Monday, July 2, 2012 “Somalia Summer”
This morning at 8:24 it was already 96 degrees.....oh my goodness!! So Hot!!!
This week we started activities with the YSA ward!! It was so much fun! On Monday we had Family Home Evening with the YSA, so after 4 hours of basketball with the Missionaries for P-day, we went to FHE and found that we were having a game night! Dodge ball and some more basketball, only this time we were in full “pros” (meaning shirt, tie, slacks, everything). It was actually really fun, but we were so tired by the end! There are some pretty cool people in the ward and I really look forward to getting to know them!
On Wednesday nights we go to summer institute! This is fantastic! It is so good to go and learn more about the gospel in a class room setting! I actually learned a lot last week! I am so excited to get going with this and hopefully we can keep this going for awhile!
You may be wondering why I have Somalia in my title...well that has to do with one of our experiences recently. A little while ago Elder Bradley and I received a referral for a small deaf man named Ganash. Of course we were excited and went right to the address but what was waiting for us was one of the scarier areas/apartment complexes in Tucson. He lives right in the middle and one of the places that you don't go to after dark. This is nothing new for us so we just walked in! The whole time walking through it there were lots of people just staring at us. I learned that this is an area where lots of refugees from Somalia live and most of the people watching us fit that category. I'm not racist, I swear, but that is how it was. We were walking through the middle on these dirt roads in the middle of all the buildings and it honestly made me think of the movie “Black Hawk Down.” I never saw the show but I know about the story and I was expecting people to start shooting! haha I really did think we were going to be shot the whole time we were there, some of the looks we got were not happy looks. I think most of the people thought we were cops or federal people. Anyways, we finally get to the number of the apartment and knock on the door. The door opens and it is a Somali family that says to us, "No English!" English? Are they Spanish? haha We sat there for a second trying to communicate with them but to no avail. Then another Somali woman walks up, pats us on the shoulders and says something incomprehensible and then walks upstairs to the other apartments. We were a little confused but a few seconds later she returns. When she turns the corner to where we could see her we realize that she is not alone. She has a Somali girl with her that is the "interpreter" meaning she is the only one that can speak English! She is about 18 years old and BEAUTIFUL! She was wearing the full Muslim getup but she was so pretty even with that! Elder Bradley and I were very surprised to find someone like her in this place. We spoke with her for a second and asked if Ganash was there. She had no idea who we were talking about and it was only then that I looked across the street to the other apartments and realized that every building has the same numbers!! That girl was one of the nicest and most sincere people I have ever met! As we explained that we had the wrong apartment she said “Oh that is fine! I'm sorry these apartments are confusing, is there anything else I can do for you?" I've noticed that a lot of the Muslim people and especially the immigrants are so nice! I love talking with them!
We finally did find Ganash, he is a immigrant from Nepal and very short! He goes up to about the bottom of my chest! I felt tall next to him! Being from Nepal, he does not have any ASL so we just played charades with him for about an hour to communicate with him! That in and of itself was an interesting experience! Also while we were there we "met" some other people from Nepal. Basically we shook their hand as they walked by. There was a Nepali man there who was a drunk according to Ganash. He was just standing in his doorway and yelling......at the dirt...and the rocks.....and the sky..... he was pretty crazy! While we were talking to Ganash he started walking around, and as he was walking by us he looked up at me, yelled excitedly, ran over (I was getting very concerned right here), and then bowed to me! On his face! I didn’t know what to do, so I just kind of bowed back! haha It was weird! Then he saw Elder Bradley and half bowed to him and grabbed his hand! So funny! It was an interesting experience! Then he walked away and started walking into people’s houses and yelling at them. So that is our Somali/Nepali experience! We'll see what comes of Ganash! He is currently being brain-washed by JW's so we'll see if he wants to learn from us.
One thing I have learned on my mission is about other religions. I have met and grown to appreciate most of the major religions, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, all types of Christians, some Buddhists, Native American, and some people that are into "Asian spiritual things." I have learned to really respect and even love some of the members of all of these religions. Now I don't want to offend anyone but I have yet to meet a JW down here that I respect. I'm sure there are lots of great people in that religion but all of the ones I have met so far are really rude, offensive, and they let us know how much they hate us and want us to all burn in Hell because we are Mormon. I have had some tell me that they will laugh when they see me burning in Hell. To this we just smile and say “Sorry that you feel that way,” then walk away. These are my feelings at the moment, I don't hate JW or anything....I just do not like all the ones here in Tucson. haha
That is my week! There was more I can say but I was out of time! Hope things are going well for you!
Take luck! Elder Banner