Monday, January 24, 2011

Good one, Grandpa, you ate it again.

January 24, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan Province, Panay Island

What a week, guys.  The Philippines is crazy.  Is it possible to explain that to you?  I'm on the other fetching side of the world!  It's wild.

A couple of night ago, I woke up to a very strange sound.  It sounded like a demented baby crying.  It was like a half growl, half cry.  It would get louder and softer.  I had no idea what the heck the sound was.  I wasn't scared, but seriously, what the heck?!  I realized that Elder Pipit was awake, so I asked him, "Elder, what the heck is that?"  He said "I think it's cats."  Once he said that, I recognized it was two cats in a fight.  It sounded crazy.  They were trying to kill each other.  It was so loud!  The servant lady eventually got up and dumped water on them.  That was good.

I am not quite caught up on laundry.  I got really far behind on it for a while.  We did laundry three times this week.  Doing it is a long process, but I bet I'll be buff by the end of two years of washing by hand.  We listen to Mormon Tab as we wash.  We open up the windows of a classroom in the church and turn on the hymns CD.  I'm trying to sing harmony to it as we wash.

We do a lot of work.  We found 16 new investigators this week!  16!  We taught something like twenty lessons!  We got four new families from a single lady in the ward.  Our three baptismal committed investigators fell through, or at least for the original date.  One won't get baptized because the ward was mean to his sister.  That's really too bad.  We work with the ward.  We visit them and teach them about charity and love and stuff.  I was told that teaching the gospel will change behavior faster than talking about behavior will change behavior.  But man, it's just not sticking.  I love my area, though.  I love the scenery.  It's so pretty.  It's so cool and fitting for me.  I get to hike!  ALL DAY!!

I've been working hard at befriending the members.  Elder Pipit thinks he'll get transferred, so I have really got to get to know the members.  Since I can't speak their language, it's kind of rough.  I ask them about their family and their work.  I am smiling more now, because if I don't, people will ask me “what’s wrong?”  I'm so tired of getting asked that that I just smile.

I gave yet another talk in church.  I shared Alma 36 as the steps of repentance.  I don't think anyone understood me.  Only one person talked to me about it afterwards and that was to tell me I should have just read in English.

Elder Light gave me a hammock for my birthday.  It's so sweet.  Elder Pipit is jealous.  At first it was kind of scary because the only place I could hang it was kind of up high.  It'll hold, and it's so good.  I write in my journal from it.  It's impossible to be bummed out when you’re in a hammock.  Impossible.

I've been getting along really well with Elder Pipit.  He's really laid back.  I've been teaching him American slang, such as "you ate it".  The other day when I went across a piece of wood acting like a bridge over the muddy rice irrigation, the bored snapped and I fell face forward into mud.  His remarks were "Good one, Grandpa, you ate it again."  He calls me Grandpa because of my "old man shoes" and my "old man music."  It's all in good fun.

The other day we taught a new family for the first time, way back in the bukid.  They gave us some root fruit stuff.  It looks like a potato and taste like a rotten macadamia nut.  We ate it to be nice, and as we left they offered me more, so we took one for the road. Later that night, Elder Pipit threw his at me super hard.  Earlier in the day, he had taught me the word for "ouch"- the word is "agay!"  So he threw that fruit at me and I was like "What the heck, Elder!" and then he said "You're supposed to say agay when you get hurt."  I said “Agay” and threw it back at him.  We threw it at each other for about two more nights until he got me in the face and I finally decided to end the feud and throw it out.

When an investigator doesn't pull through for a lesson or appointment, we call it getting punted.  We got punted like four times in a row last Wednesday.  It was crazy.  It was okay, though, because we had good lessons later in the day.

Last Monday (Jan 17) we celebrated my birthday with the Sisters.  Elder Pipit's birthday was the fourth, and mine was the next day (Tuesday, the 18th) and another sister’s was in the last part of December.  So, we had birthday cake with all of our names on it.  It was a big cake and the Sisters cut me a HUGE piece.  They made me eat it all.  It was a lot of fun, but I had trouble getting up afterwards.  We joked about not eating again for the rest of the week and stuff like that.  It took like 45 minutes to finish the piece of cake they gave me.  They sent us home with the leftovers of the cake, and we just gave the leftovers away.  We couldn't do it, we couldn't eat anymore.  We didn't even eat dinner later that night.

We had a good experience with one of our investigators that had been an investigator for a long time.  We had just been reading the Book of Mormon with her because she wouldn't read it on her own.  We started in Third Nephi 11 and just read a chapter each visit.  Elder Pipit let me lead discussions with her.  We got done reading chapter 12 and we asked her what she thought about the chapter.  She said "I think that I need to get baptized."  We hadn't talked about baptism with her!  We never got the chance because she wouldn't read or pray.  The Book of Mormon did all the work for us.  She felt the spirit of the Book of Mormon and bam!  She hasn't set a date because she's going to work in Manila for a while, but yeah!  Heck yeah!

It's really hot.

In one of our lessons, the mother started breastfeeding out of the blue.  That was strange.  I focused really hard on the lesson.  At first I was thinking “What the heck is she doing?”  But then i realized.  I know it's no big deal around here, but i am not used to it.  Of course I didn't look.  In fact, I really only taught to the husband the rest of the lesson.  Anyways, awkward American ako.

I asked the man from whom we always buy bread for the "guapo discount."  He died laughing.  Guapo means handsome.

We taught primary again.  It was anarchy.  We taught about prophets.  We couldn't get the kids to sit still.  We couldn't.  Eventually we gave up and they ran everywhere, including out of the primary room.  Elder Pipit and I just sat in the small chairs in complete defeat after the lesson.  It was rough.

The other night we got out of a lesson at like 8:30 pm.  It's dark and we are really far from home.  There is no public transportation that late, so we usually just have to walk, but it was so late that we decided to hitch a ride.  The first two cars we see pick us up!  We couldn't believe it, but we got picked up by people driving the mission vehicles from Bacolod (on an island to the east of Nate’s mission) to Manila (across islands and seas, 250 miles north)!  What are the odds?  I don't care - Never Tell Me the Odds.   They were taking the mission vehicles to the Philippines Church Headquarters in Manila!  What are the odds we bum a ride at the time they are passing?  I think we were supposed to miss something walking home that night.

A girl in a part member family got me a t-shirt for my birthday.  It's a shirt from the Ati-Atihan festival.  (
The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held annually in Kalibo, about twelve miles east of Nate’s area.  It is held in January in honor of the Infant Jesus, concluding on the third Sunday.  The festival consists of tribal dance and music, accompanied by indigenous costumes and weapons, and parade along the street.) It's just a t-shirt, but it's coming from a super poor family.  It was one of the nicest gifts I have ever received.  It's like that Josh Ritter song "Best for the Best."  I will wear that shirt forever.

Things are going well.  We hung out with Sister Danner this morning.  She experienced the same things Elder Ball, Elder Light, and I did three weeks earlier.  She's happy to be here now.  It was awesome to catch up with her.  She was very thankful for your updates from my e-mails to her.  And the younger MTC districts are still using the Waggoner Worksheets!  I got a hair cut this morning, too.  It's as good as short hair can be for a hippy in denial.

I hope you are all doing well.  Since I always write on p-days, you always hear from me when I'm happiest.  It costs about 14 cents to e-mail for an hour, in US currency.  Sister Danner is three chairs over.  Elder Pipit is on my right.  It's not all fun and joy, but mostly.  We do hate getting punted and people not following through, and having to do language study.  It's all good, though.  Elder Pipit says I'm a hard working missionary.  That's good.  I love you all so much.  I hope to hear from you when I get mail again.  Everything is swell.  I hope Ben is doing well in the MTC.  I hope Trevor Tonks is ready for this crazy trip.  He's the man, though.  So Kyle Lefevre got called to Russia!  Where is he going in Russia?  

I love you so much.

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