One of the big spiders...use the shower head to compare size.
Mga Bata! (kids). We see a lot of these kids every day as we walk...they are hilarious.
More pictures with the kids! (picture-picture tayo na! - Tagalog for: Let's take a picture!)
Guwapo! (Pogi is a more common word - it means handsome)
Some scenery out in the bukid.
Some of the lovely scenery.Some delicious Litson Manok (roasted chicken) from Inasal! It is a super good restaurant with all you can eat rice
One of the little frogs that likes to come into our house for a snack. They are somewhat difficult to get out, because if you pick them up, they will swell up like balloons. We usually sweep them out with a broom.
Balut! Buying the Balut, and drinking the 'soup'.
Adding some vinegar, and peeling it open.The finished product...an unpeeled Balut. The blackish parts are the chick. I couldn't see the head on this one (this is from Friday...my camera had no batteries on Sunday)
Right before I bit into it.
Yep. I have a mouthful of Balut. Masarap!
This is our front entryway. If you look over in the far right (beside the curtains, near the corner) of the picture, you will see a huge spider. Yes, that is actually how big it is.
A close up of the same spider (in attack stance).
Some pictures that we took of a cool bridge that we found.
Elder Janolgue sharing the Plan of Salvation.A Karabao (car-a-b-ow). They are HUGE. Some of the missionaries try to sit on them and get a picture taken, but I am way too scared.
It has been yet another exciting week in the Phils. It’s funny…the days here seem so long, but the weeks go by so fast. Everybody here is busy getting ready for Christmas, and there are Christmas lights on a lot of the houses (and decorations made of drinking straws and chip bags on most of them…Christmas lights are expensive here). It still doesn’t feel like Christmas time to me - my brain just isn’t ready to associate the hot, sweaty environment with Christmastime yet. I am kind of sad…I have been losing my ability to thrive in the cold. This morning, when we were on the trike to Paniqui, the wind was blowing through the sidecar and I was actually feeling cold. Sometimes at night, I have to pull the sheet up to my shoulders (I usually do anyways because I am afraid of spiders, and the less exposed surface area I have when I am sleeping, the better). I’m going to freeze to death when I come home in two years!
Anyways, there have been lots of adventures this week. I think I talked about the dogs here in one of my earlier letters…but in one of the barangays here (neighborhoods) there are a lot of crazy dogs that will try and attack you at night sometimes. It can be scary sometimes, because there are no streetlights there and it is literally pitch black at night here unless there’s a full moon. We were walking through there the other night to visit some investigators, and I found a big bamboo stick in the middle of the road and carved a spear out of it while we were waiting for one of our investigators to come home. We ended up taking a trike back to our flat, and Elder Janolgue sat in the sidecar with the spear and tried to skewer every dog that came close to the trike (picture a medieval knight in a jousting tournament…in a motorcycle sidecar). In case there are animal activists reading this…don’t worry, the spear wasn’t sharp enough to do any real damage.
I really don’t like dogs. (here especially)
The other big adventure this week…Balut. Yes Josh, I ate Balut – twice actually, haha. It actually tastes okay (kind of like egg), if you don’t look at it too much or smell it. You asked me for graphic details…so I will personally tell you how to eat Balut:
Step 1: Buy a nice big one from a street vendor and make a hole in the top of the shell.
Step 2: Peel back the brown membrane, and dump in some spicy vinegar and some salt.
Step 3: Swish it around a little bit, and then drink the liquid inside from the top of the egg. The liquid is actually amniotic fluid, which the baby duck fetus eats. It tastes kind of like chicken soup.
Step 4: Peel off the rest of the shell, adding vinegar and slurping up the excess liquid periodically.
Step 5: Pop the whole thing in your mouth, or eat it in two or three bites. I chose to eat it in one bite so I wouldn’t have to see all of the intestines and half-developed bones and stuff.
Step 6: While you are chewing the balut, add pinches of salt and squirts of vinegar into your mouth (I don’t know if that’s legit or not, but that’s how the Filipinos eat it)
It wasn’t too bad. The egg part is really chewy and the fetus part is really soft. I had 18 day old Balut, so it had feathers and some small, soft bones. It is usually pretty soft, and you can just chew up the bones. The one I had last night (I had one last night and one on Friday) had a few crunchy surprises though…I think it might have had a beak. But, all in all, a good experience. The Filipinos say that if you eat Balut, you will grow tall and strong, and have a good night’s sleep, so I will try and eat it once or twice a month from now on, haha. (Elder Janolgue eats balut almost every night…two or three of them sometimes)
As far as the work goes, it has been pretty slow this week, and our numbers haven’t been great. We had a trainer/trainees meeting this week in Tarlac and President Martino and Sister Martino came and trained all of us trainers and new missionaries in the west side of the mission. It was a great meeting, and I got to see Elder Williams and Elder Clark (Elder Morgan is way over on the East side of the mission, on the beach). They are both doing awesome, and it was good to see that I’m not the only one that is struggling with the language. The message that President Martino gave us was amazing. He read from Moses 6, where the Lord calls Enoch on a mission, and Enoch asks, “Why me lord? I am just a lad, and the people hate me because I am slow of speech.” And then the Lord goes on and promises him strength and blessings as he opens his mouth and serves. It was a great training session, and President promised us success and blessings, and that miracles would happen in our areas if we took the courage to open our mouths and testify. The spirit was strong, and it really helped me focus on my purpose as a missionary and become braver for the rest of the week.
As for the Oliveros family…we haven’t been able to teach them since our first visit, because Brother Oliveros hasn’t been home the last couple of Saturdays (We only have time to go out there on Saturdays because they live way out in the mountains and it takes a few hours to walk there). We are hoping to have a lesson with them this week, and have set up an appointment with them. We’ve been planning hard for Brother O, and have a plan to help him quit smoking. We are going to give him a baptismal goal date on Saturday too. We’re hoping it goes well.
The high points of the work this week…we extended three BGDs (bap. Goal dates) to new investigators, and they all accepted! The first is Rinalyn…she is a cousin of one of our recent converts and is Jianna’s age. We are trying to help her gain a testimony of Joseph Smith and the BOM right now. She is really interested in our message, and tries hard to follow all of the commitments we give her. The second investigator is named Marlin. Do you remember the family I talked about last time that let us into their house when we went to that new area? (We met their kids first, and gave them pamphlets, and then visited the families in their neighborhood after). Marlin is the mother of that first family that let us in. She is excited to prepare for baptism, and we are helping her with some Word of Wisdom things. We are trying hard to get an appointment to teach her husband. I don’t think he is totally sure if he wants to listen or not, but he said he would be there for our next lesson.
The third BGD is Sister Nancy Temporal. A few weeks ago, I talked about the previous 2nd counselor in the branch that we visited. He was drunk when we saw him, and told us that he would return to church if his family became members. Sister Nancy is his daughter in law, and we have been able to have some awesome lessons with her. We committed her to be baptized on the second lesson, and invited her to pray about our message. We visited her a few days later and she told us that she had received an answer! We were really excited about that. The real trick now will be to help her come to church, and to teach her husband. We are really excited to teach their family, and hopefully open some doors for them so they can all be in the church like Brother Temporal wanted. We hope to be able to help him with his addiction to alcohol and cigarettes as we teach sister Nancy.
They are all set to be baptized in January. It is amazing to see how the Lord prepares people to receive the gospel, and we are praying and hoping that all will go well with these investigators. They are all so wonderful, and it is great to see the spirit working in them as they make the decisions to move forward in the gospel.
I am so grateful to be here, and to be able to assist in the work in the Philippines. It is such a wonderful country, and I know the Lord has special plans for the saints here. We are set to receive 27 or 28 foreigner (non Filipino) missionaries here in the Angeles Mission in March, which means that there will probably be 50-60 new native missionaries by that time. The work is accelerating so much here, and so many people will be able to hear the gospel as these new missionaries come in.
I am excited for this coming Christmas. I haven’t got your package yet, but I’m sure it will get here eventually. We have a Christmas devotional on the 19th with all of the
West Side missionaries, which I
hear is super fun and super amazing. I think Elder Janolgue and I will just be
in the house on Christmas Day, but we plan on making a lot of food and
desserts, and maybe buying some fireworks and taking them to one of the members
houses (we aren’t allowed to set off fireworks ourselves, but it’s okay if the
members do it). We also want to secret Santa some people, which will be really
I am having an awesome time here. It gets better every day as I learn more and more. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I feel really stressed out or even depressed some days, but I know that the Lord is looking out for me, and that everything will be okay. I love being a missionary, and I pray every day to have more opportunities to feel the spirit, and to help someone out in their life. That is the best thing about being a missionary…helping somebody change their life for the better.
I love you all, and I look forward to Skyping you on the 27th.