It doesn't get much more maganda than this. :)
Okay...maybe it does, haha.
A typical house (this one was a little bit bigger than most)
We took a shortcut through the cemetery. Here, they put people in concrete tombs because it is too wet to bury people. Sometimes the tombs split open...I've seen pictures on other missionaries cameras of skulls and stuff that fell out of some of the old tombs. Pretty freaky. I didn't see any when we walked through, but I did get a few bad smells that hit me as I passed.
Pictures of my zone and I in our pyramid last week in the riverbed.Bottom row, starting from the left: Elder Stokes, Elder Morris, Elder Olsen, Elder Biggs, Elder Despain, Elder Ontoria. Next up, starting from left: Elder Olila, Elder Espinosa, Me, Brother Nery (Church Service Missionary - he's waiting for his call), Elder Janolgue. Next up, from the left: Sister Rafol, Sister Huddleston, Elder Batoy, Elder Raagas. Two on the top: Sister De Los Santos, Sister Bucais (she is FIlipina, but from Toronto).
Sa aking pinakamagmahal na pamilya (I think that’s correct)
Kumusta po kayo lahat?
Haha I have a new companion! His name is Elder Dela Paz and he is sobrang magaling (he’s really good at what he does). He is from
(in Davao City Mindanao) and is the fourth
missionary in his family. He has six siblings. He is really into music (reggae
especially) and is an amazing guitar player and singer. We are getting along
great and working hard trying to find some new investigators to teach.
Also, my Tagalog is getting a lot better because he doesn’t speak very
much English. We are ALWAYS speaking in Tagalog, which is great. Sobrang
maganda iyan, parang nagiging Filipino ako J
Transfer Day was fun. I got to go to 7-11 and get a Chiao-Pao (pronounced Chow Pow) – it’s like this meaty bun thing with a super tasty sauce (I think it’s a Chinese thing). The slurpee machine wasn’t working, otherwise I would have gotten a big gulp in a limited edition Hobbit cup. (How is the Hobbit by the way? Just kidding…don’t tell me about it, haha). I love the food here, but it is nice to shell out for some Westernized treats once in a while.
They also gave us lunch on transfers – I had an actual sandwich, with actual bread, and actual smuckers jam, and nasty
peanut butter (96%
Saturated Fat, 2.5% peanuts, and 1.5% preservatives). It was good though. They
also had tuna sandwiches there, which were good too. I had to wait a while for
my new companion because he was coming from the Baler zone way on the other
side of the mission. Philippines
The work is going well – it was a little bit slow this week because of transfers. We have a baptism coming up on Feb 26th and I am super pumped for it. It is Sister Marlyn – I might have mentioned her before. She is from the area that I and Elder Janolgue visited before because we were close with all the kids that walked there from school every day. Out of all of the people we contacted there, she was the only one that wanted to hear more from us. Our challenge to her was to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and we invited her to be baptized during part of the second lesson. She accepted the commitment, but didn’t come to church. She went to church last week for the first time, and when we visited her a few days later to follow up, she told us that she had received an answer to her prayers as she attended church, and that she really wants to be baptized now. She wasn’t able to come to church yesterday because she was feeling sick, but she sent her ten year old son and two of his friends to church and they went to primary. She is so excited about the church now, and she has been inviting all of her friends to listen to us and to come to church. We have been able to start teaching a few of her friends, who weren’t interested before and a bunch of them want to set up a day where we preach a ‘sermon’ to the whole neighborhood (about forty people or so). There is so much potential here now. I’m so grateful for the opportunities we have – the Lord truly does prepare people to hear his word.
I also taught some piano lessons the other week for the YW’s new beginnings program. I taught them how to read music and count. Next time I will start some of them out on the piano and see how it goes. It was fun and they learned really fast. I have had a great time playing the ‘organ’ in sacrament meeting – the spirit is always strong during the hymns, even if the people singing (like me) aren’t the most talented singers.
We are really focusing now on finding new people to teach. We have a couple of areas with lots of investigators, but there are many more that we need to do some finding in. There are 52 Barangays (neighborhoods, with about 200-800 people in each one) here, and we are only able to go to about 10-14 of them, because the other ones are so far away or they have terrorist groups in them. There are a few areas that we are only allowed to go to in the daytime because of kidnappings and hold-ups and stuff at night, and I’ve passed through military checkpoints several times, haha. That said, there are still a lot of potential areas that we haven’t been to yet, and I’m hoping we can find some more people to teach in them. We are going to request some bikes so that we can get around a bit more. Sometimes we walk 5-10 kilometers in one day, haha. (Elder Janolgue and I timed ourselves once – we walked from District 8 to Maycaban, about 3 kilometers, in 30 minutes – we were hauling it)
I have been learning a lot about Tagalog lately. I am almost able to comfortably have a conversation with someone. I’ve found as I’m handwriting letters that I’ll sometimes accidently write the Tagalog word instead of the English word, or I’ll reverse the order of the English words by accident. It’s the same when I try to talk to someone in straight English. It’s almost easier to use Tagalog now in a lot of cases. I love speaking a different language, but sometimes I worry that I’m going to lose my English.
I don’t really have a lot of stories this week. I ate chicken blood again – it tasted better this time around. I think the sauce was the reason. Elder Dela Paz really loves buying food from the BBQ stands, so I have a feeling I will be eating a lot of Dugo and chicken intestines haha. He wants me to try eating chicken head, but I can’t bring myself to do it (They boil the head until it is relatively soft, and then you can either eat the whole thing like a meatball, or just pick the skin/eyes off of it, haha). I haven’t had Balut lately, but I will probably eat it again soon to get some respect from the members, haha.
I’ve been thinking about something foodwise that I could write that would make Dad jealous, because he always is giving me visuals of the delicious meals that Mom cooks, haha. I finally figured out what I could use. Mangoes. They are SO GOOD here. Our landlady gave us a bunch of fresh ones the other day, and I swear, they are the same kind of fruit that Lehi ate off of the Tree of Life. I like to just peel them and eat them like an apple. You can buy two kilos of mangoes here for about 1.25. Delicious. Whenever I am craving food from home, I just pop a mango or two and remember that I can only get them like this here, haha.
The swelling in my face is gone…I don’t really know what caused it, but it only lasted a day. I’m glad it’s gone…the members would just look at me and then laugh. It was hilarious. I will definitely continue to take my vitamins. I had a cold the other day and I got rid of it in about two days with oregano oil and vit C.
I am so happy to be here. I love my new companion, and I’m excited for the coming week and for the work we’ll do. Also I got the package you sent…I have to wait to open it though (we’re still in Paniqui). Thank you so much!
I love you guys,