Pretzels, Programming, and Proselytizing

Le va?

This week has had some weird stuff happen it. We've been hustling a whole lot still every day which has made time go by pretty fast, and we also had a lot of lessons with less-active members and a couple of our more interested people we're teaching.

Monday:
We finally got into Wander's door! We had a pretty great lesson with him about the Book of Mormon, and it was hilarious because after talking about what it was, we showed him one of the illustrations from it (Christ ministering with the Nephites). He felt like it was familiar, and we pointed out that he had the same picture in his living room because he had stuck a pass-along card (little cards we hand out about Gospel topics) with the same picture in the corner of the frame of one of the other paintings in his living room! So we just pointed at it, and he was super confused and astonished. He went and picked it up and looked at the back and there was a picture of the Book of Mormon on it. He didn't remember ever receiving it and he had had it there in his living room for a long time. We have another appointment with him tonight.

 I'm the pretzel master.

I'm the pretzel master.

While buying groceries, I bought a family pack of 18 jumbo pretzels. Some of the other Elders (mostly Elder Barrett) were making fun of me because they just thought I was shopping hungry (which was true), but they underestimated how much I like soft pretzels because I ate six of them by the end of the day. I had 8 left by Tuesday, and then I started rationing them out throughout the week. It's become a pretty big inside joke because we had a call with the other Elders in Passaic in the evening and got to tell Elder Barrett that I had already eaten a third of the bag. When I ran out of pretzels, I started on the 4lb bag of hash browns that I had. I bought more pretzels today, but I need to be a little more creative with my cooking.

Tuesday:

We had a really interesting lesson with Mayra! It was my first time meeting her. She's a really sweet, shy older Dominican lady who seems to really love what we're teaching. Elder Sansom and Elder McClusky (we were on exchange last time) asked her to read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon and when we talked to her she said that she hadn't read very much of it because she has a hard time reading, but that she'd listened to the first eight chapters on tape. She came to church yesterday, stayed the whole time, and met a lot of the ward members which was awesome. That lesson was really interesting though because of two things:

1. She brought her friend Jose who said he wanted to hear the charlas (lessons), and he was into it at first but then half way through told us that he was an old man and had to sleep and stood up and left.

2. She wanted help with a legal issue, and spent a good amount of time describing it, and then told us that there wasn't really anything that we could do about it, but she went into great detail. We didn't really know how to help her, but she showed us a bunch of documents and pictures she had taken. I walked out of that lesson not really sure what had happened.

Wednesday:

Wednesday was fun! We had a lesson with a member named Lizbeth who's a really nice lady. She and Elder Barrett have a faux rivalry because he's only got two transfers left in his mission, but he only joined the Spanish program like 6 or 7 weeks ago. He was an English Elder before that, but was moved to the Spanish program after some people got shuffled around, so he barely knows any Spanish, which the members all think is hilarious. Lizbeth calls him "gringo" (pejorative for a non-native person, specifically white people) because he can't speak any Spanish, and he calls her "chacha" (which basically means maid) because she used to hang out at another member family's house (Martin and Guille) and they started teasingly calling her that. It's really funny to see that interaction at church when she says "See you gringo!" and he goes "Bye chacha!" She and Guille also have a competition to see who cooks the best, which is really hard when you're the missionary that is supposed to be the judge while each is urging you to tell the other that they cook the best.

Since that lesson she's been trying to get us to record a voice clip saying that she's the better cook by messaging us on Facebook. We sent her one that said "You cook really well!" but she wasn't satisfied with that.

I also taught my first English class! It was pretty hard to get into the mindset of teaching English to Spanish after learning and teaching Spanish to English for so long, but it was a lot of fun! It was also nice to see that most of Hispanos here were struggling as much with English as I was/am with Spanish.

Thursday:

We had our Coordination meeting with Hermano Munoz. He served us Mexican hot chocolate and toast afterwards which was super good. We finished weekly planning in a record amount of time: 2 hours and 40 minutes. The fastest yet.

Elder Sansom had to go to another area to do a baptismal interview, but we had two important lessons that night, so we did a small 3 hour exchange with the Assistants (Missionaries who are Assistants to the Mission President). We had a great lesson with a member named Mauro, and then another with the part member family of Jorge Miguel Castillo (mbr.), his wife Josefina (not), and her parents, Luisa and Hector (not). 
We helped the Facebook Elders with some spreadsheet stuff for their Instagram statistics, and while talking to them, I mentioned that I code and know spreadsheet stuff after they asked me about it. One of the Facebook Elders was super excited, and told me that he and Elder Sansom had talked a lot about that a few months ago when they didn't know who was going to take over for E. Sansom when he left. He said that E. Sansom didn't really know and didn't have an answer, but said he was going to pray a lot about it. He did, and didn't get an immediate answer so they were starting to get worried when all of a sudden I appeared as his trainee.

Friday:
We took some dedicated time to fix the spreadsheet for the Facebook Elders while I started to learn the code for the Facebook add-on. That took a while, but we added some new features for them in the spreadsheet, and I got an elementary walk through of what everything does and how it works. 
Afterwards, we put up a bunch of fliers for our free English class. We can't do it on Main street really, because there's a massive English class over there that takes down our fliers. They charge $50+ a class and ours is free, so it seems really scummy that they're so territorial, but we get plenty of people anyway. At one four way intersection a decent ways away from main, there was a guy on the other side diagonally who was handing out flyers for that other English class company. We were worried he was going to take our flyer down right after we put it up, so we just wrapped the flier like 3 times over with packing tape. He didn't really see us or pay attention to us, but our flyers keep disappearing, so we just wanted to be safe.

Saturday:

We had an exchange with the other Elders in Passaic. I went with Elder Harding on the other side of Main, while Elder Barrett went with Elder Sansom on our side. Elder Harding and Elder Barrett are super great guys. They're very different, and it's a hilarious Penn and Teller type thing, where Elder Harding is pretty reserved and circumspect but sharp and witty, and Elder Barrett is super hyper and outgoing but doesn't speak any Spanish. Elder Harding and I had a great lesson with one of the people that they're teaching, and went around street contacting and putting up fliers in their area. It was hilarious because down the street from their house was a bunch of people who had set up DJ equipment and loud speakers in front of a closed down house, and were blasting music from 10 am to when I left the area at 8 pm. I'll see if I can put some video attached or on my blog. When we walked past they were trying to get us to dance, but we didn't really have time to bust a move for some drunk people having an all day party, haha.

Sunday:

Yesterday was pretty cold. We were greeting people at the door of the chapel and that was pretty much the first thing out of their mouths every time. Like I mentioned before, Mayra came and enjoyed it, so that was good. Knocking doors after sundown in the cold was not quite as heartwarming, or hand-warming, or just warming in general, but we found a family who seemed very interested in our message, and we also got to teach a great lesson to a large 7th Day Adventist family, which was pretty interesting.

At the end of the night, I worked on doing some "wax on, wax off" style code training with Elder Sansom where I just helped write a little bit of code for the add-on that turns the Facebook top bar from blue to whatever you input as your "favorite color" in the add-on options. I'm starting to finally get it!

Today:

I bought more pretzels and hash browns (and some stuff to make trash hash). We did laundry, ate lunch, and I've been writing emails (I'm really behind on responding to emails and letters, so if I haven't replied yet, I promise I'm working on it) and working on blog stuff! (The email signup should work 100% now, so if anyone isn't getting emails who wants to be, please point them to kaireyes.com)

It really feels like the ball is starting to get rolling, and we're talking to so many great people that this week has just flown by. I can't believe I've already been out for two months! They say it just gets faster, and I almost can't believe that. Week 9/100 down. Wow. It feels like I left yesterday.

Can't wait to write another email next week and have it feel like tomorrow!

- Elder Kai Reyes

Pictures (In no particular order because Gmail hates me):
1. After a very intense doctrinal discussion, we went into General and Special Relativity because Elder Sansom is very good at math, and I was very curious about a lot of things. I included some of the notes he made to help me.

2. My English is really really degrading. I spent a good 2 minutes trying to figure out what "ploon-hay" meant in Spanish on this soda. Turns out it's just "plunge" in English.

3. A picture of Elder Harding taking a picture of Elder Barrett through Elder Sansom's phone when we left our phones out during English class and left the room for a sec to print things off.

4. I forgot to put the ones last week on of the tricked-out Honda Odyssey, so I included some there. I really love the spoiler.

5-6. More Honda. Please note the tricked out rims, the dropped front, and the hard-to-see custom front emblem that was a red chrome "w".