Monday, December 27, 2010

It's cool, because here I am!

December 27, 2010
MTC, Provo, Utah

For my Christmas present to my zone, I went to every person and asked them if they needed sewing done.  It's funny, I did a lot, a real lot.  Every evening we have an hour of personal time, and I used that entire hour for three days straight, and gym time, to finish it.  It was pretty fun.  I am glad I had something to give for Christmas.  I've gotten pretty good at hemming and stuff.  I did hems, buttons, split seams, and similar things.

Sister Danner won't be going with us to Iloilo today.  She hurt her arm playing volleyball and has to stay behind for three more weeks.  I am devastated for her.  She is going to be with the younger district until they leave.  It's been hard on her because we had a bunch of meetings to prepare leaving, and we've been so excited to leave, and we've been packing.  It's been super tough.  She's a trooper though, and she'll be there in three weeks.

I got a new journal.  My MTC journal I'm sending home.  You may read it if you like, I covered up the personal parts.  It's almost full.  My new journal is brown.

Thanks Dad for the candle story.  I read it to my class on Christmas Eve.  I know the Sisters at least liked it.  It's a well written and good story.  Sister McDonald from the other district borrowed it and read it too.  I really liked it. Thank-you, Dad.

So I played in the talent show.  It went really, really well.  I sang "What are They Doing in Heaven Today?"  I was 43rd of 44 acts.  I felt like I did really well.  Some people recorded it on their cameras, and when I watched their recordings, it sounds like I sang well.  The lady who did the talent show is the music coordinator for the MTC.  Before I played, she did a very nice introduction about Kentucky and how I'm authentic.  I told her beforehand that I live in Las Vegas, but she said she didn't care.  She's awesome!  I have been receiving endless compliments the past few days.  I think my companion is getting annoyed because we always get stopped.  There is some serious talent here!  One Elder played the bagpipes!  There was an Asian sister who sang and played the guitar, and she was really good.  Some Russians did a missionary version of a Lady Gaga song.  I don't know Lady Gaga, but apparently she's kind of crazy.  It was a lot of fun.

We got to watch Mr. Kruger's Christmas on Christmas Eve.  President Smith told us we could take off our jackets!  It's a Christmas miracle!!!  They also gave all the missionaries a bag of popcorn!  Also, we sang the “12 Days of Christmas” missionary style that evening.  It was so wild and fun.  For instance, on the 6th day of Christmas it was "the MTC gave to me, a 6:30 wake up," and for the 11th day it was "eleven loads of laundry."  My favorite was the tenth day’s "ten more commandments".  They divided up the audience based on the where we were sitting and different sections sang different days.  It was sooooo much fun.  We were all dying!

Packing!  Oh man, it's hard.  There is so much to bring.  We have a 44 pound limit for each bag, and 18 pounds for carry on.  I don't think I'll be able to bring the seasonings.  Sorry.  I ship out at 11:30 today!  My laundry is finishing right now.  I can't really pack until it's clean.

So Elder Peterson and I opened presents together Christmas morning.  We were just like five-year-olds, sitting on the floor and tearing them open.  I really loved the picture book so much.  It was a great diversity of pictures!  (The book contained pictures of our family and Nate, some old and few recent.)  I loved them!  Thanks.  I liked a lot of it, but the picture book the most.  I love you, and hope you had a good Christmas!

I finally got that thing notarized.  The lady said that I had to sign my full name even though I told her I have never signed my full name.  She wouldn't sign it if I didn't.  I told her “Well, I'm going to have to practice because I've never done this before.  I forgot cursive after the 3rd grade.”  So, I practiced and did it.

You'll have to tell Ben, Trevor, and Tanner something for me. I hid notes behind the "standard of truth" poster in room ____ in ___.  I hid notes for them there for when they come into the MTC.  Tanner leaves in two days, so you'll have to get to him quickly.  Feel free to break into my Facebook account to contact them.  I won't be able to.  Sorry.

Bishop Allen spoke to us last night.  He's done so many things in the church, such as make all the Mormon commercials.  We watched about ten of them, and then he expanded on the punch line of each at the end of the commercials. It was a great fireside.

Elder Russell M. Nelson came and spoke!  Remember when he gave me a 2 dollar bill for my mission?  It's cool because here I am!!!  He spoke to us on Luke 2.  He took it a few words at a time, finding all the meaning you could possibly get out of it, using about nine different translations of the bible.  It was cool.  He also spoke to us in Priesthood on Sunday about the gathering of Israel.  That was super cool.  Oh man, he's legit.

It turns out missionaries here have other missionaries sign their journals.  I didn't want that, so I used one of the blue notebooks Sarah gave me.  It's been fun.  It's like the last day of high school when people are signing yearbooks.

Christmas was good!  However, by the time Christmas morning came around, we were too excited about leaving for the Philippines to care about Christmas!  I leave today!!!  Oh man, I am so stoked!!  You have no idea.  This is the craziest adventure I've ever been on.  I get to talk to real people today!!!  Real people!!  I get to be a real missionary!!!  It's crazy to think I'm at this point.  You remember when I was little, and know when the missionaries would come over to eat, and I'd get sent to my room almost every time?  Well, I'm one of them now!  Awesome.

I think I'll be a good one, but it’s hard to tell - especially for the first couple of months out there, when I won't have any idea what's going on.   I am going to call you today from LA.  So, yeah, be home for it.  I am excited for the plane ride so I can talk to people, but also so I can have caffeine soda.  Rebel Yell!  Jok lang.  (jok lang is how Filipinos say "just joking".)

My favorite phrase is when people ask me how I'm doing - I reply "buhay pa," which means “still alive.”

I passed down all the Waggoner worksheets to Elder Gillette.  I am going to miss him.  He is so cool guys.  He's super legit. I wish he was in my district.  He's going Manila, not Iloilo!  So, bummer there.  He's going to hike the Appalachian Trail with me.  I really have enjoyed him.

I love you so much.  The jury's still out on the MTC thing.  One thing is for sure - breakfast was terrible here.  I love you.  I'm leaving on a jet plane!!!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

so stoked to bust out

I got a haircut.  The lady asked me how I wanted it.  I explained to her I wanted hair to comb over, and how I really wanted hair that was movable.  She buzzed me.  I could have killed her.  In fact, I might.  I don't even have enough hair to do anything with.  But whatever - who am I trying to impress?

The Tongans.  We have the wildest zone in the MTC for two reasons - Tongans and Samoans. They are super funny, super crazy, but still super relaxed.  They don't really work too hard, but I really like them.  We have a lot of them for some reason, and then all the other Tongans and Samoans from other zones come and hang out in our dorms.  Last Tuesday night one of them was leaving and they sang.  It was the most beautiful music I had ever heard.  They sang in the stairwell so it echoed real well, but still.  They sang some hymn that US hymn books don't have.  It was so cool.  About 12 islanders were singing.  I went to bed in musical exultation.  They said they'll sing again tonight, too.  I'm really looking forward to it.

I started singing in the MTC Choir.  It was ok; it's something different, so it was fun to do.  Apparently I was on camera close up for a while when we were singing.

So whew!  Elder Peterson and I had a hard week, but I think we've reached an ok spot.  But man, it was a trying week for sure.  He wasn't talking to me for a day.

single bed design
Elders Thayne, Ball, Doig, and I messed with Elder Tran and Elder Doig’s bed.  We took them apart.  They were bunk beds, but we made them to single beds.  Elder Doig was in on it.  It was just for laughs.  Little did we know that Elder Doig hid the poles to put the bed back together.  So that did not end well.  Some pranks need to be for the fun and nothing more.

The Hawkins sent me a package.  What pals!  I put the stuff under Elder Thayne and Ball’s mini Christmas tree that is sitting on their upside-down trashcan.  That was really sweet of them.  I need to write them and tell them thank you.  Hopefully I can get to it.  I might not.  P-day has been so stuffed so far.

Brother Welch
So my favorite teacher left. He was super cool. He's brother Welch.  He's dating a Danish girl and learned Danish for her.  He went to Denmark with her to propose in Denmark on Christmas in Danish.  So, he's got an ok excuse for leaving, I guess, but it was really sad to see him go.  Honestly, he was the best teacher I've ever had.

This week, Elder Peterson and I taught in the TA second lesson full Tagalog. LET ME TELL YOU.  The Plan of Salvation has some crazy words in Tagalog.  It was tough, but we got through it fairly well.  We did the best we'd ever done for teaching to someone’s needs.  At this point, it's usually short sentences that make up most of our lessons.  It's hard, but I'm getting it – until I get to Iloilo and they don't even speak Tagalog!

We have a progressive investigator.  Her name is Jana.  It's a teacher pretending to be an investigator.  This week, because Brother Welch left and because of the sun issues, the time for class changed and we couldn't go and do it.  We asked Sisters McDonald and Salway to do it for us.  They accepted, and committed her to baptism and to give up smoking.  Those dogs!  We'd taught like 7 lessons already and the one we can't make, she commits to baptism.  It's super cool though - I'm not bummed at all.  This week we're teaching her again, and the sisters are coming too.  We're teaching about chastity and tithing- we'll let the sisters handle chastity.

I make worksheets, as you know.  This week I made two; one for health and body vocab, and one for tithing and second lesson vocab.  There's a new Elder who wants to work for Pixar.  His name is Elder Gillette, and he is super cool!  He helped me make them.  He drew the human body and a face so I could label parts of the body in Tagalog.  It looks so sweet!  He's totally cool.  A lot of the new elders are super cool. One elder from Southern Wisconsin went to the same scout camp as me when I was thirteen.  The first one Jake Webb went with me.  He doesn't remember me selling walking sticks, though.

We have an Elder Coakley in our zone.  He's the best piano player ever.  I asked him to show me some ragtime music.  So yesterday we went to a piano and he showed me four ragtime songs.  It was so awesome.  He's so good, and it's so fun to listen to.  Well, just as he finished his last song a Branch President came in and balled us out for inappropriate music.  Ragtime?!  It's from the 1920's!  Seriously.  That Branch President is stuck in the late 1800's.  We're not monks - we can listen to good music.  It ticked me off.

I officially got into the talent show despite my bad, sick voice.

We cleaned the temple this morning, which is why I'm late for writing.  I'm doing laundry right now.  It was ok, but I cleaned the girls dressing room.  It was terrible - there was so much hair!  It was really cool because I got to walk around the temple anywhere I wanted alone.  That part was awesome.

Sunday I taught district meeting (Sunday School), sang in Sacrament Meeting, passed the Sacrament, and gave a talk.  It was crazy.  My talk was 60 percent Tagalog and 40 percent English so that people could actually get something from my talk.  It was a cool experience because I was able to show my personality even though I was speaking Tagalog.  That's a big step.

Our district sang “Away in a Manger” in district meeting.  Elder Peterson and I taught about the Holy Ghost.  It was a busy Sunday. 

Last night we had an awesome devotional.  A guy came and gave a 50 minute monolog as if he were Willard Richards.  He talked about Joseph Smith and the days before his martyrdom.  I learned a whole lot that I didn't know before.  It was really cool.  At the end of the meeting, we sang “We Thank Thee, Oh God, for a Prophet.”  Some sister stood, and then everyone followed suit. We're not supposed to stand, but I thought it was cool she did.  It was brave, and she was doing it out of respect.

Thanks for the Christmas stuff.  I hope you guys have a great one.  Dad, I really want that Christmas story.  I love you guys soooooo much.  I miss you.  Tell Ben Happy Birthday!!!!!  I think it's his tomorrow.  I don't think I'll have time to write him!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

a pretty darn good week (supplemental)

Dad’s Note: The following is from a letter that Elder Waggoner wrote on the same Prep Day as the entry below.

Very glad Dad’s birthday went well!  Sounds like a bunch of fun.  Leah tells me Mom has Alzheimer’s.  Good to hear.  I hope the Christmas tree works out.  Did you put C-3PO on the top?  (Dad’s note: That’s an old family tradition, and yes we did.) 

I feel much better now – don’t let the e-mail scare you. 

We had Mission Conference.  I gave a talk on Diligence and Obedience.  It was the best talk I’ve ever given.  It was cool!  I used a lot of scriptures of people like Nephi an Alma the Younger, but all the while specifically relating it to missionary work.  I read from the white handbook, Preach My Gospel, and of course the standard works.  I talked about the blessings that come from being obedient and talked about living a higher standard, from the Law of Moses to the new law Jesus gave, and on to the standards of the white handbook.  I didn’t say it was a new law, just an even higher and more specific standard.  The other talks ran short, so I got to run long.  It went very well.

Thank-you for sending the Bobby Kennedy speech.  (Dad’s Note: Nate had asked for the speech “A Ripple of Hope.”)  I love that speech.  It’s so good.  Not really as a missionary, but as a person.  I’ve shared it with Elder Thayne.  He loves it too.  I really appreciate it.

I got a letter from the Bishop’s family with drawings from their kids.  I hung one of them up.  It was so nice.

I’ve been trying real hard to make the new district feel comfortable.  Did I tell you that the second day here, the Branch President slapped me?  He does it to someone every time a new district arrives.  Yeah, it’s for the benefit of the entire zone, not for me.  He says something like “If you want to go home, give it 7 to 10 days” all the while slapping an Elder on the cheek.  I was that lucky individual our second day here back in October.  So, this week in Priesthood, he out of the blue says “Elder Waggoner. . .” and steps up to me.  I said “Please don’t slap me” before he said what he was going to do.  It was really funny.  He wasn’t going to - he was just asking me a question.  Funny, though.

Monday, December 13, 2010

a pretty darn good week

So this week was pretty eventful.  It was a pretty darn good week, despite me being sick for a lot of it!

On Wednesdays we have service in the morning.  We usually clean some dorms.  We had been assigned to clean drains, which is the worst job ever.  We have to clean out hair from drains.  It's really bad, but then some guy came in and said he needed help laying brick.  So, we laid brick!!!  So I can say forever that I helped make the sidewalk in front of the MTC!  It was fun!

The past few nights, Elder Doig has asked for a bed time story - just for fun.  He's not a kid. So I make up stories about farm animals named Kendall (his first name.)  So far he's been a chicken, a dog, a horse and a pig.  It's pretty funny.

I've decided to sing in the MTC choir.  This Tuesday we're singing “Away in a Manger.”  I'm singing bass because I was sick and I can't hit any higher notes.

I tried out for the Christmas talent show.  I sang "What are They Doing in Heaven Today?"  The MTC President's wife and the MTC music coordinator are the judges.  They both loved it!  They really did.  They were talking about sound check and what not, so I'm pretty sure I'm in - they were talking like i was in.  My companion, who was there, thought I was too.  I told them that I usually play with a harmonica, but I don't know if it's an approved instrument, so I didn't sing with it.  They said they'd love that, and to come back with it.  So tomorrow I will.  I'll sing it with my D harmonica because my voice is still low.

New missionaries arrived.  They are a diverse bunch.  One is a crazy marine who did a tour in Afghanistan.  He's nuts.  He was telling me about how missionaries join the marines after their mission and they need to lose the missionary mentality because being in the marines is about destroying lives, not helping people.  Well, that was crazy for me.  He often scolds his district for not keeping the rules exactly.  He scolded me last night for talking after 10:15.  He needs to lose the marine mentality.  

There’s another missionary from Wisconsin!  He's super cool too.  His in the same stake as Beloit.  Apparently it's not part of the Rockford Stake anymore. 

I get my flight plans this Friday!!!

Hey, whatever became of my traffic ticket?  Should I be worried when I come back??

I've been making worksheets for my class with vocabulary from the lesson we're teaching that week in the TA.  We play Jeopardy with the words on them every Friday.  The worksheets have become a hot commodity with the other Filipino zone, too.  This week Elder Peterson and I suffered yet another loss in Jeopardy.  It's rough.

Today I get a haircut - my first of my mission.  It grew kind of fast.  I hope they don't scalp me. 

The BYU men's chorus came and did a fireside last night.  It was superb – really, really good!  I really enjoyed it. 

I own the ugliest tie ever.  No joke.  There is a tie so ugly that it has been passed down from district to district.  This last Thursday I pulled out a tie that beat it. 

Like I said, I’ve been sick, but I feel alright today.  My throat is still just a little tired, but no biggie.  Thanks so much for the cough drops and tissues and veggies!!  You are the best!!!!  Both of you!  Thanks Sarah so much for the harmonica rack! And Sarah, thanks for the Yim Yames news!!!

Trevor Tonks got his call!!!!!  I'm writing him today to congratulate him but man. Let me say, I am so happy.  I was literally jumping up and down and stomping my feet!  He's going to Chile!!!!!!!  Ben in Europe, me in Asia, and Trevor in South America!  All different languages!!! Oh, man!!!  Now Jon needs to go to Australia, and Kyle LeFevre to Africa!!  We already have Derek in North America!

I saw Landon Steele.  He's loving it here. He seems to be doing well.  He just got here. 

This was crazy.  We have a wild zone, much to the chagrin of the new military Elder, but we do.  That’s the way it's always been, and looks like it will forever be.  This week, two Elders got in a wrestling match.  They both wrestled in school, and they just wanted to.  It was just for fun, and all in good fun.  We all lined the walls and let them go at it.  After about two minutes, someone said "How long do we let them go before we stop 'em?"  This, of course, was said by someone who isn't in our zone - he's in the German zone.  I said "until they pin each other."  They went on for like thirty seconds more when I realized the 2nd Counselor of our branch is also watching us.  I turned red.  Other people started walking to their rooms. Our second counselor didn't intervene at all!  In fact, he was totally cool with it.  He talked with both of them about how he had a companion that he wrestled with, and how he was glad it was done in good fun.  We have an awesome Branch Presidency.

I'm doing very well.  Tagalog is going all right.  I'm not the best at it, but I don't think I'm the worst.  We taught pretty well in the TA this last week.  It was the first lesson again in full Tagalog.  I could say most everything I wanted to say.  Slowly, but I could say it. This next week we do the second lesson, which is the Plan of Salvation.  Oh boy!  The Plan of Salvation in Tagalog has some pretty crazy words, let me tell you.  Oh man, it's going to be rough. 

We have a progressive investigator.  It's a fake investigator that we go through the lessons with. Last Friday we talked about the word of wisdom.  We found out she's a devoted smoker.  We challenged her to quit, and to read the BOM when she gets the urge.  She declined.  I've been preparing verses that talk about God getting us through trials. It's going to be a rough next lesson.

With two weeks left, some in our district are kind of giving up.  They have things they need to work on as a missionary, but with two weeks they are just putting it off until they get to the Philippines.  It bothers me a little, but I can't blame them.  I am still working on myself and my Tagalog though.

Ilonggo is nothing like Tagalog.  We can't even read Ilonggo.  Apparently, it's sung/talked, and there are fewer and easier conjugations, which I am very happy about.  I am so stoked to get there.  Panay isn't very populated compared to the rest of the Philippines.  I think I got called there because I love hiking.  I also love you. I hope you are all doing very well.  Hey, Dad, any progress on that Christmas candle story?

I love you.  I miss you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

my best self I've ever been

December 6, 2010
MTC, Provo, Utah

Hey guys. I hope all is well. Everything is just great here. They have all the lights on the trees around the campus.  It's really cool looking.  Our district all took pictures with them last Thursday.  A little too Technicolor for my taste, but whatever.

We had the Church Relief Society President come and speak to us last week.  I can't remember what she spoke about, but I remember being surprised that it was good.  After all, Relief Society gives me the heebie-jeebies.

In the week's game of Jeopardy, Elder Peterson and I lost, not only to the sisters – again - but also to Elders Doig and Tran.  We did not miss a word, except for a surprise word that Brother Bryant threw in.  It was very upsetting.

Brother Welch is the best.  He is our other teacher.  I look forward to his class every day.  I'm seriously bummed on the days he doesn't teach.  He is learning Danish for his girlfriend.  The Sisters think that's "soooo sweeeeet."  Anyway, he's really cool and funny.

Yesterday was Fast Sunday.  It was really a great Sunday.  Really, really great.

We had the temple walk again yesterday.  It was about 60 degrees!!!  I was burning up.  It was a nice day.  The oldest district is leaving tomorrow, so we took pictures with them.  In one day, we will be the oldest Filipino district!  It's crazy how fast time is flying.  

Elder Peterson and I taught in a full lesson in Tagolog for the first time.  It went ok, good for the fact neither of us really know Tagalog.  We taught one of Annie's co-workers.  I think his name was Brian.

I've started reading out of the Tagalog Book of Mormon stories.  It's going ok.  I have to read it with a dictionary on my desk.  I have to look up like one in three words.  It's not fun to read, but I'm learning.

Every week I write letters while I do my laundry.  I love the laundry room. It's moist and warm.  It's like at home when I'd take 30 minute showers.

Thanks for the cookies on behalf of the entire zone.  Everyone agrees, the cookies changed their lives.  They are really good.  Really good.  At times, it's hard to have access to so many cookies because I'm trying to be healthy.  But don't let that discourage you.  They are too good!  I like it when you send them in plastic bags because then I can give some to the sisters as well.  They liked them.

We've been talking a lot about how poor the Philippines is.  I'm super excited to go there.  It's bound to change the way I think about America.  We've been taking a look at how the poor relate to the gospel.  As a borderline hippy, this has been a good topic.

We do service every Wednesday.  We clean another dorm.  We clean 15M.  This past week, I got to clean toilets.  It's pretty fun.  You dump a bucket of water into the toilet so that it flushes (I don't know why you just don't flush it?) then you attack it with a toilet scrubber and cleaning stuff.  It's pretty fun.  Elder Thayne and I did the easy half.  Elder Peterson got paired up with a guy who complained the entire time and had to the hard half.  I was about to drop kick this guy for how much he was complaining, so Elder Peterson must have been even more annoyed by it.

Well Mom, hold onto your seat: Other people have started coming to me for sewing jobs.  I have sewn Elder Washburn’s shirt pocket back on, and today I'm fixing his ripped seem in his coat jacket.  I know it's crazy, but I think I'm the only one who knows how to thread a needle.  I enjoy doing it.  I'm trying hard to be a Christian (it's hard when you're around so many Mormons) so i find ways to be nice and do service.

The MTC is not accepting packages that arrive later than the 22nd.  I really don't want anything, I don't need anything.  Maybe some root beer barrels and my Bobby Kennedy shirt, but Dad if you could write out that story about the kids lighting the candles during Christmas time in Holland, that would be great.  Be sure to include all your Doug Waggoner-style comments explaining people, places, and feelings in endless detail.  I watched the Christmas devotional last night, and afterward, all I wanted was your story.

Later last night we watched The Mountain of the Lord.  I convinced our roommates and my companion it was good.  I was embarrassed.  It was alright, but not really all that enjoyable.

I'm doing very well.  So is Elder Peterson.  This week has been great for everyone in our district.  We are starting to really enjoy it.  Most everyone in our district has buckled down and has started working and studying all the time.  Maybe we're just scared that we're leaving in three weeks?  I don't know, but the work is going well.

Yesterday we learned how to barter.  Apparently, it's common to barter for things there.  I feel it's inhumane to barter for a lower price because those people have so little, and what's really the difference between 60 cents and 70 cents to us?

Mom, thanks for doing that suit.  It's my favorite out of the two.

Dad, Happy Birthday.  I love you. You old (Dad’s editing deleted a word here.)

Like I said, I'm doing well.  I am probably my best self I've ever been.  Weird.  Yeah, but it's true.  Today Elder Peterson and I went to the temple and did two more of our family names.

Elder Doig has been marking down how many times I drum my pencil on my desk and how many times I started randomly humming or singing to myself.  He complains to me about it.  The other day he got in my face about it, “Do you know how many times you've started singing randomly for no reason?"

I responded, "Elder Doig, do you know how much time you've wasted counting?"

The Sisters "Elder Doig, why don't you work on your purpose?"

He had been waiting all week to get a good shot at me, but now to no avail.  I ask him a lot to focus and study, and ask him to talk about other things.  I'm sure it seems I'm constantly correcting him.  So every chance he gets, he corrects me.

We have a Christmas talent show here at the MTC.  They have a guitar we can use. I think I'm going to sing "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today."  I'll probably just sing it alone.

I love you all so much. I hope to hear from all of you in letters and what not. Thank you for so much communication and apples and cookies and carrots!!!!!! and root beer barrels!!!!!!! i love you.  Subsequently, the district loves you.  They reap the benefits of our kitchen.

How are the Avetts?  How does Kevin Hayes solo album sound?

Much love.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Few More Pictures

Missionaries Samuel Smith and Nate Waggoner

Tree Cutter and Tree Hugger?

The infamous Snow Angels from two weeks ago

Ad Hoc Thanksgiving Dinner - at bottom of stairwell?