Monday, November 29, 2010

The "Grin and Bear It" Stage

November 29, 2010
MTC, Provo, Utah

OK guys. Well, what a week.

Last Tuesday we had a person from the 70 come and talk to us.  He was from Sweden.  He was really funny.  Earlier in the day, I met an Elder from Sweden in the lunch line.  I asked him about a couple of things the Swedish government does, such as no private land. The guy behind him shouted, "Yeah, ‘cause they're all socialist."  I looked straight at him and said, "That's why I like Sweden."  The kid was dumb-founded.  Then I continued my conversation with the Swedish Elder.

Thanksgiving was truly great.  In the morning, Elder Holland came to talk to us.  He talked about being blessed by the poor.  He said something like "eat where they eat, sleep where they sleep, love them. . ."  It was really cool.  And I'm super excited to be going to impoverished place.  His family was there, and his grandkids sang to us all.

Thanksgiving dinner was awesome.  Earlier in the day we had the traditional thanksgiving meal at lunch time.  In the evening for dinner we had sack lunches.  Sister Lyman had a pie, and Annie had sent me one.  So we all ate together and with two pies had a good time.  It was really fun. We went around the table and said what we were thankful for.  I was thankful to be going to a poor part of the world.

I have been making worksheets for our class, in hopes that instead of someone wasting time because they can't decide what to work on, they'll grab a worksheet.  This is now part of the class’s activities.  We play Jeopardy with the list of words I create for the week.  I chose the words based on what we needed.  This last week it was verbs, but we chose as a class this week.  We played Jeopardy and Elder Peterson and I lost by 200 points, 2100 to 1900.  The only reason we lost is because our teacher said "question" instead of "ask."  Which was stupid, because it was a sheet of verbs, not nouns.  He always throws in some kind of trick.  Elder Peterson didn't get it, but the sisters did.  Sister Danner was really taken back on how competitive I was about it.  It was pretty funny.

We taught another zone this last week.  We taught them the first lesson.  I went on splits with another Elder from another district.  It was rough to teach with him, because we have such different styles.  We did terribly.  I felt embarrassed.  It was really rough, but I got over it.

I've been running during gym.  I tried volleyball for a while, but have vowed to never do it again. So I run.  I run the entire 50 minutes, so I run about 5-6 miles a day.  It's really cool.  I never count how many laps I do, or else it wouldn't be enjoyable.  I do this in part because I am sitting down so much, but also because my acne has flared up.  It's ok, not that big of a deal, but a little frustrating for a 19 year old.  During Thanksgiving, another district had a paper football tournament.  I have pictures of it.  It's fun to see what people do to have fun around here.

I met an Elder here who likes the Marx Brothers!  We talked for about 45 minutes about them. He started the conversation by saying “You kind of have a Groucho Marx sense of humor."  Which is awesome, because that means I'm legit, but also kind of bad because Groucho Marx is pretty rude.  Maybe I should tone it down again.  It's all in good fun though.  His name is Elder Faran, from Buffalo, NY.  Now when he sees me, he quotes Chico Marx at me

I went running outside the day before Thanksgiving.  It was colder than a well digger's butt.  I put on the thermal underwear under my gym stuff.  I looked ridiculous.  I stopped running after a while, not because I was tired or too cold, but because I was embarrassed.  People were laughing at me.  It was pretty cool, but at least I got exercise.  (The gym was closed that day)

I wasn't feeling very well this week - kind of a stale feeling.  Like I was cramped up and had been dormant too long.  Maybe the repetition and sitting down affected me physically.  Also, there aren't a lot of vegetables here, or at least not many worth eating.  So to feel better, I ran.  I didn't feel like running, but I did anyway and I felt a lot better.

Elder Doig is pretty cool, but has his crazy moments.  I enjoy his crazy moments more than my roommates.  Somebody in our zone called him "Aswang" which is a mythological creature the Filipinos blame for miscarriages.  He took it to heart.  He jumped in our beds at like eleven o’ clock.  He jumped into Elder Peterson’s bed, and Elder Peterson ignored him.  He jumped into mine, and we had an epic late night pillow fight.

Some Elders in our zone play four square and tennis in their dorm.  It's sick.  They tie a blanket across the middle of the room, and hit an about 3 inch wide ball with their open hands.  It's so much fun, and works excellent.  It's fun in such a tiny room.  To make it funner, people watch the game from the top and bottom bunks.  There are about 16 people in a room watching 2 people play.  They also get a four square game going, but not at the same time.  They put tape on the ground and play with the same ball.  I play with them sometimes.  It's so much fun.

So we had talk last night by Somebody Allen.  He was funny, but he did hit on some good things.  He said there are four stages to the MTC:

The honeymoon - the first day or so when you're happy to be here and giddy about your mission

The hostile phase - where you wonder why you're here, who are these people to boss me around, why do we have so many rules?

The “Grin and bear it” stage - where you come to terms with your mission and you start really working hard

The endure to the end phase - you enjoy it and love it.

I'm in the grin and bear it stage, and I haven't seen any light from the “endure to the end” phase. It's getting better, and I am really working hard, even harder than before.  I study every moment I have now.  I have a lot of verbs down now.  This week we teach lesson one entirely in Tagalog!

I am sending home another SD card. Please don't take pictures on it.  In the photos are two temple walks, one Thanksgiving dinner, indoor tennis, and a couple other things. I took a lot of photos of other people in our zone with the expectations you would share them with other folks.

Elder Thayne got called as district leader, and Elder Ball as zone leader.  I am still just the same. Sister Lyman in our district got called as coordinating sister.

Elder Peterson and I taught the district yesterday.  It went well.  Really well.  I am already a better teacher. Teaching Elders Quorum would be a cinch, and so would a Sacrament talk.  I love you all.  Expect letters from me soon.

Oh, and Dad, I'm Nate please, not Elder Waggoner.  At least Elder Nate Waggoner. Love you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Few Pictures


Las Vegas Elders Roundy & Waggoner

with Elder Green from New Zealand
Learning Tagalog by hints

Really?  Polishing his shoes? Extraordinary.

Verbs are super hard in Tagalog

November 22, 2010
MTC, Provo, Utah
Well, what a week.  Elder Peterson and I did very well in the TA.  (That's where you go and practice discussions.)  He has always been reserved and didn't talk much, but this time everything clicked and we did very well together.

There is a Sister McDonald in our zone.  She plays the fiddle and studied international development at BYU.  She is a lot like Sarah, and I asked her if she knew Sarah. She said “The name sounds familiar, but show me a picture.”  So, I got the one from my residence and showed her.  Her response was "Oh, your sister is so sweet!"  She then proceeded to tell me how they used to say “hi” to each other.  I asked Sarah about her, and Sarah sent me a picture of Sister McDonald to confirm.  I opened that letter while sitting with my district, waiting for the Tuesday fireside to start.  Bad idea.  I heard, "Nate!  Why do you have a picture of Sister McDonald?!"  Oh boy.  I had them read the letter, but they teased me endlessly.  I thought it was best to give the photo to Sister M.  I really shouldn't have it.  It was really embarrassing, but all in good fun.

Elder Waggoner's arrangement
We sang “Nearer My God to Thee” in Sacrament Meeting.  We practiced quite a bit.  We brought one sister to tears.  I guess that means we did well.  Elder Stover (our zone leader) played piano, Sister McDonald on violin, and Elder Thayne and I sang.  We sang the last verse in Tagalog.

I still love pranks.  Our teacher walked out of the room, and before he did he said to us (he doesn't know I'm the prankster) "Don't hide my food".  What an invitation.  So, I hung it from the ceiling.  When he came in and saw his food was gone, he said "OK, very funny, who hid my food?"  It was dangling right above him.  Later in the week, we stuck his Pringles to the wall.

I have a great prank planned that involves dental floss.

Elder Peterson and I have a progressive investigator.  Her name is Jana.  We went into it ready to teach the first lesson about the restoration. Instead we taught about the atonement.  We had never taught that before, but it went well.

When it was time to stand up and stretch in our large group meeting, they asked if anyone had a joke.  I did.  The guy handed me the microphone, and I told to one about the trailers and divorce.  (Dad’s note: The joke is “A hurricane in Florida, a tornado in Kansas, and a divorce in Kentucky - What do they have in common?  A: Someone is going to lose a trailer.”)  Later in the meeting, the same thing occurred.  After other jokes, they passed the microphone back to me.  I thought it was appropriate to follow it with another Kentucky joke.  I told the one "If two people get divorced in Kentucky, are they still brother and sister?”  That also went over well.  It was pretty funny, although slightly irreverent.  I seem to have the reputation that I'm funny, but I am well behaved.

Last Tuesday’s devotional was ok.  Elder Pearson from the 70 came.   I was really turned off when he cited why, statistically, you will have a better life if you go on a mission.  In the words of Han Solo, “Never tell me the odds.”

Mom!  I had to sow my own pants.  The pocket was coming undone from the waist.  So, I sowed it back together.  Go ahead and praise me.  Really, go ahead.

Verbs are super hard in Tagalog.  They change with every tense.  So like past tense, future,..... You have to take the word apart sometimes and stick other letters in to conjugate it. It's quite hard sometimes.  I've kind of hit a roadblock with it.

Yesterday was temple walk.  It was snowing, and only Elder Thayne and I wanted to go.  So we did.  As we left, we decided to throw snowballs at our class room window.  All the other folks in our district were in there at the time.  It was funny until we got balled out by a branch president.  Yeah, apparently you’re not supposed to throw snowballs.  Hmmm.  Then we went to the temple, and we made a snow angel.  Some elder came up and told us "Thanks a lot, now we won't have temple walks anymore; you’re not supposed to make snow angels."  We didn't know that it was against the rules.  He walked away without giving us time to answer back, so I called after him, "What about smiling? Is it against the rules too?"  Oh, man. This place is tough.
Today as we walked to the temple, it was freezing!! No, it was frozen.  We ran across the street because of how cold it was.  I slipped on some ice and fell onto the sidewalk across the street.  I banged my knee up real good.  I rolled and got back up real quick. I'm just glad that I didn't eat it in the middle of the road.  

So Dad, I went to the temple and asked around for the names you sent.  They said they don't do that and that you'll have to send them directly to me.  They sounded sure about it.  So please write me and tell me what's up.

I won't be able to call on Christmas.  You can't while you’re in the MTC.  Sorry, but I will call two days later in LA while I'm on layover.

Elder Tran

Elder Tran is from California.  He's a really good studier.  I enjoy him.  He's usually upbeat and really pleasant to be around.  We tease him about his friend Jenny.  He gets like a letter a day from her.  He's a great guy.

Elder Peterson is really doing well.  He's opened up and is fun to be around.  He snores really loud.  In, fact last night Elder Tran got out of bed and woke him up and told him to shut up.  Elder Peterson likes classic rock, and he's done theater.

Elder Doig

Elder Doig is from Canada.  We tease him about it endlessly.  He is pretty wild sometimes and he falls asleep in class.  He only falls asleep for periods of five minutes, but then he wakes up and can answer Tagalog perfectly.  He has a gift.  If he could focus and stay awake, he would be a genius.

Sister Danner is from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.  She's pretty cool.  She's a lot like you, mom. She explains things until she gets exactly what she means to say.  She's really bright and I enjoy talking to her.

Sister Lyman is really cool too.  She's from a small town in Utah, and her dad makes buffalo jerky.  That day we were her biggest fans.  (Dad’s note: when she received some?  Some scout leaders must be smiling as they read this and remember Nate’s vegetarian days.) She is concerned about how I'm going to raise my kids.  She says I am too serious when I'm joking, and that my kids won't be able to tell when I'm really mad.

Elder Thayne is really cool too.  He likes Henry David Thoreau.  We run together every so often. I enjoy his company a lot.

Elder Ball is our district leader.  He's really good at being around for us if we need him.  He's a pal.  He's from Idaho, but he doesn't believe in dinosaurs.  So, I don't know if we can really be friends.  Joking!  He's a pal.

I love you!  Thanks you for the letters.  I miss you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

We do a lot of fun things. . .

November 15, 2010
MTC, Provo, Utah

Well, guys, what a week.  There have been a few bumps this week, but Elder Peterson and I are doing very well.  We get along well.  We don't talk too much, but we have learned each other’s boundaries.  We did very well in the Ta with our mock investigator.  We did very well. Our teacher told me I was a genuine teacher.  I was so happy for our performance. 

Elder Lowry is leaving. I'm kind of sad about it.  He was my buddy.  The other night He invited me to come and talk to him while he packed. He leaves today at one. I hope I get to see him in Iloilo. 

There are two elders who sing very, very well in our zone - Elder Green from New Zealand and Elder Heather from Samoa.  I heard them singing next door, and poked my head in and they were singing “Nearer My God to Thee” in harmony.  I asked to join.  I did on that song, and they invited me to sing a few more, but I did not.  They were such original good singers that I just listened for about 30 minutes. It was so cool.

So, my teacher told us a cannibal joke:  What do you get when you come late to a cannibal lunch?  The cold shoulder.

We do a lot of fun things, but don’t get the idea that we don’t work.

The temple has been nice.  Yes Dad, please send the family names up here.  I will get to them next week.  

Elder Bednar spoke last Tuesday.  He was very good.  It wasn’t all that insightful, but he really drove some points home.

Sister McDonald is in my zone, and plays the fiddle.  She went to India and taught school, and did an internship in Washington, D.C.  I said, “You’re a lot like my sister, Sarah.  She ran the name Sarah Waggoner through her head a few times and said it sounded very familiar. After I got a picture for her, she said Sarah was her TA for one of her classes, and they used to say “hi” to each other all the time.

I have been reading the books Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts.  Whenever we have free time, I read these. I like them a lot. Class is going well.  Tagalog is also going well.  Things are speeding up too!

I love you. I love you all a lot. Thank you for the letters. They are the best.

Leah, the phone charger is in my backpack.  Sorry.

See you in two!! Wahoo!!!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

to really be working for something

November 8, 2010
MTC, Provo, Utah

Well, what a week guys.  It was pretty crazy.  It's all slowed down, but in a way it's all sped up. It's a pace I can take, but it hardly seems like a week ago that I wrote you.

M. Russell Ballard spoke to us last Tuesday night. It was very cool.

Tagalag is going pretty well.  I have one teacher that I especially enjoy.  His name is Brother Welch, and he is a great teacher.  I learn quite a bit each day.  It's crazy to look back at the morning and see what you didn't know then.

We've been teaching the missionary lessons.  It's been ok.  I'm pretty smooth at them. We even started a progressive investigator, much the chagrin of my companion.

I kind of like it here.  Some things are tough, but it's nice to really be working for something.  It is tough for me to study when others are horsing around.  It’s like I'm pretty serious here - It's kind of crazy. I'm the same person I've always been. That won't change.  I know that, but I have become more responsible and hard working.  Working at the gun range would seem like cake now. 

I don't really like horseplay except for in appropriate settings. So when it is an appropriate setting, I fool around.  It's kind of a more reverent Groucho Marx type humor. Like the other day, I wrestled with Elder Doig, just for fun. 

I sing “Nearer My God to Thee” all day long.  It's the best.  I've arranged that song for violin, piano, and two part harmony. It sounds really good.  We're going to sing it in sacrament meeting soon. I have to finish it though.  Elder Thayne and I really like to sing.  We do it a lot.  Yesterday before church we went on splits so we could go work out “Nearer My God to Thee” with a piano.  Later that day we sat on the temple grounds with a few other elders who like to sing and we sang hymns, in harmony. It was a great day yesterday. 

Elders Waggoner & Thayne
A couple days ago we had a large group meeting. There was a piano and violin overture. Elder Thayne and I got up and pretended to be playing it while everyone came in.  See, I'm not so high strung. 

Thank you so much for the letters.  They are really nice to receive. 

I'm having trouble thinking of what happened this week.

Elders Lowry & Waggoner

Well, Elder Lowry is our zone leader.  He's the best.  I get along with him about as good as I get along with Ed.  He loves the Avett Brothers, he's form Athens, GA.  He's a great guy.  At lunch we sit together, and in the evening he's comes in to my room and we talk about whatever.  It's nice to get along with someone so well.  Sometimes at gym we run together and sing the Avett Brothers.  There is a lot of singing here. A lot.

Earlier today we went to the temple again. We did sealings. A lot of the names were from the Philippines.  One of them that I did was from Oklahoma, and the last name was Guthrie!  It wasn't Woody Guthrie, but it was still cool. 

Annie and Sarah have been great thus far.  (Dad’s note: Sarah and Annie have frequently mailed cookies, cupcakes, and letters.)  My roommates are so jealous.  It's funny.  I haven’t gotten a letter from Ed yet.

I'm so excited for Ben getting his call to Germany.  I'm really happy for him. 
There is an Elder Shroedter here from Jeffersonville, Indiana.  Maybe Dad, you know his dad?  (Dad’s note: Yes, I do.)  He's a good guy.  I run into Justin Roundy a lot.  The other day, Justin told my companion a story about my first mutual in Las Vegas, and how i punched that guy in the nose.  (Dad's note: It was an accident in a swimming pool - at least that's what we were told at the time.)  My companion was stunned.

It's nice to hear from you guys. I really hope you send me more letters. 

I'm stoked for New Years in the Philippines. It's anarchy, with homemade bazooka style fireworks.

Love, Nate

Monday, November 1, 2010

I didn't think it was going to be this bad.

November 1, 2010
MTC, Provo, Utah

Man, this whole thing is rough, but I am finding out that I'm a good worker. 

Elders Waggoner & Peterson
Elder Peterson, my companion, is from Texas.  At first he was really reserved, but after day three he opened up, and didn't stop opening up.  He's kind of short but really malikas (strong.)  During gym, I go running and he works out.  I run about three and a half miles a day.  Stress relief is essential here.  I didn't think it was going to be this bad.  

Tagalog is going pretty well.  At first it was overwhelming because we had three classes per day without time to review or study, but when we got time to study, I really, really studied.  I don't mind wearing a suit all the time. Everyone likes my pinstripe one. I told the sisters in my district how Mom tore it apart, altered it, and put it back together, and they were super impressed.

I really miss music, more than anything.  I was missing nature and the outside world more for the first few days, but then we got to go on a temple walk yesterday.  It was really nice. About 55 degrees and the fall leaves were so cool. We had a fun time taking pictures that I'll mail you this week.  

Sarah and Annie have been great so far. They sent me cupcakes that I passed out to my zone in honor of Halloween. They also sent me pictures we took at Cracker Barrel. I put them up in front of my desk. Other missionaries come in and ask about the girls, half as a joke, but I think Elder Heather from Samoa is pretty serious.

My zone leader is from GA and he is super cool. He has to be nice and welcoming to everyone; he always comes into my room in the evening and we "hang out".  The first day he asked all of our district what we did for fun and I said "I play folk music."  He asked "What instruments?"  I said “the banjo, guitar and mandolin."  Then he asked me if I knew the Avett Brothers.  I somehow knew he was going to ask me before he said it.  I told him that they were my favorite band.  We both had a pretty good freak out. No doubt, this was the correct district to be in. NO DOUBT.

When our Tagalog teacher left the room because he had a nose bleed, I got the entire class to also leave the room and hide.  I was sure to bring my Preach My Gospel manual so we could review and not waste time. At first my companion didn't want to leave the room, but the sisters said they wanted to and the Elders followed suit.  Sisters are way smarter than Elders - probably because girls mature faster.

I'm rooming with Elder Doig from Canada.  He falls asleep a lot, and I pat him on his back and give him a root beer barrel.  The days are long here.  Another elder I room with is Elder Tran. He's from California, and he's a cool guy, not too off the wall.

I get kind of annoyed with some of the classes. They stress taking notes in all your meetings. I do, I always have my pen and notebook, but it bothers me how they try to be inspiring with the same things, said in the same way, as I heard in primary.

Elder Thames and I are going to try and sing in sacrament meeting.  The other day we were in our classroom during companion study time.  Elder Thames companion, Elder Ball, is the district leader and was off at a meeting.  So, the two of us suggested that we sing.  We sang “Nearer My God to Thee” in Tagalog.  It was really good, and I said “Let’s sing this in Sacrament Meeting.”  When we went on splits, I tried to figure out harmonies.  I love that song.  I sing it all day long.  I need too.  This place is crazy.

The food here is all right, at least it changes every day.  Sunday breakfast is rough though.  They don't really cook anything; they just have cereal and milk.  I was forced to bite the bullet that is lactose.  I am feeling the effects today.

I saw Sarah's friend Saj.  Justin Roundy is here. I've seen him a lot, but I never have my camera on me at the time. Another guy from my seminary class is here.  He was surprised I am on a mission - I could tell.

I don't have time to read emails, so you please respond through or a letter. Tell me about the election, the World Series, the Avett Brothers.  Tell me about you guys. How is Leah liking being an (l)only child?  The mountains are really pretty right now.  We tell stories a lot.  I have told about all my pranks in high school and Ms. Z's big prank on me.  They all think it's really cool. 

I miss you. I love you. Payapa (peace)

-Elder Waggoner

PS - Ugly ties are gold here.