Elder Huffaker

Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Twas Two Days Before Christmas

Brandon waxed poetic, and at Christmas, he sent us this poem that he composed himself:

'Twas two days before Christmas and all through the mission,
All the Elders were anxious for what they've been wishin'.
The boxes were stacked in Kingston without care,
In hopes that thieves wouldn't break into there.
The senior couples were nestled all snug in their beds,
While thoughts of Christmas day danced in their old little heads.
President Graff in his suit Sister Graff in her dress,
Had just finished their plans for this big Christmas mess.
When all of a sudden there arose a new clamor,
They sprang to their feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the door they flew in a flash,
Unbolted the locks and the gate with a crash.
When what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But three strange men, not a single reindeer.
With a fashion so strange, curious and bizarre,
You'd be sure that they had never been in one single car.
More brilliant than people they strode up the drive,
And they started to call out before they'd arrive.
President Graff, Sister Graff hold on and wait,
Elder Tanner, Elder McGrath we wont keep you too late.
First past the gate and then past the cars,
They obviously weren't coming from any bars.
So up to the door they walked really fast,
And came immediately in, not first or last.
And then in the kitchen they straightway sat down,
All of them smiled, not one single frown.
The Graffs, they sat too, the Assistants they stood,
To all listen eagerly to hear what is so good.
These three were all dressed in old looking clothes,
Whatever material it is, it all just glows.
They carried nothing, just the clothes on their backs,
Yet they had something amazing that required no packs.
Their eyes – how they twinkled and their dimples how merry,
Their cheeks were like roses, one's nose like a cherry.
So their message they shared to those four in the room,
Don't worry it wasn't about some impending doom.
Then they all got some food to put in each belly,
And had a few laughs while President Graff shook like jelly.
So they continued their chat, but not for very long,
Otherwise those three men would break out into song.
With winks from their eyes and nods from their heads,
It was time for them to go and everyone else to their beds.
No one said a thing, not one single word,
And to the door they moved, like their own little herd.
With handshakes goodbye they prepared to depart,
As everyone felt a strong burn in their heart.
Back down the drive to the street did they go,
Which direction they went, no one will know.
But President Graff exclaimed 'ere they walked out of sight,
Merry Christmas to y'all and to y'all a good night.
(from December 21. This is late because of our busy-ness during the holidays. In this post, Brandon explains the terms, "killing" and "dead" missionaries. The term, "white-wash" refers to a complete change of missionaries in an area.)

Well, it has been raining off and on for the past three days. The last couple of nights, Elder Vea and I have been riding our bicycles home in the rain. It wasn't the ideal conditions, but it is nice to have the rain on your face and not be that cold.

Well, it is the first week of this transfer. It happens to be Elder Vea's last transfer. He will be going home. This means in missionary terms that I am killing him and he's a dead missionary. Also, we received two new zone leaders who white-washed in Sav. No one else moved in our zone except for one of the zone leaders went to Negril and the one in Negril went to Santa Cruz.

Mostly, we've been building ourselves up for Christmas. So, I'll get to say hi to some of you and to those I don't... HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Elder Huffaker

Christmastime is Come and Gone

Well, I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas. I know I did.

Lets see, I gotta be brief because I don't have much time in this internet cafe. Computer is going slow.

Last week, everything was leading up to Christmas. In fact, all the little shops move to the square on Christmas Eve. They have an actual market here where they don't just sell food, but clothes and toys and other what nots. So we helped one member family in moving all their goods to the square where they stayed up all night selling.

Then Thursday, we went to Portmore in the morning and played a little basketball. Then we went to Kingston to clean up and have Christmas dinner with all the other missionaries. We did a few skits sang a few songs and ate chinese food.

Then we got our packages and headed home for the night. Friday morning, Elder Vea and I headed down to the branch and got to talk to our families and get a little R&R the rest of Christmas day.

Sorry I had to be brief, if you want details, email me.

Elder Huffaker

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Monotonous Week

Well, with half of December gone by, things are going pretty slow. I'm even struggling with what to write.

SOOOOOO. It's actually been getting a little chilly at nights. I still sleep with a fan blowing over me, but sometimes when I wake up in the morning, my feet are a little cold. I have to make my own winter down here. :D

Then, on Wednesday, after Elder Vea and I came back from District Meeting, we got pummelled with rain. I mean this was coming down. We rode for no more than 5 minutes between appointments, and we were soaked to the bone. We passed some of the family we were teaching while biking to the appointment; they laughed at us while we laughed at them. They were huddled under a little tarp while we were right in the middle of the downpour.

Then, we had the first wiff of Christmas plans. We're heading to Kingston to play basketball at 9 a.m. on the 24th. Then after some basketball, we will open whatever has been sent to us as gifts. Take some pictures and we're heading home. Then, we get to do our phonecalls on Christmas. I don't know how this will work, since I've never called home after arriving in Jamaica.

Lastly, our branch is having their Christmas Dinner -if you can call it that because of the size of our branch- on the 18th. Elder Vea and I pretty much told the Relief Society pres. to take care of it, since the branch is 95% female.

Well, if you think that sucks for a letter this week, you're right. You better write a letter to the Jamaican government and church HQ telling them to give us something good.

Elder Huffaker

Brandon sent this photo of the branch in Falmouth, Jamaica last week. Hmm, bet you can pick out Brandon instantly, huh!! -- Marilyn

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

Ok, so I don't know if in the song, they're actually talking about the seventh Christmas in your life, the seventh day of December, the seventh day before Christmas, or the seventh day after Christmas? That's a lot of choices!

Anyways, it is Pearl Harbor Day for all of you who don't remember your history. I do!

This last week actually had some interest. I've actually been failing to write about one main thing. That is, every Tuesday, the senior couple missionaries in Montego Bay come to Falmouth to help us with our missionary work. More specifically, along with the assignment of working with less-active members. Elder and Sister Smith are really nice and fun to be around. Elder Smith actually reminds me a lot of Grandpa Huffaker; he likes to tell stories and give good, hard handshakes. Sometimes, the Smiths will treat us to a meal, which is really nice. Living between tourist districts isn't the greatest for prices here.

Then, at our weekly Wednesday District Meeting, we lost 4 missionaries. The elders in Sav and Negril are just staying in Sav for Wednesdays now because of the cost just to go to Mobay. Then, the elders and senior couple in Lucea had to travel to Ochi for an ET (emergency transfer). On their way back to Lucea, they stopped in Mobay and Elder Vea went on a trade-off to do some baptismal interviews. So the elder that was moving to Lucea didn't even get to see his new
home yet.

Next, we had one of the assistants and a missionary they're towing around, because he sprained his ankle so he gets to ride in a car all the time (now I know what I need to do to get a car here), come here and go on splits with us and stay the night as well. I'm not exactly sure why, but we had an enjoyable time with them.

Lately, I've been having problems with my bicycle. First Elder Vea broke his crank and then I need a new tube and tire. It really sucks and takes a lot of money. There's only one bicycle shop in Falmouth and they have a monopoly - get to charge whatever they want.

Lastly, this is really weird yet cool at the same time. WE SAW NUNS! It was totally weird, having never seen any in real life. They were driving in a car here in Falmouth. Elder Vea and I were both astounded beyond reason.

That's all for this week!

Wishing you a whiter Christmas than down here.

Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving?

Well, it's sad to say, but true. Thanksgiving doesn't exist down here. How I miss good quality food. Not that the food is bad down here or anything like that, but it gets boring eating bread day after day.

Anywho, this week, Elder Vea and I decided to go to a bible study class, to learn about other religions and how to help those we teach that are in those religions. We went to a Church of Christ bible study and whoa, was the teacher way off course. He didn't know that Moses sent twelve spies not Joshua, and that Joshua was the second good spy along with Caleb. I feel sorry for those who know not the truth because they know not where to find it.

Then, we had Zone Conference last Wednesday in Sav Le Mar. It was awesome to not only see Elder Tracy, from the MTC, but also Elder Tonks from when we were in Old Harbour last transfer. I really enjoyed it and learned a few things.

Next, we did some service for a member and I am very disappointed in the carpentry skills of Jamaicans. They can't frame a house to a square at all, and I hate using hand saws. We cut lumber by hand. NO ELECTRICITY!

I quote Elder Vea, people don't travel to Jamaica for vacation, they travel here to appreciate America more.

That's all for this week.

Elder Huffaker

(This week's photos include a parting shot from Old Harbour, and the threesome of Elder Vea, Elder McGlossan, and Brandon.)

Monday, November 23, 2009


That would be the shout of one drunk Jamaican last week Monday night. He thought he was the baddest man in the whole world. And just loved to shout that phrase.

So news for this last week is somewhat good. I finally started paying attention to my surroundings (more than usual) and noticed a big faded sign on the way to Falmouth from Mobay that has something about a swamp safari. It also says on the sign "James Bond was here in Live and Let Die" It makes me want to go and watch the movie, but you'll have to do it for me.

Tuesday night, Elder McGlossan was picked up by Pres. Graff and taken to Portmore. An Elder had to be sent back to Jamaica from the U.S. and so our threesome was broken up.

Yesterday, we taxied out to a members house who wanted to feed us and on the way out, I saw this Jamaican walking down the side of the road balancing a chainsaw on his head. I wish I had my camera! It was pretty cool - how many of you can walk while balancing a chainsaw on your head?

Also, when Pres. Graff came and picked up Elder McGlossan, he told us he wants us to find a new house. So Elder Vea and I are now in the house hunting business. He wants us closer to town/the church. So Elder Vea and I are currently on the lookout for a new place to rent that will be decent for missionaries.

Lastly, I was on a tradeoff again on Wednesday, and in order to bring Elder Vea back, we had to travel to Sav. Not only is it an arm and a leg to taxi there, but on the way back, it took an hour longer because we had to turn around and take a detour to make it to Mobay. I left at 10:00 a.m. and didn't get back to Falmouth until 5:00 p.m. I have to go to Sav again this Wednesday for Zone Conference. This is gonna really suck.

I'll send photos when I have more time, I'm done for today. I also can't remember the last photos I sent, so hold on, they're coming!

Elder Huffaker

P.S. from Marilyn:

Brandon's shorthand for the locations might be a little vague. "Mobay" refers to Montego Bay, and "Sav" is Savanna La Mar, which is quite a distance from Falmouth. It looks about 40 miles away on the map.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Weird Week

So this week, has been different, especially in a new area.

We had district meeting in Montego Bay on Wednesday. It was nothing like I expected, but then again, neither was anything else down here.

Then, Friday night, Elder Vea broke his bike pedal, we got to take it to a bicycle repair shop later today to have his pedal welded back on. Sucks to be him, and only 3 months left.

Saturday, we were informed of an area conference fireside that we had to go to Montego Bay for, again. When we got there, we started watching it (via satellite broadcast) but the weather was not in our favor. The picture kept going in and out. We eventually called it quits. So we made a trip to Mobay for nothing.

Then, we also learned that our letters to president (we send via email) never reached Pres. Graff. Apparently, there was a dispute between the Church and Yahoo, so he didn't receive any emails. He had to change his account to gmail.

Lastly, we had white people at church yesterday! It was so weird. They were members on vacation from Canada (alberta I think) I didn't expect them in Falmouth because the town is so small here. But there's like 30 hotels/resorts between Ochi and Mobay and we're right in the middle, so it almost doesn't surprise me.

Sorry I didn't get to send pictures this week. Hopefully I'll send some next week.

Elder Huffaker

Monday, November 9, 2009

This Week Now

Alrighty ...

Now that we're to this week; I am in a new area. The place is called Falmouth (foul muth [like wooly mamuth]) This place is between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay along the north side of Jamaica.

I have two companions (we're in a three-some) Elder Vea (a Samoan) and Elder McGlossan (a Jamaican). It's a different area than Old Harbour in that everything here is spread out. The branch covers an entire parish (a parish is equal to a county) Not to mention Falmouth is not very big in itself. It's actually a small town and there's not much to it.

The branch here is one of the smallest in the mission. we have 25 people to church on a good day.

I wonder how long I'm gonna be in this area. Elder Vea goes home next transfer or the transfer after. Elder McGlossan has been out just over a year. Then there's me at the bottom of the food chain. We'll have to see how it goes here, because I'm on a bicycle in the area. By butt hasn't really gotten sore yet, but I'm sure that will change.

I'll try to get photos out next week, but this computer place won't let me move them around. I'll see what I can do. Until next week though.

Elder Huffaker

The Mail that Didn't Come

I'm sorry about last week. I had a bit of trouble with the computer I was on. I had typed up my email and was trying to attach some photos, but it was taking forever to attach the photos. So, my time ran out and my email wasn't sent. So, here's last week's mail that didn't come.

Well, it was Halloween, and this year I decided to dress up as a missionary. It's very uneventful down here because the people don't believe in Halloween. In fact, they're kinda against it.

As far as this week's happenings, we had interviews with Pres. Graff and I learned that 8 missionaries will have gone home and only one new one is coming. We're losing missionaries in the field, but not just here, it's happening all over the world.

Along with the interveiws, transfers are this week. All of us here in Old Harbour are pretty sure it's going back to a 2 man house, we're just not sure who's staying and who's leaving.

Lastly for this week, we had dinner at the Relief Society President's house. You could say it was like a mini branch party. It was pretty good and I got to say goodbye to some people. I've been in Old Harbour for 6 months and am 99.9% positive I'm leaving. Here's the photos:

-Weight loss with pants that I have not had taken in by a tailor
-6 month mark of my mission

-party at Sister Dennis' and the Don of Old Harbour herself

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another One Finds the Truth

My apologies for not posting Brandon's last email right away; it has been a wild week. The photos go with his letter; the last one of the flowers in Bellas Gate he described: "a garden we saw up there and it was awesome, because it had flowers out of one plant that were 3-5 different colors. (a flower itself wasn't five colors, but one flower would be blue and another yellow and another pink)" He had this to say in his emailed letter:

Yes, we had another baptism. This one is Vanessa Bell. Vanessa is 14 yrs-old and loves school. She lives next to the Relief Society Pres. here in Old Harbour. She was baptized yesterday and I had the privilege of performing the ordinance.

This week has also been very weird in the weather perspective. It has been raining off and on so much. I wonder sometimes whether to take a plastic bag (they call them scandal bags down here) or whether to wear my sun glasses. It will rain cats and dogs for 20 minutes and then let up, and won't rain for a couple days. Sometimes it rains so hard, I like to say instead of raining cats and dogs, its raining horses and cows.

Nextly, this week, Elder Olson and I received a referral to go to the edge of our area to a place called Bellas Gate (very expensive taxi ride) There we got to meet Debbie Clark, who just moved there from England. Very interesting lady, but doesn't really have any interest right now.

While there, we got to try a new fruit to my taste: Passionfruit. For those of you who have not had fresh passionfruit, it's very tangy. Elder Olson has a picture of me eating it and making a "sour" face. You don't even really eat it, technically, you suck out the insides, seeds and all. It looks like frog eggs. I'll have to get the picture from him later to send to you.

That's about it for this week. Keep in touch, I like to read up on everyone to see how it's going.

Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Today, One Tomorrow

This last week has been somewhat eventful. I bought Orange Marmalade last Monday. I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT! It tastes like fruitcake. Needless, to say, I'm finishing it, it seems like a waste of money to not eat it.

Then, Elder Tonks and I had a close encounter. Have you ever been wandering around in the complete darkness and not realized how close you were standing to someone? That happened to Elder Tonks and I; Elder Olson and I had just finished turning off the lights in the house for the night. When I walked into the bedroom (dark) and I have to pass everyone's beds to get to mine. Elder Tonks was standing by his bed - which I didn't know - and I was just walking through. He knew I was coming but didn't know how close I was. When all of a sudden, Elder Olson flips on the lights. And our faces our inches from each other, with the looks of utter terror. He fell back onto his bed and apparently I "shrieked". It was mildly humorous and we all laughed about it and as such took us a while to go to sleep that night.

Then, I had an awful experience in which, I just finished frying some dumpling (a local dish which I'll be happy to make for anyone who wants it - when I get home) and was moving the pot full of hot oil to the back burner of the stove so that the others could use the front; when all of a sudden the handle broke off of the pot! There was no sign of wear or anything to say that it could come off. All of a sudden it did, and hot oil was all over the stove top. So I didn't have a fun morning.

Nextly, Elder Olson and I have come to an agreement in which once a week, we cook dinner for each other. So I got to prepare Mac n Cheese with some dumpling, and enjoy some Spaghetti. Yep, Spaghetti, I was so happy.

Then, I've told you about a local soda I've come to enjoy, called Bigga. They just came out with two new flavors: Mango and Pommegranite (I don't know how to spell) The Mango isn't a good one, but I do enjoy the other.

Lastly, we had a baptism, shout hurray. (see picture) This is Sandino Gordon, aka Spoogy. He was baptized Sunday and we have another baptism this Sunday. That's the longest my hair will be. I just got a trim yesterday. I think it was about 3 inches that the barber took off. :D

That's all folks
Elder Huffaker

Monday, October 12, 2009


First off, We had Zone Conference last Tuesday in Spanish Town. The Kingston-Portmore zone came as well. There, we met a new senior couple who will be serving in Turks and Caicos-Elder and Sister Herbert. They're from Eagle, Alaska, I think. Also, I got to enjoy the zones singing happy birthday to me as well as a few other Elders who had and will have birthdays.

Next, Elder Olson got sick for 2 1/2 days He got sick on Thursday and didn't head back out until Saturday afternoon. We're not sure what it was, but he had strep throat about 3-4 weeks ago, and we thought it might be that coming back. So I stayed home all day Thursday. At first I thought it was kinda nice, but then it turned to the fact that I now had boundless amounts of energy. Then on Friday after our weekly planning, we split. I went out with Elder Tonks in the afternoon and Elder Hicken in the evening. I learned my lesson of patience, which brings me to my next point...

I will not ride a bike ever again while on my mission. The bikes down here are quite different, despite the fact that they ARE bikes. My butt still hurts from riding just half a day. Sure it doesn't hurt when you first get on and you have a good time, but by the end of the day. OUCH. I then stayed in again on Saturday morning and proselyted the rest of Saturday with Elder Olson again, he felt good to get back outside.

Lastly, I finally finished peeling my sunburn that I got a week and a half ago. It didn't blister, but it kept peeling.

Thats all for today, hopefully I will get some photos later today to send next week.

Elder Huffaker

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

General Conference

Ahhhh, this week has been a different week.

First off, you all know that I'm now in a four man house. Elder Tonks is the district leader, and it's kinda weird that I now report to someone who lives in my house. He went to district leader training on Wednesday, so we had no district meeting. So Elder Hicken, Olson and I proselyted 3 full days in a row. The sad part that came from it is I got sunburned on my nose, forehead and
upperlip. Not cool, my nose is still peeling from it.

Thursday, the Zone Leaders came to Old Harbour and they split to go with each of our companionships. Elder Knowlton (who is a transfer above me) came with Elder Olson and I and Elder Christensen went with Elder Tonks and Hicken. We didn't really do much, we just did some street contacting in attempts to increase our teaching pool.

Saturday, we travelled to Maypen to watch General Conference. Elder Olson and I stayed at a house in Maypen with Elder Rebeiro and Elder Smith. Elder Rebeiro is a transfer above me and Elder Smith is a transfer below. We had a pretty good time there, although I forgot some things to pack for staying the night.

Then, it brought us to today. And now I'm writing.

I needed to include some photos so here we go:
First is a local soda that I've come to enjoy, called Bigga. Flavors include grape (as seen) orange, fruit punch, jamaica kola, pineapple, and ginger beer (no alcohol). They just changed the bottle style when I took the photo.

Next is me and my previous zone leader Elder Brown enjoying some ice cream at Juici Patti (a local restaurant) after playing a few games of pool. I had butter pecan he had strawberry cheese cake.

Here is the photo of the members of our house. I actually took this picture in Maypen. Elder Hicken is on the left (he turns 18 months this transfer and served in Old Harbour about a year ago), Elder Olson (my companion who is currently 16 months), Elder Tonks (who is my district leader and turns 1 year this transfer), and me (who turns 6 months this transfer and hates the racoon look I have because of my sunburn).

Lastly, this a photo Elder Olson took and I'm standing next to a sign that says Cameron's Bulk Chemicals. I thought my little bro. might like this.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Transfers, in missionary lingo, means the missionaries get moved (or not) to other areas of the mission, usually resulting in getting new companions. Brandon has been looking forward to transfers for a few weeks now, which we could tell when he started counting down: "three weeks to transfers", "two weeks to transfers", "Transfers are next week!". For those of you who may not "get it," this link is an excellent explanation of how, when, and why missionary transfers happen, all over the world.

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord: Transfers: How Missionaries Reckon Time

Maybe you can see why Brandon's last email sounded so encouraging!

Monday, September 28, 2009

All New!

Yes, it's official, the latest transfers are over! I'm still in Old Harbour, but I now have a new companion! I'm now with Elder Olson, who was in Linstead last transfer. GET THIS! They turned the house back into a four man house intead of two man. IT GETS BETTER! Elder Tonks and Hicken are the other two Elders. Elder Olson is from Spokane. Elder Tonks lived in Spokane until about 2 months before his mission. Elder Hicken has already been in Old Harbour (about a year ago). I can relate with everyone really easily. IT'S AWESOME! Elder Harris was moved to Kingston.

So on the Wednesday when they all got here we did a deep cleaning of the house - it needed it and I couldn't do it all every Monday. THE HOUSE IS CLEAN!!!!!! It's really great being here. I feel as if I've left a big pit of despair. They are no longer dividing into areas for missionaries, but are just sending them to serve in cities. So we can go wherever we want. We did decide, however, to split up our less-active members we see.

I also got my mom's package, which included a box cake and frosting, and we celebrated transfers (since my birthday was about 3 weeks ago). It's goin' really great down here.

Sorry I don't have any photos, but I promise to have some next Monday, we got to go and purchase more stuff for the house now that it's a four man again.

Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Rain is Tess...

It rained a lot this week, and it just made me think of a song from the musical, “Paint Your Wagon,” called Mariah. The song takes place when it just rains and pours constantly.

Photos or no photos, an email is always good to have. No package, no dear elders and I’m only receiving the monthly letters from Brother Young. I'm guessing the box should be here by Wednesday, which is also when transfers are (instead of Thursday when they used to be) I really need to pick up a hole punch, unless you sent one, so I can "document" all the letters I receive.

I haven't really been anywhere to take scenery photos, the best place to get those would be on the way up to Linstead, and I haven't gone that way in the longest time, everywhere I'm at is so developed. As far as changes go, transfers are this week and I won’t find out what's happening to me until its here... They want to send two more missionaries to Cayman and two more to Turks and Caicos, which means a total of 14 missionaries off island now. (Cayman:4, Turks and Caicos: 4, Bahamas Nassau: 2, Bahamas Freeport: 4) Transfers are Wednesday instead of Tuesday now, so we'll see what happens.

As far as the work in Old Harbour, it's taken a sharp drop. We have people that won't keep commitments and it looks like we're gonna have an all new teaching pool, instead of gradually adding and dropping some. President Graff did meet with the investigator that needed interviewed, but she has since had a change of mind on getting baptized. Same with another investigator we had. It's seriously taking a turn for the worst since I've been here. We are very far down on investigators and dropping a lot and it looks like more will be dropped. I know we've got one solid 14 year old girl who has already been coming to church with a member before being taught by us. The next closest baptism right now looks like Oct. 18, unless by some miracle we get a turn of events. Our inactives are not going so well, we've had 3 out of the 70 or so inactives actually come back to church, sadly though it was only for one Sunday that they came back.

Last Tuesday, when our mission president came here with his assistants to do the interview for baptism, my companion, Elder Harris, went with him and one of the assistants, and I went with the other. (our own little splits) Then, he went on a trade off this Wednesday and the district leader came here to Old Harbour with me, and my district leader is really weird. He would walk on the other side of the road for as long as possible and really complained a lot.

Then I decided to do some experimental deep frying this week. I made deep fried "snickerdoodles" For those of you who aren't familiar with snickerdoodles, they're a sugar cookie with cinnamon. I just threw together flour, salt, sugar, water, baking powder and cinnamon (not necessarily in that order) and deep fried them. Very good and I highly recommend it. There's no set recipe, so experiment for yourself if you want.

Next Monday, you'll get the update on what's happening here in Jamaica. Keep it up at home, and I sent a snail mail last Monday, so it should be there either at the end of this week or sometime next week.


Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Quiet Week

There isn't much that happened this week. We did have a couple of baptisms postponed though. We have to get our mission president to make sure they're ready. Normally a district leader does the interview unless a big concern arises. Well, we've got a couple of candidates with that issue.

We had quite the experience yesterday. A recent-convert brought her uncle, who was visiting from Chicago to church. Needless to say, we found out that he was a Pentecostal minister. So in the middle of our last meeting, he stood up and went on about the day of Pentecost (because that's pretty much the only thing they know). I was just blown away that a visitor would stand up in the middle of church and start preaching his own doctrine.

That's all for this week, sorry I have nothing else.

Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Week Mostly Dedicated to Food

Well, I've had quite the interesting week. Yes I am now officially 20 years old and I don't feel too much different thankfully. This email is mostly dedicated to food as I have had quite a few experiences.

I learned that peanut butter is not best to leave on your skin. It eventually becomes a lot like superglue and hurts when you 'peel it off'.

This last Wednesday was zone meeting and we learned how to make a weird juice mix that's supposed to be like Gatorade, but isn't. Afterwards, we went to Pizza Hut/KFC like usual, and Elder Harris and I had a specialty pizza called the jerk sausage bites pizza (see photo).

Then Friday I made a birthday cake, double decker style. It was a white cake with cherry frosting. (see second photo)

Then yesterday, while we were at a recent convert's house, I ate aloe vera. Yes that's right, he grows the plant and gave me a slice to eat. It smells like onions but is very slimey and takes a lot of water to get down. It also has a bad after taste. He also has an almond tree and you can eat the fruit of it. The nut is not the only thing edible (I didn't know).

Lastly, we had some cool cloud formations. I wish I had my camera but we're not supposed to walk around with it. One of them looked like the surface of Mars and another one looked like waves in the ocean at night. Wish you could've seen it.

Elder Huffaker

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How to Find Little Joys

Brandon's email this week was 3 1/2 days late. I still can't figure out the delays. The first photo is of the cinderblock making machine he talked about last week. Then, Brandon described how they ran out of propane to cook with, and he finished cooking his egg on the iron, as shown in the second photo. Ahh, the mother of invention!

August 31, 2009

First off, I hope everyone is having a good week. I do love to hear from everyone and always look forward to emailing.

This week, I've noticed that my companion's and my life are a lot like Shrek and Donkey. I'm Shrek and he's Donkey. He just keeps on talking and singing, and I can't get him to shut up. Other than that, I'm not like an onion. ; D

Last Wednesday, I had a pizza! I enjoyed it so much! Just a plain pepperoni pizza is amazing. Me and two other Elders went in on this pizza. HAPPY DAY!!!

As far as what is happening in the mission, we are no longer allowed to cut our hair very short. We're in one of the hottest countries in the world and we cannot have short hair. On the next note, it's rumored that someone is training in the Caymans. Everyone is not happy about that. Going off island used to be an honor to good missionaries and you had to be at least 6 months out. Apparently not any more.

I also learned how to make a glaze. I tried making some frosting with a recipe my mom gave me. Generally you use powdered sugar, but I don't have any so I tried using regular sugar. When I was whipping the frosting, it was still very chunky, so I tried applying heat to see if I could get the sugar to break down. It didn't, but I did learn that's how they make a glaze like for doughnuts.

On another note, I have found a "replacement" for little Emma in my life. There's a family we're teaching that has a 9 month old daughter. So when she started to cry during a lesson Elder Harris was teaching Sunday, he immediately said, "Elder Huffaker, quiet that baby!" So this is one of my little joys on my mission, although we still can't hold children. :(

Well that's all for this week.

Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We Pause Now for Station Identification. Please Stay Tuned!

It appears we have another week of emails that did not make it through to us. On that thought, I am creating a new email account for myself, in hopes that it will work better for Brandon. I'll post his next message......... as soon as I get it!

In other thoughts..... please keep Brandon in your thoughts and prayers; this Saturday, the 5th of September is his birthday. He's turning 20! So Happy Birthday to Brandon, and we keep him in our prayers continually.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Returned Emails and A Private Little War

Brandon has had some issues with his email getting through, and has had some returned to him. This post is a compilation of a few emails, which he was finally able to get to send. The first part is older stuff; the end is his message for the current week. He writes:

I keep getting this delivery notice that my mail isn't going through sometimes. I don't know what's up, but here's a few emails you were supposed to get but didn't.

Well, well, it's transfers this week! I dunno if I'm leaving Old Harbour yet or not, I'll find out later this week. I could be writing from a different place next Monday.

I learned that tropical flavored Skittles are actually pretty close to what fruit tastes like down here. So go eat a bag! :D

Accountability has changed down here. Instead of reporting our numbers, figuring what we could've improved on this week and tied it to a Christlike attribute and a doctrine, we just report our numbers. It makes Thursdays and Sundays a lot easier.

I've officially had a Jamaican apple. A lot different than an American apple, but just as good. I want to bring a seed home and see if I can get it to grow. Mmmmmmm. I've also had coconut. Not the milk yet, but the coconut straight is very good. It tastes different than the shredded stuff you buy at the store.

I have learned that when you say, "bike," it refers to a motorcycle or moped. If you want to talk about a bicycle, you have to say, "bicycle."

They listen to the BBC down here, too. It's pretty good to listen to, to catch up on the news around the world. The only time I can listen to it though, is when we're in a taxi with a driver who wants to listen to it.

We're teaching a family whose father makes cinderblocks. It's a pretty cool machine; I want to go over one of these days to actually watch.

Wednesday, I went on another tradeoff. I was reunited with my MTC companion, Elder Tracy! It was awesome. Sadly, we rode bikes all day and my butt got really sore and I biffed. I was looking down at this dog chasing me and was getting ready to kick it when my front tire hit Elder Tracy's back tire and he caught his balance. I didn't. I got bloodied, but no damage to my clothes.
Last night, we went to a scheme called Planters and Bois Content. It reminded me so much of the Grangemont road, I thought it was kinda interesting. A scheme is a neighborhood, but they name the neighborhoods.

The cool thing is, they use a lot of the old fashioned sewing machines. The ones where you have to pump it with your feet. I'm gonna try and get a photo of one at a member's house.

Lastly. I can officially solve a Rubik's cube. I've been working on it for the past couple of weeks and last night I solved it by memory! Yeah me!

In another email, he writes:

WHAT'S THIS ABOUT RYAN BEING SICK! I DIDN'T KNOW. I've been emailing him, but never knew why I didn't get a reply. I hope he doesn't have to be sent home, but I guess if he needs to. THAT SUCKS! I still won't see him for 3 years total. You'll have to send me a photo of Cameron's new marching uniforms, but it's good to hear Alyssa made varsity. Love the pics of Emma.

Next transfers are at the last full week of September. A transfer is every 6 weeks. Lately I've been eating a lot of rice. I try to mix up my meals, but it still feels like I eat the same things week after week. We have a very short budget. We get about 20,000 Jamaican a month and we now have to travel to Linstead for District meeting, which costs 400 to and back, another 500 a week for a lady to wash our clothes, 120 or 140 a week for an hour of emails plus other funds in between. We have also been taxiing a lot to get to the edges of our area, so even more money goes there. I end up with just a little over 1000 for food every week, which doesn't buy a lot. Just keep feeding the missionaries there, it definitely helps them with their funds. I wish we had faithful members like that here in Jamaica. We just get a Sunday night dinner from the Branch President and that's it. The weight is still coming off, but a bit more slowly now. I'm still not saying how much.

The assistants and President Graff have yet to come to Old Harbour. Nothing special happens on P-Days, and we just lost one investigating family and we might lose another. One didn't want to commit to baptism, but knows everything else to be true and the other father claims to have had a vision to go to another church, but we think he had too much ganja (marijuana). The other family we have is doing good and the oldest son wants to get baptised, the mom is unsure, and the father seems uninterested overall. There's a couple of factories I'd like to visit here in Old Harbour, but will probably have to wait til next Monday. We have our bikes, but still have to fix them and Elder Harris needs a helmet. To be honest, I'm not looking forward to biking.

And finally, his current email had this to say:

Well, I've had a very interesting week. First off, there's the mysterious brown spots. I think they're guinnup (ginn-up) stains, which apparently don't come out until the end of the season. You only see them after you wash your clothes.

We have new zones and areas in the zones in the mission now. President Graff reopened two areas and dissolved two zones. Example, there used to be 10 missionaries in Spanish Town, now there are only 4 as he opened a couple areas. There are a few other places like that too. We now have 3 new areas in our zone, we have Linstead, Highgate, and Ocho Rios (a.k.a. Ochi), as such, we now meet in Linstead for our Wednesday meetings.

On our way to district meeting, the police were doing random vehicle stops and searches. We didn't get stopped on the way up, but we did on the way back. The taxi driver was freaking out because he didn't have his uniform. I don't know if he received a fine or not.

The War: at about 6:00 in the morning yesterday, there was a gun fight at the bottom of the hill we live on. Thankfully, it wasn't in the direction that we go to church. It ended at about 8:30 and we don't know who won, but we were hearing shots and breaks for reloading all morning.

I made a giant no bake cookie:

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm Still Here

This week, Brandon send a couple of emails and just one photo. He talks about sister missionaries coming to Jamaica. For quite some time now, there have not been foreign sister missionaries called to Jamaica, probably because of its third world status, the fact that it's considered a "tough" mission, combined with the high rate of violent crime there. So to have sister missionaries called there now is big news.

Brandon sent a picture of himself with Elder Darling, who was in the other companionship of elders in Old Harbour, and shared the house with Brandon and his companion. The "dear elders" he refers to are some letters we have sent via http://www.dearelder.com/, which are on the way to him now. He writes:

Elder Darling and I reunited at Zone Conference after he became the new assistant. I dunno how, but when I last talked with him before he left Old Harbour, I told him he was gonna be the next assistant. I didn't think it would prove to be true.

A few things....
Did you hook up the on-demand hot water heater? Is it any good?

How about sending me one of those electric bug zappers that you sell at Welenco? ha ha!

Looking forward to some dear elders,

Elder Huffaker

In another email, he writes:

Yes, I'm still in Old Harbour and so is Elder Harris and we are still together. Transfers were very boring for us as we were both expecting something to happen.

We did have a combined zone conference this last week in Kingston where we got to listen to Elder Vinas, who is originally from Spain and is the area president over the Caribbean.

Along with Elder Vinas there, we received a new assistant to the president. Elder Darling was chosen! He spent one transfer in the Bahamas and was called back. Generally you spend 4 transfers off island for a total of 6 months.

We also learned that they are bringing foreign sisters back to Jamaica! That's right, American women are coming here. Apparently they already know of one who got her call who is from Minnesota.

Secondly, I was telling my mom about how Elder Harris is very unclean. Needless to say, after we got home last Monday, we had a surprise inspection. Haha! He had 40 minutes to clean the house. However, when they passed us, they said they could tell we upkept the place; Elder Harris knows he doesn't but he also doesn't know I do. So he felt the need to take credit where credit wasn't due. I didn't say anything though, I just let him be hisself.

We've been so busy lately that we're always very tired when we come in. Just last night we ran for about 15 minutes just to make it home on time. As such, Elder Harris sometimes drops off to sleep during personal studies in the morning. So, a couple of days ago, when our personal studies were finished and it was time to start companionship studies, I slammed my hands down on the table really hard and shrieked like a banshee. :D It was quite humorous to see his reaction. Thankfully I'm still alive.

This next one is for you, Grandpa: on our way to another teaching appointment, one of the members saw us and offered to give us a lift. While on the way I noticed the music he was listening to was the old country music. I didn't know the artist, but I could just imagine you sitting there singing along.

I experienced a few funeral processions while here, but the craziest one happened yesterday. They always have a vehicle playing music and its generally party music. Whether it's what the deceased listened to, I dunno, but this one was really rambunctious and loud and very flashy. We heard it a few times though, because we think they got lost.

Lastly, I think my mom was telling me about a meteor shower going on. I caught a really nice meteor with a good red hue around it the definitely travelled a good distance. There isn't that much of a difference in the night sky down here, just different constellations.

That's all for this week. Go make a hamburger and put some blue cheese and bacon bits on it and tell me if ya like it. ;)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Quick Email and "Thanks"

Brandon's weekly email was not as detailed as some of his others, but he was focused on answering questions I'd asked. One question was if he might take his pants to a tailor to take them in from his weight loss. He also sent another email that was asking questions of his own, particularly about some recipes and how to make certain things from scratch. I have my typing cut out for me this week as I answer and send him recipes.

He sent this photo, which is with Elder Tracy, his companion from the MTC. They must have met up again, possibly at a zone conference.
He writes:

Finding inactives has been quite difficult, we've started to travel outside of Old Harbour itself to reach those members. Thankfully, no traveling in circles, but we do have a lot of vague addresses. For some we just have which scheme they're in and no phone numbers. That's very difficult to work with. We are supposed to fix our bikes today so we can begin biking.

For District and Zone Meetings, we go to Spanish Town, for Zone Conferences we go to Linstead. This Tuesday however, we have a special Zone Conference in which the president of the Caribbean (a member of the Seventy) is coming, so we're going to Constant Springs in Kingston. We take taxis and/or buses to get to these meetings. President Graff has yet to visit Old Harbour, or if he has, I didn't know about it.

I'll go to a tailor eventually, but not yet. There are a few tailors that are members as well. I eat a lot of American foods/quick foods like ramen and pb&j sandwiches. We get fed every Sunday by the branch president's wife, but that's about it. We generally don't eat dinner though, except the Sunday dinner.

He sent one more short email this week, and this is an excerpt from it:

This email is just to say thanks. I never really took thought for what you have taught me. Especially about cleanliness. Elder H. is pretty much the opposite about that. .......... As such, I thank you for all the preparedness you've given me.

It feels good as a parent to know that a) he appreciates what we tried to teach, and b) he listened and remembered!! I hope now that he's learning patience and tolerance.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Day, Another Week

Well well, it's that time again.

This last week I realized that I have been cursed. This curse comes from my Young Men's leader Bro. Young. He cursed me with the fact that if I didn't continue to practice piano, there would come a time while on my mission when I would have to play the piano. There are a few Sundays here where that has proven true, however, I didn't step up to play.

On another note, a recent convert has given Elder Harris and I 30 eggs. Talk about a lot of eggs. More than we can handle. He works at this hatchery and any eggs left over that don't hatch or have cracks, you can buy from the hatchery dirt cheep.

I've learned the best way to explain Huffaker to a Jamaican is by telling them it's not a full acre. "A" in Jamaica is sometimes pronounced like an "O". So on a girl named Tammy, it sounds like Tommy. So instead of a full acre it's a Hoff aker. :D

Nextly, I went on a trade off last Wednesday. I spent my first night out of Old Harbour. I traded with one of the zone leaders, and stayed with the other. The other was Elder Sizemore (see photo). He and I had a good time. It was while on this trade off that I showed some other elders how much weight I lost by pulling down my pants while still buttoned. So unless I wear a belt, I can be de-pantsed.

One more thing they do down here is when they see a hot person, they don't whistle, they hiss. It's the weirdest thing, yet kinda disturbing. Anyways.

That's all for this week.

Elder Huffaker

Friday, July 31, 2009

The New Week

Brandon's email came on time, but my hit-or-miss internet access while camping kept this post from being on time. His first photo shows his weight loss; the second one is him cutting a new notch in his belt, and the third picture is the notches with progress dates. Any guesses on how many pounds he's taken off?

He writes:

Well, well, well, it has been quite the week here.
I've learned that they need to announce a new weight loss advertisement. It should be called the Mormon Missionary. All you have to do is join our religion and serve a mission. HAHA!! It really does work!

On a new note, our P-days have now been shortened. This is effective for all missionaries everywhere by announcement of President Monson. We now end P-day at 5 instead of 6.

Elder Harris is now going on a special diet (he's hit 18 months) now all he eats is bread, tuna fish, eggs, and mac'n'cheese. He only eats breakfast and lunch (supposedly) so I laugh everytime he complains. I've been doing that since I got on the island (the eating at breakfast and lunch only).

We had Zone Meeting last Wednesday. It was very good and spiritual. We're supposed to do our interviews with President those days, but our interviews went short because he had to go somewhere for another meeting.

Along the lines of President Graff, we're now going to be remaining in our areas a lot longer. Before, you'd move about every 3-4 transfers, now it's more like 4-7 transfers. So I'll probably be seeing less of the island now. (I'm disappointed.)

I've finally met Elder Talbert (Mom talks about him a lot). He dropped off a bike for me. (FINALLY!) He saw my Rubik's Cube. He picked it up, messed it up, and fixed it with only 3 glances. CRAZY!!!

I dunno if I've talked about it before, but people down here have yardnames. They basically have a second name given to them. For instance, the lady I just baptized, her real name is Falyn (Fay lynn), but her yard name is Clair. So sometimes, you could be looking for someone who "doesn't exist."

Last Tuesday, our power went out again, this time at 11:00 at night; it didn't come on for at least 18 hours. Needless to say, I had a gallon of milk in the fridge that went bad. Which is another thing, I didn't know powdered milk could go bad. Apparently it does.

That's all for this week.
P.S. Check out the weight loss (I'm not saying how much)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Repent Ye!

Brandon sent a few interesting pictures this week. Before you cry foul, please know that we will be sending him a new pair of shoes, but are debating whether to send them separately (as we've been advised to), or to follow suit-no pun intended-with Brandon's companion, who received a pair of shoes together without problem. If you're not aware, shipping items to the island can be hit-or-miss, if the local postal workers think they can sell something you've sent, it can disappear before delivery. So if you separate a pair of shoes into 2 boxes, about a week apart, you're more likely to get them through. After all, who is going to buy just one shoe?If shipping weren't so outrageous, I wouldn't even worry about it. Anyway, Brandon sent this:

Well, I experienced my first bus preacher. HAHA! Interesting, right? There apparently are people who when they get on the bus will just shout quotes from the Bible and a few other things and a repent ye in there too. I was laughing inwardly the whole time. I wanted to just yell, "Wo unto all ye hypocrites!" haha.

Well, we have a new assignment from the mission president, President Graff. We are to find 5 less-active members each week and work on bringing them back to church. Needless to say, while we were looking for one of these members, we walked for an hour and a half in one big circle. We realized that when we saw our branch president's house, which is in the area we started. That sucked! Then we realized we were in the wrong area. We were going down roads we didn't know and eventually got to the circle point. THAT WAS CRAZY!

Wednesday, after District Meeting, Elder Harris and I tried to do some shoe shopping for me. We stopped at 5 shoe stores, none of them had size 13's in a polishable black shoe. That was dumb. So we're going to another town called Maypen today to see if we can't find any.

There's been a lot of new changes with our new mission president. We now are supposed to locate those 5 people every week, and a few other weird changes. Not only in rules, but there are some elders that have been having problems, so there has been a lot of missionaries moving around the island.

That's all for this week!

Elder Huffaker

And in a P.S. for him, he sent this photo with the question, Can you tell what's wrong with this sign? (You may have to click to enlarge it)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two out of Three Ain't Bad

(Um, the title is from the song; no reflection on the content of the blog entry.)
Brandon's email brought pictures and news of a baptism! We're so excited for him. He writes:

Alright, so I met the new Mission President last Wednesday. President Graff is an interesting person and has already instituted new rules. The trip to zone conference is much better though. We travelled to Linstead, and once you get out of the cities, it is beautiful country. There's times when it looks like the plains of Africa with the weird trees, like you're along the Amazon and like the forests back home. ITS AMAZING!

I learned that investigators will sometimes join the church thinking that we can solve their problems. Thinking we will give them money for dental care or to get glasses, etc., then they don't come to church anymore when they realize this. Makes ya wonder how many investigators are sincere.

We baptized 2/3 of a family yesterday. The father and mother were baptized (the Seaton family), but when the son watched, he flipped out and did not want to. He sat in the water for like half an hour and just wouldn't. We're working with him for next Sunday though. Elder Harris baptized Bro. Seaton and I baptized Sis. Seaton.

On the way to the baptism, we passed a donkey cart, like the one photo that's been goin' around on the internet. Except instead of a truck cab, it was just a wood cart. But it did have the car tires. Haha.

Then last night, the power went out in the middle of the night. It sucked! I kept waking up waiting for the power to come on and cool me. That was one of the roughest nights I've had here.

I'm getting a watchline with my "amazing tan" I would like to hear everyone's opinion on whether I should keep it or get rid of it. Lemme know!

Elder Huffaker

Monday, July 6, 2009

This Week

Brandon's weekly email was a little short, but full of news. With no new pictures to add, this will be a short blog entry. He writes:

This week has been pretty interesting. I had my first jellie (an unripe coconut). Before they become coconuts, they call them jellies and they have this water that tastes pretty weird. Still waiting for an actual coconut.

Ladies down here are obsessed with hair extensions. They love to use them, especially colored ones. One of the things they do down here as well is wash their shoes. I mean stick them in a bucket of soapy water, take a brush and scrub. I've never done that before, but they like their shoes nicey-nice.

This week we had 6 investigators at church. It was amazing! The only bad thing was is we were supposed to have a baptism yesterday, but the investigator called in the morning and backed out. But we do have 3 for this week that are really solid.

That's all folks,

Elder Huffaker

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's the News

Brandon sent a few more pictures to go along with this email; the first is the elders in his apartment (house): Elder Jones, Elder Huffaker, Elder Harris and Elder Darling, taken the day Elder Jones went home. He took a few shots of the view from the house, and the last photo is of his suntan - after only a month there's a big difference between the arms that see the sun, and the legs that don't!
He writes:

Alrighty, so the most popular thing going on here in Jamaica is the fact that Michael Jackson is dead. So they have been playing his music nonstop! Forget the reggae and the dancehall! Someone even pulled out 4 speakers 3ft by 4ft by 2ft in the middle of the street just playing his music!

I've had my first taste of straight-up noni juice. That is soooo bitter. We got it from our progressing family. I learned that there is a difference when you say peel an orange down here. When you say peel an orange, it means to just get rid of the orange outside, they leave the cream rind on the orange, so if you don't want that part, you say you're gonna peg an orange.

Elder Jones, a Jamaican missionary who I lived with died (finished his mission) and went home Wednesday, I got to see him yesterday at a district conference (equal to a stake conference) in Maypen. When Elder Jones went home, Elder Darling, the other elder living with us, joined our companionship and we became a threesome. We felt that we probably looked formidable walking around. That was Elder Harris' first time in a threesome and he's been out for almost a year and a half.

So I mentioned district conference in Maypen, that's probably the last time I will see President Gingery, being as he goes home today and President Graff will be coming in. They talked about preparing this district for becoming a stake and also the Kingston District, and they dissolved 3 other districts and made the branches mission dependent. Still no stakes yet, and they say it's because of a lack of worthy Melchizidek priesthood holders. So the sooner we get more of them, the sooner the church will flourish here.

Elder Harris finally got his shears back from some other missionaries, but they're broken, so it looks like we're goin to a Jamaican barber, which I have heard, are not too good at cutting hair. they're more of stylists down here.

A couple of emails ago, I mentioned bag juices, and I finally realized what they're like. It's similar to otter pops, except instead of tube form, change it to like a ziploc bag, sandwich size. I picked up some rice a couple weeks ago and cooked up too much rice, so I was eating rice for about a week, and I finally finished it last week on Wednesday!

Last Monday, Elder Harris and I went and played some good-ol' American football in Spanish Town. It was the Spain zone (mine) against the Kingston zone, needless to say we lost.

That's all for this week

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Next Series

Although Brandon doesn't mention it, President and Sister Gingery are soon reaching the end of their mission presidency -- I believe in the next week. The new mission president will be Rick Graff. Sister Gingery sent out some photos of recent Zone Conferences, and a tie-cutting all-around. Sister G. is apparently using the cut ties in a quilt. So this is a photo with Brandon's zone, and that's why his tie is cut. (Brandon is at the far left of the standing missionaries, with President Gingery in the red tie next to him) He writes:
Alrighty, so I came up with some more things to talk about and noticed a few things I didn't cover.

First off, when someone is crunked, its nearly impossible to communicate with them. Crunked means they're drunk and high at the same time. Elder Harris and I ran into one and the way I could tell was by the smell of alcohol on his breath and the spliff still in his mouth.

We did some service the other day, we chopped someone's yard using the machetes (mowing the lawn) and I got burned on the back of my neck. We were in regular clothes (which feels so weird when you're used to wearing slacks and a tie all the time) and thankfully I had jeans on. Elder Harris didn't and got sunburned on his calves. I got burned on the back of my neck, it sucked when we went back out to proselyte.

I mentioned before that they are a little racist down here and yell whitey or white man at us all the time. The funny thing is is they sometimes (children in particular) will mistake us for Asians and yell chiney. So it's always kinda funny to hear that.

I noticed that they dont have any rootbeer down here. Which really disheartened me. Especially since on Wednesdays after district meeting, we go to a Pizza Hut. I love rootbeer with my pizza and they don't have it. They have a couple of their own flavors of soda down here. I mentioned before the brands but these flavors are unique. There's ginger beer which is really gross, they will add it to fruit juice so sometimes you can taste ginger in your juice. The other soda is Ting, which is grapefuit soda and I think it tastes pretty good, its kinda a lot like Squirt.

Another thing they do down here is if they're black, sometimes they will bleach. Apparently brown is the prime color down here. So they have a bleach cream that they rub on to make their skin lighter, it makes them look kinda gross.

That's all for now,

Elder Huffaker

Monday, June 15, 2009

More of the Big Deal

In his weekly email, Brandon shared more tidbits about what life is like on Jamaica, and especially in Old Harbour. It's a continuation from last week's email. He was unable to upload any more pictures, so I'm adding a couple more from last week's email. The first is the welcome-to-town sign. Second is the elders talking to some schoolchildren - the children love to talk to the missionaries. The last picture is of a house being built. He writes:

Alrighty, so they're opening the Caicos and Turks really soon! They have permission to start a branch there. And when you go off island (Bahamas, Caymans or Caicos and Turks) its for 6 months.

The police here look like the military, they have fully auto weapons and body armor, I hate to see the military.

Child discipline can be done by anybody down here as long as you're older. Sucks to be the kids. And if you're really bad, your father will beat you as you run down the street and he uses the belt. Loosely! The buckle is what hits you!
We have to have a five day hurricane supply, hopefully I've got that covered right now in case a hurricane does hit!

"Eating" sugar cane is awesome! You don't eat it, you just chew it to get all the juices out and then spit out the cane.

Down here they have weed eaters and lawn mowers, but generally people just use a machete (machetee), which looks more like a short cutlass. But thats how you keep the lawn.

They have whats called red money, which is a 25 or 10 cent piece, which is pretty much worthless. So it's everywhere on the ground. Not many businesses will take red money.

The schools here are pretty strict that have barbed wire atop their 6 ft chain link fences, but they let the children out of the grounds on their recess time. And the kids must wear uniforms.

The roads suck! There are potholes everywhere. Only the most travelled roads are taken care of and maintained. Street vendors are everywhere! They will walk out in the middle of traffic and
everything trying to get you to buy something.

We have what we call idlers down here. They just sit around and talk all day. No jobs, no true source of income. Just sit, talk, smoke ganja or drink or something and go home and do it again tomorrow.

Then there's the P.A. cars. They are so obnoxious. They're 3-5 megaphones on top of a car and they just blare announcement ads.

I've already had mannish water, which is goat head stew. Basically anything in a goat's head that isn't bone is put in a blender, puree'd and cooked like any other stew. It didn't taste bad, but knowing what it was made me not want to finish it.

The music here is either dance hall or reggae. I have found one house that plays music from the 50's and 60's but that's pretty much pure luck. And when driving, people will crank the music.

Every Sunday night we get dinner from the branch president's wife, needless to say there have been a couple meals when I did not have the main dish and just ate the rice and peas (peas=kidney beans)

There are about as many churches as there are bars down here. A LOT! We're just one among many. There's pretty much a church every half mile in a town.

Two Wednesdays ago I experienced my first transfer. I took the district leader around Old Harbour and had a good time and everything.

The people here are their own mechanics. They fix cars, hot wire things. Rob power from the poles and steal water from the mains. They can do a lot!

Jamaica has a couple of their own soda brands like bigga, and dg. They taste good and all but you'll never find them back home. Elder Harris says that the Pepsi tastes different here because they use sugar from the cane instead of corn syrup. I dunno!

All the buildings down here are pretty much made of cement. Basically so they can last a hurricane. It's pretty neat. They use the cinderblocks and cement and the rebar for everything.
Rastafarians (rastas) can be good or bad. Most of the ones I've met are good. But I did have a bad one that kicked us out of an investigator's yard (it was his niece we were teaching) and he kept shouting "burn whitey" and how our ancestors were slave owners. So not all rastas are cool.

They call propane cookie gas down here. Why I don't know, but that's how you know where to get propane.

Lizards are everywhere, they're really small, no longer than 5 inches but they run amock. We even get some in our house.

People down here sometimes try to incite fights and they will throw rocks (had one wizz right by my head) so we just keep walking and ignore them. They are also superstitious, including thinking that the rain will make you sick if you don't have an umbrella and you can't convince them otherwise.
Water and electricty does go out here sometimes, thankfully our house has a backup tank but no back up generator.

Alex Boye apparently visited here for the 30th anniversary of the church in Jamaica and everyone loves his music except me! He's in motab and has a couple solo albums.

Last thursday we had a tie cutting as President Gingery is leaving at the end of the month. I've gotten sunburned but not as bad as my bald spot. That got really bad one day.

Everyone has a scripture quote somewhere. 90% of the time it's Isaiah 54:17 or Psalms 70. Crazy people. Usually they just put the scripture reference.
Toads are everywhere, so we like to pick them up and just boot em. It's pretty funny.
Sundays at 10:00 is when church starts, but no one is there until like 10 mins after, talk about mormon standard time.

And finally, the other day it rained so hard we were yelling to hear each other in our house. Top that!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Big Deal

Brandon's weekly email came with still more pictures, and here is a sampling, along with his letter he writes. The first photo is with his companion, in front of their house. The second shot is the church, which shares the building with a hardware store and a cable store. (Check out the satellite dishes on the roof!) He took a couple shots of his arms and legs, to show how the bugs love him. He must have sweet blood, because he used to get a ton of bites on every camping trip. The final photo is Sunday night's dinner: a whole fish - head, tail, & bones.

Alrighty, so i made a list of everything i want to email you about-

First off, learning patioas is very interesting, whagwon and mdayo are the most common phrases you hear. Its kinda easy, but when you get a quiet talker or someone who talks too fast, whoa! My mind just gets jumbled sometimes.

Then there's dogs and goats everywhere. They run the streets! And the dogs aren't even dogs, they're all mongrels. They look disgusting. They're skin and bones, at least the goats have meat on them.

Gas prices down here are less then a dollar American, i dunno what gas is at back home, but it's really low down here.

We have the JW headquarters here in Old Harbour. There is a massive compound just down the road from where we live, they have entrances on 3 blocks (so far as i know) and eveyone almost immediately thinks we're jw's.

They have 5 main games they play down here: dominoes, bingo, cricket, soccer and ludy. Ludy (loo-dee) is a local game that is apparently like sorry!, they love cricket and soccer though, totally obsessed. And dominoes, you can always tell when someone is playing dominoes because they slam the dominoes on the boards. And bingo is how they gamble, its a weird form of gambling, but that's how they gamble, not cards or slots, bingo.

Mangos is next -- there are so many varieties of mangos, the stringy ones suck though, because they get caught in your teeth, but I haven't even tasted half of the mangos here.

Handwashing clothes isn't as bad as I thought, in fact, I got some stains out handwashing when the washing machines at the MTC wouldn't. And there's the magic blue bar we use, I'm totally bringing some back with me!

The people down here are very illiterate. They struggle reading, so we have to explain a lot and ask a lot of questions when we teach. We used to have 2 progressing investigators, but we had to drop one because she wouldn't come to church and the other struggled to kick his girlfriend out and she is really anti-white. Thankfully though, we picked up 4 or 5 new ones that look promising.
Then there's the ghettos, this is where most of the people live, they rob electricty and tv channels and water in these places, they live in really small houses, like 2-4 rooms big.

Then I'm getting eaten alive, its kinda gone down when I started sleeping with a fan pointed at me. My shoes look like crap, the one pair has some fake leather and it peeled so I sharpied over the grey foamy stuff and the bottoms are just falling off, there's foam in the shoes soles for cushion, but it doesn't work, I'm trying to save my other pair for as long as possible.

The food here is interesting, I love bag juices which is just water and flavored syrup frozen, but bread fruit sucks, a lot of foods are really bland.

There is garbage everywhere along the road, there are very few places where there isn't garbage and there's always smoke, whether from ganja or the garbage being burned - yuck.

Then there's bars on all the nice houses, over the windows and doors, we have bars at our place too. When we go tracting, we go gatecalling, everyone here has gates, so you call at the gates and hopefully they'll let you come up and talk with them.

Then they're racist down here too, not bad racist, but that's how they tell each other apart, we're whities because of our skin color. Then they determine the difference between each other by brown or black, depending on the darkness of your skin.

They have 3 forms of public transportation, taxis, which they cram four people in the back seat and one in the front; cruisers, which are like really big vans; and chi-chis which are like the greyhound buses back home. The semis here are weird, they load as much as they can, they pile it up in the center far above the walls of the trailers and they have strobe lights on top of the cabs, what for, we can't figure out.
Then we have this crazy lady that visits us a lot in the mornings, she brings us food and everything. we're still working on figuring her out.

Then the Obama issue is interesting. Everyone thinks we're from America and they shout we love obama, we have to tell them we're not from America when this is brought up, or we weren't there to see him elected.

I drink a lot of powdered drinks. Powdered whole milk and kool-aid. It gets boring having straight water after a while.

Well, this is all I have time to write about right now. I'll send more info about the area and what's going on next Monday.

love ya all,
Elder Huffaker

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Brandon used a big chunk of his email time to upload photos from his camera, and sent a huge amount that were taken at the MTC and at the Provo Temple. As a result, his actual letter is short. So here are a few of the photos, along with his letter. His MTC Companion is in most of these, and the final photo you see is taken in Jamaica. He writes:

Hello once again. Normally p-day is on monday, last week was a bit of a fluke. I'm doin fine with lots of news. I am getting eaten up the wazu here. the people here are really humble yet prideful. what ever pride they have they use. but we can 85% of the time teach the first lesson, its getting them to act upon these things and everything else that's past that thats the hard part.

We are currently teaching a 24 yr old named Kino. He's great and has been to church twice. he loves to read from the BoM. He's set with baptism for the 21st. lots of great local foods and some that are not so great. The people here are also really bold. Hope to give you more info next monday as im running out of time, be sure to check my blog as i just sent a lot of photos from the mtc. jamaica pics on their way

Elder Huffaker

Friday, May 29, 2009


Brandon's first emails from Jamaica came, and Sister G. sent one more photo, with Brandon and Elder Tracy pointing out their first areas on a map of Jamaica. I asked him a ton of questions in my email, and he tried to answer quickly in a response. He writes:

Hello, hello, hello

Alrighty, so this is the first email i get to send off. normally yesterday would have been p-day but it was labour day here as well. It's either hot or humid down here. So you sweat for the simplest of tasks. The showers are pretty much cold water only, although it does feel good, but as soon as you step out, you're sweating again.

My trainer is Elder Harris from Willard Missouri. He's been out here since February 2008. I'm sure he could pass for a younger dad though, he's a curly red-head.

So far so good here, the first day that i got to Old Hrbour, it poured. It will soak you in 10 minutes flat. We do a lot of proselyting, and the people will pretty much talk to you the first time, it's the return visits that are the hardest. We do have to progressing investigators and have set a baptism date with them. :)

Leaving the MTC was a little hard, especially saying goodbye to my district. We were very close. The flights were interesting though. Flying out of SLC at 1:00 a.m. then atlanta and miami. We actually had a delay in miami because our plane had not yet arrived from its previous destination.

Other than that, the AP's picked us because the mission president (Pres. Gingery) was on a video conference with Elder Bednar and a few other mission presidents. Going through customs was really weird. Thankfully we made it ok. Then the humidity just hits ya.

The AP's drove us to a fast food restaurant and ate there, then went to the mission office, met the Pres. Gingery and his wife and then went to their house. We stayed there for two nights and then I came to Old Harbour and Elder Tracy went to Spanish Town.

Hope everything is goin alright with you guys!

Elder Huffaker

Slow down on the questions mom, flights went fine, we made it through customs fine. The country is really different. people drive on the left and steering wheel on the right and when they're behind the wheel, they are really aggressive. Every morning we get to wake up and smell the ganja. j/k but it really is a third world out here.

Old Harbour is pretty much urban, its a small urban but yeah. We get a lot of street contacts. We got to progressing investigators. Kino, who's about a 25 yrs old male and Charm, 34 yr old female.

Our apartment is decent size, it's like living in the laundry room to the mudroom (square feet wise) There's four of us altogether, Elder Darling and Elder Jones are the other two. They just split Old Harbour into two areas. Elder Jones is a native, but i forget where he's from. I'm not sure of the size of the district, but I'll find out tomorrow at district meeting.

It's not so much hot and humid as hot or humid. either way though, you sweat. I'll keep you posted.