Monday, January 31, 2011

. . .and definitely poisonous.

January 31, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island
Elders Waggoner and Pipit
First, to answer some questions from emails and letters that I have received:   I am learning Aklanon, which has a very different vocabulary from Tagalog, but, as far as I can tell, similar sentence structure.  Only Elder Pipit and I live in our apartment, and we speak in English about 90 percent of the time.  We should not speak English that much, so that's something we need to improve.  Elder Pipit is basically an American.  (He’s Filipino, but speaks English well.)  I see Elder Lowry every three weeks or so.  I saw him last Wednesday when we had interviews in Kalibo.  We see rats like every other day.  Usually they’re just scurrying away from us.  They live in our walls and stuff, but it's ok.  It's not the rats I'm concerned about- they are relatives of splinter.  I'm more concerned with Shredder.

I don't really have culture shock - I don't think.  I was never helpless or anything.  I do have “Wow, this is kind of annoying” shock, but never culture shock.   

I'm kind of bummed about my Jill Andres CD being stolen because it was signed, but I'll get another one from her when I return.  (Some items were stolen from out car last week, including a few of Nate’s music CD’s.)  I'm more bummed out about Dad's Butterfinger bar, though.  That's rough.

Please send my regards to Stevie.  (Nate’s cousin, who returned from a mission to Uruguay and lives in Salt Lake.)  I hope he's adjusting well.  I bet he's cold.

Ok, so on to the week.   It was long.  I was sick for a good part of it.  In fact, I still have a stuffy nose.  It's ok, though.  Elder Pipit says that it's from the weather, and so does every other Filipino we run into, but I tend to think it's from germs.  I shake a lot of people's hands.  I do use the hand sanitizer, though.  We're cool, so don't worry.  Elder Pipit insisted we not work for two days this week because I was sick.  I wanted to work.  I hate not working.  I really didn't feel like a missionary for those two days.  It sucks to not feel like a missionary and to still be one.   

Last Monday, Elder Light and I went to get haircuts.  A gay guy runs the hair salon and the gay community hangs out there.  We contacted one of them and invited him to church last Monday.  So he came!  He came halfway through Sunday School.  We saw walking towards the church, and Elder Pipit hit me and told me to go greet him.  "Your investigator is here!"  I went to greet him and invite him in.  He came to church completely gayed out.  He was quite a site for our bickering ward, but Elder Pipit made sure everyone greeted him, and I think he had a good time.  We're going to teach him. He even participated in the classes.  He's super interested.  He wears some ridiculous stuff, though.  Later yesterday afternoon when we went to some members houses, they all asked about him.  “Why was he at church?”  My gosh, because he needs salvation too!  People don't understand that church is for sinners.

This week we had two really giant spiders, the biggest I have ever seen.  Elder Pipit didn't want me to kill the first one, but I did.  It was in the bathroom, and definitely poisonous.  I was kind of freaked out about it.  Half like "Holy crap, this thing is huge! that's the biggest spider ever! You’ve got to check this out!" and then half "Holy crap, I sit there for some periods of time, I don't want to get bitten while on the toilet!  I'm going to kill it."  I used about half of a can of baygon.  When I was on splits with Elder Madayag, I found another one about the same size, and used the other half of the can on that one.

We have a Jehovah's Witness investigator.  He's tough.  He's actually pretty ridiculous.  I have been reading his book "What does the bible really teach?"  Oh man, it is not gratifying to read.  Honestly, I don't want to teach this guy.  Tons of people want to hear our message, but Elder Pipit wants to because, if converted, he will be a leader in the ward.  He's really smart, but man, he's stubborn.  We decided to teach him the plan of salvation, and our lesson lasted two and a half hours!  No joke!  It was quite an ordeal.  He stresses me out, but I guess if we teach the gay guy we have to teach the Jehovah's Witness too.  To balance out reading his book o' crap, I finished Our Heritage and read a lot of Jesus the Christ.  Both are great books.  I was sick so that I had the time.

I was paired up with Elder Light's companion, Elder Madayag, for a day.  Elder light was with my companion.  Elder Madayag and I were in my area.  It was ok, but he kind of bothered me.  He raided our fridge and stole our teaching pamphlets.  He also would walk in front of me even though I was the one who knew where we were going.  Then he'd stop and I just walked past him, then he'd hurry up and get in front of me again.  It was annoying to walk with someone like that the whole day.  At one point he pretty much pushed me out of the way on a narrow foot bridge to get past, and I almost pushed him into the river when.  Then the next day we waited for Elder Pipit and Elder Light to return to Tangalan.  It was 1 o'clock and we hadn't heard from them and they weren't there.  We borrowed the landlord's cell phone and called Elder Pipit.  He had told Elder Madayag that we were supposed to go to Numancia, and Elder Madayag had forgotten.  We got to Numancia around 3:30, did out interviews/evaluations, then returned to Tangalan at 4:30.  At 5:00 we had an interview with the branch president, but that didn't end up happening.  We wasted an entire day.  I only did three days of missionary work this week.  It was rough.

We have an investigator Ailyn who invited her friend to sit in on the discussions.  It was ok, but her friend is only listening because I'm “a cute American.”  Ailyn teased her friend in front of us about me.  She said things in Aklanon like "Hey, Handsome is asking you to read."  It's kind of funny, but actually frustrating.  I'm not in the girl department right now.  We will teach her if she comes to church - that's how we'll know if she really wants to hear us.  But really she just has a crush on us.

We had interviews with President this week.  They went well.  It wasn't too personal.  Once again, he just thanked us for all we were doing.  It was cool though because I got to hang with Elder Lowry for a bit.

Besides our new gay investigator, we had another come to church!  He's Brother Ludin.  He reminds me of a Levon Helm.  He's so cool.  He came to church in a sweet flannel shirt and blue jeans and tan leather shoes.  It only further proved he's the Filipino Levon Helm.  We had been trying to get him to come to church for a long time, so this was really nice.  He had a good time too.  Later in the day we committed him and his wife to baptism!  He reminds me of Levon Helm because of how he acts during our discussions.  Like in that movie "The Last Waltz" when they interview the members of The Band and Levon sits low in his chair and nods his head and grins.  He's one of my favorite investigators, and now he has a baptism date.  I think we have some Word of Wisdom stuff to discuss though.

When our interview with our Branch President fell through we just played basketball.  I am terrible by the way.  Even 5'4 Filipinos cream me.  I felt ashamed at my height and my inability to play.

I have had some casualties: my shoes, my backpack, and my umbrella.  I left my umbrella on a jeepney, but I have already bought a new one.  My shoes' soles have broken and now the jell pack foot support is everywhere and sliding around.  I'll try to get a new inside sole support thing, or just get new shoes.  I kind of need new shoes because we take our shoes off at every investigators house, even if it's just a bamboo floor.

It doesn't matter if it's a bamboo floor, or even a concrete floor.  People here try to be as clean as possible.  They will sweep the heck out of it.  If they were in America, Filipinos would be the cleanest people ever.  A lot of people just don't have the opportunity to live outside of a trashy/unsanitary environment.

My backpack is fraying at almost all connections.  I'll probably buy a new one soon.  You might see that charge come through today.

I love you all so much.  I wish you all the best.  Sorry that this week’s email is kind of lame, this week has been kind of lame.

One thing I've noticed is that missionaries don't change.  They are the same person, but they just learn how to work hard and rely on the spirit.  Some people think they changed, but really they are the same person.  What I'm really trying to say is that Elf is still funny, I still like rock n' roll, I still would rather stand on my head for a day then get a haircut, but I'm just a little better and working hard and being super nice to everyone - even if they point out my acne every time I see them.

Filipinos ask me what kind of soap I use on my face and ask me why I have pimples. That's just one of those things you’ve got to brush off.  It's funny now.  If it wasn't funny, it would be annoying, so I've made sure it's funny.

Throughout the day, I write words I don't know in my pocket book and then ask them to investigators and members later in the day.  It makes good conversation.  I can't really hold a real conversation in Aklanon, but I can ask about words for thirty minutes straight.  They quiz me too.  It's really nice.  They really want to help because they really love the missionaries here.

I'm well.  I’m happy to be better, and happy to work hard this week.  I love you all.  I miss you.  Thanks for the letters.

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