Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Email Sept. 23, 2014 "Rainy season? This much water would make Noah blush."‏

"...And thank you for sending Elder Cloud and Elder Surya to my home, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Elder "Cloud" is going to start teaching pronunciation classes on p-days now. Regardless though, the prayer was offered by a very faithful little boy who's doing an excellent job at preparing for baptism, so I don't mind. ;)

This week has been very insightful and very stressful, funny how those two seem to go together more often than not. I'm continually reminded to pay more attention to the million things that are constantly going on around me, especially when I about get hit by a bus,
and over,
and over again.
Please pray that I stop walking around with my head in the clowards. The hardest thing that happened this week was probably all the potential investigators that we set appointments with that never showed up. I had been praying that we could meet people who are being prepared for the gospel, and so the last few weeks we met a bunch of people who had been wondering about religion and had excitedly accepted teaching appointments. I thought it had been an answer to my prayer but then all of our appointments with them feel through. As disappointing as that was though, that same night the Lord reminded me that He's still listening and watching by sending us one of the best investigators we've had so far. It just goes to show that every cloward has a silver lining.

Oh, and my companion refers to our potential investigator sheet as our "hit list", I'm not sure if he completely understands what that means, but I'm going to let him keep using it anyways. ;)

Anyways until next time everyone. :)
-Elder Cloward

Monday, September 15, 2014

E-mail Sept. 15, 2014 "Wait, is that a monkey?"

"...And please forgive my companion because I know he's not listening to this prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
"-Amen. Alright our goals for today were-"
"Elder, what did I just pray about?"
This was my companion's way of letting me know that I need to pay more attention to things.
Thanks Elder.

Speaking of my companion I don't believe I've written about him yet. Elder Surya is an excellent example of what it means to be a bold, hardworking servant of the Lord; but he's also a perfect example of an incurable tease and practical joker. He's doing a fantastic job at training me and all the while keeps things fun and energetic, I'm going to be sad when transfers come.

I think this is the week where India is really beginning to feel like home. I'm getting less and less alarmed when I turn around just in time to avoid a cow who's trying to plow through me or when I see a family of monkeys in a tree right outside of our apartment in the middle of the city. I'm beginning to love the people and the different cultures and traditions and it's becoming easier to teach with the Spirit and with confidence. Prayers are being answered daily and I don't know if it's because of the power and authority we hold as missionaries or simply because the gospel has finally become the center of my life. It's amazing the change that takes place when prayer and scripture study become as meaningful as they're meant to be. In fact I'm spending so much time teaching people and learning about the gospel that I'm even dreaming about mission life. Sometimes these dreams are so vivid I think they're real, but then when Batman raises the title of liberty I know it's time to wake up.

And I just want to say thank you so much for each of you who have been writing me even when I don't have a lot of time to write back or don't write back for several weeks. Your emails are worth more than gold and they give me an extra boost each week. Thank you so much. :)

Until next time.
-Elder Cloward

Monday, September 8, 2014

E-mail Sept. 8, 2014 "Another week full of blessings and buffaloes"

Yup you read right, there are buffaloes everywhere over here, out in pastures, wandering the streets, and occasionally trying to get into somebody's house. They're not the kind of buffaloes you're thinking though, over here they look just like cows with horns. To be honest, no, I can't really tell the two apart, but my companion says they're different so I'll take his word for it.

I'm constantly being reminded of how worthy a missionary has to stay to be able to do this work. Little things that I did before my mission can drive the spirit away if I don't watch myself, and even though most of those things weren't necessarily bad I'm beginning to understand that to be a missionary means to live a higher law.  Some of the investigators and less active members that we thought we were making progress with are beginning to slow down and show less interest in the things we're teaching them, which aside from angry dogs is about the most frustrating thing a missionary can experience. I think the Lord is testing my faith and patience here because I have to remind myself to continue to pray and work for them without seeing any immediate results. I know He knows what he's doing though, so I'll continue to trust in that.

This week I also realized how great of a blessing a microwave is, because when you need to rewarm pizza and you're apartment is lacking one you get a little desperate. The only other thing I thought I could use to rewarm it was a tiny little mini oven, but after opening it and realizing that it needed some major cleaning before it would be safe to put food inside I feared I might actually have to endure cold pizza.

Then I saw the toaster.

My ingenious procedure for rewarming cold pizza with a toaster is as follows:
-Step 1: turn on toaster.
-Step 2: turn toaster on its side.
-Step 3: insert cold pizza.
-Step 4: get so caught up in my own brilliance that I fail to notice that my pizza has caught ON FIRE  and is filling the kitchen with smoke.
-Step 5: immediately unplug toaster and sheepishly explain to my companion why our apartment smells like burnt tomato sauce.

...By making a few changes to some of these steps I think that this could still be an invaluable solution.

Oh, and my favorite conversation of this week:

"Elder why are you rubbing your leg like that?"
"Because I burned myself while I was ironing my pants."
"Wait, were you wearing the pants while you were ironing them?"
"...I thought my garments would protect me."

And because I know you're all thinking it, let me make it clear that no, that was not me.

Until next week, Adieu. :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

E-mail Sept. 1, 2014 "Week four in India! Oh wait, maybe it's week three..."

Holy humidity Batman. Now that the rain has stopped and the temperatures are going up again there's almost enough water in the air to swim to our appointments. I'm sure I'll get used to feeling sweaty and sticky all the time but if I go to eat breakfast one more time and soggy (not stale, soggy) cornflakes come out of the box I may have a problem.

We've spent a lot of time visiting less active and recent converts this week, in fact that probably made up 80% of our teaching. It's interesting to see the patterns that are consistent with the different members we visit, like even though the less active members will give every excuse for why they weren't there on Sunday when we ask them if they're praying and reading the Book of Mormon the negative response is universal. Contrast that to the faithful recent convert members we visit who are reading and praying every day and, not surprisingly, are the ones who come to church consistently even though several of them live an hour+ away. I've come to learn that faith is a plant that you have to nourish at home, not a battery that you recharge on Sunday.

The language is still a struggle sometimes, and there have been several occasions where the person we were teaching only understood Telugu (the native language) and so my companion had to do most of the teaching. On one such visit my companion was teaching the lesson in the language that the member could understand and I was trying to follow along so I could at least know when to join in with my testimony. I felt like I knew where the conversation was going and right when I was about to bear witness of Jesus Christ my companion said "No, Citric Acid is good for kidney stones."
Lesson learned: If I listen to the spirit then I'm sure that despite the language, I too will know when the appropriate time to bear testimony of the negative effects of unbalanced minerals in your kidneys comes.

Oh, and on a side note the cell phone that my companion and I use is very old and keeps falling apart so I figured out how to shove a pass along card inside of it to hold it together and it worked. It just goes to show, the gospel really can fix anything.

I'll be sending pictures as soon as I get an SD card reader to put them on the computer, they're not so easy to find over here.

Elder Cloward over and out. :)

another fun photo from his pre-mission photo shoot!