Elder Huffaker

Elder Huffaker

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