Hiking pictures. There are 15 scenes set up along the bottom of the trail from the life of Jesus Christ.
I have indeed been transferred! I am now in Pindangan (peen-dahng-ahn), which is basically just a 4 or 5 km stretch of road through the jungle with a bunch of huts and farmers. I love it, haha. There is a branch here with a gorgeous chapel and about 80 weekly attendance. The members here are strong, but there are also a lot of less actives...about 300 or so. My new companion is Elder Gernale, from the Bicol area (the missionary I trained in my second area is from Bicol too). He is really tall and quiet, but we have a lot in common so it's been good. He's a programmer/software designer. Pretty smart guy.
Our house is right across the street from the chapel, and the branch president is our next door neighbor. Pretty great setup.
I am also still a District Leader, but my district is only 4 elders now so it isn't too much to handle. I like small districts the best.
I am really happy to be back in the bukid, although I miss our great investigators from the city. They are doing well though, according to my last companion. The people here in Pindangan all speak Illocano, just like the people in my first area, so I'm excited to learn more of that language. I'm not sure if I'm exciting about leaving behind the Pampangan food (Angeles is the culinary center of the Philippines...) but the Illocanos eat a lot of fresh food and veggies (and bagoong [fermented fish paste]) which will probably help out my health situation a lot. They also love soup...everything they make has sauce or broth or something watery. It's good stuff. Yesterday the members cooked this dish with eggplant, string beans, okra, and coconut milk. So good. I'm also developing a fondness for Illocano 'salad'...sour green mango, tomatoes, shrimp paste, and weird stringy sprout things. Delicious.
Aside from the tasty food, there is a lot of potential here. The hard part is that there aren't a lot of people in this area, (kind of like a Magrath situation, but where everyone else is Catholic) so we've made plans to find part-member families and less actives so we can see some more success. We have three baptisms coming up this month though... year old girls. I guess their parents are less active but a couple of them have older sisters who are active. I was a little bit worried about the fact that they come from inactive families and wondering about whether we should still baptize them, so yesterday we told them that we would be moving their baptisms to the end of the month just to make sure they would be ready. I was so shocked when they started crying! One of them even got angry with me and said that she's been wanting to be baptized for so long and is tired of waiting. We weren't quite sure how to react at first, but we both felt that they would still be able to be baptized and that we didn't need to extend. It was a good lesson to me that faith really isn't measured by how old you are or how well you know the baptismal interview questions. It's measured by desire. I'm sure it will be a great baptism.
We had another cool experience finding this week. We had some time before an appointment so we decided to go and tract. We felt inspired to walk down this dirt road that led to the forest. We walked a little ways and didn't really see anything, but as we were about to turn back we saw a house off in the distance. We tao po-ed it and a woman came out. After talking to her for a minute, she told us that she is a member, and had moved from the city after separating with her husband. Her name is Eva and she's been having a lot of trials in her life lately, especially with her three kids, two of whom are teenagers. We shared a quick message with her and faith and trials and then she asked to come back and teach her three kids, who haven't been baptized yet. We have a return appointment with them on Tuesday. It was simple, but I really felt that we had been guided there to help this sister, and to also find some potential investigators.
That's about all for this week. I'm sure there will be a lot of new adventures this week...probably some dog stories, haha. There are tons of dogs here.