Monday, August 25, 2014

Awesome Zone Conference!

Well this week was really good! Tuesday we went into Mandeville for zone conference. That was really great! Elder Cornish was he for that and wow it was just great! In the past I have tried really hard in letters to quote things that they say or lessons that they give and when I read over them after they are typed I realize that they make no sense, so I don't think that I will do that this week, but just know that it was powerful! He talked a lot about working with less actives to do missionary work. Not just to get them reactivated but as a way to kill two birds with one stone essentially. He said to find non members around the less actives and start teaching them. This way when the less active is being taught with the non member friend it will bring back the good feelings the less active used to have when they were active. It works really good. The vast majority of less actives that you talk to love the gospel, they don't have any bad things to say about the church, just that they haven't come for a few years. So it was a 7 hour meeting of awesomeness and I was just able to ruin it in 1 paragraph.  Anyways we also had DLC (District Leader Council) before zone conference with him. It was a great meeting too. Elder Cornish and his wife, Prez Brown and his wife, the Assistants, the zone leaders, and us 3 district leaders were the only people in that meeting and it was powerful as well! For zone conference preparation like 2 weeks ago, Elder Cornish had all the missionaries prepare a 5 minute talk on the process of true conversion and another 5 min talk on My purpose as a missionary. They said that they were going to randomly call 2 missionaries to give those talks in zone conference. Well I prepared a really good talk on The Process of True conversion. I made it so good that I didn't even leave time to make a talk on My Purpose. So I said there is like a 1 in 30 chance that I even have to speak so I won't even worry about making one. Well pres announces who is giving talks about half way through zone conference and I was one of them. I am so glad he had me talk on the process of true conversion! I would have been able to wing a decent talk on the missionary purpose but I know that I always have to be prepared now just in case! The taxi ride to Mandeville was awful, they put like 30 people I swear in a 15 passenger van. Ugh it's awful.

This week an investigator invited us over for dinner. We got fed Kidney, calaloo, boiled green banana, and dumpling. It wasn't too bad. I will say that because there was kidney on my plate, boiled green bananas have never tasted so good in my life before! :) I ate it, it was doable, I think I like liver better though. I eat chicken bones now too. I think for you guys to hear that it might sound weird but it's not too bad, you guys should try it sometime after you get done with some KFC chicken or something.

Yesterday we woke up and had no electricity AND no water in our house. Try getting ready for church without a shower or an ironing board while on a mission lol. We actually have a reserve tank of water that is hooked up to our bathroom so that is good! Water goes out pretty often so I am so grateful for that! Sometimes when the water goes out in the house, I have to go and rinse off my lettuce or whatever I want to wash off in the shower. It's a little bit awkward gut it gets the job done. It's better than other houses in the mission tho, there is one house where they only have water in the shower, so they do everything from putting water in their oatmeal to washing all the dishes with the shower. We have to fill up our washing machine from filling up buckets in the shower and taking them to the back of our house and dumping it in the washing machine. Hey it's a heck of a lot better than hand washing so I deal with it!

Well have a good week now that school is starting! Happy birthday Grandpa Newman and Kierstin this week! Pictures are coming next week hopefully. The camera fixer man is on Jamaica time and keeps saying "Your camera soon come." <-- that's Jamaican for it's going to take a long time! :)

Big Up.

Elder Colton Harris

Monday, August 18, 2014

Yard names, ginneup, and chcoolate!

This week was just another week in paradise. So last week we had a really good zone p-day in Mandeville. We went there and played volleyball in the rain, ordered pizza (ordering pizza is like better than Christmas here), did some other stuff too. My explanation right now is making it sound really lame. It took like and hour long taxi ride to get there and then we got dropped off at the taxi park and had to walk for a half hour to get to the church building. Then the same thing when we went home. We get to do it all over again because we have zone conference in Mandeville. Elder Cornish is coming to this one as well so I am pretty excited.

The past few weeks the area presidency has asked that we contact all of the potential seminary and institute members and invite them to attend when it starts back up. That has been a huge issue. Most of them are completely inactive. Most members don't know them. So we do what any decent missionaries would do and look them up on the branch directory. Well the problem with that is that there are no phone numbers for them, or the phone numbers that are written aren't connected. So next plan is to go to their house. Yeah right. For almost all of them under "street address" it has an area. So it would essentially say 'North Creek', or 'Canyon Road' or 'Manderfield' instead of their actual address, but for our area out here it says 'Juno Crescent' or 'Palmers Cross' etc. So we decide to go to that area and start asking if anyone knows of the person we are looking for. It wouldn't be so bad except that people's real names are on church records but all Jamaicans have what's called a 'Yard Name' or Pet Name'…essentially it just means nickname. Now these nicknames are the only names they go by except for official documents. So we go to an area looking for 'John Doe' but his yard name and the name everyone knows him by is 'Pitbull'. It makes it impossible because these nicknames aren't like they are back home. They are straight up the ONLY name they have gone by for many, many years. It's been really hard and we have only found like half. The yard name thing doesn't make it just hard to find less actives, but also to do family history in Jamaica. A lot of members only know their aunts and uncles by their yard names. They don't know a lot of their relatives first or last names and it's hard to ask others because they only know them by their yard name too.

Well we have been eating a lot of ginneup lately. It is a fruit, IDK how to explain it but there is a ginnuep tree in our area and so we stop and pick a bunch all the time. Last week I took like a whole branch and just hung it off my handlebars and so I rode around picking ginnuep off of this branch and eating it while riding. It turned out pretty good!

We have been getting quite a bit of rain the past 3 weeks. It hadn't rained for many months before that and Jamaica was in a big drought and so as a mission we had a fast for rain and since then it has been raining quite a bit.

Well we are working with some cool people right now and we have been finding some new people as well! We are excited. None of them have baptism dates right but that'll soon come. I also had chocolate this week made by and investigator named D. It was made with the real coco plant or seed or whatever it is. It was really good! Also had and investigator chop us off some plantain from his plantain tree this week so we have been frying that up Jamaican style this past week.

Well take care and have a great week! Hopefully pictures will come next week! One Love.

Elder Colton Harris
Colton, his companion, and another roommate in front of their fridge.  Colton says, "You think the fridge is bad...wait till I send a pic of the bathtub... the fridge looks like it still should be in its brand new packaging compared to our shower!"  Despite this, his apartment won the clean apartment challenge that is held within the mission.  The senior missionary couple over cleaning checks had this to say, "They live amongst rust and rot but they had their apartment looking great despite the deteriorating surroundings!!"  Good job, Colton!  I had my doubts as I visited his college apartment and saw how he lived there;)

Monday, August 11, 2014

New mattress...check. Fan...not yet.

Dear Family!

It's been a full week in the Play Pen! It's been a good week too. We are working to build our teaching pool right now. We are trying to find 'Kingdom Builders'. People who will be able to contribute to the branch right away after they are baptized instead of people who take a lot of the branches energy to retain them. It's more difficult to find that way but it is better than baptizing a less active. We are following the Lords council in D&C 58: verses like 5 through 10... I think that is the scripture reference for what I am explaining lol. I finally got a new mattress! I had one brought out from Kingston this week. It kinda got rained on while in the back of the truck on the way here, but I still slept on it that night because I was not going to sleep on those foam pads anymore! I am still working on getting a fan. I would buy one but then I would have to bicycle home with it, and our house is like 4 miles away from the stores and there are a lot of big hills in between so I haven't been in too big of a hurry to purchase one yet simply because I don't want to ride with it home. This week on the 6th was Jamaicas independence day. There was a huge party going on right across the street from the church during district meeting. Since we have to windows open in the church, it made for one loud district meeting! :) I was teaching to the beat of all sorts of music. Friday night the branch had 'Jamaica Night'. They did a talent show and had some food afterwards. I think this is the first branch activity that I have been a part of in Jamaica.. it was pretty nice. Well we are heading to Mandeville for Pday today so I have to be quick on the computer. Sorry there wasn't much this week. I also don't have pictures because I broke my camera, so when I get that replaced I'll throw ya some pics! Have a good week! One Love.

Elder Colton Harris

Monday, August 4, 2014

Excruciatingly Hot...Day and Night!

Well everyone it has been another week! My last week in Kingston went good. Said a lot of goodbyes, did a lot of packing etc. We had transfers on Friday this week so we all headed to Spanish Town. Transfer meeting was good, and then we headed out. Had a very squishy ride to Maypen! we fit 6 elders and all of our luggage, bicycles, and so much more in a little like half sized truck. Lets just say that it was stacked high! we got pulled over on the way cuz of how it was stacked, but he saw that we had strapped it down good and let us go. I got to Maypen and things are going pretty good. I'll send ya pictures of my new house next week to see if it compares to Dallon Ebmeyer's new apartment, I'll let you guys be the judge of deciding lol. So I sleep on a foam pad, nope that's a lie.. I actually sleep on 3 foam pads stacked on top of each other. I would sleep only on one, but there is a board that is missing on my bed frame, so anything less than 3 foam pads I fall down in it. These foam pads are killing my back, I can't sleep at all on them. I did get to sleep but I keep waking up in the middle of the nights. I wake up and I am completely wet, and I wonder why, and then I remember that there isn't even a fan in the house for me. So not only is there no A/C, but I don't even have a fan so it is excruciatingly hot at nights! With a fan blowing on high it is bearable to sleep, but without a fan it's impossible. When we go to bed, not just here in Maypen, but all over the island, our house is about 92 degrees. When we wake up in the mornings it is about 87 degrees in our house, and during studies and lunch it's about 96 degrees. It's draining to be in that heat literally 24/7 but it's all good. Back home when you're in the shade it's a little bit cooler, but because of the humidity the only difference between the sun and shade is that you don't get blinded since we aren't allowed to wear sunglasses since we are 'CIA'. On a bike in the sun all day is even worse since we are outside all hours of the day, not one lesson indoors ever. The only time I am indoors is at our house or for 3 hours at church on Sundays. So my new comp is great, he's from Canada. The area is pretty okay as well. There are a lot more hills here compared to Kingston and Spain! My legs have just been on fire because of these hills lol. It's fun because we ride around on like mtn bike trails all day that are in the bush so it is kind of like a jungle, just a little bit of a dry jungle right now because we are in a bit of a drought here in Jamaica. The drought is pretty bad. We had a mission wide fast for rain yesterday so hopefully things start to turn around. I'm going to have to repair my bike a lot more often because of the terrain here! I've been getting chased by dogs again that are ferocious while on our bicycles. These aren't your typical United States dogs that might chase you. I never got chased in Kingston, but here we do. They keep ya awake while riding. I kicked one the other day when it jumped to get my heel while I was riding, that just made it come at me even faster. Whoops. Our teaching pool is small so we have to do a lot of finding. The branch is good too. There was about 90 people at church yesterday. It's just a little bit smaller than my previous 3 branches that I served in. Well that's about everything I think. Big up to di brim ya ear! Live up what's left of summer! Enjoy the sun going down so late at nights cuz it get completely dark at like 6:15pm basically year round here! One Love.

Elder Colton Harris