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.

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