Saturday, May 30, 2015

E-mail: May 25, 2015 "Well, Jesus drank it..."

Chemistry 101- what happens when you mix all the leftover fruit juices in your fridge and let it sit behind all the dirty dishes in the kitchen for three weeks? Magic.

We 'accidentally' found out that we can make homemade wine any time we want to from the comfort of our apartment. It started when Elder Dias tried to make a redneck work of art a few weeks ago with materials we had on hand. He took an old bottle and froze some orange juice in the bottom and froze more juices layer by layer to create a solid mass of bright stripes. We literally could have 'tasted the rainbow'. The problem occurred when one of us accidentally left it out after admiring it and the whole thing slushed together. We decided it needed to be thrown away, but we never decided who should do it, so it got left on the corner of the kitchen and forgotten about until today. The first thing that threw me off after I found it was when it released all the pressure like a bottle of coke when I unscrewed the lid. The juices, none of which had been carbonated beforehand, continued to fiz and froth and give off a very unique smell long after the cap was removed. Had I been a completely apostate missionary I could have secretly spiked my companion's drink tonight for a little entertainment and a good laugh, but thankfully my standards are higher than that (however I'm ashamed to say that the thought did cross my mind).

I inadvertently got 'Payphone' by Maroon 5 stuck in my head this morning, and needless to say it made me pretty darn trunky for a little bit. It reminded me of all the music to listen to and all the things I used to before coming out here, and it's crazy to realize that most of them aren't much more than a distant memory now. On more than one occasion I've been talking to another missionary about some of my favorite songs from the music I used to listen to only to stop mid-sentence because I can't for the life of me remember any of the artist's names anymore. A lot of the things that were super important to me back home crumbled into extinction the minute I got out here, and they're slowly being replaced with what I now know to be of real worth. I used to wonder why people always say that missionaries need to "adjust" when they get back home, but I think I'm finally starting to understand that now. When you come on a mission you have to be 100% dedicated to the Lord every day, but when we go back home we realize that there are many other things we also have to be dedicated to like a job, education, family, and we let our commitment to follow the Lord take a seat on the back-burner instead. The most important thing I think anyone who is preparing to go on a mission can do is to start practicing being completely dedicated to the Lord and his Gospel right now, today. There are many missionaries who have to become converted and dedicated after they get into the mission field, and during hat time they can't help people very well because they're still figuring things out for themselves. Compare that to someone who already knows how to be disciplined and committed before their mission and starts working miracles from day 1. My challenge for each of you today- Don't let your religion be just a religion, make it your way of life, at school, at work, at home, and at church. Try it, I dare you.

Anyways things are getting a lot hotter and a lot wetter over here. The temperature has gone up a little bit more than I hoped it would this last week, and when it's not muggy and hot it's started raining on us. At least I have my umbrella- is what I'd say if I hadn't lost it a month ago. On the bright side though I rarely have to wash my shoes thanks to all the puddles and small reservoirs we tromp through.  However it is a pain to be constantly drying out the insides and the outsides before I can wear them again. It was so wet that we decided to take an auto home last week but the flooding was so high that it got up into the engine and killed the vehicle. Oh well, a little water never hurt anybody right? Just pray I learn how to swim soon, I may need it.

Anyways until next time everyone, rock on. :)
-Elder Flower (that was a new one this week)

This picture came in an unexpected email we received Saturday morning:

Dear parents of Elders Cloward and Dias,

I just finished a wonderful dinner with your elders here in my hotel in Bangalore.  I'm visiting Bangalore on business and looked up the contact info for the missionaries because I like to treat them to dinner if possible.  We had a very nice time.

They will have been very well fed at the Royal Afghan, one of the restaurants here at the ITC Windsor and they appear to be doing very well and in good spirits.

Just a random guy who has a missionary of my own

Monday, May 18, 2015

E-mail: May 18, 2015 "And this gospel shall go forth until it has gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and auto rickshaw."‏

We've been able to see how the "stone cut out of the mountain" that Daniel talks about is literally filling the whole earth, especially here in India. Everywhere we go the Mormon church is making it's way into the lives and homes of random (or maybe not so random) people. One day we walked into a Christian family's home and there was a Telugu calendar from their church hanging on the wall, but the picture of Jesus Christ on the front was from the bible videos being produced by our church. On another occasion we hopped into the back of an auto and found a rack with free catalogs from almost every Christian church in the region; and although there was nothing with our church's name on it one of the pamphlets had a popular LDS depiction of Christ coming down out of the clouds on the cover. My favorite experience however is when we were in an investigator's home and we heard the unmistakable soundtrack from one of the Doctrine and Covenants videos being used during a dramatic moment in a random Tamil movie. Whether it be through pictures, movies, songs, or other media The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is beginning to penetrate every corner of the earth. The next step? Ask the brother who's driving the auto if he knows where that picture came from, and then invite him to learn more. ;)

Apparently when you have to leave a foreign country that doesn't want you there preaching about Christianity in the first place, you have to have not one, but two passports to get you back in. It sounds like I'll be using one of my passports to get me into the Philippines while the US keeps my other one and tries to get me back into India. Does this sound like a big, complicated mess? Yup. Does it sound like I may have to stay in the Philippines for a while if things don't work out? I sure hope not. Regardless though I had to take a trip to seaside city of Chennai this week to get all this stuff figured out. Chennai is the second biggest city in southern India and borders the eastern sea. It's known for being a major importing dock for all of southern India and for being hotter than- ...a very hot place. Thank goodness it was overcast and rainy the two days we were there or they may have had to ship my melted remains back to Bangalore in a bottle. The city was beautiful though, and the church members there are awesome. We got to tour the biggest church building in the mission and it was incredible. A three story giant religious superstructure on the main road of the city attracts more than just a little attention, and so we spent the rest of our time Thursday afternoon out front handing out pamphlets and Books of Mormon to anyone who passed by. It made me realize that it's not very hard to share the gospel with others. Our message is simple: God loves us and wants us to be happy so He sends His prophets to teach us about His Son, Jesus Christ. If we follow His example we will find joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come. This book, which is similar to the Bible, contains the words of ancient prophets and the fullness of the gospel and will bring you closer to God if you abide by it's teachings. If you diligently read and pray to know that these things are true, God will give you an answer by the power of His Spirit.

My challenge this week- introduce one of your friends who's not a member of the church (you all have one) to the Book of Mormon and help them to come to Christ. E-mail me with your experiences as you do this too, I'd love to hear about it. :)

Anyways everyone until next time- Stay awesome. :)
-Elder Clouds

E-mail: May 10, 2015 "Substitutes"

"Dang it!"
"Fluffy Fluff!"
"You Dunkin' Donut!"

...Are just a few of the substitute curse words we've become a little too familiar with here in the India Bangalore Mission. I'm not proud to say that I've probably used all of them at one point or another, but as I try to limit myself to only the one syllable words I'm slowly becoming better. Many of these words I'm sure most of you are familiar with (especially if you live in Utah) but a couple of them have been born and bred in our very own apartment. When I first got to Bangalore we had three Americans and one Indian in the apartment. The Indian who was with us got confused as he heard his American comrades using seemingly useless and random words in exasperation, so he decided to join in by adding a few of his own. Thus the phrases "Dunkin' Donut" and "Fluffy Fluff" have also made their way into the Convent Road Elders' arsenal of insults.

During my Book of Mormon reading this week I studied and marked a lot of passages about repentance. I think the Lord is trying to tell me something...

Speaking of Book of Mormon reading, I've officially made it to Helaman (for any of you who are still competing in the challenge) but I'm kinda sad about it. Every time I've read the Book of Mormon in the past it's taken me a little while to read through all the war chapters of Alma, but due to my companion falling sick and being stuck in the apartment this weekend, I completed the whole account in 2 days. It was quite the experience; all the different battles and stories that before were separate and distinct, melted together and fused the teachings and accounts into an understandable whole. I began to rejoice with each victory and to feel sad at the account of the people's wickedness. As I turned the last few pages and read through the deaths of Captain Moroni, Alma, and Helaman, I actually felt an emptiness inside of me as though someone I knew and loved had just left. It's crazy the way this sacred book can pull you in and has the ability to change your life if you let it. My challenge to each one of you right now: If you don't have a regular habit of studying your Book of Mormon, start one- right now, today. To those of you who feel you're already a diligent BofM scriptorian: change it up. If you're used to flying through the pages and pounding out chapters like there's no tomorrow, slow down and take the time to digest the doctrines. If it takes you a week just to get through one chapter because you mark like crazy and dive into every footnote, try speeding it up and see how fast you can get through the whole thing. There's no right or wrong to either of these methods because they both have their benefits and if you change them up, they'll both help you to get more out of your study. I testify it'll not only change the way you see this book but you'll have greater power to learn and apply the teachings found inside. Will you do it? Promise? Good. ;)

Oh, and one more thing.

Despite popular belief Abraham Lincoln is still alive, and he's an Indian. Psych.
Circus, Afro, Circus, Afro, Polkadot- Polkadot- Polkadot- Afro!
 Until next time everyone. :)
-Elder Cloward

Monday, May 4, 2015

E-mail: May 4, 2015 - "Curve balls, cows & curry"

What to do when your investigator informs you three days before his baptism that he's going out of town and may not be back in time:
Step 1- Try not to panic.
Step 2- Calmly find out if there's any way that it will still work out.
Step 3- Swallow your disappointment and realize that his baptism will likely have to be postponed (again).

What to do when your investigator tells you over the phone 2 hours before church starts that he's coming back early for his baptism:
Step 1- Try really hard not to panic.
Step 2- Tell him that we didn't have enough time to plan for a service so it'll still have to be the next week.
Step 3- Pray about it and get an almost overwhelming conformation that the baptism needs to happen today.
Step 4- Immediately call back your investigator and a thousand other people to set up a baptismal service in 4 hours.

What to do when you get to the church and realize that the water to that part of the city has been shut off and there's no water in the font or the rest of the building:
Step 1- PANIC
Step 2- Get one of the other Elders to knock some sense into you and look for any possible solution.
Step 3- Ask the security guard to start the back-up pump for the irrigation water.
Step 4- Hook up a hose to the outdoor faucet in the garden and drag the other end into the church.
Step 5- Proceed to fill the font and retain at least a shred of sanity.

Against all odds the India Bangalore Elders (with help and guidance from the almighty) have prevailed over the devil's tactics and Krishna has finally entered into the covenant of baptism. It took a lot of time to get there, and everything that could have possibly gone wrong came to pass, but he was baptized and the spirit was strong during the service. It's a testimony builder to me that even though I wanted to postpone it for multiple reasons when we put our trust in the Lord He made it work. It was also a testimony that more often than not when we trust the Lord to help us get something done it may not be the way wanted or planned for. This experience has strengthened my resolve to do all I can to do my part, but when things don't work out my rule of thumb from now on is- "when you don't know what you should do just trust in God, He'll see you through."
God is mindful of this work and He'll make sure that things get done, I testify of that. :)

In other news this week my new companion has constantly been trying to get me to slap one of the many cows we pass as we walk down the street. He says it's fun and he does it all the time, but I haven't worked up the courage to try it yet. The fear of being kicked, gored, or of contracting mad cow disease are just a few of the things that keep me from being as adventurous and daring as Elder Dias, but seeing as this peer pressure is coming from someone I'm stuck with 24/7 I'll either need to man up or find a different way to show my courage. Pray for me.

Anyways until next week everyone- trust in God, stay away from cows, and rock on. :)

-Elder Clouds


Elder Dias, Krishna, and Yours Truly.

Rockin' the jumpsuit.

Elder Pereira, Krishna, Elder Peter, and I think that's Elder Dias photo-bombing in the back.