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...