Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Week Four

Jared and his companion in front of the Provo Temple. Jared is able to attend the temple every Tuesday morning.

A sample of the food at the MTC!

Study time!
We've learned a whole bunch of grammar principles this week for Tagalog, so now we are able to ask abilitative questions (are you able to?) instead of just indicative questions (did you?). It makes a huge difference in a conversation.
Kumain po ba kayo ng Ibon ko? (Did you eat my bird?!)
Makain po ba ninyo and Ibon ko? (Were you able to eat my bird?)
Magbasa po ba kayo ng Aklat ni Mormon (Did you read the book of mormon?!)
Nakapagbasa po ba kayo ng Aklat ni Mormon (Were you able to read the book of mormon?)
It makes conversation a little less interagative with investigators.
We taught some BYU student volunteers at TLC last Wednesday. One of them was a teacher on our floor. We were teaching about prayer, and recieving revelation through prayer, and he asked us several specific questions. With our limited Tagalog, we gave him some pretty basic answers. After the lesson was over, he took us into a different room, and said, "Those were real questions that I have. You guys did pretty good in Tagalog, but I'm actually curious to know if you have any advice for me?" We thought it was kind of weird that he was asking us, I mean, because he was an RM and a teacher, but we gave him some feedback and bore our testimonies in English to him and it brought the spirit and helped him feel better about some concerns that he was having. It was pretty cool.
Another person we taught felt impressed to pray about an important decision after our lesson. She said that she could feel the spirit as we testified of prayer, and that she wanted to pray about more things in her life. It was pretty cool to actually see some of our messages sink in, because it doesn't always go that well with BYU student volunteers, haha.
So, you guys asked what my schedule was like on a day to day basis.
We usually wake up at 6:30 AM, except on Mondays (we wake up at 5:45 for service....which is basically cleaning out of of the other buildings on campus) and Tuesdays (we wake up at 6:00 to go to the temple). At 7:00 we have daily planning until breakfast which is at 7:45. After breakfast we have classroom time from 8:20 until 11:25, which is when personal study starts. We always study outside when the weather is nice, out by the back of the Joseph Standing building under the big oak trees. After Personal is study is Lunch at 12:25. We always skip the cafeteria and grab a bag lunch to eat in our dorm. Then, depending on the day, we either go to Gym, or to TALL, which is a language study program on the computers, we usually have an hour of language study before or after that, and then we either have class before or after dinner for three hours depending on when Gym is. We have night Gym twice a week at 8:10-9:00, which is super fun. We always go to the soccer field and play a huge game with all of the elders that are going to Japan. They just got five new elders in thier zone that are actually from Japan, and hardly speak a word of English. They are HILARIOUS, and really good soccer players. They often get confused about things (I tried to high five one of them, and he ended up shaking my hand and saying: "sorry...sorry.") I felt bad, because I was trying to congratulate him on a good pass that he had just made, but he thought I was disapointed in it. I tried my best to explain to him that it was an awesome pass...I think that he got most of it, haha.
Night gym is so fun. On Sundays, we have meetings all day, and then Sacrament meeting at 3:00. We all have to prepare talks on Sunday, and the Branch President will randomly select a few of us for sacrament to speak in Tagalog for 4-5 minutes. I haven't been picked yet. We are in bed by 10:30 every night. I use the 9:30-10:30 time to write letters, study, and write in my journal. Other Elders use it to play their harmonicas, do chinups, sing, play with the nerf basketball hoops that they smuggled in, or workout. It's a fun time.
Yeah, that's pretty much a typical 16 hours of the exact same thing. It's fun, and we learn a lot...but it still kind of feels like a prison, haha.
The food is really getting to me. I've had every dish at least twice by now. The best is the Spaghetti or the burrito, and the worst is the Tilapia or the Chicken Cordean Blu. They had a salad bar the other day...I almost cried with joy.
I ate like 2 plates.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Week three!

Elders Cook, Hubbard and Minors at the MTC. Elder Cook and Elder Minors have left for Toronto Mission. Elder Hubbard has 6 more weeks left. All have the short mission hairdo's!

Kumusta po pamilya ko?

Haha Hey everyone! It's been a great third week here at the MTC. Time is going by so much faster now that I am acclimated to the culture and food here. Well, the food is still questionable, but I've got the culture bit down for sure, haha. 
First things first...yes Dad, there are definitely mini wheats here, although they aren't as good as the ones back home (they are some cheap generic american brand). The best cereal here is Blueberry Muffin top. It's like cinnamon toast crunch but flavored like blueberry muffins. I usually just stick to my boiled eggs and cracked wheat though. 

I really miss our vegetables back home. Especially our summer squash, potatoes, and (I never thought I'd say this) zucchini. The veggies here taste like plastic, and I've been having daydreams about sauteed beans and zucchini and mushrooms. The potatoes and refried beans here are definitely from the church cannery, haha. I miss your spices and stuff Mom! That's great that you guys are almost done harvesting. Save some for me. :)

This week has been great. Elder Williams and I are now teaching two 'investigators'. We have been finding more success with the language and try to speak Tagalog as much as possible (SYL) throughout the day. The word of the week is Ano Baiyan?! (literally...What The?!) There are always some appropriate instances where that phrase is used. We have committed one of our investigators, who is Roman Catholic, to read the BOM and pray about it. We realized that we had forgotten to teach him how to pray...because when we asked him to close with a prayer, he said the Lord's prayer. It suddenly made sense, because when we opened with a prayer, he would give us a loud 'Mmhmmm' or 'Yes Jesus' every couple of lines. I guess we still have some work to do. 
We were able to share our testimonies with him, and the spirit was very strong. I could tell that he was feeling it to, even though he isn't a real investigator. It's amazing how far we've come in the language. We were able to go in there without any notes and tell him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. We were able to remember a lot of stuff in the moment that we needed it. One of our goals is to intensively study and speak the language so that we can qualify for the Gift of Tongues. I can't wait to get to the point where we have enough Tagalog in our heads to be able to teach any principle on the fly, with the guidance of the spirit. 

I'll have to tell you about our other investigator next week. He is a lot more difficult to teach, haha. Hopefully we'll have made some progress with him. 

We had a pretty cool experience as a district that Tuesday night. We have a General Authority devotional every Tuesday, and then a district meeting to discuss it. We all bore our testimonies at the district meeting, and many tears were shed. Afterwards, we formed a circle, and we gave blessings to five of the elders in our district. It was an amazing experience, and everyone in that room felt the spirit. I feel so blessed to be part of a district that is close with each other. We are all great friends and have awesome times together. 

The older missionaries left yesterday for the Philippines. 74 of them left, so there are only about 80 Tagalog speaking missionaries left here now. We really miss those guys. They were a great help to us when we first settled in. 
They passed the sacred wrench down to another elder in another district (the sacred wrench has been handed down and signed by several generations of Tagalog speaking missionaries...apparently a missionary swiped it from a plumber a few years back and started the tradition) The rule is: the missionary with the wrench has to wake up at 3:00 every Pday morning and use the wrench to pound on the doors of the newest missionaries while yelling "Magandang Umaga mga Misyoneros! It's PDAY!!" That would explain our lack of sleep in the first week, haha. 

Thank you all for the letters and support. I love you all. Totoo ang simbahan ni Jesucristo. 

Mahal kita.
- Jared.    

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So...big news. I had surgery today.
Before you worry too much...I'll just explain. It's nothing serious, haha. I had this lump on my armpit that kept getting bigger and bigger, so I went into the clinic and had them check it out. The doctor looked at it and then gave me some anaesthetic, and then he cut it open and drained it out. It was a bacterial infection of some sort. It was nasty...he filled a whole vial with the junk that came out of it. He put me on two different antibiotics for the rest of this week. His only worry is that it may be a staph infection, so he sent the stuff away to be checked. It was an adventure, that's for sure.

The food is really starting to gross me out. It seems like everything is either processed, deep fried, battered, or overcooked. Breakfast makes me want to throw's always boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, under ripe cantaloupe, and oatmeal. The eggs either come with deep fried bacon that tastes like ashes or greasy sausages that taste like nitrates, haha. So I've been eating cracked wheat stirred up with peaches and orange slices every morning for breakfast. I can usually manage to choke it all down. I saw a Samoan elder eat 16 boiled eggs the other day, along with four glazed donuts and three or so glasses of chocolate milk...and that was a skinny Samoan Elder.

Lunch is usually some sort of burger...or leftovers from the previous four dinners. There is usually few different Entree options for lunch and dinner...I usually just pick the one that looks the least greasy. I had a chicken enchilada the other night that was decent. The popcorn shrimp were alright too, as long as you didn't look at them. I try to eat lots of salad and fruit and drink water. They have drink fountains with Caffeine free coke, sprite, root beer, fresca, orange pop, powerade, chocolate milk, and like 14 different kinds of drinking water can be a challenge.

My roommates and companion are hilarious. The one guy's mom mailed him a nerf hoop, so we throw down on that some nights. We are also building a pop can tower, which has grown pretty high in the last few days. The veteran missionaries on our floor always come by our room. They say that our room is the party room, and that we have big shoes to fill. We are trying our best. We opened up our Narnia holes yesterday (Narnia holes are empty spaces behind old light fixtures that missionaries stash stuff in before they leave the MTC)
and there were peanut butter cups inside! We also found a wad of chewed up starbursts that was probably the size of my fist. We went through them, but there was no prize in the middle. The dorms have been fun. Everyone is pretty tight on our floor.

Dad asked me a few questions...It's pretty funny, because the Elders serving in
Japan still do set up the chairs for firesides. They don't do the flag thing any more though, which is too bad. My district is pretty awesome - I'll list off everybody in it. Elder Williams: My comp, he's from California and plays drums. Elder Moreno: From Santa Barbara California, he sings in accapela groups (and Jianna, no he isn't Tongan, he's Mexican, haha. He got a really big kick out of that). Elder Comer is from Utah, and is half-Filipino. He plays guitar in a punk band and fixes old cars. Elder Sugden is from Cardston, he's actually aunt Mandy's cousin. He’s hilarious. Elder Clark and Elder Morgan are my roomies (from Utah), and they both play football and basketball and are really into sports. Elder Germaine is the district leader, he's from Utah also, and he always walks around with no shirt and yells "TAO PO!" in the dorms. He was singing hymns in the shower the other day. (Tao Po po pooooo, tao po-o [picture the tune of God Be With You Until We Meet Again]). Elder Bowers is from Washington State and he rides a motorcycle. He's 21 and is writing a girl that he's been dating for six years. Elder Wilding is from Alabama, and I don't really know what he does. We have a Hawaiian sister who lives in Utah, and a sister from American Samoa. I can't pronounce their names yet. Sister Huttelston is from Utah, and she played two years of college soccer.

The district is cool. Everyone gets along great.

The language has been coming good. I'm learning about verb conjugation and asking questions. I'll send you guys some Tagalog soon :)

I love you guys. I'll talk to you soon.
This week has been pretty good.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tuesday September 4th 2012

When I first got here on Wednesday, they gave me a brief orientation and then threw me straight into language studies. My teacher is Brother Ah Mu, and he didn't speak a word of English to us for the frist three days. When he finally did, I was so surprised. I didn't even think he knew English. I've been enjoying learning the language. Tagalog is very challenging, but extremely fun to speak. There aren't a whole lot of grammar rules so far, so I've been able to pick it up at a fairly good pace.

My companion is from Sacramento California. His name is Elder Williams. He plays percussion and tennis. He's a good guy. We get along real fact, our whole district gets along really well. I am in a room with Elder Williams and two other elders (Elders Clark and Morgan from Utah). We have a lot of jokes and manage to ease the tension every day with Tao po.
Tao po (tie-oh-poe) means 'Human' in Tagalog. For some reason, the Elders in our district use it for everything from a greeting to a curse.
I've learned how to have a pretty primitive conversation in Tagalog, as well as ask people if they have something (mayroon po ba kayong bacon?) (Wala pa akong bacon - I don't have any bacon) I can also pray pretty well in Tagalog and bear a small testimony. The language program here is amazing.