Elder Hayden L. Williams

Week #7 - Vizag - "Where to start..."

So let me start by saying that Hinduism and Hindu temples are utterly bizarre. I was walking by a Hindu temple one day and I literally thought they were playing bumper cars inside because it was so loud and sounded like colliding metal. Still don't know what was happening. Thursday was a Ganesh festival which is where they erect idols of Ganesh, the elephant headed 4-armed god of knowledge, all over the city and praise him by listening to loud music and who knows what else, we had to be back in the flat by 5 o'clock because Hindu's drink a lot when they have these festivals. So that was my first afternoon staying in the apartment which we spent cleaning the entire flat and now it is livable. It was really bad before... I was terrified of staying here because of that but it looks good now and I can live there in peace now. 

Also my right hand always smells of some spice or another. No one uses utensils here. Rarely. If you are having ice cream or something they have spoons but other than that they only use their hands which honestly I prefer. Using your hand (right hand only, the left is rude to use because... reasons... uncleanness..) is way better because you can pick out the super hot chilis and set them to the side. 

So I traveled to my area alone on an airplane. They have super strict weight limits so my checked bag could only be 15 kgs and my personal item (I was only allowed one but I totally got away with my backpack) is only allowed to be 7 kgs. I had to drop a lot of things at the mission home because of these extreme weight limits. It is super expensive to go over them. My companion picked me up at the Vizag airport with his old companion, he only learned I was coming about 3 hours before I landed. Lets just say that transfers here are a mess and you never know when you might just be transferred to another area in the mission. 

Yeah I don't really understand the language because I don't get too much time to do so. The other US elders only speak enough of it to greet people, say funny things and invite people to church. Don't even get me started on trying to read it because it is impossible... I am learning enough of the writing to help people navigate the Book of Mormon and that will be the extent of that.

Church is really good, the members do their best to teach in English because that is what we have been told to do by the Area Presidency but some members can only give their talks in Telugu so I don't understand those as much. But this week we had two farewells in my branch. Of course they aren't going very far, after the MTC in the Philippines they will come right back to this mission and serve.

Our apartment does have A/C in the bedrooms so it feels really weird to wake up in the morning and feel cold. In India. But hey, I am not complaining. Better than what Cody had. We also have a lot less power outages here in the city and if they do happen it is only for a couple minutes. 

Robert went to Dominos? Yay! As an AM or what? I won't lie the strangest food I have had here was Dominos. My companion wanted to get it one night so I said that was good and we both ordered chicken sausage pizzas and then my companion asked if I wanted some Golden corn. I assumed this was corn on the cob which I thought would be a weird thing from Dominos but I said sure. Little did I realize when the pizza guy shows up with only pizza boxes that the golden corn was a pizza with only corn on it! I'm still on the fence whether I liked it or not... But the food here is really good, chicken dum Biryani is my favorite dish here. 

Speaking of home there is another Elder here who is from Lone Peak. He graduated the year before me so I only vaguely recognize his name because he played a lot of sports. His name is Tyler Kapp and he is a Zone Leader in Vijaywada. 

So last week I mentioned that we climbed a mountain and I got a really bad sunburn. But lets just say that the Lord wants me to continue working because I prayed real hard that it wouldn't bother me or hinder me and another Elder gave me some Aloe Vera and lets just say that my arms were red the next day but I didn't feel a thing. 

We went to a members home on Friday because we were impressed to do so and she had a good referral for us that we are beginning to teach but the real spiritual part was on our way back to the main road where we came across a man that was crying in the middle of the lane, I noticed that he was wearing a cross around his neck and so I thought we could talk to him. I was right, the instant he looked up and made eye contact with me he stood up and started talking to us. Elder Ramishetty told him that we could come back the next day and I gave him one of our pass along cards of Christ. His eyes lit up when he saw it and when we went to his house yesterday he was so grateful and listened as we shared about Jesus Christ. He puja'd our feet as we left which is always humbling to me because they truly see us as messengers of God even if they don't believe our message of the Restoration (puja is the Indian putting of the forehead to the feet but now they usually just put their hand to your feet and then to their forehead). We are going back this week to start with the Restoration so I am hoping that that goes well. 

We had 4 investigators show up to church yesterday. Kanta and her son Money, about 20 or so, and her nephew Isaac, who has apparently been reading the Book of Mormon instead of the Bible each night! We also had another investigator named Manohar who has just been waiting to turn 18 to be baptized because he gained a testimony 2 years ago when he was taught. So he is now 18 but true to form he has lost a little bit of interest in coming to our church so we are trying to encourage him.  
Elder Williams