Thursday, January 3, 2013

Week 8 Philippines Christmas Season


 Brother Rey and one of of his kids (in his house)

 One of the games (build your own Christmas tree). From the Christmas Conference last week. 
                                              Me and Elder Janolgue (he was the tree for our zone)
 Snow! It wasn't really snow though. 
 Mga Pogi (but not really). I'll tell you about my interesting haircut in the letter. 
Three Generations. Me, my Tatay (Father - what trainees call their trainers) and my Lolo (Grandpa - the missionary that trained my trainer).

Throwing snow (Elder Biggs, my Zone Leader from England, is the subject of the picture)


 Package! Yes, I got it! I was so excited. I will write more in the email. 

 Corn, as far as the eye can see. 

 Some people we OYMed in a field. Super nice...I forget their names though. We will probably visit them again soon. 

 Kid on a haystack. They were doing tricks on it, but they got shy when I tried to film them tumbling. 

 I am on the bottom of a bridge in this picture. We got stuck in one of the Bukids (we couldn't find a way to cross the canal) so we ended up climbing up this small bridge to get out. 


 Branch Christmas Party!

                                                           The Cuyapo Branch!

 Dinner at the Oliveros home. The vegetable is called Malunggay, and is apparently one of the healthiest things on earth, you eat it by pulling it apart with your hands and scraping the mush inside out with your teeth.

 There was also a big catfish thing which tasted delicious. There was a lot of salty spice-type stuff inside of it that tasted good, and when I asked sister Oliveros what it was, she told me, "There aren't any spices...I think those are it's eggs." Oh. I still ate them though, haha. 

You have to see the fish close up. 






Dear Family,

It’s been a good Christmas week. I know that it isn’t actually Christmas, but for me, it has already happened, haha. We had the Christmas conference on Wednesday for the West Side of the mission, and it was great. We started out by playing some Christmas games, and then went outside and threw fake snow around for a while (Sister Martino wanted us to have a white Christmas). Then we had lunch – Chicken and rice (big surprise there, haha) – and it was delicious. We then had workshops from both the AP’s and President and Sister Martino, which were fantastic, and we ended the whole thing with President Martino reading us a Christmas Story. I can honestly say it was one of the best Christmases I've ever had. As we talked about the Savior and the real meaning of Christmas, the spirit was really strong and there may have even been some tears (from other people of course). I was thinking a lot about all of you back home and I want you to know that I love you.

So I did what was probably the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life this week – we went and got haircuts. The thing about getting a haircut here in the Philippines is, you can either go to a nice salon, and have a bakla (gay guy – they dress like women here, and are VERY flamboyant and unashamed to show that they are gay, to put it appropriately) do a really good job with your hair, or go to a sketchy barber shop in the marketplace and pay 30 pesos to sit in a chair full of hair clippings and have some guy with old, rusty scissors give you a 5 minute haircut (they are really efficient) while you stare at the floor and try to avoid the saucy Avril Lavigne posters on the walls. Of course, we chose the market, haha.  The haircut I got was atrocious (we went to the discount place…it was only 25 pesos). It looked like a mushroom cut, and I couldn't stand to look at myself. I thought…”If I could just trim the sides a little bit, it would look alright.” So I did, and I didn't think it looked too bad, until Elder Janolgue came out of the shower and saw me standing there with the scissors in my hand. He yelled, “Elder! Ano ang nayari sa buhok mo?! (What happened to your hair).” And yeah…I looked again and it was pretty bad.
So, if you wondering why I look so pangit (ugly) in these last pictures, that is why, haha.
Anyways, now that I explained that…

This week has been pretty busy with Christmas things, and as a result the work has been difficult. We have a lot of investigators members that are away on vacation or always at Christmas Parties. The streets are literally empty in a lot of places because everyone is inside celebrating. You were right…the Philippines is the happiest place on earth for Christmas. We were talking with some of our families that we teach, and we asked a few of them if they were excited for Christmas. They responded that, yes, they were very excited. We then asked them what their plans were for Christmas Dinner, and they told us, “Wala na.” (None). A lot of them can’t even afford to buy meat for a small Christmas dinner, but they are all so excited for Christmas and to be able to celebrate. We have been teaching a lot of Christmas messages, and I was actually able to give a talk on Sunday about Christmas, and it’s hit me that these people seem to know more about why Christmas is important than anyone else I’ve ever met.
One another exciting note... (HI I (CAMILLA) AM INTERJECTING HERE. JARED DID NOT WANT ME TO PUBLISH  THE NEXT PART OF  HIS LETTER ABOUT WHAT HE DID FOR OTHERS BUT I WANT TO SAY THAT FOR HIS CHRISTMAS PRESENT FROM US AND SOME DONATIONS FROM FAMILY HE ASKED FOR MONEY TO SECRET SANTA 10 FAMILIES AND SO HE GAVE US IN DETAILS WHAT HE AND HIS COMPANION DID DO. THE NEXT WEEK BLOG ARE SOME PICTURES OF HIS SECRET SANTAINGS!) NEEDLESS TO SAY 10 FAMILIES HAD A NICE CHRISTMAS :)

We also had the long-discussed branch Christmas party this week. Elder Janolgue and I ate before we went, which was a bad idea, because as soon as we got there the members all wanted us to try the different dishes that they brought. We told them we weren't hungry, and told them we’d try their food later, but they brought us huge plates and literally would not let us abstain from eating. I got a huge dirt clod in my first bite of rice (it wasn’t cleaned very well), and it kind of ruined the rest of the plate for me, haha. There were quite a few people that came out (people that I didn't even know were in the Branch) and a few of them brought non-member friends that we got to know. There were probably 90 people there at one point, which would be great to have in sacrament meeting too – we usually have around 40 or 50. (Maybe if every sacrament meeting was a potluck, all the members would actually show up, haha).  Everyone had a good time…there was a lot of games, and a few of the relief society sisters put on a hip-hop dancing routine for everyone which was…unique. The stake president also came and shared a message with everyone, which was good. Overall, a success as far as Christmas parties go. On a side-note, it’s nice to be able to have Sunday school again, haha.

We didn’t have a lot of lessons this week because most of our investigators weren’t around and the people on the streets were all too busy partying and doing Christmas things to listen to us. We did teach the Oliveros family again on Saturday. Brother Oliveros is doing so good – he is working really hard on overcoming his addiction to cigarettes, and he has been progressing every day with that. He went three whole days without smoking this week! We gave him a baptismal date in January. I am excited to be one of the missionaries that gets to help him reach that goal and get started on the next goal, which is the temple. They are such an amazing family and I look up to Brother Oliveros for his strength and desire to do what is right. They also wanted me to send you some pictures of the lunch they fed us, haha.

I got your package this week! I was thinking about waiting until Christmas to open it…but I couldn’t do it. I have already given all of the candy away to the kids here, and they were so happy to get it. I had to be careful how much I handed out, because there would be huge swarms of angry kids if someone got two and others only got one, haha. I saved all of the chocolate in our fridge (it will melt in a couple of seconds if it isn’t in the fridge) and I gave some to our landlord and his wife (they are so so nice) and a couple of almond joys to out washing lady (she washes our clothes). It was really funny, because our washing lady is 76-77ish and she only has a few teeth, but when I asked her if she wanted some chocolate, her eyes lit up and she quickly took a few almond joys. She is so funny, and she and Elder Janolgue are always scaring each other and playing practical jokes. She is a member, and really active in the branch and we teach two of her granddaughters who are less active.

Anyways, thank you all so much for the package and for the letters and stuff inside. Elder Janolgue was happy about the beef jerky (he loves it) so I let him eat most of it. I’ve been enjoying the healthy snacks a lot, and have been rationing them out daily. I’ve probably even gained some weight from eating something other than rice, haha.


I love you all, thank you so much for the package and for all of your love.
Love, Jared.


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