Monday, December 3, 2012

Week 5 in the Philippines

 Frogs (uncooked)
 Adobo na Palaka (Frog Adobo)
Frogs. They gather under the street lights at night.

 Sketchy Bridge that we have to cross about four times a week. I've almost fallen in like 3 times

 Halo-halo. A really tasty dessert here

 Mario (12 years old), Jonjon (10), and Raphael (10 also). (from left to right). Three kids that I talked to the other week. They are super cool, and we are going to visit them and their families soon. They are collecting plastic and cardboard...I think it is their job (I couldn't really understand a lot). Raphael is making the 'Guwapo' sign on his chin, haha. (it means 'I am guwapo' [handsome]).
 Food! The first picture is lunch...we bought 7 or 8 of these little fish from the market for about 55 pesos (1.40 or so) and fried them up. We also bought half of a squash, some tomatoes, green beans, ginger, and cabbage (all freshly harvested, probably from someones backyard) for about 40 pesos (1.00). We made soup with some of the veggies and ate it with the fish over rice. It was delicious. 

 This picture is a dessert we made. The only ingredients are graham crackers, condensed milk, condensed cream, and a can of fruit cocktail. You layer the grahams with a mixture of cream and condensed milk, and then put the fruit cocktail on top and leave it in the fridge for a day or so. The grahams get really soft, almost like cake, and it is one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten. 

 Me and Elder Janolgue in one of the Fast Food Restaurants on my first week.

 Elder Janolgue looking out over a rice field
 Christian! He is one of the kids of the Argueza Family, who are so awesome and feed us twice a week. 

 Some pictures of the scenery. One of the mountains in our area (we are planning on hiking it one of these P-days
 C.R. (Comfort Room, or washroom in Canadian) (when I first came into the's a lot cleaner now)
 One of the many lizards inside our house

 Blurry picture at night...we are on our way back from a less active member's house. The man behind me is Brother Agustin. He is the second counselor in the branch and is a huge help to us. He works very long days in the fields, but still takes 6 hours most Sundays to come out and visit investigators and less actives. We are so grateful for his help.  

Some pictures of the scenery. One of the mountains in our area (we are planning on hiking it one of these P-days). 
The road in the picture is part of Barangay Latap (a neighborhood). The houses are made of bamboo and grass. We have quite a few investigators here. 

Dear Family,
I finally got some actual Dear Elders! It was so great to finally get them. The ZL’s apologized for the long wait and said that in the future we will probably get mail every two weeks or so.

This week has been a little bit tough. I have been getting a little bit frustrated with things in the branch. Yesterday, one of the less active families that we have been teaching and trying to get out to church for forever finally came to church. We were super excited to see them, but then we found out that one of the members (who happens to be the former branch president) had agreed to pay him money to come to church (we found this out from the member’s son). I was so mad when I heard that – I almost punched a wall. I wish the members here would set a better example. Almost nobody stays for class after sacrament meeting, half of the congregation is more than 15 minutes late, their kids run around like little punkbusters and torment and offend everybody during sacrament, and people leave the building at random to run down the road and buy soft drinks and snacks from the Tindihans (little stores in front of people’s houses). Testimony meeting is a mixture of long-winded stories and people standing up and complaining about different things or chastising other people in the congregation. In Sunday School yesterday, we spent an hour and ten minutes discussing (and arguing about) the food that different members would bring to the Christmas party in a few weeks. Yesterday, a street vendor selling bananas even came into the parking and started advertising (yelling). Thankfully she left pretty quickly before the members had a chance to go out and buy anything. It can be tough sometimes to feel the spirit. I’m so grateful for the strong members that we have in the ward that try their best to set a good example and reach out to our new investigators. I don’t know what we would do without them, haha.
That said, church can also be a spiritual experience here, and I’m grateful for those times. I just wish the members would set better examples.

As far as the work goes this week, we’ve had some good successes. We were on our way to an appointment, and we ran into a group of four kids (elementary aged, 9-10 yrs old) walking home from school . They were headed in the same direction as us, so we walked with them for a while and shared some of our Mani (fresh garlic roasted peanuts, and the closest thing to manna that exists on earth today) with them. They were really funny, and we ended up giving them some pamphlets. We decided one day to visit their neighborhood, which is a very long walk from our house (3-4 km) and way out in the country. None of the kids were home yet from school, but all of their moms were home, and we were invited into the home of the very first person we saw. We were the first missionaries that they had ever seen in that neighborhood, and they were very receptive and open to our message. We were able to teach three different families and pass a lot of pamphlets. The kids came home from school and saw us in their neighborhood and were super excited that we were actually at their houses to visit with them and their families. Their parents told us that the kids would come from school all excited and talking about their “New Mormon friends” and that they were expecting us to visit. They were happy to talk to us, and I know the Lord softened their hearts and prepared them through their children to hear our message. We now have one progressing investigator family (there are four of them in the family) in this area, and five or six potential investigators and families that we plan to visit soon. It was a huge blessing for us and our work here in Cuyapo.

I went on splits with two elders, Elder Ontoria and Elder Servancia, this week in Ramos (Elder Janolgue is a district leader, he was doing interviews), and they watched out for me the whole time. It is almost hilarious, because we’ll just be walking, and all of a sudden they’ll nonchalantly pull you to the side as a trike speeds by, or bodycheck you out of the way of the huge mountain of karabao poop that you almost stepped in. All of the Filipino elders are all super used to things here, and they make sure to watch out for everyone. I’m in good hands, haha. It was fun going to Ramos…there is a lot of sugarcane growing there, and while we were walking Elder Ontoria went and picked some out of one of the fields and we chopped it up and ate it. It is super good…it’s kind of woody, and you chew on it until all the juice is gone and then you spit it out. We also ate lunch at a member’s house there. We brought him some pork from the market and he cooked a big pan of adobo for us, which was super good. After lunch, he pulled a big bamboo table out under his mango tree, and the four of us just laid down on the table, ate some unripe mango (they take super unripe fruit here and eat it with salt and spicy vinegar…I’m still getting used to it), talked about life, and then had a nap. (Normally, we’d use that time for language study, but we were on splits, and there aren’t any appointments after lunch until about 3:30…we weren’t just being lazy, haha). It was great to just relax and be chill for a couple of hours. Filipinos believe (I’m not sure if it is true or not) that if you don’t relax for at least 20 minutes after eating a big meal, your appendix will explode, so after mealtime everybody just sits/lies down and relaxes. It’s a good way to wind down.

Do you remember that spider I told you about? Well, I walked into the CR to shower the other day and it was out of its hole and on our wall. It freaked me right out…it was probably about the size of the palm of my hand. I told Elder Janolgue that we had a huge spider in our bathroom, and when he saw it he just laughed and said, “Aiyos…maliit lang. (It’s alright, it’s just little).” Apparently they get WAY bigger than that. He wanted to just leave it in there to eat the cockroaches, but I told him I’d kill it if he did, so he herded it outside for me, haha. He still makes fun of me for that…I’ll be in the shower and he’ll yell through the door, “Elder Hubbard…may gagamba diyan.” (“There’s a spider there”), or I’ll be climbing into bed and he’ll tell me to check my sheets for spiders. He’s a pretty funny guy.  I don’t think he understands that in Canada, the biggest spider is maybe an inch across, haha.
That’s so awesome about Ben’s mission call. That will be such a cool mission. I think the members in Guam use the Manila temple…I’m not sure though. What a great opportunity for him to serve. I can tell him right now that it is the best experience he can possibly have. 
I’m excited to hear where everyone else is going in our ward. Has Nick got his call yet?

So before I end this, I should probably tell you the new mission home address:

Philippines Angeles Mission
F. Tanedo Street
Tarlac, Tarlac 2300

There. They just moved the mission home to Tarlac, I’m excited to see it, and apparently it is huge. I'll get back to you about the Christmas phone call (we use skype here) details.

I love you all. Thank you so much for all of the letters and support.
I’m so grateful to be a missionary here.
Love Jared.

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