Elder Huffaker

Elder Huffaker

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