Monday, October 27, 2014

E-mail Oct. 27, 2014 "I said religious, not racist!"

This week we celebrated Diwali, one of the biggest holidays in India where everybody spends all there money on fireworks to see who can put on the best show. That night was spectacular, we stood on top of our apartment building and watched a 360 degree fireworks show going on for miles an all directions. Here in India however they don't call them fireworks, they simply call them "crackers", and so that morning when I asked our zone leader if we would be buying any he gestured to me and said "we don't need any more crackers, we have one right here."

Yes he knew full well what that meant, and it took a while to get the other American missionary to stop laughing.

The last few weeks my companion and I have been having a really hard time teaching discussions and finding new investigators. We started making more phone calls and we were able to pick it up again this week, but I'm learning that very few things will ever just happen in missionary work. Everything that you get done is because you've put in all your effort to make it happen, and then the Lord helps you out and makes up for your shortcomings. The Lord will only help us if we show Him that we're committed and willing to work for something, and that goes for all aspects of life.

This week has cooled down significantly due to the "outpouring" of rain we've received and I almost had to put on a jacket this morning when I woke up and it was only 75 degrees. I'm continuing to fall in love with this place as I become more and more submerged in the traditional languages and culture. Everywhere we go almost all the women wear sarees (the colorful traditional Indian dresses) and have a bindi on their foreheads. I can hear Hindi music playing almost anywhere I go and during the festival this week I was constantly aware of people burning incense in the streets as the sweet aromas carried me away even further into this Indian reality.

Until next week-
Elder Cloward

with Gandhi at the International Peace Gardens in SLC

Monday, October 20, 2014

E-mail: Oct. 20, 2014 "Pictures! (well, a few.)"

It only took me 3 months but I finally figured out how to get (a few) pictures into my email. I'll try and get the rest sent next week but here's what I have now. Sone of these are from last P-day when we went to an old Indian castle ruin called Golconda Fort. It was epic. Enjoy. :)

His comp is the one on the front left,
in the blue checkered shirt.

Monday, October 13, 2014

E-mail Oct. 13, 2014 "...but what will you do about the light in their eyes?"

Conference came a week late here so I got to watch it this weekend instead, but it was well worth the wait. I felt completely uplifted and recharged after the messages that were given and I'm so grateful for the opportunity we have to listen to a living prophet.

My companion has a gift for noticing any and all details in anything. We'll be walking through a crowd of hundreds of people and he can find and point out a ward member on the other side of the street in the split second they're visible, and it's a skill that has helped us in our work in multiple ways. One such example is that he can look at someone's face and determine whether or not they're a Christian as they walk past. At first I thought he was making it up, but as I tested his abilities he was right every single time. I asked him how he can tell and he says that the face of any Christian is literally physically different than that of a Hindu or Muslim. There's an important principle to be learned there: when a person willingly follows Jesus Christ over time the change that takes place on the inside manifests itself through your physical features. If that's how drastically just being a Christian changes someone, think of how much more a faithful member of the restored gospel can be changed if they remain true to what they now is true. Just some food for thought. :)

I also invented a new game this week, I call it "cockroach golf". The rules are very simple, when we come back to our apartment each night I walk inside and after switching the light on I see how many I can hit across the living room with my makeshift driver (a broom) before they scatter. It requires speed, agility, lightning reflexes, and leaving plenty of crumbs on the floor before we go out in the morning.

Entertainment in Hyderabad is golden.

Until next time-
Elder Cloward

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

E-mail: Oct. 6, 2014 "Everybody watches white people..."

And they do:
"Elder Cloward, stop petting that dog, people are watching you."
"Elder Cloward, don't sit in that room, People are watching you."
"Elder Cloward, Get your head back in the train, people are watching you."

I can't get away with anything over here, It's terrible.

This week has been pretty awesome, our investigator who was baptized last week got confirmed and is happier than ever. It's incredible to see the effects that one or two good examples can have on people. Madhu, our recent convert who took over a year to join the church, is helping others to come unto Christ without even saying anything. There's a sister who we started teaching who was visited by the missionaries several time more than a year ago but didn't make any efforts to continue to learn after they (unfortunately) stopped coming. She recently asked the missionaries to come back though, because she saw the almost unbelievable changes that her friend Madhu had made because of the gospel. The husband of the women we just baptized is a less-active who is beginning to keep the commandments and come back to church because of the example of his wife. One of my favorite quotes by a general authority goes something like "preach the gospel at all times and in all places, and if necessary use words." When we take upon ourselves the name of Christ through baptism and taking the sacrament we have the responsibility, not the option, to be an example for Him in all times and in all places. When we do so we will make a difference, even if we don't always find out about it.

Oh, and what do Joseph Smith, Tom Hanks, And Toby McGuire all have in common?
Apparently to Indians they all look like Elder Cloward.

Until next time-
Elder Cloward

P.S. Pictures are coming, I promise.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

E-mail: Sept. 28, 2014 "You still look like a greenie, Elder..."

Wow, we really put the pedal to the metal this week. The biggest thing I'm learning from my companion is how to stay busy, he always knows what we can be doing and he's always being proactive with talking to people and setting appointments so that we'll continue to stay busy.
This was easily the busiest and most fruitful week I've had so far.
Oh, and did I mention we had another baptism yesterday?
The sister we baptized is a perfect example of what it means to truly follow Jesus Christ. As we taught her she not only kept all her commitments each week but went above and beyond by finding ways to get more out of our discussions (such as being prepared with a notebook and pencil to write down everything we taught her) Her example has helped me to realize that true disciples of Christ don't simply do what they're asked and wait for more instruction, they actively find ways on their own to come closer to their Savior.

In other news we had an unexpected transfer this week so a new elder moved into our apartment. He's a 21 year old ball of energy from Washington and he knows how to turn any downtime into fun time. He's good to talk to as well, one of my first conversations with him went as follows:

"So how old are you Elder Cloward?"
"Take your best guess."
"Hmm, I'd say about 18."
"Wow, not bad, how could you tell?"
"You've just got that 18 year old swag, ya know?"

Either this Elder has the gift of discernment or my "swag" vibes are a lot stronger than I thought they were. Yikes.

Anyways until next time, this is Elder Cloward signing off. :)