Kumusta pamilya ko!
Kumusta po ang linggo ninyo?
Haha my week was pretty good. I've learned a ton about the
, and Cuyapo (my area).
We have five new investigators this week, and several less active members came
back to church yesterday, so the work is going pretty well. We still have a lot
of improvements to make, but I'm sure they will happen fast as my Tagalog gets
We taught a sister yesterday - she was visiting a member family, and we happened to arrive at their house, and ended up teaching her instead of them. We can't remember her name, but we have it written down, haha. She is an older lady (nanay, which is basically 'mother' sa Tagalog, but also shows respect to older women. Tatay is for older men or fathers) with several children. Her husband is a member of the Iglacia ni Cristo, which is a crazy strict Christian church that was founded by an ex Mormon. Anyone that is caught talking with Mormon missionaries in that church is excommunicated...so when we meet her husband, it will be interesting, haha. Another rule that the Iglacia have, is that only the priest in the church can hold the bible and read it. Weird huh?
Anyways, we taught her from the pamphlet about the restoration, and specifically focused on how the gospel blesses families. Elder Janolgue did most of the teaching (my Tagalog isn't quite there yet), but I was able to explain to her that our purpose as missionaries is to help people and their families become happy through following Jesus Christ's example and receiving the ordinance of the gospel. I noticed, at one point in the lesson, that this Sister had tears in her eyes. The spirit was very strong, and we felt prompted to sing a hymn for her at the end of the lesson. We chose 'Families Can be Together Forever," and she thanked us and agreed to have us visit her again. After she left, wiping her eyes, I couldn't help but feel really really happy. The week before, we had many investigators who hid from us and didn't answer their doors, or told their kids to tell us that they weren't home, and we felt discouraged. There was one day, where like six of our seven lessons just 'weren't home'. We had been praying to find new people to teach, and for success, and this lesson with this sister was our answer. It was definitely the highlight of my week. The other lessons we had were good, but I knew that our message had really touched the heart of this sister.
We are teaching Glen still, and he is making some progress. We just finished talking about the Plan of Salvation with him, and gave him a Book of Mormon. We asked him to pray about Joseph Smith, and he said that he didn't receive an answer, but he felt like there was peace in his mind. He is pretty interesting...whenever we set appointments with him, he forgets, but we will always run into him later in the day and will be excited to talk with us. We haven't got to the Word of Wisdom or Law of Chastity yet, but those will be interesting. I have yet to see him without a cigarette in his hand and, well, the Law of Chastity is always interesting because so many people think it is crazy, haha. I'm excited to see where he goes with it all though.
The active members here are awesome. Many of them have only been members for a year or two, and hold big callings. The first Councillor is only 22 or 23 and is a single returned missionary. We are fed twice a week by the Argueza family and once a week by the Darang family. They are all so nice, and I know it is a sacrifice for them to feed us. They will absolutely not let me leave the table until I've had thirds. I think that they view foreigners as eating machines, haha. I have been enjoying the food, and especially the rice. It tastes way better here than it does in
North America. The thing is, we eat
so much rice compared to the amount of protein and fat that we eat, that I
always feel hungry after. I've eaten like five plates of rice in one go, with a
couple of eggs and some noodles, and I will leave the house feeling like I
could use a snack. An hour later, I could easily eat another five plates. It's
like I'm never full! Maybe I have a tapeworm or something, haha. Elder Janolgue
and I made deep fried chicken the other day. They have this stuff called
'Crispy Fry,' (Basically flour and MSG, haha) that you can batter
chicken/frog/whatever with and it makes some awesome flavours. The chicken was
super good, and we had it over rice with some of the hot sauce you sent me.
Elder Janolgue put a LOT of hot sauce on his, and he was pretty surprised, haha.
I ate some weird stuff this week too: Isau, which is grilled chicken
intestines, and Sabaw, which is a soup made from kidneys and intestines. The
Isau was alright...it was really chewy and pasty tasting...I put a lot of
vinegar on it, haha. And the Sabaw was really pretty gross. I couldn't get past
the smell, but I choked it down anyways.
There are only 7 or eight active Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the branch, but one of our recent converts (he was baptized right before I got out here) was just barely ordained a priest. His name is Louie Domingo. He plays the guitar and is probably the most legit-looking Filipinos I have seen. He looks like the lead singer of Tokyo Hotel (kind of). He is great, and a strong part of the Branch here, even though he is so new. The Branch President seems like a good guy too...except, he asked me for money the other day. He wanted 1000 pesos to help a member of his branch with some troubled they are having. He told me that he would pay me back when he received the budget for the branch. I told him I'd see what I could do, but I left with a really bad feeling about it, and then I read in the white handbook that it is forbidden to lend money to people. I wrote to President Martino about it, and I am just going to tell the BP that I am not supposed to lend money.
I am also the Branch Organist (the 'Organ' is a really tiny keyboard). All of the Hymns are in English for some reason here, so it is really funny in sacrament meeting to hear everyone sing. Everyone sings their hearts out and the spirit is present, but there is a complete lack of tone and the words all sound wrong because the vowel sounds are different in Tagalog. I've had many people come up to me and ask if I could could teach piano lessons to their children. I wish I had time, but we are just so busy here. I have been talking with some people though, and they might be able to set up a night when people would come in to the Meeting house and I would teach them the basics of reading music and piano. It would be cool if that worked out.
We do have a meetinghouse here...it is very small, but it has enough room for the 30% or so of the members that are active, haha. They are currently building a newer building that will be finished in April, and it will be much newer and bigger. There is no carpet in the
, so all of the church
buildings have tile floors or concrete. The newer buildings here are very nice
and well maintained, so it will be great to have one in Cuyapo. Our branch is
small, but Elder Janolgue and I have been working hard to get more people to
come out to church. It can be a chore at times...lots of less actives will see
us coming down the street from their window and they will close their doors and
hide. It can be frustrating sometimes, but also pretty funny. Last week, we
were going to visit a less active brother in the ward. We had seen him duck
into his house quick from way back on the road where we were walking. We walked
up to his fence and yelled "Tao po!" And one of his little kids came
out of the house (he was probably about Jameson's age) and said, "Wala
Tatay." (Tatay is not here). Elder Janolgue (bear in mind that we knew
that this kid was lying because we had seen his dad walk into the house) asked
him a few other questions to try and trick him into telling us where Tatay
really was, but he just gave us the same answer. Finally, Elder Janolgue
yelled, "Aiyos, alis kami." (Alright, we are leaving) and we started
to walk off. Then he turned around, his scriptures open, and read from 2 Nephi
aloud to this little kid in Tagalog, "And behold, woe unto the liar, for
they shall be thrust down to Hell." Then he said, "Do you know what
Hell it?" and the little kid shook his head, and Elder Janolgue proceeded
to tell him all about Hell and liars, and then we walked off, leaving this poor
kid standing there with a horrified expression on his face. I felt pretty bad
for him, so I walked back and gave him a treat and told him not to worry, haha.
It was pretty funny. philippines
So, you know how I wrote in my last email that the bugs weren't too bad? Well, I take that back now. We have a lot of spiders in our apartment, but they are all little ones with spindly legs (or so I thought). Part of our bathroom ceiling is rotten, and there is a pretty big crack in the corner. I was showering the other day, and I happened to look up there in the crack, and I saw these black pipe-cleaner things sticking out of it. I looked closer...and they were LEGS. These things were about as long as my finger. I grabbed a flashlight, and shined it up there, and there was the BIGGEST SPIDER I've ever seen. It was easily the size of my whole hand. I wasn't able to get a picture of it, but it's still there. I'm too scared to try and kill it, and Elder Janolgue kind of just laughed when I pointed it out to him. I talked to some of the members about it, and they were all like, "Oh, yes. Malaki-gagamba (big spider). Bery poisonous. If it bites you...go to doctor." Comforting. Haha. I hope it doesn't try and eat me when I am in the shower.
Another thing I've learned this week is that cockroaches are practically invincible. I killed my first one last week. It was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, and I picked up this heavy broom we have and slammed it down on this cockroach (two hands raised over my head, I might add) with a blow that would have killed most house-cats, and I only managed to stun it. It took me about five minutes to smash it. The carnage involved with killing a cockroach is sickening. I watched elder Janolgue come down on one full force with his foot, grind it into the floor with his heel, and smear it back and forth a couple of times. It looked like it was dead for about five minutes (it was spread around about a square foot of the house). We had just started personal study, and I looked over and watched the biggest piece of it peel itself off the floor and start to walk again. I was all like, "ELDER! IT'S ALIVE!" and he smashed it one more time. So gross, haha, but you had to know the details.
Another funny story. We were out visiting less active members last night with a brother from the ward, and it was super dark. We were walking through one of the Bukits (rice fields) on a raise path beside a couple of flooded fields. The brother from the ward, right as we are walking through this, starts talking about cobras. Apparently there are a lot of cobras in Cuyapo, and they get about three or four feet long sometimes. He also mentioned that they almost always gather near water, which was not very comforting to me as I walked along the shoreline of a flooded rice field in the pitch darkness with only Herman (my penguin flashlight) and an umbrella to protect me. I didn't see any though. Hopefully next time, haha.
Haha, I know it probably sounds like I am having a hard time with all of the bugs and the filthiness and stuff, but I'm really not. I just think it's hilarious to talk about. I am really used to everything now, and I actually enjoy it. It is a huge adventure for me. I find that I am happier and more focused on the work
Thank you for all the support. I am doing well. I forgot my aux. cord again, so I apologize for the lack of pictures. There will definitely be some next time.
I love you all :)
Oh, and by the way. My Pday is on Monday...which would be Sunday for you guys. We are a day ahead here.
My area is one of the farthest north in the mission. It takes about 6-8 hours to get to the mission home in Angeles from where I'm at. It is just North from Tarlac, if you are trying to find it on a map. (Tarlac is the closest major city to us. Paniqui is the closest city to us - I'm actually emailing you from Paniqui, haha - and then as you move further north there is Anao and then Cuyapo, where I am.
I added these for all our readers to see where Elder Hubbard is on a map and the weather. Pretty warm! Also a little info about the town he is living in.
Cuyapo is a 3rd class municipality in the province of
. Nueva Ecija,
According to the latest census, it has a population of 55,456 people in 11,337 households.
The name "cuyapo" is derived from the word "kuyapo" (kiapo), a water plant that looks like a flower, bearing the scientific name Pistia Stratiocis, Linn.
It is located in the northwest portion of the province, and is the boundary of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pangasinan provinces.
The municipality is is primarily an agricultural area.
Ilocano and Tagalog are the major languages spoken here.