Monday, February 28, 2011

gift of tongues. . .there when you need it

Monday, February 28, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

We had white people had church.  What?  They are staying in Boracay while waiting for the father's business to get started in China.  It's just cheaper to live in the Philippines.  It's a young, attractive family from California.  The entire ward just watched them every meeting.  It was kind of weird.  They watched their every move.  I made an Aklanon/Tagalog survival guide for them.  I think they are going to come to our ward every week.  We are the closest branch to Boracay, although there is a group in Ibajay.  It was interesting to see white people walk through the doors, and they we surprised to see me.  The mother is a returned missionary from Argentina.  She said that Aklanon was nothing like Spanish except for a few nouns.  Actually, for the most part everyone spoke as much English as they could, way more than usual.  I was like "What?  You know English?  What!?"

Last week when Elder Light and I went hiking, we tried to climb a palm tree.  During the attempt, Elder Light lost his nametag.  We have a video of it coming off, so we know he lost it there.  Elder Pipit and I went back to find it.  We went back and I looked for 15 minutes, but it wasn't there.  There is a house nearby on the mountain, so we walked through the yard there and back.  It's a creepy house.  It has a bunch of crosses in the ground, and mounds beneath the crosses, and then like voodoo wooden mannequins hanging from trees and stuff.  It was weird, but totally cool.  We took a picture next to one of the figurines.  The funny thing is that voodoo guy is probably who picked up Elder Light's nametag, because that part of the mountain is probably his.  So, maybe Elder Light is the under the influence of voodoo?  Okay, don't freak out Mom.  Things are cool.

Our baptism!  Nobody showed up until five minutes before it started.  I was the one to do it.  I wore my suspenders and played the hymns on the piano.  People made fun of my suspenders.  Just further proof that I'm "Grandpa".  The kid is very, very shy - he's 14 years old.  It wasn't a very exciting baptism, but afterward Elder Pipit and he played basketball.  We had peanut butter sandwiches afterward too.  I had to do the baptism ordinance twice because his hair didn't quite make it under the first time.  Really not much to say about the actual baptism.  I think we'll have three or more in the next month.

Last Saturday we went to the home of a member, Sister Gloria.  She's married to an Italian man who speaks broken English.  We teach a nine year old at Sister Gloria's house.  It's such a nice house.  It's right on the beach, has a dishwasher and a flushing toilet.  After we taught Estelina, the nine year old, we ate with them.  He cooked us real Italian food.  Real food!!!  It smelled good.  For the last four months, I have been eating because I needed the energy, or liked to consume the sugar, but not because I liked the taste.  I ate slowly, and it was so good, especially when the last two months has been nothing but rice and chicken.  It was so good.  REAL FOOD!!!  He spoke just broken English, but I still tried to talk with him.  When he didn't understand, Elder Pipit translated to Sister Gloria, and she translated to her husband.  We talked about Italian wines and German beer.  It's funny, I know quite a bit about beer when it comes to it.

Right before we crossed the voodoo house, we saw the biggest spider I have ever seen.  I found the spider because I walked into the bottom part of its web.  I have multiple pictures of it.  Honestly, it's probably bigger than Dad's hand.  It was Harry Potter size.  It was legit.

The language is coming along pretty well.  I know a lot of vocabulary, and I can understand it a lot better than I can speak it.  Still, I am trying to speak it.  It's funny how much you can do when you take the "damn the torpedoes" approach.  I have no major mistakes this week besides saying that you buy tithes and not pay tithes.  Elder Pipit and Sister Ditchie corrected me, so no harm done in the lesson.

I had another really good experience.  The Catholic Church runs the Philippines.  We may have investigators who know what we are sharing is true, but can't make the switch to come to a Mormon church because their family is all catholic, and “has been since Adam and Eve.”  That's the way it is with Brother Ludin and his wife.  They have a baptismal date, but haven't come to church for two weeks in a row.  Elder Pipit asked me if I had anything to share, and when he asks me that I usually just say a thing or two, but this time I went off for like seven minutes.  I had them read from the Book of Mormon, and told them about a change of heart and how their family will be more blessed because they will bring the spirit with them from church.  I recommitted them to baptism, too.  The gift of tongues is not a constant thing, but it is there when you need it.  The lesson up to that point had been a letdown, and just bad news, but after my spiel, we walked out of there feeling good, and they recommitted to baptism.
We had zone conference.  I was really excited for it, but it turned out to just be more MTC stuff.  Kind of a bummer, but it was cool to talk with everyone.  President used me as an example.  He talked about how my posterity will be blessed from my serving a mission.  The other missionaries started calling my posterity the "Waggonites."

The first part of this week was super hard on the Templo family.  So Sister Templo doesn't have a job, and Brother Templo now needs medicine for his skin because it's because super raw on his back from sitting down for four years.  The medicine was super expensive.  I love this family, and I prayed for them every night and morning this week, and in every meal prayer, and every prayer for anything else too.  Yesterday at church the stake president came and told Bro. Templo that he was going to be in the hospital today.  Then the stake employment specialist came and talked to Sister Templo.  Right now Brother Templo is at the hospital getting a check-up.  I jumped for joy when I found out.  It'll be a long road for them, but this is the first step.  I doubt the hospital here will be able to really assess the situation, but it's a step in the right direction!

Fred, our strange investigator, is becoming less strange every meeting!  We'd always follow up about his reading of the Book of Mormon, and he'd never be able to tell us much, but his brother had told us that he was reading all the time.  Every time we would check up about Fred's reading, he would be at some spot in Nephi.  Finally we found out that he's just be reading Nephi over and over again because he doesn't understand it, but he likes the spirit he feels from reading it.  We gave him a Tagalog Book of Mormon.  We had given him an English one originally because he said he'd prefer it in English.  He’s ready for baptism.  He even got a haircut, and came to church yesterday with his hair combed over to the side.  Not that the comb over is required for baptism, but it's cool that he's changing on his own - or the Spirit his helping him change.  The ward, however, is not ready for a member like him.  Elder Pipit and I give the ward a week to get ready for him.

I have some much to do that I don’t have time to write letters.  Someone tell Ed to write on dear elder or something.  I haven't heard from him since last November.

All is well.  Elder Pipit and I are alright.  I had to stand my ground for a couple days because he was kind of stepping all over me.  I decided to be whatever kind of missionary that I am.  We've had a good week.  I feel like my prayers are real good quality.

Monday, February 21, 2011

God was helping us

I wrote down everything I wanted to say, but left the piece of paper at home.  Sorry, this e-mail may be a little scattered.

First thing, one of our investigators gave birth this week!  It was awesome.  Of course I didn't see the actual event or I would probably have a different opinion, but certain things about it were awesome.  We've been teaching her and all the while she’s been "SUPER" pregnant.  This Tuesday was her d-day.  Her husband was in Boracay (small resort island northwest of Panay Island, about 25 miles to the west of Tangalan) to earn some money for it.  Man, she was tough.  She was prepared to give birth in the third world equivalent of a nurse’s office.  All of the women standing in the room, or just outside, and all the women's husbands were sitting a ways off, sitting together but not talking.  Obviously a little perplexed as to what they were doing there, obviously forced into bondage by their wives to be "Step and Fetch-its."  Sister Dejuan (the pregnant lady) was ready to give birth without pain medicines on a 100 degree day, with just a fan to aid the heat.  The whole town, Tagas, was there to help the process.  I wonder if American women wouldn't rather have a town on their side than the comforts of first world medical care?  Her husband came back just in time - well, actually not, they had already started - with money.  They travelled via trike (motorcycle and sidecar) to Kalibo and she gave birth there.

Second, the Templo family.  Elder Light and I went on splits.  He came to Tangalan, and while he was here, we taught the Templo family.  They are my favorite investigators.  Elder Light was deeply touched by them, just as I always am.  The father is paralyzed from the waist down, and his family takes care of him.  I am so impressed with this family's son, Jaymarsh.  He does the dishes, cooks the food, washes the clothes, gets the Books of Mormon for family scripture study, turns off the TV, and changes the channel.  This week he pulled the stunt that got him the most Christian award.  He took his younger sister to prom to make sure she'd go with a good guy and a Mormon guy.  There are no other Mormons her age in Panayakan (a town into the mountains west of Tangalan).

Brother Templo
 This family has such great faith.  The mother has recently become un-employed.  She was working away from the family in Boracay.  Now they are in a tight spot.  Still, it's kind of cool because she gets to spend time with her family.  This week they had lifted the father outside and watched the sun set together.  We accidentally interrupted this special moment for them, but they were happy to have us and let me try my Aklanon on them.  I love this family.  They all pitch in.  I pray for this family and you should too.  I've already talked to the stake president here about getting him church services.  He has told me that the paperwork is done but they most wait for him to have been a member for a year.  This man must weigh 80 pounds, he stays in bed all day.  His goal is to make it to the temple in a year and be sealed to his family.  I pray that he makes it to that time.  He has the greatest faith.  He has a picture of the temple by his bed, and also a couple of copies of the Book of Mormon.  Pray for the family, will you?

We went most of the week without a fridge and it was very hot.  We got our fridge back three days later than we were supposed to.  We lost a full day of work because they didn't show up when they said they would.  We were really frustrated with them.

Elder Light and I went on splits!  It was awesome.  We only taught one lesson because we got punted at all the other ones.  We taught the Templo family and we taught about tithing.  It was a great lesson.   We tried to teach more families, but they fell through.  We did find four new contacts though!  Elder Light and I went running Saturday morning along the beach to Afga to a lighthouse.  It was swell to say the least.  It was so awesome.  The lighthouse is up on a hill and looks over the ocean.  Later in the day we went hiking in the bukid.  I wanted to show him around the backwoods.  It was so awesome.  We hiked a mountain following these crazy small paths up through the jungle growth.  We got to the top and it was clear, with just grass and no trees, and we could look out over the valley.  It was so cool.  I have pictures.  Elder Light and I did a video journal together and then turned to leave to an appointment.

mountain top boys

We were about to leave, but we saw to small kids struggling up the steep hill with big bundles of sticks.  Elder Light and I wasted no time in helping them.  We ran to them and took the load off their heads.  We carried them over our shoulders while the kids lead the way.  I could communicate with them because I knew more Aklanon than Elder Light, but Elder Light struggled because these kids spoke serious back woods language.  They led us over the mountain along small dirt paths until we found where they were going.  The wood was for a fence.  We talked with the mother and took a picture with the kids.  We felt really good about it, and I hopethe kids felt great about having two random white guys help them carry sticks.

Elder Light and I planned for two lessons on Friday night.  One about the ten commandments and how the fit into the two that Jesus gave, and another one about tithing.  We were a little timid about teaching the Ludin family tithing because they have just committed to a baptism date and we didn't want to mess it up.  If we gave the wrong impression about tithing we could really mess it up.  Elder Light and I knelt in prayer to know if we should attempt to teach it to them.  While in prayer, I had an epiphany to teach tithing as an object lesson.  We both felt okay about it.  We studies some tithing terms and looked up scriptures, then made aboard for putting the ten commandments on and made sticky notes for each of the ten commandments.  Then we went to the store to buy m&m's for our object lesson to teach tithing.  Instead of m&m's. we found gold coins.  It was perfect.  We got to the Ludin's house and they weren't there so we went on to the Templo family.  We seriously taught for an hour, in full Tagalag/Aklanon.  Let me tell you, God was helping us; it was smooth and awesome.  Elder light got the impression to teach about the gospel blesses us through trials, and when we got to the ten commandments, I decided to teach tithing instead.  So we read a scripture about how we get everything we have from God, so I handed one of the kids in the family ten gold coins.  Then we read how we are supposed to pay one tenth back to the Lord to test faith and other stuff, so I asked for a coin back.  Then we read about how we receive so many blessings from paying tithing that there will not be room enough to receive it, so I dumped the bag of coins out into his hands.  It went great.

In the morning Fred stood us up, so we went to find him.  We stopped at his brother’s work and started talking to his brother.  He had read all of the pamphlets we gave to Fred!  He was super interested!  I think we might start teaching him too!  Elder Light and I shared the restoration with him!  Then we talked to Fred - he was feeling sick so he didn't come.

The next day at church I had the idea to teach Fred an untraditional way.  We taught Fred the ministry of Christ, apostasy, and restoration by giving him a tour of the church's paintings.  We taught just a little bit at each painting.  What we taught about coordinated with the painting we were looking at.  Then at the end we showed Fred the baptism of Christ painting and told him this is what he is working for.  The spirit was there.

While on splits with Elder Light I realized a couple of things.  While we were teaching, I started teaching like myself and it felt great.  I taught by the Spirit and with conviction.  I felt more like a missionary. 
I realized that I've been doing so many things with Elder Pipit in mind, and not because I want to be a good missionary; I just wanted to please Elder Pipit.  When I washed the dishes, I did it to the standards of Elder Pipit.  When I prayed at night, I made sure they were long so that Elder Pipit would think my prayers were sincere.  When I did personal study, I studied because I wanted Elder Pipit to think I was diligent.  I will still do these things, but not for Elder Pipit.  I've been my own man since Saturday when he returned.  He clearly doesn't like it.  I've still been obedient.

I've started teaching like myself.  I've started being the missionary I want to be.  I've been teaching my style.  It's been awesome.  On Sunday, I did that tour with Fred.  Later in the day we went to go teach our Jehovah's Witness guy.  It didn't go well because he was mocking us and reading the bible in a roller coaster voice as if he didn't care what was being read.  He even insulted me a couple times as an American.  I told him that this was maybe the most important thing he'd ever hear, and that he should take it seriously.   

I'm doing well, so don't worry.  I try to do that whole “follow the spirit” thing.  My language is improving.  We have a baptism this Saturday!  I feel better now that I'm being me. 

We have the worst of luck.  We cleaned our apartment this week (it was gross) and we accidently broke my desk.  It's old and really not our fault.  So, that’s the next broken thing we have to figure out.

I love you.  Thanks for everything!  I love you so much.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My best still includes blasphemy.

Monday, February 14, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay

Playing Pool on Preparation Day
We had a lot of hiccups this week.

Last Monday (Feb 7) we had a little too much p-day.  We were doing great on time because we were in Kalibo early for zone meeting.  We had a lot of extra time to kill before buying groceries and heading back to Tangalan, so we played pool with the sisters.  It was really fun.  We played with Sister Danner and Sister Sablan.  None of us were good at pool, which made it really fun.  Two games lasted about 45 minutes.  It was ridiculous.  Afterwards, we went and bought our groceries and stuff.  We took a long time just hanging out because we had a lot of time.  Then we went outside to buy fruit from street vendors.  We usually buy one watermelon, one honeydew or yellow watermelon, and apples and tangerines for the week.  We buy these last because they weigh so much.

FHE at Stake President's House
We received a text from the sisters saying that they would like us to attend a family home evening with them (at the Stake President’s house.)  One of the sisters was going home and it was her last night in the Philippines.  They asked us to come along to help out because it was really hard on them, so of course we came.  We went to the sisters apartment put down all of our groceries and fruit and junk, then went to the family home evening.  We didn't get to the family home evening until like 7:30pm.  That's bad because we should have been on our way to Tangalan by then.  We decided that we would just take a van to Tangalan after the family home evening.  It turned out to be a really long family home evening.  Way too long.  We didn't get out of it until about 9:00pm.  The sister’s curfew is at 6:30 by the way.  Ours is 9:30 in apartment.  So we were out past curfew and far from home.  We walked with our heavy grocery's back into town from the sisters (we escorted them home) and then paid a trike to take us to Numancia (first area west of Kalibo on the way back to Tangalan.)  There was no hope of catching anything to Tangalan that late, so we went to the Numancia elder’s house at like 9:50 without forewarning them that we were coming.  They were really surprised.  They had no idea why we were there.  We made up an excuse.  How do you say we stayed out late with the sisters?

On Tuesday we went to the government building in Tangalan to ask about apartments. We figured someone there would know about that.  President has told us we need to find a new one.  They really didn't know of any, but we did find a lady who needed to take a tour of the church for some government reason.  She had scheduled a tour with one of the members that day, but the member was late.  The member, Sister Ditsie Masula, showed up while the lady was talking to us.  We helped give the tour, and we got to show her all the different things in the church.

The biggest hiccup: I broke our fridge.  I didn't mean to of course.  The ice had really built up and I attacked the freezer with a knife.  Elder Pipit watched me do it.  We thought nothing of it.  I stabbed through the plastic and the cooling liquid got out.  We didn’t know that at first.  It wasn't till the next morning when we had no ice at all that we realized the fridge was in trouble, plus it smelled really bad.  We turned the coolness up and cleaned the fridge to get rid of the smell.  Still, it wouldn't work.  We had to go to Kalibo again and find somebody who was willing to drive to Tangalan to pick up our fridge, bring it back to Kalibo, fix it, then bring it back.  The sisters helped us out with that.  We found out then that I had punctured the plastic.  It's going to cost about 4,000 pesos ($100) to fix.  You may have see that withdrawal from my bank account.  I think I can get reimbursed for it though – that’s what Elder Pipit was saying, and he used to be financial secretary.  So right now we don't have a fridge, and today is our p-day.  It looks like we'll be buying canned food today.  We should get out fridge back tomorrow sometime.

On Saturday went to Kalibo again.  We had to email a picture of our apartment to the mission office.  I got to check out the emails people had sent me early.  Sarah!  The Avetts at the Grammy's!  (A music group that Nate has met a couple of times.)  I am heartbroken that I won't get to see it!  I'm devastated.  But I'm still on a mission, so it looks like I'm in it for the long run.  If I can stay on a mission though the Avetts at the Grammy's, then I can stay on a mission for two years.

We are doing something new.  We are visiting less actives with the Branch President. It's an effective but weird experience.  Weird because President drives a motorcycle meant for one person, but Elder Pipit and I and the president all three ride on it to the members' homes.  It's quite a sight, but totally acceptable for the Philippines.  I'm practically hanging off the back of the motorcycle.  The Philippines is wild.

We have two children for investigators.  Elder Pipit lets me teach them.  I teach about 95% of the lessons with these two.  It's rough.  They don't understand me all the time.  I teach slowly with a lot of pictures.  We teach them during primary or other church functions because they are hard to teach other times of the week because they have school.  We taught primary again, and it was anarchy.  They just laugh and laugh at me.  They think I'm the funniest thing ever.  They speak more English then I speak Aklanon.  Man, that's depressing.  It's funny though.  They make fun of my acne- I guess Filipinos don't have it.  The Primary kids stole my camera after their Primary activity and took about ten thousand pictures on it.  You might see a few of those.

I talked in church for the 3rd time yesterday.  I talked about the importance of church and why we go.  I prepared really hard.  I had scripture references, and wrote out what I was going to say.  Then I asked Elder Pipit about some stuff I wasn't sure about.  I wrote everything but the testimony.  Of course I messed up my testimony when it came time to give the talk in church.  Now, this was no small mess up; this was a serious mess up.  I said "kasayod ko na nagpatay si jesucristo para sa kasalanan naton." I should have said "kasayod ko na namatay si jesucristo para sa kasalanan naton" Namatay means died. Nagpatay means killed.  (In essence, instead of saying “Jesus Christ died for our sins,” he said “I killed Jesus Christ for our sins.”)  Does it get much worse than that?  No, not without getting excommunicated.  The ward made fun of me so bad at all the other lessons we taught later that day.  The worst part is that they say it's the best I've ever done in Aklanon so far.  My best still includes blasphemy.

We have a ridiculously difficult investigator.  He really makes us stretch.  I read his entire book called "What does the bible really teach?"  He's a Jehovah's Witness.  Man it's hard, but we really prepared for him.  Becuase I read his entire book, I knew what points of doctrine he needed biblical proof of.  We taught the atonement and how it breaks the bonds of spiritual and physical death.  All the other lessons we've taught with him have been real battles.  This one was so good.  We literally confounded him.  The spirit was there.  He did his best to fight the spirit.  He would just search for anything to argue about when he couldn't explain why the bible said what it did.  He wanted to argue us into a corner, and we wanted to teach him.  It was awesome.  At one point, he said that the Book of Mormon wasn’t true because we hid the name of Jehovah from people, so we opened it up to the last verse of the Book of Mormon and showed it to him.  Not only did the verse say Jehovah, but it talked about another point of doctrine he had a problem with, the spiritual death (the separation of the spirit and the body.)  That verse was perfect.  I found it in like four seconds, and I had not known about it before needing it.  Usually we teach without anyone challenging what we say. so it's relatively easy.  It was so awesome to teach to someone like him.  We really had to know our stuff, and we both did.  He's a good investigator to have early on in the mission because he's really making me learn.  Our goal is to baptize him because if he can be baptized in the church he will be a great asset to the ward.  He's so smart.  My companion is so smart too.

Fred, our strange investigator, is doing well.  He’s really progressing.  We meet with him five days a week, and then he comes to church another day, so we see him six days a week.  He did say his Book of Mormon was stolen by the devil though, and that's why he hasn't been reading.  He's interesting, and we're slowly understanding him.  I honestly think this man can make a full transformation.

We have five committed for baptism, and one is on the 26th of this month.  The work has really slowed down, so it's time to go tracting.  That should be fun.

Sarah, your birthday present was so awesome.  Thanks.  I loved it.  I shared the skittles with the district.  The Filipinos had never had skittles before.  After district meeting we played table tennis.  Every chapel here has a ping pong table.  God loves the Philippines.  They didn't have paddles though so we played with hymn books - it was really a workout.

Today we had a Valentines party at the sisters.  That was kind of weird for missionaries.  Mostly we just ate and talked.  Elder Lowry was there, and I mostly talked to him.  I shared the Avett news with him.  We sang hymns and ate.  The sisters had cooked for about ten elders.  We had a good time and made a lot of jokes about it being Valentine’s Day.  Elder Lowry was like "What appropriate game can we play on Valentimes day?" We ended up passing a rose around and saying a nice thing to the person we passed off to.  I passed it to Elder Lowry's new trainee because  "He's a patient person, I know, because Elder Lowry is his trainer."

I love you.  Thanks for the letters and e-mails and junk.  Thank you so much.  Mom, I thought of one thing you could send me- soles for my shoes.  Like soles with a jell pack in them.  That would be cool because then I could use my old shoes again.  The jell pack burst in the old shoes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pictures from Panay

These pictures arrived via memory card, which Nate took out of his camera and mailed via stamped envelope.

Nate between President and Sister Pagaduan

En route to teach a discussion.

Willing to teach anyone who will listen.

A river runs through the Tangalan Area.

Morning Study Time

Please Note: A few pictures have been added to previous posts.  You can see these new pictures by scrolling down.

Monday, February 7, 2011

. . .I felt like an instrument of the Spirit.

Monday, February 7, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay

It's been an interesting week.  Really it has, but also kind of a strange week.

Elder Pipit had me lead this week.  That means lead the planning, where we go, when we go, what we teach, and also lead the teaching.  It was a rough week because he didn't just play the role of junior companion - he played the role of clueless tag-a-long.  He was doing it to help me, to make me stretch.  It made me stretch, but it also left me really frustrated.  All week long, all he did was say "I don't know" whenever I asked him anything.  It actually started to get to be too much.  He would say “I don't know” about everything, and not just missionary work.  I got hacked at him a few times, but like we're totally cool - I think.  He was just doing it to help me.

We have some interesting investigators.  We had been seeing a lady around a lot.  She likes talking to us, or just saying “hi” to us.  We had seen her enough that I decided the next time we saw her I would ask her if we could teach her.  So, Wednesday we saw her, and I asked.  I am really excited to teach this lady because she speaks English well.  It turns out that she's the younger sister of our all-star member!  She told us that she lives really far and it's muddy and it's hard to get to, and she's really busy, but she doesn't mind if we teach her.  Then we went to out all-star member’s house (Sister Ditchie) and told her we want to teach this lady on Friday.   Sister Ditchie said it's good for us to go there now because we knew that she was at home.  So, about thirty minutes after we invited her to hear us, we showed up at her door.  It was really tough to get to her, but it was cool to show up at her door and be like "Bam, here we are."  She was really surprised.  She was really receptive, and I look forward to teaching her again.

I'm the cook.  I cook adobo, spaghetti, and other junk.  Adobo is easy.  My companion and I love the mesquite seasoning we throw on the meat before we "adobo it."  I cook spaghetti like our family always has, with the beef and junk.  Our spaghetti was sticking together the first time we made it, and I knew to get oil for the water.  We had forgotten to pick some up, so I just used the grease and oil form the meat.  No more sticky spaghetti.  I truly have fun cooking.  After lunch, Filipinos like to take a nap.  They call it siesta.  I have been known to take one or two a week.  Never for excessive time - just 30 minutes or so.  It's hard to tract while the rice is expanding in your stomach.

I bought a new bag and new shoes.  I just did it with the money that the mission reimbursed me for traveling.  My shoes are slip-ons.  That's good because we always take our shoes off at every house, even if it's just a bamboo floor.  Elder Pipit says they are "Granpa shoes."

We have a crazy investigator.  Elder Light and I contacted him in a hair salon two weeks ago.  We invited him to church, he came, and we're like “ok, we'll teach you.”  Awesome.  He has pink hair.  His name is Fred.  He came to church for the first time all gayed out.  The entire ward was asking us why we're teaching him.  Well why do we teach anybody?  Because the gospel will bless their lives, duh!  So, we said we'd meet him at 8 O'clock on Tuesday at a waiting shed in Tangalan.  We were expecting him to bring us to another place to teach him, but he just wanted for us to teach him there.  I was ok with it, but Elder Pipit wasn't.  I just gave him a pamphlet and told him how much the gospel would bless his life, and what to expect from our church and from our lessons; then we scheduled another meeting with him.  We decided to meet with him at the church, which we did on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday last week.

The first meeting was strange.  He told us about demons and witches and the devil and junk like that.  We asked him if he was a drug user and if he was gay, because he looks gay.  Not that we can't teach gay people, but we need to know concerns and needs of investigators before we teach them.  He said he doesn't use drugs, and isn't gay - he just likes gay fashion.  He had some horrible looking necklace on.  We asked him what was if for - it was really weird.  He said it was to fight off evil spirits.  We taught him and gave him a Book of Mormon, and told him to start reading it.  We said you don't need to worry about demons and bad spirits if you read the Book of Mormon.  We're giving him the slow road to exorcism via the discussions.  Each lesson we've had with him has been better - less weird each time.  The lesson on Saturday was on the Word of Wisdom.  I taught it like he had to overcome an addiction even though he said he wasn't a heavy drinker.  He walked away really understanding the Word of Wisdom.  I have a feeling that the Word of Wisdom is something we’re going to have to follow up on a lot.  He smells like alcohol.

He came to church again last Sunday.  It was Testimony Meeting.  He wanted to bear his.  Oh boy.  When he got up to bear his testimony, the ward got really scared.  Now, I had explained to him that he could if he wanted, and I explained to him what a testimony is, and what it was not.  He got up and started talking.  The Branch President signaled to the Elders Quorum President to come to him.  The Elders Quorum President talked to the Branch President for a few moments, and then got up and whispered in Fred's ear.  Fred went on undeterred.  I don't know what our Elders Quorum President said.  Fred did a good job.  He just kind of freaked out the ward with his pink hair and his baggy poor man's clothes.  He did have a white shirt on, though, so he was making an attempt.  He's willing to listen and to act on the commandments of God.  He understands us, so of course we're going to teach him.  The ward doesn't want us to, but they can suck it up.  He's got some out-of-this-world questions and stuff.

I think it was Tuesday when I woke up to smoke in our apartment.  At first I was like "What the hell?" but then I realized it was the neighbor burning their garbage, which was going straight into our open window.  It was 6:30 am.  Elder Pipit had gotten up early and was showering when I woke up to my alarm.  I got up, realized our house is full of smoke, realize what it was from, and then get the fans to blow all the smoke out.  When elder pipit got out of the shower, he was like "what did you do?!"  It was fun.

It was transfer meeting today.  No one I know about is getting transferred, but Elder Lowry is training!?!?!  What!?!?!  It is his second transfer here!  I hope I don't have to do that.

We have that investigator Brother Ludin.  He came to church again, this time with his wife.  He lost sleep over which church is for him.  He's one of my favorite investigators.  He's super cool.  I feel like he's going to progress more.  It's exciting.  He seemed to have a good time at church, but we haven't been able to do a follow up visit with him.  He has baptism date for March.

We have two investigators that have been taking the lessons for like years now.  We decided it was time for the “do or die” lesson; either you want to take the discussions or you don't.  The first one was with Ailyn.  Her mom doesn't want her to take the discussions, and it really seems like she doesn't either.  So we asked her if she would pray for her mom's heart to be softened, and we would fast for it too.  She said that she didn't really want to pray for that, so really she doesn't even care. We fasted anyways.  We don't think she's all that interested anymore.

The second is Teddy Batister.  He's 14 and his older sister and mom are members.  He's been taking the discussions for eons.  He had a baptism date, but then his sister got offended at church and that date didn't happen.  The other day we were over there and Elder Pipit told me to lead, so I did.  We followed up about the assignment we had left him, and then I was going to start teaching about something, but felt the spirit guide me into another direction.  I asked him,"Do you believe the Book of Mormon is true?"  He said “yes,” and then I asked "Do you believe Joseph Smith was a real prophet of God"  He again said “yes.”  I paused, looked to Elder Pipit, who had his head down looking at his scriptures, and decided it didn't matter what Elder Pipit thought anyways.  I asked "Will you be baptized?" Elder Pipit lifted up is head, and Teddy said “Yes.”  So, yeah, sweet.  Elder Pipit took it from there.  He has a date for the 26 of this month!  Whew.  I was jumping all the way from Pudiot to Tangalan!  (A little more than one mile, it appears.)  Whew.  It was awesome to be led by the spirit while teaching.  I've felt the spirit before in lessons, but that's the first I felt like an instrument of the Spirit.  Whew!

Two of our investigators are kids.  I like teaching kids.  They laugh at my Aklanon, but I can teach simply, which is all I can really do anyway!

Elder Pipit has been kind of hard on me about my teaching skills.  I kind of got frustrated about that.  I can barely speak the language, so teaching skills?  You can critique my teaching skills, but that how I teach right now because that’s all I can say.  I feel like I want to prove that I'm a good missionary, and that I can teach well, but right now everything is inferior because I don’t know the language.  This morning I chilled with Elders Lowry and Light and Sister Danner, and then ate at a pizza place.  Pizza is nice. 

We had six investigators come to church this week!   It was a good week for that, but we didn't teach that many lessons - we just taught effectively.  We only taught ten lessons with a member, plus four others, and four to less actives, but we have six progressing, three with a date, and six came to church!  Whew!

I'm doing well. I really am.  Don't sweat it.  My Aklanon is getting better.  I can understand most words, but I have problems stringing the sentences together as fast as people talk.  Man, they talk quick.  I get so worn out trying to listen to people.  I am getting better, though.  That's good.

I'm too tall for the Philippines.  I hit my head on stuff a lot, and get clotheslined across the neck.  I just laugh it off - it helps when others are laughing at you too.