Elder Hayden L. Williams

Week #6 - Vizag - "So Much to Say..."

So little time!
So Thursday I got here to my area which is Visakhapatnam (Vishakaputnum) or Vizag for short, and met my trainer. His name is Elder Ramishetty and he is a native from Hyderabad (Hydrabad). His English is really good and he also speaks Hindi and Telugu. So my area is on the east coast of India and is the mountainous part of my mission, and the people speak entirely in Telugu. There are about three big languages spoken in my mission and different areas speak each of them so learning languages can be really hard if you are transferred to another area. So the only people that speak English are the occasional member and some of the children do as well. So my companion has to translate all our lessons for me as I try and teach, it can be hard when you don't know what your companion just taught so trying to build off his thoughts is impossible. I am just trusting and relying on the spirit to help me know what is best. So one lesson we were teaching a Christian family and while we were teaching they were looking through the pictures at the beginning of the Book of Mormon and the old grandma was looking at the picture of Jesus among the Nephites and she looks up at me and says something which makes my companion start laughing and when I asked he said that she said that to her I looked like Jesus in that picture. I stopped and laughed a little and said that that was the highest compliment that I could ever get. 

So all of the English here is British as you might expect of a country that was a colony of England for a long time. So I live in a Flat with 3 companionships. First there are the Zone Leaders, Elder Barry from England and Elder Kunz from Idaho. They serve in the Vizag 2nd branch with the Sister missionaries, Sister James and Sister Dahnpal who are both natives but the second sister is from Delhi. Me and Elder Ramishetty serve in the Vizag 1st branch with Elders Stutz, from Rexburg Idaho, and Rather, from Kansas. The second day in the Area I had a District meeting and met the rest of my district but I did not get any pictures with them so I will introduce the rest of them later. 

We have a good amount of Investigators that we are teaching so we get about 3 appointments in the evening because everyone is out of the house until about 5 so it is actually really hard to go tracting to find people in the mornings.

Yesterday, Sunday, we had our first member dinner appointment which are terrifying because they give huge amounts of food and it can be pretty spicy (so I am told by the other members) Sister Borra fed us chicken Birriani (disclaimer I don't know how to spell anything, I just write it like I hear it)The birriani was really good and there were four of us Elders there so I just ate slowly and she focused on refilling the other Elders plates. Speaking of food I have been adjusting well because my companion is being merciful to me and helping me to become acquainted slowly. So the first morning here he introduced me to Tiffins which is just breakfast foods that they eat with a chutney or a non spicy curry. Everything is eaten with curry as you can imagine. We also tried Meals which is a big plate of rice with a bunch of different curries that you can pick and choose to eat. So everything is spicy in its own right and when they feel overwhelmed by spice instead of making food that is less spicy they choose instead to just mix a little bit of curd with rice that helps cool it down. I won't lie, curd does not taste very good so I will have to get used to that one.  

It is just as hot as the Philippines but all public buildings have A/C and all homes have insanely fast fans that move the air well. Our transportation devices look similar to Tricees but we call them Autos here. My mission is not really like Cody's because I am in the middle of the city always. It is more similar to the Manila mission most likely. The streets we walk down are tiny and the homes are so crowded together. The hardest part to get used to is the smells. Outside everything smells really really bad and you can't get used to it because every 5 feet is another bad smell that assaults the nose. Eventually I think you just stop smelling anything. All the investigators homes are super small and humble and yet they will still place us missionaries on their beds and will sit on the floor to listen to us. It really is a humbling experience. Side note: Head bobbing, confusing at first but super useful in communication. When they do the side bobbing it means that they are understanding and it can also mean yes, but it can also mean no so as you can imagine it can be confusing sometimes. Also sadly I don't think that I will gain an accent because none of the Elders here have one at all, but they can do a pretend accent pretty well. 

Our weekly allotment is about 50 American dollars which is actually a pretty large amount here. It really gets you places. Buying groceries the other day was just over 500 rupees which is less than 10 dollars. 

Side note, the first thing I noticed in the Mission home was Presidents family and the first face I saw was the face of his son. His face was immediately recognizable because it is the temple video I have seen the most. His son is the Adam with the Weasel Satan. 

Today we climbed a mountain called Kailasagiri which is placed near the edge of the city and from the top you can see the whole city and the coastline. We spent almost 4 hours at the mountain because there are shops and food on one side of it and as you can expect, 4 hours in the sun amounted in me getting a sunburn. A pretty bad one at that because of the malaria medication we have to take. I am doing all right now because I can already tell the Lord is helping me with this one. 

Man... I might be forgetting some things and I am sorry the email is all over the place but the last week has been insane. They gave me a little extra time this week to email. 

You can just add this to the email if you want. It occurs to me I did not answer your questions. So Vizag is probably the safest area in the mission and we can wear our tags wherever we go. It is in Coimbatore and Bangalore that we don't wear tags because of the RSS or the Hindu group that is against christian missionaries because they think we are converting people. Converting to them is paying people to convert to christianity. So for the sake of safety we aren't converting people in India ;)

The Gibsons are from the same place President is from, Tempe Arizona. President actually grew up with them in his stake. Bangalore is probably the coolest, temperature wise (not cool wise ;)), place in the whole mission so long sleeve at night wasn't too bad for him. 

Essentially the reason customs was easy for me is because I let the officer do most of the talking. I didn't try to explain anything that was beyond him which I think the couple missionaries got too deep into it. Our visas are just a rare sight because they are marked with an M and some officers aren't used to seeing it. So my visa was processed with the batch that came before me so my visa actually expires on 7/11/2020, a month before my mission ends, so there is a high probability that I will only be serving a 23 month mission, but don't get your hopes too high. 
Elder Williams