Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week 4 in the Philippines

Week 4
Jared's missionary apartment.
 Makes me queasy! 

Kumusta pamilya ko!

Haha it was good to get your emails. I am laughing right now because of what you wrote about customs here (in regards to the package). They do business a little bit differently here, so hopefully the package will actually get to me, haha. If not, well, I'm sure the postal workers will enjoy the exotic Canadian treats, haha. 

So, I found out this morning that cockroaches can fly. Interesting fact. I was walking in to the CR for a shower, and there was a huge one on the back of the door. I went and grabbed our electric fly swatter (best thing I've bought here yet), and pinned the cockroach to the door with the voltage cranked all the way up. It didn't really do anything (those things are invincible) except probably tickle it a little bit, and when I pulled it back, the cockroach jumped off of the door, and flew across the room and landed on me. I very calmly brushed it off and pulverized it with a broom. (I am lying about the very calmly part). Haha, those things are so crazy. They make our day pretty entertaining though. 

We had a lot of people approach us in the last two weeks and ask us to visit them. I was very excited when this happened for the first time, and I couldn't understand why Elder Janolgue kept laughing (subtly) while I wrote down the guys name and address. I found out after that the guy was drunk, and would have no clue who we were when we visited him the next day. We had another guy come up to us, take one of my hands in both of his, and say (in tagalog of course), "Brothers. I want to join the church. Please visit me tomorrow, and I will give myself to Jesus." After which, we gave him a Word of Wisdom pamphlet, and set an appointment. We visited him soon after, (he was drunk again), and he hadn't read the pamphlet. We'll see how he is later, haha. Another guy grabbed my hand in the supermarket (definitely drunk) and said, "Sir...you are very handsome." He then asked me in Tagalog if I would kiss him on the cheek. I vehemently (but politely) declined, and did not set an appointment with him, haha. 
One of the saddest things I saw this week was yesterday. We went to visit one of the Inactive members way out in the bukid. He had once been the Elders Quorum President and the 2nd Counselor in the Branch - super active. When we finally got to his house, we called for him and he staggered out, dressed in filthy clothes, most of his teeth missing.He was so drunk that he could barely talk, and I thought he was going to throw up the whole time we were there. He managed to slur out, "Elders, I am already drinking. My family never came to church with me, so I left." (That is the jist of it, Elder Janolgue explained the situation to me afterwards). Because this man's family had never been active in the church with him, he stopped going, and eventually found his way into drinking and smoking. He told us, that if we could get his family to go to church with him, he would quit smoking and drinking and come back to church. We made an appointment to teach his daughter in law, so I really hope it goes well. It is just so sad to see somebody that used to be so faithful become so addicted and lost.

It is really difficult for me here sometimes. Everyone here thinks that if you are white, you are rich (and we are, compared to what it is like here. There is NO SUCH THING as poverty in North America. The people living on the streets in America have more than many of the people here). And many people will ask me for money. It is usually easy to say no, because it is against the mission rules to hand out money, and usually the people asking are only asking so that they can buy alcohol or drugs. But sometimes, it is just heartbreaking. I had a older man approach me the other day and ask if I could help him. He obviously had some addiction problems, and there was a cigarette in his hand. Through his tears, he said, "I have no job, and I can't afford to buy rice. I live in a bamboo house. Will you come visit me?" We explained that we could not help him financially, but that we could visit him and teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.That wasn't what he wanted though, and he left. I wanted to tell him, "If you would just quit smoking and drinking, you could buy rice. You could fix your house, you could feed your family. You would have a job." But it would be no use. Cigarettes are very cheap here. It is about the equivalent of 25 cents Canadian for a pack of 10, and a single stick only costs 1 peso. Alcohol is also cheap, about 50 cents Canadian for a beer and 1.00 or 1.50 for rum and other hard-liquor. Almost everyone here smokes and drinks, and it is a huge challenge for our investigators and even in the branch.  

Anyway, on the flip-side we visited a part member family this week (the wife is a very strong member, she has two less active teenage sons, the husband is not a member) and it was an amazing lesson. The wife, Sister Oliveros, asked us to try and teach her husband. She wants to be sealed in the temple with her family more than anything, and she really wants her husband to join the church. Brother Oliveros had been taugh before by the missionaries, but stopped coming to church because he was offended, and embarrassed because he wasn't able to take the sacrament (he has a problem with smoking). Their house is very far away (our area is huge), so we picked an afternoon to travel there and teach them and went to their house. They live in a really cool bamboo/coconut wood house. It is pretty big. They farm rice and grow papayas, and Bro. Oliveros is a tricycle driver. Anyways, when we got in, it took Sister Oliveros a few minutes to get Bro. Oliveros to come sit down (he was excited for our visit and busy preparing a plate of fresh papaya for us). We got to know him, and talked about his family and job. He is such a humble, nice guy, and his family is awesome. After we got to know him, we shared a lesson about families. It was the most amazing lesson I've had yet. We talked about how god loves us, and how he wants families to be eternal, so that we can be happy. Elder Janolgue and I pulled out pictures of our families, and talked about how important you are to us. We were able to bear our testimonies on the importance of families, and being sealed in the temple. The spirit was very strong, and we were both fighting back tears the whole time. We asked him what was stopping him from being baptized and sealed to his family, and he talked about his addiction to smoking. He shared his desire to quit with us, and we promised him that we would help him, and that he would be blessed and helped by God for his desire. We ended by asking him if he would come back to church, and begin to prepare for baptism. He said yes, and he came to church yesterday for ALL THREE MEETINGS (that is significant, because most of the active members don't even stay for all of the meetings) with his wife and kids. He really wants to be with his family forever, and we are so excited to help him overcome his addiction and help him be sealed to his family. It was such a good lesson. Sister Oliveros told us after that she thinks it went well, and she shared with us another one of the problems that Brother Oliveros had. He had been driving his trike back to the warehouse, and he saw the Branch President (who is also a trike driver) smoking in the warehouse. That is kind of alarming to us, because that is the second time we've heard from somebody that the branch President had been smoking. We aren't quite sure what to do about it, or if it is even true. We wrote a letter to our mission president about it though. 

Anyway, that is the highlight of our week. One of our biggest goals right now is to work through the members to find success, and it has been a challenge because the Branch Presidency haven't really been supporting that (President and First Counselor - the second counselor is great). They are always too busy to help us visit less actives (with stupid things like basketball games and dinners, not actual good excuses to be busy) and it is nearly impossible to get them to organize activities and coordinate them with us. There are two amazing families in the ward that we have been working with and they help us by having FHE for our investigators or coming out with us to visit. Brother Agustin (the second counselor) is especially great. He usually will come out with us to our lessons all Sunday afternoon and evening. He is a convert and great help to us. 

Anyways, business at home. That is really too bad about Josh's arm. I hope it heals quickly. I think about Josh a lot here...he would love the Philippines. EVERYONE plays basketball here. The different towns all have a gym and a league team, and different teams will travel all over the country and play in different gyms. They are very popular and intense (we watched about five minutes of one after our lessons one night), and to be on one of those league teams is the dream of most little kids here. But yeah, hopefully Josh's arm will get better soon.

That's so exciting that Christmas is coming up. I believe it that the Philippines is the happiest place in the world for Christmas...everyone has decorations up and our neighbors blast Christmas songs every morning nice and loud. I will hopefully be able to send some handwritten stuff to you all. I think I will use most of the money to buy 'secret santa' stuff for members of the branch, haha. 

I love you all. 


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