Monday, November 19, 2012

Week three

Picture Jared took when he first got to Manilla before heading on a bus to the mission home in Angeles.

Week Three?! I can't believe it. Haha I wish time had gone this fast in the MTC. 

This week has been pretty alright. I ate some Silog last Monday (basically a piece of meat with rice, a fried egg, some spicy lime sauce and a big pile of rice) and the egg wasn't cooked all the way...but I ate it anyways. No big deal, until I started feeling sick that afternoon, haha. I wasn't too worried at first, but when I found out that the bottle of Pepto Bismol I keep on me always (just in case I have appointments that I can't miss...normally I wouldn't take anything like that) was missing from my pack, I almost had a heart attack. In desperation, I ran to a pharmacy and asked if they had any of the pink sludge. Well, they didn't. But they sold me these little white pills for 30 pesos each (expensive...almost a dollar each). We had a lot of appointments that evening, and then a full day on Tuesday, and I was determined to make it through the day without having to return to the apartment. So I followed the instructions on the pills and took a few on Tuesday and got through all the lessons. On Tuesday night, I slept for about two hours. We had eaten Tilapia at a members house that night, and my stomach felt like the fish was trying to chew its way out again, haha. Long story short - after a hellish night of throwing up and abdominal pain, I spent all of Wednesday in bed (and in the CR). I stopped taking pills, and I didn't eat anything. Our neighbor (who is super nice) found out I was sick and brought me some crackers. She then prescribed me a big jug of Gatorade, crackers (the crackers here are amazing - they are called Sky Flakes, and have like 30% saturated fat, haha) apples and bananas. I was able to make a quick trip to the market, and spent the next two days on that diet, and I feel better now. I used the blue box and the enzymes throughout the diet also, and the difference between drugs and home remedies is enormous. Next time, instead of spending 240 pesos on medication, I'm just going to buy a box of crackers, some gatorade, and some apples, haha. 

Haha, apart from the first half of the week, it has been a great week. We were teaching the mother of one of our investigators for the first time, and I was talking about how our purpose as missionaries is to help people come closer to Christ through following his example. I was reading a scripture, and I noticed that the verse after it was about baptism. It all just seemed to fit, so I read it. After I read it, I was kind of thinking, "Oh no...Elder Hubbard, this is the first lesson. She doesn't even know what the Book of Mormon is yet!" I was quiet for a couple seconds, and Elder Janolgue gave me a nudge and snapped me out of my thoughts and I asked, "Nanay, gagawin po ba ninyo magbinyag?" (That sentence translates to "Nanay, will you to baptize?" I said it wrong...but she got the message, haha). She was very quiet for a minute, probably because she was trying to translate what I had just said, haha. Then she said, "No. But I want to listen to your messages. After a few more visits, I will make a decision about baptism." It was a great lesson, and I left with a really good feeling. Later that day, we were able to challenge another one of our investigators to baptism, and she accepted. We are excited for her, because her husband passed away quite some time ago, and her children are all less active members. If she follows through and prepares to be baptised  then the whole family will be able to come out to church, which would be awesome for her family and for the branch. 

We have a lot of new investigators, which is always good. I've found that most of our serious investigators are older women or teenagers, which is good, but we are really glad when we are able to teach the father of the home. Most adult brethren will not continue to take the lessons after one or two lessons, and there is a huge problem in the Branch with inactivity in the Elders Quorum. There were only six of us yesterday...that's including Elder Janolgue and I and the Branch Presidency. So yeah...only one elder showed up for elders Quorum. We made a list of all the Elders in the branch, and there are like 30 or 35 that don't usually show up. We have some serious work to do in the branch. We've talked to the Branch President about calling some branch missionaries to help us fellowship them. They will have to be priest-age recent converts (Brian and Louie, who have both been members for less than a year, but are really strong in the church) because there just aren't enough active Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the Branch. In the meantime, we have been going out with Tatay Augustin, the second counselor in the Branch, once a week to visit investigators and less actives. He is great to work with. He used to be Catholic and was inactive for a time after his baptism, so his words really help less actives because he knows exactly what they are feeling. He is really quiet, and speaks Illocano fluently, and bears a strong testimony at the end of all our lessons. The fact that he speaks Illocano helped us finally teach the father of one of the recent converts in the branch. This father speaks mostly Illocano, so we were able to teach him the first lesson with Brother Augustin translating certain phrases into Illocano. It has been a blessing to work with him and I am excited to work with Brian and Louie too.

I didn't really eat anything too weird this week. Just goat, which is delicious. I can't even really describe how it tastes...but it was super good. I am trying to train myself to eat fat - they like fat here, so every time there is meat in a dish, there are usually huge chunks of fat in it too. They actually have a dish that is JUST fat...not too excited for that, haha. I've been practicing by cutting off little pieces and eating them with a mouthful of rice, haha. I've also decided that I hate liver. It is so gross. I'd rather eat chicken intestines again than liver, haha. 

So how is everyone doing at home? The ZL's still don't have our mail from the President, so I haven't gotten any of the stuff that you have probably sent. Usually we get mail more often, but the ZL's haven't seen President Martino for a while. I imagine that there is a lot of snow by now, and that everyone is eating lots of Christmas treats. It is funny here...they are crazy about Christmas, and I wake up every morning to really upbeat Christmas music. There are a lot of Christmas lights and decorations made of drinking straws hanging around houses, and occasionally there is a little Christmas tree. It just doesn't feel like Christmas without snow. In your last email, you talked about how you want to have a simple, thrifty, homemade Christmas this year and focus on giving. I have a feeling that all of the Christmases here in the Phils are like that. People don't have enough money for lavish presents or massive feasts and parties. I'm excited for my first Christmas here, I'm sure that it will be really special. 

Jameson/Jarom: Hey guys! I think about you both a lot, especially when I see all of the little kids here. You would both love it in the Philippines. You wouldn't have to wear shoes, and there are animals everywhere - especially chickens and goats. And dogs. SO Many dogs. The dogs are scary though. They travel around the streets in packs, and they like to bark and try and bite you (bad news if they do...rabies shot). But they are also scared of us, so if we raise our umbrellas and run at them, or bend down and pick up a rock, they will all run away (true story. I was a little bit worried when we were walking through one of the fields the other night and a pack of six or seven started running at us. Elder Janolgue just turned around and ran towards them and they all scattered. The dogs here are scary, but they aren't very brave, thank goodness).

I have been having great experiences with reading the scriptures every day. I am studying in the New Testament right now. I take my vitamins every day, and I am usually pretty healthy. I am always super hungry though, haha, but am eating three meals a day with lots of snacks (I think it is just the walking every day that makes me hungry). The snacks here are pretty good if you get the right ones. My favorites are Mani (peanuts with big chunks of roasted garlic) and Lumpia (deep fried egg roll...sometimes a street vendor will have them) which is delicious with sugar cane vinegar (the vinegar bottles are full of hot peppers, which give the vinegar a good good). We ran into a guy selling homemade donuts off of the back of his bicycle the other day. We gave him a pamphlet am bought a couple donuts, which tasted like heaven.

How was your trip to the island, Dad? I love it out there too. I can't wait to hike the West Coast Trail again in the next few years. Mom, I show lots of people our family picture, and they always say, "This is your Mother?! She is beautiful!" haha, just thought you should know. But yeah, I am doing pretty well. There are hard days sometimes with lots of challenges, and I would be lying if I said I didn't miss home and all of you guys, but I know that this is where I am supposed to be, and that the Lord has my back. I know that this church is true, without a doubt, and I want to do whatever I can to improve every day. When I was really sick on  Wednesday, the Zone leaders called me and asked if I was okay. I told them that I felt like I was dying, but that I'd probably make it. Elder Biggs (my ZL from England) told me, "Well Elder, you are still alive, and the church is true." That has become my new colloquial phrase, and when I am having a hard time, I tell myself, "Elder, you're still alive, and the church is true." haha. 

I love you all, and I am excited for the next week.


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