to feed the missionaries wherever he goes and this is actually his second time feeding us I just forgot to mention it last month. The meals he provides are in this clubhouse that his company owns and it is some of the best food that I have had here. 

So Manohar seems to be hesitant to be baptized because he thinks he has to be perfect after he is baptized. We haven't been able to meet with him to tell him otherwise because it feels like he has been avoiding us but we are trying our best. We don't have a lot of others who are progressing. They struggle to come to church or really follow any commitments that we give. We have one promising family, the Kantha (any h after a t does not make the -th- sound but instead emphasizes the a, as in Kant-ha) family, Sister Kantha asked us yesterday where other members of our church lived and we told here some places nearby and she said to us, "Oh, so it's only our family who aren't members yet." We all got a good laugh out of that but I am hoping that it could actually mean she has thought about our invitations. 

Well that is all that I can think of for this week. 
Namascatam (Telugu Version of Namaste)

Elder Williams

Week #11 - Vizag - "Thank you Amah!"

Fear limits you. That was an amazing conference. We watched it on Saturday and Sunday and it was just incredible to hear those messages that were prepared for all of us. 2 hour church is gonna feel real strange but maybe then our members will actually stay! Hopefully.. 

So we actually have a large teaching pool but a lot of the time they only have a short time to meet so we never teach full lessons in one sitting. We teach very slowly so they will understand. We visit a lot of members to strengthen since I have a native companion that can talk with them, the other Elders don't spend that much time with member. However, because we spend time with these members they give us a good number of referrals so that is really nice. Manohar was just the most progressed because he has already been taught all the lessons but we still haven't been able to meet with him again so hopefully this week for sure. 
I don't really know if I will get to sing in church because no one plays the piano well enough to accompany so maybe later in my mission I will find someone but likely not in this area. 

Haha Brother Rios the only people that wear turbans are the Sikhs and they are mostly in Northern India but I have seen a few of them here and there and I want to get one before I come home. 

So Amah means Mother and you use it to address any woman who is old enough to be your mother. It is very respectful and they love it when you do it. I was at an investigators home, his name is Raja, and we were talking to his mother, Sarojini, that we gave a blessing to earlier this week and we asked her how she was and said she was doing fine thanks to us. She then complimented us and I said, "Thank you Amah" to which she replied, "No problem, Baboo" in just the sweetest voice and it made tears spring to my eyes. Baboo means son in Telugu and no one had ever used it to address me before and I just realized how much I loved these people. Abba is Father, just by the way. 

So last Wednesday I went on exchange with Elder Harper who I discovered has a ton of the same interests as me so I came to love him a ton before he got transferred to Rajahmundry. So Elder Stutz who was in my apartment was also transferred there. The rest of my batchmates arrived here in India on Wednesday and Elder Hugie was sent here to Vizag to replace Elder Stutz so Elder Rather has been assigned to finish training him. Watching Elder Hugie adjust has given me slight insight into what I may have looked like.

That was this week here in Vizag. See you next time!
Elder Williams

Week #10 - Vizag - "Happy Birthday Ghandi!"

So this last Tuesday was Ghandi Jayanthi or in other words, Ghandi's birthday. Everyone just gets holiday from work so they sit in their homes, but apparently they are still too busy to meet with us. At least that is what they all tell us when we want to visit. 

So I have discovered the only thing I don't like about the food here. The sweets. I can handle just about any food now regarding spiciness but the sweets here are just straight bad... They are either made entirely from sand (what it feels like) or it is soaked in some kind of syrup that is so sweet it is actually sickening. So pretty much the food here is one extreme or the other. Super spicy or super sweet. No in betweens. There is some stuff here called Sameyah and it is this sweetened milk that has some kind of coconut shavings in it. I get sick after each time I eat it. It is just way too sweet.

In other news guess what religion that I just found out is here? Church of Christ Philippines! Or as we know it, the Iglesia Ni Cristo! I met the preacher of the congregation because he was a former investigator of some previous missionaries. Turns out he just took what he learned from the Elders and used it in his own preaching.  

I got some of the numbers that we use down. Ochati (not Ocati but Och with the back of the throat thing) Rendoo, Mordoo, Noragoo, Idoo. That is 1 through 5. 

Not too much else this week except that we couldn't meet at all with Manohar this week so he did not get baptized on Saturday so we will reset his date and work with him some more. There is a lot of work to be done here it is just really hard because we can only meet with people after 6 or so because no one is ever home before that and public places are terrible for finding here usually. We do a lot of good work here though. We go around to a lot of members homes and share messages with them. We have been working with a lot of the less actives because there are so many in our area. Like Manohar's family for example are less active but we visited them this week and then they came to church on Sunday so that was awesome. 

Until next time, 
Elder Williams