Friday, November 28, 2014

E-mail: Nov. 24, 2014 "First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, alcohol."‏

There's a sister we've been teaching recently who's making a lot of progress so we're beginning to review the previous lessons we've taught her. When we teach the gospel of Christ we go over it in five steps; faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. When we teach the Word of Wisdom we explain the five things we're not supposed to take into our bodies; drugs, alcohol, tea, coffee, and tobacco. As we were reviewing the five steps to follow Christ with this sister she got them confused and so she told us how after faith comes alcohol.

It's a good thing she didn't remember the ten commandments or else stealing and adultery might have come next.

I may have already mentioned this but I'm still dying to ride a camel, it would be a much calmer way to travel. In order to get around we have to take the Metro Express buses and I learned the hard way that "express" means that the buses don't come to a complete stop at the bus stops. The buses here don't have doors and so anyone can jump on or off going any speed. Thankfully though I think that I'm finally getting skilled enough that I don't have to fear for my life whenever we go places anymore. The other way we get around (which I prefer) are the auto-rickshaws that are like little three-wheeled doorless taxis that will take you anywhere you want to go if you can tell them how to get there. The only thing we have to be careful of there is to not hire any drunk drivers (which is harder than you'd think sometimes).

It's amazing to see the way the gospel changes people. People whom I had very little rapport with and didn't mesh well with in the beginning have become some of my best friends as they've listened to our message and accepted us in their homes. When I first got here I focused very hard on commitments: "Sister you're coming to church on Sunday right?" or "Brother I want you to read these chapters before I see you again". This week we visited with a group of teens who all joined the church but have not been coming despite our consistent efforts these last three months. This time we didn't ask them to come to church, instead we shared a message and played a fun game with them for a while. Guess what? Come Sunday they were ALL at church without us giving any invitation. The most important thing we can do for those who are struggling or wandering off the path is to be their friend, I testify of that.

Anyways until next time study your scriptures and stay cool. :)
-Elder Cloward

A quick note from mom (Jen):

After last week's letter about not having enough socks, I asked him about the store situation.  Here's what he told me about stores over there...

We have one store here that somewhat resembles a very very small Walmart. It's called Spencer's but it's way down the road so we usually shop at one of the small stores we pass by each day. 95% of the stores are smaller than my bedroom back home and you can't go inside. Instead you point at the product you want, point again when the owner gives you the wrong item, then kindly correct him when he says he doesn't have what you want but you can see it right behind him. It's a very different way to shop but it's kinda nice because we don't have to go very far to buy anything. Anything you want to buy, whether it be groceries, pens, hardware, or anything else, is sold this way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

E-mail Nov. 17, 2014 "I'm probably, most likely, definitely coming to church."‏

That was the response we got from a man we met this week, and unfortunately despite his convincing statement he didn't come. In fact, all 10 of the people that committed to come to church this week mysteriously went missing Sunday morning. It was really frustrating to see people whom we thought were making so much progress fail to keep that crucial commitment, and the hardest part is not being able to make them see why coming to church each week is so important. The second hardest thing about that is having them tell us face to face that they're coming and then just not showing up. I went on exchange with some other elders about three weeks back and it was interesting for me to watch as their investigators, instead of committing to an invitation, told them flat out "no, I won't read the Book of Mormon, I don't believe in that one." It reminded me of the parable Christ told about the father who told two of his sons to go to work. The first son said that he wouldn't do the work, but later changed his mind and did it. The second said that he would do the work, but never followed through. Which son do you think the father was pleased with? Our actions will always speak louder than our words, even if our words are packed with good intentions.

Okay, spiritual rant over.

In other news, this week I've encountered an undesirable situation in which I don't have enough socks to last the whole week. I think I accidentally left some at the MTC, but the biggest problem is that after the socks I have left come out of the washing machine it takes 72 hours, three fans, 150 degree weather and a blowtorch to dry them out completely. I tried wearing a slightly wet pair one day because I literally had nothing else to wear except for white ankle socks (and that's just a no-no) and the results were not great. That night we had FHE with a member family, and although my nose was out of commission due to a cold, I realized, when the wife discretely plugged her nose during the closing prayer, that I had unleashed a deadly monster into their home the moment I took off my shoes. After that I knew that something had to be done, and because we lack a dryer I was forced to get creative. In short I realized that by keeping my socks on a frying pan on low heat it would finish drying them out and I could wear them immediately. My method worked beautifully on the first two pairs, but as I once again got caught up my own brilliance I neglected to watch the third pair.  Almost 45 minutes later the apartment was filled with smoke (that tends to happen a lot when I'm there) and I was forced to lay my charcoal-black pair of socks to rest.

You know how people say you can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their sock drawer? Well if anyone looked at my sock drawer now I think they'd be able to determine that I'm a pretty "smokin' hot" individual.

...Okay, I know, that was terrible.

Anyways until next time, this is Elder Cloward saying pray hard and peace out. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Email: Nov. 10, 2014 "MTC Pictures!!!"

Hah! I finally figured out how to get the pictures off my camera! Here's a few from the MTC:

My MTC district.  The coolest bunch of spiritual guys that world has ever seen.

 My and my companion, Elder Pereira.


...Yup, this pretty much explains our relationship.

(Insert cat call whistle here)

Chillin' on P-day with our caffeine-free Mountain Dew.

Someone was showing their love for my companion.

"Challenge Accepted"

And last but not least, this is our "Indian in the Cupboard"  ;)

Note from mom (Jen): 

I asked him for more details about every day life and this is what he told me this week:

Change in plans, I'm not DL right now (thank goodness) but I picked up my new trainee on Thursday and we've started the process of re-breaking in our area. His name is Elder D'Vaz, an 18 year from Canada who is about as great as they come. It's been super easy to get to work because he's obedient to the mission rules and works hard, I'm excited for these next three months. :)

I went to Bangalore for training on Tuesday and I had the chance to see more of the metropolis that is the center of our mission. It's almost completely westernized there, with huge shopping centers, tons of side shops, a Lamborghini showroom, and several Krispe Kreme locations (we passed three just walking that day). It's interesting to contrast that city with Hyderabad where although there are tons of building and plenty of shopping centers, the traditional Indian culture is still widely preserved. 

When we interact with people it's almost like living in America 60 years ago; most of the morals and values that were so common in the 50's are still very prevalent here, which I love. It's so easy to talk to anyone and have a good, sincere conversation. 

There are 4 people in our apartment; Myself and my companion, and our zone leaders; Elder Ravindran and Elder Dusara. Elder Ravindran is a native from Bangalore who is half business machine and half comedian. Elder Dusara is from Washington state and I'm pretty sure he wrote the book on having fun. The most interesting thing I've eaten so far would probably be a chicken heart, which actually wasn't bad but I about died when the Elders fooled me into thinking it was a different part of a chicken... 

Love you and I'll talk to you again next week. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

E-mail from Pres. Berrett Nov. 6, 2014

Dear Brother and Sister Cloward:

Your son has been asked to be a trainer of a new missionary. Attached is a photo taken today of your missionary and Elder D’Vaz of Kelowna, British Columbia Canada. We are grateful to have your son serving in our mission.

President David Berrett
India Bangalore Mission

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

E-mail Nov. 4, 2014 "Oh come on, just a little won't hurt!"

But when it comes to chili powder "just a little bit" really does hurt. A lot.

I used to think I could handle spicy foods, in fact whenever I would go to a Mexican restaurant I would liberally apply the jalapenos and habanero sauce to prove my ability to tolerate it.

Then I got sent to India.

To put it simply the spiciest food you'll ever find in America is what the natives here would feed to their newborn children. The amount of chili powder they use here is inconceivable (and yes, that does mean what I think it means). The curries all have chili powder, the two minute noodles I've become so familiar with have chili powder, the jam that I had at a member's home for breakfast was more chili powder than fruit; and, thanks to one of the other elders, I found out the hard way that my chocolate milk was also full of chili powder. Regardless though the food here is unbelievably delicious. Even the simplest dish prepared by an Indian puts an expensive restaurant back home to shame; and so despite having to apply ice packs to my tongue each night, I'm happy. :)

We often read in the scriptures how we're supposed to plead with the Lord for those things we stand in need of, but how many of us actually know what it feels like to desperately cry to and beg our Heavenly Father for the spirit to touch our hearts? I don't think I know that I've ever felt that to the extent that God wants me to, but this week I met someone who did. I was on exchange with the other Elders and they were teaching an investigator who had taken more than a year to really progress in the gospel. They had previously invited him to fast to receive an answer about the truthfulness of the gospel and when we met him at 8:00 that night he confirmed that he had started his fast early that morning but then surprised us all when he told us that he was still going (we took him out to dinner afterwards). At the end of an excellent lesson he was invited to give the closing prayer, and it was unlike any prayer I've ever heard before. This humble man didn't go through the motions as he spoke, he truly and fervently petitioned the Lord to give him that witness that couldn't come from anyone else, and he didn't stop praying until he had literally poured out his soul in that request. To make a somewhat long story short, he got his answer, and it was an experience I'll never forget.

As I was walking with my companion down a busy street one day we were discussing some of Christ's teachings from the bible. We talked about how we shouldn't notice others imperfections before acknowledging and trying to correct our own, as He taught using the symbolism of the beam and the mote. I learned a valuable lesson that day: If you're going to demonstrate what it might look like to physically pull a beam out of your eye make sure you're not on a busy street where the people who are around aren't already watching you.

Yeah I know you probably think I'm a geek, but I'm just grateful I learned to not act out scripture stories in public before trying to put a camel through the eye of a needle.

Anyways until next time- pray daily, seek the spirit, and rock on. 
-Elder Cloward