Wednesday, January 12, 2011

same salvation

January 10, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan Province, Panay Island

I spoke in church yesterday.  I spoke on enduring to the end.  Only one person said I did a good job.  So, yeah, I think people didn't understand what I was saying.  That's nothing new.  I have a thick American accent.  Just the way they say words is crazy.  I may know a word, but that doesn't mean I'll recognize it.  I'm getting better.  I can understand a lot of Aklanon, but cannot speak it at all.  I can hardly speak Tagalog, but I'm only trying to speak Tagalog.

The wards here really depend on missionaries.  We do more for the ward than the bishop.  It's hard because we have to balance working with members and working with investigators.  We try to bring members with us to teach, both to help us out and to strengthen the members.  It's working pretty well.  We had three investigators come to church this last Sunday.  We had invited more, but whatever.

Mosquitoes.  I swear, they are attracted to white people.  It's been crazy.  It doesn't help that we walk through basically swamps, though.  We can’t help it - the whole Philippines is a swamp!  Not really, but it is super humid, and wet, and wet, and wet.  I slept without a sheet - big mistake.  The mosquitoes attacked my feet.  Thanks Mom for the anti itching cream.  It was like I had found the holy grail when I came across it in my luggage.  It saved my life – well, at least my feet’s life.  I was about to cut them off.  It was especially bad because every step would irritate some mosquito bite on my foot.  Don't let me sound too down - it's just the worst mosquitoes ever!

Muddy pat through rice fields
Rice fields.  I love them.  You walk on tiny mud (dirt, but mostly mud) trails though the fields.  It is literally the only way to get to some investigators’ houses.  It's a giant obstacle course to teach some lessons.  Elder Pipit and I act like it's a video game.  "Check point."  "One up!"  "Oh man, I lost a life."  By the time we get to where we are teaching, our shoes are caked with mud and the bottom of are pants are mud.  It's fun though.

We have three investigators committed to baptism in one week!  I asked the first one.  I had to ask twice.  The first time I asked, a fly flew into my mouth.  The family started laughing.  Actually, my companion tells me that they we laughing at my accent, not the fly.  Then I asked again.  I am so prone to disaster here, but I just shake it off.  I'd be at home right now if I took everything so seriously.

So I'm white.  I'm the only white person for miles.  We usually take a jeepney or trike from place to place if we're in a hurry.  If not, we walk.  And we walk a lot.  We walk so much that at night I fall into bed and don't wake up until the morning.  I am out like a rock most nights.  (Dad’s note: He’s already losing his English idioms?  This seems to be a combination of “out like a light” and “sleep like a rock.”)  One night we were out kind of late and Elder Pipit told me hitch a ride.  “They like white people."  So we did.  It was awesome.  I hate to use the color of my skin to gain advantage, but it was late and we were far from our apartment.  It's totally safe, too.  People really like us here.  Kids flock to us for high-fives.

Elder Ball and Elder Kruz had a baptism this week.  They had it at our chapel because they don't have one.  It was really different from an American baptism.  This one was more like a birthday party.  First off, the missionaries were the only ones dressed up and the pictures were more important than the talks and prayers.  It was kind of wild, but hey, whatever- same salvation.

I got a little homesick last week.  It's the first in my life.  I thought I was homesick-proof, but apparently not.  I got over though when we went to work.  But every morning I have a relapse and I get homesick again.  This is because of the daily cold shower I take.  Don't get me wrong, I miss you all, but I miss home most when I have to take a cold shower.  It's a hard and shivery process.  I also miss home when I have to wash my own laundry.  I've done it twice now, and it takes about 3 and half hours to do.  After that, it takes maybe two days to dry because of how humid it is here.  It’s crazy how much of a Filipino’s life is spent just getting by - cooking, working in fields, and washing clothes.  People really work hard here, and labor with their hands.  I really admire them.


For breakfast, bread and peanut butter

For lunch, chicken and rice.

For dinner, pancit canton and fruit

We’ve eaten this for about ten days now.  I cook the chicken, and Elder Pipit showed me how to make rice.  We equally do the food.  Elder Pipit likes that because other new Elders aren't doing squat for their trainers.

The other day we were walking somewhere (which we do about 60 percent of our day) and a guy on a moped, with a girl on the back, pulled over and started talking loudly to me.  He yelled "Hey Utah Boy!"  He asked me how I liked the Philippines, and what I was doing here, and told me to watch out for the woman here. The girl on the back of the moped laughed at that.

I told him I liked the Philippines, I'm a missionary, and I'm not shopping in the women department quite yet.

Sundays are country-wide "burn your garbage in the street” day.  It smelled.

There is a member here who really touches me.  He was in a motorcycle accident in 2006.  He got a metal plate put into his spine. The metal plate paralyzed him from the waist down.  The plate was only supposed to be in for three years, but it will have been five come May.  He doesn't have the money to get it removed and get his back fixed.  He doesn't have the money to even get a check-up.  We don't know if removing it would allow him to walk again.  He pays 150 pesos a week to get to church.  He has such determination to get there.  They have to hire a trike to pick him up, drive to the church, wait there, and then drive him home.  He has to be carried to the trike from his third-world shack.  It's heartbreaking.  150 pesos is so much money here.  He is so skinny from being stationary for a long time.  He is really affected by the weather.  
He asked us for a blessing this week.  We gave him one.  After we left, I had fire in my blood and I told Elder Pipit we had to go back.  So we did.  We got all his information and now we are contacting church services.  I wanted to contact them myself, but after talking to our mission president, he says we have to do it through local priesthood.  That's frustrating because I wanted to by-pass the bureaucracy.  We can't until it fails.  The church structure is less developed here. They don't know how to do some things, and I doubt that it will work this way.  It makes me sad, but I'm going to push it as far as it will go.

People here have such lack of opportunity.  They don't have a way to work for a better life.  If they break their arm, that's it that's the end of that arm - unless they want to impoverish their family for the rest of their lives.  Not only do they not have opportunity, but they don't dream to be more.  That's what my companion tells me.  He says they can't see past their small town lives.  But with that poverty comes some great things.  They are so humble, and really care about family.  Really care about it.  This man who is paralyzed is being taken care of by his 16 year old son.  His son cooks, goes to school, and washes clothes.  I'm really impressed.  They are so humble.  They don't have distractions like Americans do.  They won't turn away from the truthfulness of the gospel because there is nothing to turn away to.  It's really cool to see that.  I am happy to serve these people.  I wish I could speak to them too.

Oh man!  Pasma!  (Dad’s note: pasma means spasms.)  It's so funny.  People think that if you get rain on the crown of your head that you'll get pasma.  So people will put napkins, bandanas, plastic bags, or their hands over the top of their head to protect them from rain.  If I walk without an umbrella and it's raining, people will tell me out of pure concern, in Aklanon, "It's raining"  I smile and say "gusto ko ang pasma". (I like/want pasma.)

We had an investigator cry when he prayed at the close of a lesson this week.  It was touching.  He's a 21-year-old new father.  His baby is born into severe poverty, which is the norm, but still.  When you have a baby here, it requires your full attention.  It occupies every moment of your life.  You can’t wash clothes if you have a new baby.  That's where family comes in.  The mother-in-law or mother will step in and help.  It's really cool.  Family means so much here.  The whole family works to make money.  The whole family works in the fields.  The whole family works on making bundles of firewood, whether it be gathering, chopping, or tying it together.  The whole family takes turns running the "tindahan".  (A tindahan is a little shop where people sell things like soap, bread, or beer.  It's usually just along the side of the road.)

I love you all so much.
This last week, we taught 16 lessons with a member, plus 4 other lessons, and walked maybe the entire Appalachian Trail in a week.

It's rough to be tall here. Nothing is made for my size - chairs, stores, beds, jeepneys, or trikes. Oh man.

Yeah, I love you a lot.  I miss you.  Keep me in your prayers.  Pray away the mosquitoes!  Make sure Ed knows about dear elder.  I sent him a quick e-mail because I haven't been hearing from him.  I'll send pictures when I figure out pouch mail.  I am leaving out so much from this e-mail.  We’ve got to get back and teach.  Elder Pipit is going to Iloilo this next week for three days, and I'm paired up with Elder Ball.  His companion, Elder Kruz, is also going to Iloilo.  Neither Elder Ball nor I are very good at anything yet, so it's going to be an adventure for sure.  Elder Pipit still wants good numbers, so we are working on p-day!  It’s O.K. by me actually.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading Nate's e-mails! What is his mailing address? Jakob and I would love to send him a letter!