Monday, December 26, 2016

26 December 2016

Well, this week was really, really short. I'm still not trunky, believe it or not. We largely spent the week running around, trying to find new investigators. I just packed up most of my stuff, and I'll be home tomorrow. Let's see if there are any stories from the week...

Monday and Tuesday nights, we tried to go caroling, but everyone showed up far too late. That was pretty funny. We also found a bunch of new investigators on Wednesday! 

Thursday, we met with a less-active returned missionary. That was interesting. 

Friday, we had our Christmas party. That was as entertaining, if not actually Christmasy, as always. 

Saturday, we had our Christmas missionary devotional. All of us went down to the mission home, and the mission president showed us a couple videos, fed us lunch, and gave a great talk on obedience and the Christmas spirit. Funny story- one of the American elders was pretty sick at the time. I just got the news- he's in the hospital with a nasty bladder infection. That has to be thrilling. 

Finally came Sunday. Christmas. The last one on the mission. It went by pretty quick. We had 8 o clock church, then went back and had a snack, before 3 consecutive meal appointments. At the first one, they fed us chicken biryani, and we called home from there. At the second, with our WML, he gave us lots of sweets and tried to feed us more chicken biryani. At the third, Neil, he gave us bacon! And yes, more chicken biryani. You can't forget the chicken biryani. 

Christmas itself is interesting in Bangalore. You don't see too many decorations outside, but people will decorate the inside of their homes. Also, because under 10% of the population is Christian and the temperature was still in the 80s, it really just looks like a normal day. 

I'm now mostly packed, and will move out to the mission office for my trunky training shortly. See ya for the last time!

Monday, December 19, 2016

19 December 2016

We had a fairly slow week- not too much in the interesting department. The best story was actually last Monday night! We had a set appointment over near our bishop's house, one of his son's friends. The problem was that we didn't really know how to get there. The usual way in India is to stop an auto, tell him the area name, go there, and call a member. We did that. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy out, and autos have open sides. Oh, and the ride was far longer and more expensive than we thought. Anyway, we got out at what we thought was the right spot, still cold, wet, and raining. We called our bishop, and asked how to get to his house from there. It turned out that we'd gotten down at a spot that was named something similar, and only about a mile off. Of course, the bishop didn't actually know where we were, so we had to wander around asking strangers on the street directions for a while before we figured that out, but hey; we're missionaries, and that is part of the job description. Eventually, after walking about two miles (it was still raining, by the way, and neither of us had an umbrella), we got to the bishop's house. The only problem was that he wasn't there, and neither was the investigator who said that he'd be there just that morning. So, we waited. The bishop's very nice wife let us in. Did I mention that our bishop just returned from a trip to America? His family gave us all sorts of amazing American candy. In the end, the bishop and investigator never showed up because of the rain. But hey, I'd do a lot more to get a Baby Ruth again.

Tuesday was equally uneventful, except for yet another fun incident. We were trying to find a member's home somewhere called Pillana gardens. On arrival in the area, we looked in vain until we tried asking people about the landmark. They told us it was across the railroad tracks and beyond the wall. So, we went there. I kid you not, the first thing we noticed was a ton of Muslims everywhere. They are very noticeable, and this was apparently home to a lot of them. We started cautiously looking around anyway, and that's when the party started. Within half an hour of us being there, they started having some huge celebration, I still don't know why. They jam-packed the main road to get out. Now, I haven't had too much luck with big crowds of religiously excited people (remember the Coimbatore incident?), so we tried to find a back way out- but couldn't. In the end, we just caught an auto and evacuated. Nothing too exciting happened, thankfully. 

Wednesday was just plain uneventful, as was Thursday. We had a couple of appointments, but that was it. Friday, we had zone training in the morning, then the plan was to go to a member's wedding, where they'd give us lunch. For some reason unknown to anyone, we instead decided to grab lunch elsewhere, then go to the wedding. Then, we headed back to our area, and tried to go to a set appointment with a returned missionary. You'd think that a returned missionary of all people would know better than to bunk appointments. You'd think. Nope! Then at night, we tried to visit an investigator named Babitha. We had to walk around forever trying to find her house while she ignored our calls. Eventually, we found it- only to learn that she'd bunked. We'd just set the appointment that afternoon when we saw her at the wedding! After walking all the way back out of that area, she finally called us back. Turned out she had to take her grandmother to the hospital. Oh well.

Saturday, we managed to meet with some new investigators. Nothing too thrilling, though. We did have a puzzle- both of us had written "James" in our planners, but neither of remembered who James was! That mystery is still unsolved, as the number listed as "James" in our phone won't answer our calls. 

Sunday, we had church, then went out caroling with the ward. That was fun!

Well, that's our week. Nothing too crazy happened, but we had plenty of fun stories. 8 days to go!

Monday, December 12, 2016

12 December 2016

Well, I'm back in Bangalore. Things are surprisingly similar, just flipped. Last time, after 3 weeks, I was leading the area with no idea of where anything was. Now, my companion, Elder Magnusson, is leading the area, with no idea of where anything is. He's only been here one transfer, where he went on a ton of exchanges and had a lazy companion who didn't show him much. So, we largely spent the week finding new investigators and members' homes.

Tuesday was the transfer. I flew over from Visak fairly uneventfully, and got dropped off at the Lingarajapuram apartment. As soon as I got there, I learned the power was out, so I had to haul my luggage up 6 flights of stairs. That was fun. Right after that, we needed to go to the mission office to pick up some stuff. There, I got to meet up with a lot of old companions and zonemates, including the unforgettable Elders Patten and Jalagam. They were all going home, along with a ton of other elders that I knew. We had one funny moment- Elder Conrad had received a package from home that had something in it. After looking at it, we decided it must be either dog treats or beef jerky, but we weren't sure which. Even after we all ate some, we still weren't sure. I think it was dog treats, but it could have just been cheap jerky. Elder Halvorsen loved them anyway, and ate half a bag! After that, we did lots of finding members' homes, without much success. 

On Wednesday, we did some administrative work- printing a member list, media referrals, and other stuff. Not much happened, but we did do more finding!

Thursday, we tried to have weekly planning, but we didn't quite finish. Then, we tried to make a map of the area, and ran into the usual headaches associated with that. At night, we met with a member, Rajesh Bogati. That was surprisingly fun! On the way back, we met with another, too.

Friday, we had district meeting in the morning. It was a relief to have someone else teach- I'm not the district leader anymore! Then, we had interviews with the mission president. That went pretty quick for me- "How are you doing? Any issues? See you for your exit interview in two weeks!" We met with two less-actives later, Moses and Aaron, from the Congo. Our ward seems to have tons of Africans in it, by the way. Finally, we did more finding! 

Saturday, we finished up our weekly planning, met with an RM (the former Elder Sampson), who showed us the area a bit, and had our first lesson with an investigator all week! Then, we had correlation meeting.

Sunday was interesting. Our church meeting was inverted- sacrament meeting at the end of the block, for some reason. After church, we spent a lot of the rest of the day in various meetings and ITLing on the streets. The highlight was meeting with a part-member family and sharing the Light the World initiative with them. 

That was our week- lots of finding! The 15-day countdown has begun- I'll be home on the 27th. Join me next week as I battle trunkiness and invent a compass to find investigators. See ya!

Monday, December 5, 2016

5 December 2016

Well, I don't have a lot of time, but I do have a LOT of news. Let's see how much I can cover:

Tuesday, we had a standard district meeting and correlation. Nothing thrilling.

Wednesday, we met with Pavani, who was on date for Sunday. She is still doing well! Then, we went down to Madhurawada and refound a couple families we hadn't met with in a month!

Thursday, we had a huge service project in the morning. It was supposed to start at 8, and finish at 1. No, it started at 9:30, and we didn't start proselyting until 6. For that, we went to an old folk's home. The warning we got didn't help- "Don't hesitate when you see their faces, just smile and make them smile." Cheering, right? Fortunately, we only had a couple of weird moments. For the service, we cleaned everything. I first weeded a flowerbed, then cleaned ceiling fans, but other elders mopped, painted, etc. There was a lot to do! At night, we managed to meet with a recent convert family, but that was it. 

Friday was a lot more exciting. We split up with the zone leaders in the morning to do two interviews in two different places at once. Pavani, our investigator, passed her interview! Then, we went out to a pastor. We didn't know he was one at the time, but we learned fairly quickly. He loved to debate everything. We had to explain everything over his frequent interruptions. In the end, we committed him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He told us he'd read it in just 3 days. Good luck!

Saturday was the fun one. The mission president called in the morning, and told us that he was coming in 30 minutes. After half an hour of frenzied cleaning, he arrived, gave us the transfer news, and dropped off a new elder, Elder Cundick. I am going to Bangalore for my last 3 weeks, and am leaving tomorrow morning. My companion will be Elder Magnusson, from Georgia. Anyway, we met with Pavani again, then a couple of new investigators.

Sunday was mostly just thrilling because Pavani got baptized! That is big news. She's been investigating for over a year! That was about all that happened, though.

The biggest news for me was hearing that my return date is December 27. I'll see you then. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

28 November, 2016

This week was pretty nuts! And way too fast. Today is my 50 day mark, even! To make things even better, we had a ton of success, and a really good week. Here's how it broke down:

Tuesday, we had a lot of really good plans for after district meeting...which didn't end up happening. The zone leaders had two people who they needed interviewed for baptism afterwards; the first was late, and we had to go to the second's house. Fortunately, in the interim, we met a really great new investigator, Jesus Ramgee. It's pronounced like Yesoos, here. He is incredibly interested, and comes from a Christian family that he introduced to us later in the week! 

Wednesday was busy. We met with Jhansi, our on-date baptismal candidate, in the morning, then Aruna before lunch. We even made it out to Priscilla, another investigator, before we had another interview with the zone leaders. Fortunately, that was the last one of the week. 

Thursday, we met with Jhansi again. She is ready to go! We later met with Pavani, an eternal investigator, then a recent convert family. Nothing too thrilling. 

Friday, we did our weekly planning in the morning. It was the least exciting day. Elder Daniel was sick and couldn't really walk, so we ended up staying in. 

We made up for that on Saturday by going on splits. I went down to Madhurawada, with a member named Ravi. We met with a couple of families, but didn't have too much luck. The funniest part was when we were just splitting up. Ravi said he wouldn't be available in the evening, so I called a different member. While I was still on the phone, Elder Daniel convinced Ravi to stay the whole night. We went down to Madhurawada, and even taught a lesson before we got everything figured out and remembered about the member I'd just called! We did end up going with him to Boby, another investigator, who introduced his brother to us. While we were busy in Madhurawada, Elder Daniel was even busier in Arilova. They met with a ton of people, and met Jesus Ramgee's family! 

Sunday was relatively slow. After church, all of our appointments bunked, so we tried to visit a less-active family, the Rekha's. They didn't have a brother there, but as we were on our way out, we met a new family, the Anulga's! They invited us over to pray at their house, and asked us to come back to teach! 

Also, we just had a baptism this morning! Jhansi was baptized by our branch mission leader, Bro. Chinna. My companion has all the pictures, but I'll send them when I get a chance. 

Well, that was our week. This week is the last one of the transfer; next transfer is my last. I'm still not sure when I'm going home; the mission president still hasn't emailed. See ya!

Monday, November 21, 2016

21 November, 2016

Our week went fast! We had some thoroughly exciting days, and some even more dull ones. Tuesday was a dull day. We had district meeting in the morning, then prepared for the fireside we were having later.

Wednesday, in contrast, was thrilling. We visited Jhansi again in the morning, and taught her, before going on an exchange! I went with Abraham, one of the YSAs in our branch. We went out to Arilova, did a bunch of finding, and taught a bunch of lessons. Elder Daniel went with another member to Madhurawada, and did even more. By the end of the day, we got 8 lessons! We are definitely going to do that again sometime. 

Thursday, we met with Jhansi again, and did more fireside planning with our branch mission leader. We did some weekly planning, then went out to Arilova again. We didn't have too many lessons then. 

Friday, we met with Jhansi yet again in the morning. She is preparing for baptism! We managed to meet with a new family again, Priscilla and Ramesh, but that was about all of the news. 

Saturday was the fireside! We had a Powerpoint presentation we were going to give, but learned that we would need to give it on a TV, not a projector, like we had planned. So, we went to a net shop to try and convert it to pictures instead of powerpoint. That was a disaster. Normally, it would be a simple matter of taking screenshots and pasting into Paint. Not at this shop! There were nightmarish holdups with connecting my USB drive, with taking screentshots, even with pasting. And in the end, something went wrong anyway and it wouldn't show up on the TV. Blah. The fireside went well anyway. We trained all the branch missionaries (who showed up) how to teach the Restoration, and played some  games.

Sunday was exciting, mostly in the morning. We met up with Aruna, an old investigator, and had a very interesting conversation with her neighbor. Pavani is on date...again. We'll see if she makes it this time. We had church as usual, and met with Ramesh and Priscilla again. 

Well, that was our week. Nothing too thrilling, but it was a week. See ya!

Monday, November 14, 2016

14 Nov. 2016

Our week was weird! Lots of crazy things happened. Remember Diwali, from 3 weeks ago? It still hasn't died down all the way. There are still fireworks going off every night! The other bit of exciting news is that Rajahmundry is becoming a stake on Dec. 17th! When I first came to India, there was only one stake. There's going to be 3 by the time I leave!

The biggest news about the work is Jhansi. I'm going to ditch chronological order on this email to talk about her. She was on date for this Sunday, but complications set in. We were supposed to meet with her on Monday night, but she bunked. We were going to visit her Tuesday, but she bunked again. Wednesday morning, she was finally available. We went over the baptismal interview questions then, and again on Thursday morning, and she was interviewed on Friday morning. That was a bust. Apparently, she still somehow managed to forget everything, and I mean everything. We'll take a few weeks to go over everything for the third time, but we can only hope...She wants to be baptized, but has some mental issues. 

Returning to chronological, Tuesday was good. A member family showed us a new investigator family! Then, we had another member appointment, and then correlation meeting. 

Wednesday was an adventure. We had a ton of shocks, forget surprises. Late Tuesday night, we got a notice from the APs that I thought was a joke: the PM of India had demonetized all 500 and 1000 rupee bills. That was a surprise! From that moment on, you couldn't spend them. Banks would exchange them for the new currency series...starting in 3 days so they could stock up on it. All the banks and ATMs were closed for a couple of days, presumably to prevent rushes. That was a problem for the missionaries, who all rely on cash. I still haven't managed to change out my money; all the banks are still packed. I guess that's what happens when everyone in India simultaneously wants to go there. The move was apparently to target "black money", drug dealers and counterfeiters with big stocks of cash and no legal way to have earned it. All the banks are requiring a copy of a valid ID to exchange money to help track how much cash everyone has. 

That was only 1/3 of the story for Wednesday. Another 1/3 was the auto strike. Those are fairly essential here, so pretty much all public transportation in the city ground to a halt. The police had seized a ton of autos the day before for breaking some law or another, and the auto drivers were striking until their demand for halted police action was met. We found all that out the hard way. We did manage to get out to Arilova to meet with Jhansi with fairly few difficulties. Catching an auto was easy, but halfway through the ride, a crazy guy jumped into the auto, grabbed the keys, announced the strike, and jumped back out. Fortunately, keys are pretty optional for autos, so we got there anyway. (in case you are wondering, this is an auto).

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Anyway, getting back from Arilova was the fun part. The CITU, which is some sort of communist union, was leading the strike. That much was obvious; all of the people out in the streets who were stopping all the autos were wearing CITU stickers. We had quite a few misadventures trying to catch an auto before having to walk about a mile down the road past the strikers. All the buses were jam-packed with students hanging out the doors, so they weren't an option either. Because all of our normal areas were out of reach, we decided to go super far off- all the way to Bheemili, an hour by bus. We had to wait until afternoon, but eventually we got out. There, we finally met with an investigator who we'd been trying for nearly a month: Jayababu. That was the final 1/3 of the news, and it was a big third. He lives in a hostel for his school, and when we went there, other students trickled in: 11 of them by the end! And they all were interested, and wanted to meet with us again. That's right, we found probably the only Christian hostel in all of Visak.

Thursday was less eventful. We had a bunch of appointments in the morning, and didn't manage to have weekly planning. Instead, we went out past Madhurawada, and met with a member family who'd invited us to their new home. They wanted us to pray over each room! That night, we met with a bunch of members, and got a new referral family that we contacted!

Friday was zone conference, and Elder Campbell's birthday. His companion privately asked us to get him a cake to celebrate, but Elder Campbell had asked us not to get him a cake in advance because he knew his companion would ask. So instead, we did this:

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It's really too bad that we couldn't find a bakery that would frost a pineapple, but you can believe we tried. President Mortensen showed us the new Christmas initiative the church is starting, and we talked a lot about finding families.That night, we managed to find the Ravi family's house! That was good; we'd been looking for it for forever.

Saturday was weird. We did our weekly planning in the morning, then wanted to go out to Bheemili again. We'd just found a dozen new investigators there, so we were sure that at least one would be available. Luckily, we called ahead, because it turned out that none of them were; it was the college holidays and they'd all gone home. Then we tried to go to Madhurawada. There was always someone available there...usually. Not this Saturday, though. Instead, we tried Arilova. There's absolutely always someone there, right? Nope. All the members were at a party the branch president's wife was throwing, so we couldn't take anyone to our investigators, who were also unavailable. Eventually, we manage to meet with one member family who had stayed home, but that was it. Also, I stood in line at an ATM for 45 minutes to pull out some money. I had plenty and to spare, but it was all in the denominations that had just been deemed worthless.

Sunday was also funky. We ended up splitting in the morning; the zone leaders had a sticky situation over in Gajuwaka to sort out, but also needed to be at their own church. Eventually, I met up with Elder Daniel again, and we went to our church. That night was wacky for lessons, too. 

Overall, it was a good week! Plenty of new investigators, and plenty of surprises. I still don't have news on when I'm going home, but it should be soonish. Today is my 22 month mark! See ya!

Monday, November 7, 2016

7 Nov. 2016

We had a lot happen this week, but I put the wrong planner in my bag! So, this will probably be a really short email. But, hopefully, I'll remember the important stuff. Here goes!

The Ravi family, some of our most progressing investigators, are being...strange. Okay, mostly just that we can't find their house. They live in an area with a strange name that sounds just like another area that's way far off. We meet at their shop, but they want us to come to their house that they showed us once a month and a half ago. We've been running around trying to find their address, but without much luck. We'll keep trying!

On Friday, we had a big zone training, where it was announced that next Friday, we'll go to Rajahmundry for an even bigger zone conference! That'll be the first time that I've been in Rajahmundry since I left their last November. Also, the two new Americans in the zone also had some fun. One of them, Elder Richards, had his family send candy to him while he was in the MTC. They did, but it arrived after he left. He then visa-waited in Seattle for 3 months before just coming here last week, and only just got the package, which he generously shared with all of us. I got a 3-month-old Butterfinger, and it was amazing. In the training, the new focus on teaching and finding families. Also, we got new Christmas proselyting cards to hand out.

The weather is finally starting to get nice and cool! At least morning and night. It'll still got 80-90 in the middle of the day pretty easy. 

Diwali has continued, too. People have been setting off fireworks all the time since last week. 

We didn't have too many memorable experiences...or at least I can't remember them. Overall, it was a good week! We'll see whether or not I go home early...up to the mission president. See Ya!

Monday, October 31, 2016

31 Oct. 2016

We had quite the week! Plenty of adventures...small ones at least.

Tuesday was not very eventful. We did not have district meeting, because of transfers. Speaking of those, both Elder Daniel and I are staying in Visak 3rd. We are the only companionship in the zone that didn't change, though. All others had a missionary cycle through. One of those, oddly enough, was my old companion from Hyderabad, Elder Campbell: the only other missionary from Indiana I've met. He is in our apartment, even. Anyway, not much happened on Tuesday. Elder Harris went home, and we dropped his companion off with some other elders. 

Wednesday was pretty crazy. We met with Jhansi in the morning, and shared a lesson, then with Aruna later. We went clear out to Madhurawada, and found a couple of lessons there, as well as a big relief. I mentioned the Ravi family last week- they had their auto stolen. As it turns out, their auto wasn't stolen, just the battery. We set up for them to take a member to church in their auto, and called it a day.

Thursday was weekly planning, before a lot of drama in Arilova. We had a couple of lessons there. 

The rest of the week was fairly uneventful, up until Diwali on Sunday. That was pretty spectacular! We were locked down, which means not leaving the apartment, so we had plenty of time to watch the fireworks. 

Sorry, I'm really short on time right now, but I'll see ya!

Monday, October 24, 2016

24 Oct. 2016

Well, I don't really have a surprise for you. But, we had plenty. By plenty, I mean a lot. Everything from a shocking new investigator (sort of) to an unexpected piano, this week was fairly crazy. Here's how it broke down:

Tuesday, we had district meeting in the morning, then Elder Daniel had another checkup on his eyes. Then, we had correlation meeting, where the topic of a surprise new investigator came up: Sister Ramya. Actually, she's not new, and we aren't even teaching her. She is mentally handicapped and lives in our branch area, but the sister missionaries are teaching. I knew next to nothing about her, just that the sisters were supposed to be teaching. Turns out, the branch was planning on baptizing her that Sunday, and wanted an urgent status report. Surprise! We were pretty shocked, considering that they hadn't asked about her ever before. After the meeting, I spent half an hour on the phone, calling the sister missionaries, the mission president (he had interviewed her because of her handicap, and found her capable enough to be baptized, but I was hearing some weird things about that interview), and just about everyone else on the planet. That night, I talked with the zone leaders, who talked to the APs, and we worked out a tentative plan: to get the branch president to interview her father, and see if Ramya can be baptized, then move on from there. 

After that craziness, things kept moving on Wednesday. We met with Jhansi, an investigator, in the morning, and she accepted a baptismal date! Later, we went out to Madhurawada, a far area, and thought we'd have appointments. Just Saturday, we'd found 6 new investigators there...but none were available. Surprise! We did manage to meet with a less-active member with an interesting story (a ceiling fan decided it wanted to be a ground fan while she was sleeping under it. Surprise for her!) , but that was it. After we came back, we serendipitously managed to arrange for the branch president, Sister Ramya, and her father to all be at the church at the same time, and had an interview. We are now pretty sure she is accountable enough to be baptized. 

On Thursday, we had weekly planning in the morning, and went out. We met with Aruna, one of our progressing investigators, but struggled to find appointments for the rest of the day.  At night, we managed to meet Sister Ramya at her home with the sister missionaries to try to find out what she knows about the gospel, and if she needs to be taught. Turned out, the sister missionaries, her family, and everyone else had not taught her at all, and she knew nothing. Surprise again! We started teaching, and laid the burden at her parents' feet. 

Friday, we met with Jhansi again. She is still doing well! Then, things fell through. We had an appointment with a recent convert that we had just set that morning that bunked, even. We ended up giving up on that area and going back to Madhurawada, which, again, did not end well. We talked with a couple investigators, but none were available for lessons. At night, we did meet with a member, though. 

Saturday was the fun one. We had mission president interviews! Surprise! Okay, we actually knew about that one. Those took quite a while, though, up until 4. Right after that, we headed out to Madhurawada again to meet up with a member to take to Bheemili, which is an hour off. We were a little late, so the member had decided to start washing clothes...which took another half hour. Finally, we got moving...only to learn that there was no transportation. All the buses and autos were jam-packed. Rush hour, eat your heart out. Eventually, we had to give up and travel back to the church, where the sister missionaries had invited us to watch their baptism. 

Sunday was the surprising day...again. We called all of our investigators and invited them to church in the morning. Most said they'd come. None did, except Jhansi. That was a surprise, because we thought she'd attend the first branch meeting like she usually does because of her work schedule. We called the Ravi family, who had promised they'd come, afterwards, and learned why they hadn't: their auto got stolen. Considering that he is an auto driver for work, that is a big problem for them. After church, the branch had a massive baptismal service. They had 6 primary children who all turned 8 about the same time, and all got baptized at once. 

Well, that's about all the news for the week. I can't believe I'm missing Halloween...again! Diwali is coming up next week, and should be pretty spectacular. Transfer calls will be tonight, and we'll see what happens. See ya!

Monday, October 17, 2016

17 October 2016

This week was nuts! We had a lot of work, and a lot of blessings. Here's how it broke down:

Tuesday was long. We had district meeting in the morning, with a new type of training plan. Pres. Mortensen is trying a new thing with the training plans. That ordinarily wouldn't be a problem, but he only got it to us late Sunday night. That meant we only printed it Monday while emailing, and only started preparing Tuesday morning. It was very impromptu, but went okay. Right after that, we had lunch, and visited a hospital. Elder Daniel's eyes have been acting up, and it turned out he has a very exciting problem. He​ ​ got a viral infection that was bad enough that he got a secondary bacterial infection on top of that. It was so bad that the doctors gave him 3 types of eyedrops and two types of pills. Right after that, we had correlation meeting with the branch council. Finally, after that we could have one appointment with a recent convert family.

We had an exchange on Wednesday. I went with Elder Harris, one of our zone leaders, to his area. It was a very, very long day. They had no appointments, just finding all day long! Fortunately, things were pretty fun anyway. We went all over their area, looking for members. We found quite a few, and had a bunch of adventures. The best one was when we were walking near the beach, and got picked up by a random guy. He was a submarine technician who wanted to help us out, and was pretty wealthy. Having a car in India is sort of a status symbol, and he had a nice car. Anyway, he picked us up off the side of the road and helped us find the next person we were looking for. Of course, we talked with him a lot, and had some interesting conversation. By the time we left, he had warned us to go home and stop wasting our youth, because "you can't change this #$%^ing world anyway." He was pretty funny, but also very fatalistic. When we found the place we were looking for, it was actually a compound with a couple of buildings in it. As we asked at a one of them, a very angry guy came out and told us to leave immediately, reason unspecified. He all-but attacked us! That night, we visited a very nice family that we had found earlier, and had a great lesson with them.

Thursday was interesting. We had planning in the morning, then tried to meet with some investigators at the church. Four of them had told us they would show up- none of them did. Fortunately, we were able to teach an investigator at night, then go out to Madhurawada, a really far area, to meet a member.

Friday was another long one. We had a zone calling activity in the morning, where the zone got together and called all of the potential investigators in our phones. That took a long time. Afterward, we had to go to the hospital for a follow-up on Elder Daniel's eyes, which still haven't fallen out yet. At night, we only had time for one lesson, with a less-active family.

Saturday was the best day we've had in a really long time. We went out early back to Madhurawada to meet with a new investigator family, where we had a good lesson. Afterwards, they introduced us to another new investigator family, where we gave a blessing. After those two, we had lunch, and visited another new investigator family, who is amazing. The guy's name is Boby, and he is in college. He speaks amazing English, and is very frequently available and interested. Not much more could go right! After them, we went to yet another new investigator, then went back to Arilova to teach a member family. Our second counselor's son is about to get baptized, so his dad wanted us to teach him a bit. 

Sunday was the disappointing day. Despite getting 9 new investigators for the week, none of them, along with none of our current progressing investigators, attended church. Anyway, after church, we went knocking doors in our apartment complex. We found a couple of devout Hindus who shut us down, before finding a really good seeming Christian family. They invited us in, and listened with interest up until we got to Joseph Smith. There, they shut us down. "How can God call another prophet? Even if he did, what difference would that make?" They really didn't seem to get the whole "prophet" thing. After we tried to explain it several times in several ways, they refused to get it. 

Well, that was our week. Overall- really good! See ya!

FYI- Diwali is coming up! And today is my 3-months-to-go mark.
Attachments area

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

10 October 2016

We had a REALLY short week! I don't even remember half of it! We did have fun watching conference, though, and found some new investigators, who were surprising, to say the least. We found the first one, Daniel, in an auto on Tuesday. He just jumped in an auto with us, and we started talking to him. He turned out to be surprisingly willing to meet with us! We talked with him on Thursday, at the church. He seemed excited- showed up half an hour early, made it to the church without problems, and listened to everything we had to say. The only problem was, he didn't talk much. After the lesson, we found out possibly why. One of the members who had been there before us overheard him talking to the security guard about "finding out how they convert people." We'll see how reliable that is. The second new investigator we got was also a funny story. He showed up to church on Sunday, but I didn't recognize him. My companion did- apparently, he'd been investigating for over two years. I asked a couple of questions, and was very confused by the answers. The guy's name was Prem, and he wasn't studying and was only looking for a job. For missionaries, this reads "available anytime." Even better, he is amazing. I asked about whether or not he knew the church was true. He said yes. I asked if he knew the Book of Mormon was true. He said yes again. Then I asked why he wasn't baptized, and he didn't know. We ended up talking to him for a while. He is from a Lutheran family, and doesn't actually know all that much about our church. He says he knows it's true, but he doesn't really believe it. While we were talking about the Book of Mormon, he told us he hadn't even read it! He is smart though, so we are hoping for progress. We committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and I think he will.

Conference especially was good! We listened to all of the talks, and all of them were awesome. I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's first talk most, though. That was incredible. Oh, and Elder Holland's talk on home teaching. His talks are always memorable, but this one more than most. 

Apart from those, we struggled to find appointments this week. We had loads of things going on, between functions and conference and some minor crises. Just last night, a wall next to our apartment fell down and killed two people! I guess the reminder there is to repent never know when you'll be called back. I'm really looking forward to getting the conference edition of the Liahona in the mail! 

That pretty much wraps up our week. It was fun, but short! See Ya!

Monday, October 3, 2016

3 October 2016

We had a very exciting week; lots of lessons! So many members came with us all week long, that for the first time on my mission, we managed a whole week with only member-present lessons! Granted, a large part of that is because most of our investigators are female, without a male in the home most of the time, so we have to have a member with us to teach them at all, but it's still exciting.

On Tuesday, after district meeting, I finally finished up my FRO work: I'm registered! Hopefully no more deportations! That took a while, but we still managed to teach a lesson to a recent convert that night. 

Wednesday was the best day of the week. All through the day, we managed to find people to teach! Usually the afternoon and morning are pretty dry, but we managed to keep going through them too. Aruna, our most progressing investigator, is starting to get ready for baptism. Her biggest problem is that her husband won't let her, and we can't meet with her husband (he's very infrequently available). We are hoping to meet with her husband, but the prognosis isn't good for anytime soon. I don't know what it is with Christians in Visak; they all marry Hindus who won't let them come to church or be baptized! I can name five families right off the top of my head in that situation. Anyway, the highlight of the day was Roshan. He lives right across from us in our apartment building, Anyway, he is actually a former RLDS member, baptized back in 1999, and less-active since. He is now an active Baptist, and enjoys talking about religion. We went over and answered some of his questions, including about the Book of Mormon (which he knows nothing about), and he invited us to come back. 

Thursday was just about as thrilling. We had weekly planning in the morning, then visited Pavani, a very, very long-time investigator. Fortunately, that's about to change! She is now on date for baptism in just two weeks! That makes a pleasant change from "the investigator who is good to go by every now and again". Later that night, we ended up climbing a multitude of stairs to visit a less-active family, the Durga's. The lesson wasn't too eventful, but there were a lot of stairs built into a hillside to get there. 

Friday wasn't as exciting as the other days. We had a lot of bunks, and not a lot of appointments. The only real highlight of it was giving an investigator a blessing. 

Saturday, in contrast, was plenty eventful. We met back up with Pavani, and watched the Restoration movie with her, then went out to Madavalla. That's roughly an hour out from the rest of our area, so we don't go there very often. There, we met with a referral family that we got, the Ravis. They are a very nice, albeit Telegu-only family. We really can't teach them much if they don't know English, but it's always nice to meet new investigators. The best part is that they came to church on Sunday!

We actually had a ton of people at church! Almost all of our investigators showed up. The issue was after church. We had multiple set appointments; but they all fell through, and so did the backups.

Overall, things are going well! I think I'm more or less adjusted to India again. See Ya!

Monday, September 26, 2016

26 September 2016

India came back all over again. We had a very short week running all over, looking for people. My companion is fresh out of training, and doesn't know the area too well so far, so we are  both having fun trying to find people. Things are going well! Our biggest problem is our investigator's availability- we can't find them. I forgot my journal again, so this will be a shorter email, though. We largely spent the week trying to meet with our investigators, but with little luck. One of them, Aruna, was out of town, and is now facing some severe financial difficulties. We visited her Sunday morning, and she promised to come to church. She didn't, and she bunked on the appointment we had set for that night too. That's always frustrating. We did have a better appointment with Santosh, another investigator. He is an interesting case. He comes from a Hindu background, and so doesn't have all of your standard Christian beliefs. When we were teaching about the Plan of Salvation, he started laughing at the thought that everyone would be resurrected. "Where would everyone be? There's not enough room on the earth!" That sort of thing. Eventually, we just challenged him to read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and ask God if this is his plan for us. That seemed to work at the moment, but we'll see if he follows through.

Throughout the week, we've had a lot of people who have randomly stopped us on the street! That's definitely a welcome change. The only problem with them is that usually, they only speak Telegu. My companion, Elder Daniel, speaks Tamil and Malayalam, and I've learned French, Tagalog, ASL, and a couple others. Unfortunately, no one around Visak knows any of those languages. That's always fun. Apart from that, enough people know English that we can usually teach...usually. I'm really strongly considering learning Telegu, just to get around. 

That's about all that is new for the week. Next week I'll put in pictures! The view around here is great. See Ya!

Monday, September 19, 2016

19 September 2016

This week was really, really short. Tuesday morning, we had zone training. All of us went down to the stake center in the morning, and the training started. Right after that, things got crazy. President Koster called and asked if I'd received any news on my visa. When I said I hadn't, he told me he had: my visa arrived! And not only that, but I was leaving. When? Tomorrow. After the training, I went back and started packing everything. That turned out to be a wise move, because I got a call from the office later confirming some details. Specifically, that I was getting picked up that night. I threw everything in my bags, and still had time to go out visiting before the APs picked me up. We went down to the mission office, and I got McDonald's for the last time...That night, we slept at their place. Unfortunately, the only free spot they had was a leather couch. Have you ever tried to sleep on leather? You stick. I didn't sleep- at all. In the morning, we went down to the office again, and I hung out and ordered Burger King...also for the last time. Eventually, I had an interview with President, and we waited for the cab. 2 hours after it was supposed to pick me up, we finally had to drive out and meet it. The Area Office was way behind, for some reason. I still managed to get to the airport on time (nearly), and I made it to my flight. With everything I owned it tow, I flew off to the logical, smart layover: Abu Dhabi, only 1700 miles past India. It was a 9 hour flight there, and a 4.5 hour flight back.

After an eternity of not sleeping on various planes, I arrived in Bangalore. The driver and I had to wait at the airport, because another missionary was arriving in an hour. I used the time to sleep on one of the tables there. We went down to the mission office, and the APs took us out to lunch at a chicken biryani place. That was amazing- I hadn't had it in 4 months. Later, I met with our new President Mortenson. Turns out, he was my grandparents' former home teacher! Then, I learned my new assignment: Visak 3rd branch, with Elder Daniel. Now, there's only one zone I haven't served in, Chennai: the one President Koster went on work trips in. That night, I took yet another flight out to Visak.

I arrived there late Thursday night, and not too much has happened since. We've done a lot of walking around and riding autos. Turns out that we have a ton of investigators who are infrequently home and live far apart. Thankfully, we do have a couple on date. That's pretty much all that's happened. See Ya!

Monday, September 12, 2016

12 September 2016

Well, I forgot to bring my journal in this week. That means a very short email. But, let's see what I can remember.

This morning, we climbed the mountain again with a big group of members. That was a lot of fun, especially with the view. 

We spent a lot of time this week out with Edwin, our former Elders Quorum President. Funny story on that- for a week or two, he was both the EQP and ward mission leader. He was not very happy about that. Fortunately for him, he was just released as EQP, and has been devoting a lot of time to his new calling. We had a record number of lessons to investigators with a member present- and an equally remarkably low number of investigators at church. The excuses were wide and varied. One family had their mom is Pasig, another city, so all of them didn't go to church. One family's father returned to drugs, so they didn't come to church. Fortunately, our investigators who are on date for this week both came to church, and we just reviewed the interview questions with both. Pray that nothing terrible happens until Saturday, and they are looking good! 

We currently have quite a few investigators who would progress if only they would come to church. Roland, unfortunately, is looking about ready to drop off the list. He is facing some serious financial difficulties- including his utilities being shut off. He's looking for a job, but asked us not to come back for 2 weeks again to give him some time. 

Things are going well here, and the work is moving on. See ya!

Monday, September 5, 2016

5 September 2016

This week was really, really short. We did a whole lot! On Tuesday, we had a district meeting, followed by a district leader training. Since my companion is the district leader, I hung out with other missionaries for an hour until they were done. We managed to meet with an investigator named Sander, who we learned actually lives outside our area. Oops! We'll be transferring him.

Wednesday was exciting. I turned 20! Apart from that, a lot happened. We met with Roland in the morning, and gave him a triple combination. He is struggling right now with some old demons, as he puts it. We had a long talk about everything from Joseph Smith to the Pearl of Great Price, and everything in between. Later, we went out to Tagpos, and met with the Panahon family, which was interesting. The husband is less-active, all the rest are nonmembers. Finally, we had dinner with a member.

Thursday wasn't quite as busy. We visited a member family in the morning, the Antoja's, to ask them to fellowship Roland-only to learn they were leaving on vacation soon. We met with Daniel, an eternal investigator, later. At night, we met with a recent convert, and another part-member family.

Friday was weekly planning, which is always thrilling. Then, we went out and everything fell through, so we visited Carlos. Oh, Carlos. Always a barrel of laughs...and false doctrine. This is the less-active who thinks he's a prophet, by the way. Highlights: "God gave me this elastic mark on my waist so he wouldn't forget me, because he loves me so much (he pulled down his pants to show us it). You see this (finger) nail? Get a thousand people and none of them will have a nail like this. Smoking is only a little sin. I always pray before I smoke, so God understands. Jesus is merciful, right? The people who won't forgive Marcos are 100% going to hell!" I'll admit, it was a fun monologue. That afternoon, we visited Emie. She is an old, blind, less-active with a fun story. She wants me to ask you to adopt her. Do you want a 70 year old daughter? Up for grabs! Finally, we went to the Gutierrez family.

Saturday wasn't quite as interesting. We visited the Panahon family again, and they are all scheduled for baptism now! Later, we visited the Deguzman family, who were struggling. Their 9-year old kid is pretty sick. Finally, we went to Mark.

Sunday, we had stake conference, with a surprising number of investigators showing up! Afterwards, we went out visiting again. The most noteworthy was Mark, who is getting ready for baptism! 

That's the news of the week-see ya!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

28 August 2016

Well, this week was my chance to take over the area. Elder Eagar left; Elder Talaboc came in. I spent a lot of it just showing him around. Because Elder Eagar was going to Mindoro, an island that you have to fly to get to, he showed us all over on Wednesday. We know the area fairly well already, thankfully.

Unfortunately, there was a stunning lack of availability all through our area- no one was home! That led to lots of walking around, which did help us learn the area extra quickly. Elder Eagar got dropped off on Thursday, and our week started from there. We had weekly planning on Friday, and went out visiting. A member, Edwin, came with us to Tagpos. That ended up being a mistake. All of our plans fell through, and so we asked him to show us some places we didn't know. In his defense, he did. He showed us all the members he knew. All the active members who didn't really need the missionaries to visit. And he talked for a minimum of half an hour with each. That pretty much killed our day. Finally, we had correlation meeting with our Ward Mission Leader, and visited the Gutierrez family.

Saturday was also slow. The highlight was meeting with Mark in the morning. He's been investigating for forever, but is now on date for two weeks from now! We also visited the Adesnas, a part-member family, who promised to come to church, but didn't. The fun part of the day was meeting with Carlos. Oh, Carlos. He loves to talk. And talk. And talk. It's even better than that- he is crazy. Halfway through the lesson, Elder Talaboc leaned over to me and whispered, "We need to report him to the bishop for disciplinary action! He's apostate!" After I explained that people usually aren't excommunicated just for having very strange opinions, we continued listening to the nonstop Tagalog babble, which hadn't paused during our little side conversation. That lasted for roughly 90 minutes, during which time I may have fallen asleep...once or twice. 

Sunday was when things started happening, thankfully. We had church in the morning, where half the ward leadership was reorganized. Edwin has been the Elders Quorum President for 6 years, and was sure that he'd be released and called as the new WML. He was half right- he was called as the WML all right, but they didn't release him as EQP! So, we had a snap correlation after church with him and the ward missionaries. Then, we had a baptismal interview with the zone leaders, and Edwin showed us a new family, the Deguzmans. That was great- they are a part-member family with some kids who need to be baptized. We got them all on date! 

So, story time- Saturday night, when we were going back to the apartment, we met a woman who called us over and handed us a "Missing" poster. Her 9 year old son had vanished two days back. Sunday afternoon, at one member's house, they told us that the child had been found- dead in a river, of unknown causes. Sunday night, at the Gutierrez's, we found out the real cause- someone had mutilated him. We saw some very graphic pictures they had taken. Apparently, their 14 year old son had seen the kid in the river and taken pictures. Ugh. That's pretty scarring. 

That's the news for the week- See ya! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

22 August 2016

This was a thoroughly eventful week, with lots of fun stuff. It starts off right after district meeting on Tuesday. We visited a member to ask them to befriend one of our investigators, and their dog ate my shoes while we were in their. Not the whole shoes, just the top bit. Fortunately, I had my spare pair, the ones that I'd replaced less than a month ago. The shoes I am wearing have lasted 19 months with no major issues, just gradual decay. The shoes I got here lasted about 3.5 weeks. That story coincides with another that happened late Monday: my 2-month old umbrella died. I replaced it. The replacement lasted 6 days before breaking. I fixed it. So far, so good.

Wednesday was the very exciting day. We had my very first double exchange with the zone leaders. What is a double exchange? It's when you both go over to their area to split. I'm not sure why, but hey, we survived. Fun moments included walking on a railingless, falling-apart plywood ramp up over a construction site to visit some recent converts, and an FHE at night.

On Thursday, neither of us were feeling great, but we went out anyway. We had some fun lessons with a lot of less-actives, refound a new old investigator, and had another lesson with Roland, who is really getting interested in the gospel.

Friday was the day of miracles: we were healed! That came in handy for weekly planning. The biggest news of that day was with the Gutierrez's for their final baptism prep.

We spent all of Saturday running around inviting everyone to the baptism we were having! At 6, we started preparing. It was supposed to start at 7, but on Philippine standard time, that translated to 7:45. We baptized John Loyd and Anna, from the Gutierrez family. The only real hiccup was when John Loyd ran outside rather than bear his testimony in public (he's young.) Apart from that, and after we found him, things went smoothly. 

There was some exciting news on Sunday. We had ward conference, where a new bishopric was announced. Bishop Urbano was switched out with the new bishop, Bishop San Juan. After the conference, we had a very whelming day in Pagasa, one of our areas. Fortunately, we did manage to meet with some good people after.

We just got transfer calls this morning, which is always exciting. I am staying in the Tayuman area, but it's being split and Elder Eagar is moving out. This is the 3rd area I've split! It's always an adventure. My new companion will be Elder Talaboc, a Filipino. 

That's the news for the week. See Ya!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

14 August 2016

This week was the Filipino version of frigid, piercing cold- in other words, all the way down to an average of 80. People were dying of frostbite in the streets. Not really, but everyone we visit has started giving us Milo (the Filipino equivalent of hot chocolate) to keep us warm. There's been plenty of rain, at least. Almost constantly, for the first few days. Anyway, here's the news of the week:

Monday, the head fell off of my umbrella. Not a big problem- umbrellas are fairly cheap here, so I replaced it. Saturday, my brand-new umbrella wouldn't close. That makes it a lot harder to take it places, but fortunately it hasn't rained much since. 

Tuesday, we woke up at 5 to make it to a zone training. There, we learned a lot about finding, and went back. We had to return barely an hour later for interviews with the new president, President Koster, due to an unexpected schedule change. There seems to be a lot of those around here... That went pretty well, and didn't take too long. We finally made it back around 4:30, and bounced around from one bunked appointment to another until we managed to meet with the Dimacali family, who did come to church this week!

Wednesday, we tried to meet with Roland again, but without luck. We then met up with Ninya and Blodemir (the Filipino equivalent of Vladimir), and went on an exchange with them. Both of them got their mission calls recently! With them, we tried Roland again, who was there this time. We taught a few more commandments, and he mentioned, out of nowhere, that he was going to church this week! That's big, considering that he, just a month ago, had a hardline "no" against going to church. Later that day, we visited the Gutierrez family. They are close to baptism, and were on date for Saturday.While on our way back home at night, we met an interesting person. He's an American named Korbit, who tried to subtly warn us about "going away from the true doctrine of Christ". People who just try to subtly hint make me laugh, to be honest. 

Thursday, we visited the Adesna family again. They were much more receptive to the possibility of marriage now, likely because they just found out the wife was pregnant earlier that morning. God works in mysterious ways, that's for sure. We visited the Gutierrez family at night again. 

Friday,we had a thrilling weekly planning session, where we had to decide whether or not to baptize the Gutierrez's on Saturday. After a lot of thinking and scripture study, we had to call it off. They're close, but still not ready. Fortunately, we are confident they will be ready by this Saturday. We met with an interesting member later: Carlos. He has some fascinating ideas: that he is a prophet, that God talks to him at night, and that he knows all the secrets of God. Oh, and you can't forget: he doesn't make mistakes, and cigarettes are the only things keeping him from translation. That was a fun lesson. Whatever you say, Carlos. 

Saturday, we had a fixed appointment in the morning with a French guy, Thomas. He bunked...again. We went all over visiting a ton of less-active members after that, but nothing too eventful happened.

Sunday was the big day: my 19 month mark. Roland made it to church, along with all the Gutierrez's, and a couple more. Good turnout! We had lunch with a member, followed by a lot of missed appointments. By the end of the day, we still taught a few people, though. Things are going well!

See Ya!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

7 August 2016

This week was very long. Tuesday, we had a zone conference. We had to wake up at 4:30 to get there on time! There, we had a bunch of workshops on finding new investigators, and working with recent converts and less active members. The workshop itself only took 4 hours, but with all the travel, it took 12 hours out of our day. At night, we went straight to a less active family, then a "compassionate service" thing, a funeral. There, we gave talks, and talked to the family.

Wednesday morning, we tried to visit Roland, a very interesting investigator. He was already on his way out, and asked us to come back later. Instead, we visited a less-active member who (hopefully) will be returning to church soon! His biggest problem was his work, but he is soon switching jobs. Later, we tried to visit Roland again, but he still wasn't there. We visited a part-member family afterwards, the Adesnas. They have a strange situation- the wife is not a member, and vehemently against marriage. Because it is incredibly hard to get a divorce in the Philippines, a lot of people are married to people that they no longer live with. This woman doesn't want that- she said that if she wants to break up, she wants to be able to walk out at any time. That's trust for you. 

On Thursday, we tried to visit Roland again. He asked us to come back the next day. We had a couple consecutive plans fall through, but managed to recontact an old investigator, Jolo. He is great! I think he was dropped from availability issues, not interest issues. Either way, he learns quickly, keeps commitments, and remembers things! Those alone make him more promising than pretty much anyone in our teaching pool. We climbed up the mountain to try to find an investigator, but he wasn't home, so we visited Carlos, another fun guy. He loves to talk...a lot. He described in vivid detail his life, friends, and many other unrelated things. That night, I tried to get some barbecue for dinner, which turned out to be chicken heads. I ate them anyway, but it wasn't very good- too many little bones.

Friday, we had weekly planning, then managed to meet Roland for real. We taught him the law of chastity, which is always a fun discussion. He took it really well though, and told a bunch of stories, as usual. For one of them, he mentioned afterward that he'd signed a confidentiality clause about it, and asked us not to repeat it. Okay, Roland. 

Saturday, we visited the Adesnas again in the morning, and talked about eternal marriage. They reiterated their position. The great thing about the day was that a member came on exchange with us nearly the whole day! We taught a lot of lessons. The only question was, who was coming to church? 

Well, not too many people. All of our serious, progressing investigators came, at least. That doesn't count Jolo or Roland, though. We tried to pick up both of them before our (8:00) church, and both were sleeping. Roland was hilarious. We called out, and eventually he staggered out of his house. He was wearing mismatched slippers, and looked like he hadn't slept in a week. Apparently, he'd only slept at 4 that morning. 

That's the news for the week- see ya!

Monday, August 1, 2016

1 August 2016

Well, we had a long week. There was some strange stuff. Unfortunately, I forgot my journal this time, so I'm kinda guessing as to when stuff happened.

On Thursday, we visited a member, Rodante, only to learn that he'd died Tuesday. That wasn't a problem: he was still there. Apparently, in the Philippines, the custom is to send the body off to the funeral people, who preserve it and give it back in a coffin. That stays in your house for a week or so, until you bury the poor guy already. The people will take out the front wall/gate of their place; talk about an "open house." His family were not really mourning, unless you count sitting around talking (and later having a beer party), wearing t-shirts with bad puns (Come to the dork side: we have video games), and eating chicken noodles. It seems like everywhere, the traditions are different. In India, they'd only keep the dead guy for a few hours, while women screamed and wailed. 

I managed to finally replace my shoes, which were rapidly disintegrating. My new shoes are slip-ons, which work much better in India and here, because you have to take them off every time you go anywhere. 

We spent a lot of time travelling this week, mostly because of the incredible traffic. I don't know why, but it's been pretty packed on the roads. That's not too big of an issue, because we spend most of our travel walking anyway, but it makes getting to district meeting and things a pain. 

The positive news is that the Gutierrez family is just about ready for baptism! Three of the four passed their interviews, and will be baptized the Saturday after next. We are hoping to complete the whole family of 8, which hopefully will happen soon. 

Roland, on the other hand, is being strange. We finally, at long last, managed to get him to agree to think about coming to church when we visited him on Tuesday. We were sure that he the time. When we visited Friday, he told us that he was going to a party Saturday. If it let out at a reasonable time, he'd go to church. Apparently it didn't, because he didn't show. Still, him even thinking about it was progress- in the past, he'd just say no right off the bat. He may be getting somewhere. 

That's about all of the news for the week.

Ben and Ari's changed? That place has always been the same (the way I remember it, at least), and now they're switching things up? Not cool!

Will you still get a teaching discount at some university? If not, I might have to change some plans for when I get home...

Monday, July 25, 2016

25 July 2016

Well, this week was pretty short. We did have a very fun exchange, which I have lots of pictures of. I posted them all down below. There was lots of hiking through mountains there. We also saw a dog that looked like a teddy bear at a member's house.

On Thursday, we had weekly planning, and went out visiting. Nothing too thrilling happened.

Friday was the exchange. Elder Eagar had a district leader training, so I went with another companionship all the way out to the boondocks. We did a ton of hiking to reach one house, but no one was home there. So, we hiked all the way back. The rest of the day was fairly normal- we switched back at night.

Saturday was a good day. We managed to visit Roland, our old investigator, again. When we showed up, he was starting a fire. "I'm incinerating something. Don't ask what." Before the lesson started, he shared some recent world news, which was pretty startling. In some ways, I'm glad that I don't hear much of it on my mission. Anyway, we taught about the Word of Wisdom, and he gave an interesting commitment. "Cigarrettes? Sure. I can't afford them anyway. But I'm not sure about coffee yet..." Turns out he's super addicted. He did agree to try to stop, at least. Throughout the day, we taught 6 lessons! That's a lot for this area. 

On Sunday, we had 8 AM church, as usual. I ended up playing the piano during sacrament meeting, because the only pianist in the ward was absent. That was...interesting. I've gotten better on my mission, but not by that much. Afterward, we had a lunch appointment, and a dinner appointment that night. Score! 

The big news for the week investigator-wise would be the Guchierrez family. They are on date, and probably will be baptized in early August. What's more, the grandpa of the family just unexpectedly asked to be baptized, too! We are just finishing up the lessons, and they are ready!

That's all I got for the week- See ya!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

20 July 2016

Well, Taytay is a lot different than Quezon City. It's only 20 kilometers away, but still somehow has different weather. In Quezon City, it was cloudy and rainy. Here, it's sunny. That's it, hot and sunny. The work is also different- but better. It's really easy to find new investigators! And the view from most of the area is incredible.

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So, Wednesday, I went over to Taytay, which was a bit of an adventure. I then had a crazy whirlwind tour of half the area! We went all over. It turns out that nearly everyone here is Tagalog-speaking only. It really gives you an incentive to learn it. 

Thursday, I hit my 18-month mark. We also taught a whole lot of lessons. We started at the edge of our area, and slowly worked our way back to the apartment. We met with basically everyone in the area we hadn't met with Wednesday! That afternoon, we taught an old guy named Roland, who was hilarious. He speaks great English, which was a relief. He also doesn't hesitate to tell you exactly what he is thinking at all times! Thursday night, we found a family of 8, who listened to our message, and invited us back. It was a good day.

Friday was very interesting. We ended up blessing four people, a new room in their house, and their shop. I'll admit, I've never done that before. We also had some weekly planning, and taught a family whose house was up on stilts, in a swamp.

On Saturday, everything fell through. We'd planned about 10 appointments, only 2 of which ended up happening. I saw something interesting, though. Our Elder's Quorum President, Edwin, used to live in this one area, that burned to the ground. We walked through it on the way to an appointment, and it was pretty destroyed.

We started off Sunday with 8 o'clock church, which is really early. I was asked to give the opening prayer at church, and then halfway through, was asked over the pulpit by the bishop, in Tagalog, to come up and bear my testimony. That was fun. After church, we had to go over to our zone leader's area to interview one of their investigators for baptism, then came back. We ended up having 2 meal appointments that day! 

Monday was supposed to be p-day. In the morning, we went out on a mountain walk with a couple of members, which was amazing. You could see for forever from the top of that! When we got back and cleaned up, only then did the zone leaders text, saying it wasn't p-day. That was because we were having a surprise temple day on Wednesday instead. That kind of threw us for a loop, and so we had to replan our whole day. It turned out well, though. Roland, the same one I mentioned early, really opened up during the lesson we taught that day, and really started thinking. That's always good! 

Yesterday was also interesting. Elder Eagar was convinced that we were getting an apartment inspection in the morning, and he was right. We got a "Celestial" rating, the highest possible. We went out to district meeting, then out visiting. There, we found another new family- Jonathan and co.

Today started off at 4:30, with a temple trip. We'd planned an hour and a half for travel, but it ended up taking two and a half instead. We missed the session we'd planned on attending, but made it through in the end. After that, we had lunch, then went right back and emailed. That's been it for the week!

Monday, July 11, 2016

11 July 2016

Well, I'll get the big news of the week out first: I'm  transferring to Taytay zone, with Elder Eager. Funny story with that one: my first day in the mission was a zone conference, and guess who I sat next to? Yep, him. We just found out about transfers this morning. That makes this the 4th consecutive area I've served in for under 2 transfers. Also, this is the 3rd time on my mission where I've been transferred on the transfer day! My transfers have been all over the place for so many different reasons that, despite being out for 18 months and serving in 10 areas, I've only transferred on the scheduled day 3 times, counting this one. I've also only served in 2 areas for a full 2 transfers. Okay, fun facts over.

Last Monday was the 4th of July, which is not celebrated at all over here. We went to Burger King, and that was about it. 

Tuesday was interesting. President Koster, the new president, is really determined to shake things up! We had a zone conference where he said, in essence, "We'll be looking at the mission rules, and getting rid of the ones that don't help us focus on the missionary purpose." He also ignored basically all of the mission zone conference traditions- it only lasted till 1, as opposed to the normal 6, we didn't stand as he entered, all sorts of changes. We got to meet his family, who all moved from San Diego California to here. After the conference, we went up to our area, but it started dumping rain hard. I mean, really hard. We got trapped, and eventually ended up just running back. 

As a side note, we are officially in the middle of the hardest part of the rainy season. It's been raining, usually really hard, every day, multiple times, nearly continuously. 

Wednesday, we tried to go out to that same area as the night before, but Elder Dadis's wallet got stolen in the jeepney. That was a problem. We went back to the apartment so he could search for any money he'd left there, and went back out after a different part of the area. At night, we had an FHE with a recent convert family, which was fun.

Thursday wasn't quite as exciting as the other days. We spent the morning trying to break into the church, though. The other elders had the keys, 2 different sets, but the padlocks on the gates weren't having it. They asked us to come help, because they needed to teach an investigator there. Eventually, we got one to hitting it with a rock while turning the key. Later that day, the biggest news was visiting Venerando, the investigator I mentioned last week. He's still talking, thank goodness, but hasn't made too much progress. 

Friday, we had a thrilling weekly planning session in the morning. Then, we went out for a highly successful streak of missed appointments, which lasted nearly all day. Eventually, through sheer perseverence, we met with a new investigator, Dinesha, a member family, and finally the Batislaons. They are a recent convert family, and are doing great!

On Saturday, we had a temple tour with the Batislaons that took most of the day. We got to show them around the temple grounds, the MTC, and all the other cool stuff over there. At night, we were invited to another FHE at Bro. Patrick's house. 

Sunday wasn't very exciting. We tried to visit a lot of people in the morning, but all of them were busy. Then, we had church, and finished with another FHE at a member's house. That was interesting, at least. The member was Nanay Anne, and we had 3 sisters, one of whom was an investigator, attend with us. 

Yesterday was the real fun one. We had zone training in the morning, where yet more changes were announced. The previous 5 o'clock end of p-day was reverted back to the normal 6, and we heard President Koster was debating on ending the bag on one shoulder rule. Afterward, the first person we tried was home, Sammy Marcus! That was good, because we haven't been able to find him in a while. Unfortunately, the next plan failed. And the next one. And the next one. We started calling them Plan A, Plan B, and so on. That was a mistake, because when Plan J failed, it was pretty discouraging. Fortunately, at night, we managed to have one final appointment, with the Batislaons. 

This morning, we had transfer calls, where I heard the news. That's the news of the week, but I have one last fun thing happen. A few days ago, I saw a mouse running across the apartment floor, and I smacked it with a slipper. I'm getting really good at the squish move (grabbing the slipper off my foot and slapping the ground with it), but up until then, I'd only gotten cockroaches with it. That was the exception. And to make a long story short, Spencer got his wish:

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Monday, July 4, 2016

4 July 2016

Well, it's been raining frequently for quite a while, but this week, the weather really stepped it up. We've had at least a little rain every day, and usually a lot. That's not bad, though- when it's raining, it's cloudy. When it's cloudy, it's (relatively) cool! It's been cloudy fairly constantly  since I got here, which has been really nice. The only problem is when it's not...which is thankfully rare, especially this week.

We also had a couple exciting moments. One of them was just cleared up a couple minutes ago. We had district meeting this morning, but right before we left, I heard loud banging from the area behind the apartment. We had a little space behind there with a sink and washing machine, surrounded by 40 foot walls. I checked out what had caused it- only to see a very scared cat. We were just about to leave, so I just shut the door for then. After we got back from district meeting, we had to deal with it. I put on the big heavy coat I have, that I've worn roughly twice, some work gloves, and a lot of courage, and went out to confront the possibly crazy, rabid, and/or injured cat. That turned out to be fairly uneventful, thankfully. The cat was lying on a chair, meowing loudly. I tried to scoop it up; it ran off. I eventually just grabbed it, carried it through the apartment, and deposited it outside. It helped that the cat was sort of cooperative- no teeth or claws, at least. 

I hit a few landmarks this week. The first one is my fourth mission president! Pres. Koster just succeeded Pres. Revillio. I'll meet him tomorrow, during zone conference. Another was my 18th fast Sunday! The end is near...

We had yet more fun with our investigators, too. We have one family, the Batislaons, who love the message. They love the missionaries. All of them were baptized at some point in the last 3 months- except the father. So, Saturday night, we visited them, and asked him particularly, to come to church. Normally, he says maybe, or has an excuse. This time he said yes! But he still didn't come. Oh well, conversion doesn't always happen instantly. On the other hand, we found another family, the Baguios, who have quite a few interested people! They are Catholic, and have a few of the familiar issues. The final investigator I'll mention, Venerando, is an interesting case. He was involved in a mysterious accident with a bus a couple years ago, and has a learning difficulty. That makes teaching him an adventure. We've shared the message quite a few times, but only this week found out some news: He just doesn't believe it. We've taught the Restoration lesson a couple times, but for the first time he started asking questions and challenging it: How did Joseph Smith see angels? How did the angels get to him? All sorts of strange questions. Still, his opening up is the first step. 

There's still no visa-related news, but my Tagalog is really progressing. I even found an Indian restaurant! 

That's the exciting news for the week. Here's the unrelated stuff:

I'll have to replace my shoes soon. Remember how convinced we were they'd last the whole 2 years? Well, I'm still sure the soles will. Those are still great. The leather tops, on the other hand, are falling apart rapidly. I took them to a repair shop recently, and the lady told me they were beyond repair. That's discouraging when it comes from someone who only gets paid if they say otherwise!

About packages- it turns out to be 2-3 times more expensive to send packages here than India. You might have to wait to get one. Also, don't bother sending an actual package, if it's not too late. I've been trying to think of things I want, without much luck. Letters would still be highly appreciated! Please send lots of those!

You finished school again? That's pretty exciting! What's not surprising is hearing David loving Bahama Bucks. I still remember that place as being incredible. India had its own version of that- ice gola. It starts out more or less the same, normal shaved ice in a cup. Then they put in masala, salt, and a bunch of different colors, and pack it around a stick. It ends up like a spicy popsicle! 

See Ya!