Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year

January 6,2012
Naimbag na rabi! 

Yes, that's right. I'm learning Ilocano, haha. That means 'good evening.' (I think it is evening right now over there in Canada). My Tagalog is getting a little bit better…but it is still very pangit (nagiging mas mabuti ang Tagalog ko …pero, pangit pa rin) A lot of people speak Ilocano in Cuyapo, so I have been learning a few phrases to raise some eyebrows with some of the older people, haha.

This week was interesting. We had to get haircuts this week (especially me – to fix my terrible mistake from last week) and we decided to brave the salon this morning and get some quality haircuts. We walked in, and there were two guys (?) cutting hair in blouses and jeans that should never be worn by guys, topped off with long, dyed-blonde hair and full makeup. There were three more guys that had just arrived for work and were putting on their makeup. I was about to walk right back out, but then Elder Janolgue walked up to the front counter and requested that our hairdresser not be bakla. So we ended up getting our hair cut by the only straight guy in the salon. He did a really good job. The music was really loud in there, and while they were blasting some Michael Jackson I looked up from my chair and saw two baklas, outside on their break, dancing. I couldn’t handle it anymore – I just started laughing. It was just too funny to see those guys, dressed like salon girls, dancing to Michael Jackson. Thankfully everyone in the salon had a sense of humor.

New Years here was a gong show. I found out recently that fireworks are actually illegal here, which is funny because it sounded like D-Day outside of our apartment all night on New Years. EVERYONE was launching off fireworks. All of the little kids here are carrying around these little firecrackers that are super loud. They love to set them off nonchalantly and then laugh at the people that get scared by them. It’s pretty funny, but it can get annoying sometimes when it is five in the morning and it sounds like there’s a WWII sniper on your roof. My plan for New Years Eve was to just take it easy, write a letter, and go to bed, but we ended up just eating a lot of food. Our landlady brought us two huge plates of spaghetti and a plate of palabok (another pasta thing)…which was an addition to the 1 kilo of pork adobo, rice cake, graham cake, and American treats from Elder Olsen that we ate. Around 1:00 AM, when most of the big fireworks were done, she brought us more cake and fruit salad. I felt so sick. I was also a little big angry because I just wanted to sleep, haha. It was still a pretty fun New Years, I guess.

The work this week was pretty good. On New Years day we went out to a new area, which is about 4 kilometers away, to visit a less active sister in the Branch. She was really happy to see us, and introduced us to all of her neighbors. It was good – we were able to talk to a lot of people there about the gospel. We are hoping to get some new investigators over there soon. The problem is: we can only visit that area in the daytime, because it dangerous at night (robbers, addicts, and the like), so our time there is pretty limited. It is only about a kilometer away from tutuloy though, which is where the Arguesa family lives. I think I mentioned them during our skype visit – they are close with all of the missionaries, and they feed us twice a week. Sister Arguesa is like my mom here in Cuyapo, haha. Their oldest daughter is actually leaving on her mission to Mindanao in a couple of weeks.

I also led the area for the first time this week. We had exchanges, and my zone leader from England – Elder Biggs – came to Cuyapo and we worked together. It was a great learning experience for me. I learned that it is important to be bold and always extend commitments to the investigators. It made me think a lot about the purpose of missionary work, which is to bring people closer to Christ and help them find the correct ordinances to help them return to our Father in Heaven. My goal for the New Year is to become bolder (and to exercise more). Elder Biggs and I visited Brother Rey and his family, and helped him and his wife pick a day for marriage. They are going to be married on February 1. We also gave a baptismal date to Sister Cherry (his wife) and we are excited to help them begin the process of preparing to be sealed in the temple. It was a really good day. Elder Biggs said that there is a chance that I might be pregnant (training next transfer)…which scares me a lot. Just so you aren’t confused by the word ‘pregnant’, I’ll explain how it all works: When you enter the mission here, you are ‘born’. I was born in Cuyapo. Your trainer is your ‘tatay’(papa) and if you have a trainee, they are your ‘anak’ (child). If you are about to train, you are ‘pregnant’, haha. The slang terms we use make it easier to trace your genealogy in the mission. I’ve already met my grandfather in the mission, and my great grandpa in the mission is out there somewhere too.

Yesterday was just a great day. We were both fasting, and there were a lot of great testimonies born in the branch. After church, we finally had a PEC meeting with the Branch President, and we were able to make some good plans to help the work in the branch. It was nice to finally see some progress on the branch end of things, and we are excited to finally have some branch missionaries (Brother Louie will probably be the new BML). After our meeting, we went out and worked with Brother Agustin (the 2nd counselor in the branch). We went out and visited Tatay Francisco Temporal. I  mentioned him before in one of my emails…he used to be the 2nd counselor in the branch way back, and he is currently inactive and has some issues with smoking. We’ve met with him four times now, and until yesterday we didn’t really think he was progressing. He told us before that he would not return to church unless his family was baptized (we’re working on that too). When we brought Bro. Agustin with us, it made such a huge difference. We taught from Mosiah 2:41 about the temporal and spiritual blessing that we receive as we follow the commandments of God, and we all bore our testimonies and extended another invitation for him to return to the church and quit smoking and drinking. The spirit was strong, and we could see tears welling up in this brother’s eyes as Brother Agustin explained that, as a branch, and as brothers in the church, we love him and are eager to help him in his return. It was powerful to see these two brothers in the gospel embrace at the end of the lesson. We are grateful that we were able to work with Brother Agustin. As we walked away from the home of Tatay Francisco, I noticed something incredible. All of the exhaustion and weakness that I had been feeling before as a result of fasting was gone. I felt light on my feet, and I had a lot of energy. I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was a really good feeling and I’m grateful to have experienced it. We’re excited to help this brother come back to church.

We were able to fast right up until eight o’ clock in the evening last night, and then the three of us ate a whole roasted chicken (from Chooks to Go) , 10 servings of rice (lots), ¼ of a watermelon that I kept in the fridge, and 1 liter of sprite. We were pretty hungry. I am actually still pretty full today, and I’ve only eaten a small snack.

That’s my big story for the week. I am doing pretty good, and am healthy (other than the 15 pounds I probably gained last night).

I need to give you all the new mission office address (the one before was wrong) this one is absolutely correct, so it should work if any of you want to send stuff. 

New Mission Office:
Philippines Angeles Mission Office
F. Tañedo Street, Barangay San Nicolas
Tarlac City, Tarlac 2300

Thank you all for your Dear Elders and stuff. They take quite a while to get here sometimes because of the pouch, but I am very grateful for them. I’ll try and reply to them more next week.
I’ll also hopefully have more pictures next week (I didn’t really take any this week).

Also, quick story for dad: We were way far away from our house (4-5 km) and I saw a guy selling fresh watermelons on the side of the road. We talked to him about the church, and gave him a pamphlet. It was really hot outside and I was hungry, and the watermelons started looking really good. So I bought one for about 1.75 and tossed into my backpack despite the protests of my companion. Anyways, I'm proud to say that I walked around for four hours with that thing in my pack, and that the pain I experienced in my back for the next couple of days was well worth it. That watermelon was so good, haha. It kind of reminded me of our hiking trips, where everyone would pack really light, and then all of a sudden somebody would pull out a 6 pound bag of almonds or two kilos of Jujubes that they'd been hauling around for days.


I love you all,
Being a missionary is great.
- Love, Jared.

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