Monday, March 28, 2011

a few new pictures

 These are some recent pictures.  Click on each picture to enlarge it.

Children in the ward, investigator to the right

view from Tagas


cutting bamboo near Ibajay

Then I say "ready, sing"

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

Elder Pipit was sick again!  He has to rest for two weeks.  We tried to find people to work with all week, but we only succeeded in finding people on Sunday.

We did do one full, rigorous day’s work last Tuesday.  Let me tell you, it felt great!  It was a rigorous day, and the lessons weren't of great quality, but we found five new investigators, and worked the whole day.  I felt so happy.  I started dreaming of a full week of work, but Elder Pipit relapsed, and we visited the doctor in Kalibo.  We got the news that he had to rest for two weeks.  I considered buying a guitar right then, but they don't have any good one's here.  I'm not going to buy <an inferior item.>

I did buy a new hammock, and gave my old one to Sister Danner.  It was nice to have during this week.  It's impossible to be anything lower than content while sitting in a hammock.  If Hitler had a hammock, no WWII.  If Nancy Grace had a hammock, she'd be a nice person.  The conflict in Libya could be solved if we dropped hammocks instead of bombs.  Kids who don't like to read in school just need a hammock to read in - and bam!  They're the best readers in their class.  See?  Why am I not president?

With Elder Pipit, it's a very high quality type of work. Most of the people we teach will progress if they have any desire at all.  It's good for me.  I really learn teaching skills from him.  One thing he struggles with is contacting and tracting.  So, I have stepped up in this area.  It's hard for me because of the language barrier, but I went on this mission with the “never tell me the odds” attitude, and I'm going to keep it that way.  

This week on the way to Kalibo I placed a Book of Mormon.  I spoke in all Aklanon with no help.  I bore testimony and everything.  It was sweet.  Earlier in day, just before we left, I grabbed a Book of Mormon in Tagalog and put it in my bag.  I never do this, especially if we're just going to Kalibo.  So, I grabbed it and started up a conversation in the van to Kalibo with a 17-year-old who is studying to be a priest.  At first, I just talked with him, and he helped me with my Aklanon a little bit.  We talked about his seminary and the requirements for being a priest, and why he wants to do it.  I then told him about added revelation in our modern day, and said I taught from a book like the bible that was brought to us by a modern prophet.  He was happy when I pulled one out of my bag and gave it to him.  It was swell.

I know that just sounds like a normal thing, but for me it was big step.  It was on my own, and something I had not been taught to do in the MTC or from my trainer.

Yes, Sister Emily is the one who is the sister of a devout ward member.  She didn't progress, and didn't really want us to teach her.  I still wanted to, but Elder Pipit called the shots, and it was the advice of her sister to not try and teach her.  So no luck there.

And No, there is not another apartment in the whole area of Tangalan available for us.  I swear.  We talked to a variety of people.  It's ok, though.  I have beaten the rats.  I have come off conquerer.  After we cleaned, the apartment isn’t so bad.  I call it the club house.  With the addition of my sweet mahogany desk and new hammock, it's a nice place.  I like it.  The broken toilet is an issue, though one we seem to just be ignoring.  We take two or three trips during the day to the church to do our business. 

Last Monday we went and taught a less active family, and afterward Elder Pipit started to "hang out."  I was determined to stop it.  I picked up his bag, and put my bag on, and said that we were going to go tracting now.  I'm leading, and I get to call the shots, so it felt great to do this.  We left and went tracting again.  I lead tracting.  We walked along and passed up a lot of houses.  This is out of character because all the other times we tract, we stop at every house regardless.  So we walked along and finally I saw a house I wanted to go to.  Little did we know, but it was an entire family!  We got to teach them!  It was a big family, too, with about ten people.  We taught them about Prayer and prophets!  It wasn't a great lesson, but it was cool to see what came of my choice to work instead of hang out.  We didn't get to count all of them as new investigators because a number of them had to leave to carry wood before the closing prayer.  It was a cool experience.

I am the piano player in church now.  I get to choose the hymns, and I write them out in chord structure the night before.  This last Sunday we sang Nearer My God to Thee, High on a Mountain Top, There is a Green Hill Far Away, and God Be with You ‘til We Meet Again.  A lot of people thanked me for playing the piano - more than ever thanked me for speaking in sacrament meeting - all four times combined.  Maybe I should just stick to my strengths!  It was fun to do.  First i learn the first line in melody and I play that.  Then I say "handa awit" (ready, sing) and play chords and the congregation joins in.

For the most part of this week, I was bored out of my mind.  I was all kinds of insane.  We’re doing our best for James Templo.  It was what I thought about most this week.

Yesterday I got to go out with an 18-year-old member boy while another stayed with Elder Pipit.  I got to show him the ropes of missionary work.  It was fun and he helped me with my language.  We got punted three of the four places we went, but it was good to be outside working!  It's funny how much I can do when I have to do it.  Maybe it's time for a follow up trainer.  It was great to work!  His name is Darwin, and he was fun to work with.

This Friday, Jaymarsh, the son of Brother Templo, is graduating.  We have been invited to attend!  I want to go, but I told Brother Templo that it's probably not possible.  I will lend them my camera so that Brother James can see pictures of their son’s graduation.  It's funny how big of a blessing a camera is!  I am happy to help that family in any way possible.  

The district had some changes.  We got two more white missionaries.  One's from Arizona, and is a giant, but super humble and nice.  The other is a farmer from Idaho who was Elder Lowry's companion in the MTC.  I am excited to get to know them.  There is also a new Filipino Elder.  I forget his name, but I talked with him and he is a very nice guy.

Today we did role plays in district meeting.  We've always done that, but Elder Pipit never calls on me to be in the role plays because I'm his companion and I learn from him at other times, but today he did.  It was my second time being in a role play.  The first was a long time ago.  I did teaching to pray, pray to know, teach the Holy Ghost, and invitation to pray – all in Aklanon!  It went very well.  The district didn't really say that I could have done something better.  I felt like I was doing my best.  I was so happy.  I taught clearly, to his needs, addressed his concerns about praying, and in the end got him to pray.  It was just a practice, but I was happy for the opportunity.

Sorry that this is real short.  It was a boring week.  I'll write more when more happens.  I love you, and I'll try to upload a picture or two.  I love you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I was glad I followed the prompting

Monday, March 21, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

Elder Pipit was sick again this week.  He had bronchitis, and we weren't able to work as much this week because of it.  That's a real bummer.  When I can't work, I don't feel so good about myself.  I need to work to feel like I'm worthwhile.  I could just sit and twiddle my thumbs back home.  People always told me that this day would come, when I would need to be doing something worthwhile to feel good about myself, but man, I’m only 20!

Church yesterday was good!  No joke.  We had three investigators show, which is about normal, but the Stake Presidency also came.  They talked about tithing.  The Stake President asked for my insights.  I shared Mosiah 4:19 about how we all depend on God for everything.  I did it quickly in pure Aklanon.  (Dad’s note: Most missionaries speak a Spanglish-like mix of Tagalog, Ilonggo, and Aklanon, so this is a significant development.)  It felt cool to be able to contribute when called on.  The stake president thanked me.

We have really changed this ward.  Before, the stake president no longer wanted the missionaries in Tangalan because they had been so disobedient and weren’t really working.  They were just messing around.  Now there are diligent, committed missionaries in the area.  We have met with him before to describe the needs of the ward, and we’ve also talked with him about James Templo.  He seems to like us a lot. 

We got word from Manila that the church will pay for James Templo’s operation and rehab for him.  It will pay all the hospital bills, but not for the travel or for the family to stay in Manila or for food.  There is no possible way that they would be able to afford that.  They can barely afford to make the trip to church.  They were heartbroken, and so are we.  We really have become close to this family as they have gone through this in the last couple of weeks.  It's super sad.  I would do anything to help them.  If there was anyone in the world worth helping it would be them.  They have so much faith, they are hard working, and they are so converted to the gospel.  

It would only take me a month’s worth of work at the gun range back in the states pay for three people to travel to Manila, and rent an apartment there while Brother Templo recovered.  If he hasn't gotten help by the time I get back, I am willing to work a month and give them the money if it means this man can live his life again.  They have the kind of doctors needed for this kind of operation in Manila.  I'm just sad.  I don't want them to wait two more years.  I don't know if they are allowed to postpone the help from the church for that long.

I’m frustrated because I can't do anything for them.  Nothing.  I'm only allowed to talk to the bishop and stake president about it.  I'm not allowed to arrange any help for them, or do any fundraising, until I'm not a missionary anymore.  That’s a rule in the white handbook.  I don't know what to do except continue to visit them, comfort them, and teach them from the scriptures.  It's like you're supposed to love the people in your area, but only to a degree?    

We visited them yesterday after they received that news.  James Templo was sleeping at the time, but his wife woke him up and said "he'd want to hear from you".  We didn't actually share anything, but we blessed the sacrament for him and talked with him for a bit.  It was a short and somber visit. 

I've fought for so many things before.  For the right to grow my hair out, the right to have a good seminary system, the right to date before I was 16, (Dad’s note: he lost those first three battles.) the right to date non-members when I finally decided to date, the right to play the electric guitar, to stay out late on New Year’s, but man.  Isn't that all silly compared to fighting for James Templo?

Even though we couldn't do much work this week, I did go on splits with Elder Dalu.  He's a mega Filipino, and we spoke nothing but Aklanon for the 24 hours.  It was tough because I was out of practice, having not taught much for the past two weeks.  I was happy for the opportunity to work.  We butted heads a little bit because he started treating me like I didn't know my own investigators, but we got it sorted out.  I was just telling him, in Aklanon, not to cut me off when we're teaching, and to let me lead my own investigators.  I wasn't rude, but it brought him to tears.  I didn't mean to make him cry, or to tell him off.  Truly.  I put my arm around him and said I was sorry, and afterwards we had a good time together.  It's a lot easier to be mad at someone who just takes it.  When I saw him tear up, I really felt bad about what I had said.  It's okay.  Today in transfer/district meeting, we talked today as good friends.

Some Filipinos think that the second coming is happening.  Elder Dalu even taught in one of our discussions that Japan had been hit because they were a sinful people.  I Gosh man, you can get some weird doctrine out here.  Some of the Filipinos think that Bigfoot is Cain. 

We have a member from Kalibo who enjoys Elder Pipit and me.  He's been coming to our ward.  Elder Pipit was in a meeting about ward budget and it was time to teach Fred, so I pulled this man aside and asked him to teach with me.  Ramon was so excited.  When we sat down, he said "Wow, I feel like a missionary."  He was so thankful to take part in that.  It was touching to see how much being in a missionary lesson meant to him.  He bore his testimony about tithing at the end of the lesson and got teary-eyed.  We taught tithing because Fred had just learned about it in the meeting before.  It was a good lesson, and I was glad that I followed the prompting to ask him to teach with me. 

P-day Hike in Mountains
Last P-day, Elder Light and I went hiking.  It was awesome!  At the last minute, Elder Pipit said that he didn't want us to go because he had a lot of things to do that day in Kalibo, but Elder Light had brought all of his hiking stuff with him and we were set to go, and we had already gotten permission from Elder Pipit and from the zone leaders, so we went.  We had a great time.  We saw some interesting things.  We saw a Filipino booby trap!  In fact, I came really close to it.  I looked to my right and saw bamboo spikes sticking out of the ground.  I'm sure it was for animals, but we decided not to hike around there anymore.  We hiked a different, and bigger, mountain.  It was raining heavily the whole time.  We were thoroughly soaked.  Despite the rain, it was still like 75 degrees.  People thought we were crazy.  Filipino's are so leery of the rain.  People warned us about the rain as if were nuclear fallout. They say, "Dair, ulan!!!"  (Lookout, rain!)  As if we don't know that it's raining while we're standing in it.  We just look up and say "taliga?" which means "really?"  It's funny. 

Our toilet is broken.  It's just not flushing.  Actually, it never really flushed; we’ve always had to pour water down it to get it to flush.  Now when we do that, it all leaks out two holes at the base of the toilet.  It leaks out of the two holes that are there to screw it into the ground.  Not just water leaks out.  Little chunks of stuff come out too.  So, after every time you sit down, you have to scrub the floor.  After doing that twice, we started just using the church bathroom now.  It’s a block away, and it’s frustrating, but more than that, it's funny.  Gosh, a broken toilet?  I'm in the Philippines, of course there’s a broken toilet. 

new desk
I got a new desk.  A couple weeks ago mine broke.  We just put it out of it's misery.  I got a new mahogany desk from a local carpenter.  Let me tell you, that is the sweetest thing ever.  I'll email a picture of it this week.  (Sorry, I don't have my camera with me - I lent it to a ward member for a church activity.  Don't worry, it's in good hands.)  So, yeah, that desk is my pride and joy.  It's smooth.  Leah should be jealous. 

Our surprise service project for Sister Danner didn't work.  They didn't have a place to hang the hammock that we prescribed for her.  In the mean time, she's really sick.  She's in the hospital in Iloilo right now.  Elder Ball is sick and just got transferred to Iloilo so he can be closer to the hospital.  He hasn't left yet.  He's sitting right next to me.  Elder Pipit will stay, and so will I, but Elder Light is getting a new companion. 

Elder Pipit

Elder Pipit is a great missionary.  He's super smart, and can work efficiently.  He's a quality missionary and knows how to work with the ward and stake leaders.  Sometimes I wish we could do more quantity in the time we spend on him being quality, but it's ok.  He’s still working even though he goes home in six weeks, so I can't complain. 

Elder Pipit received a love note from out neighbor's 17-year-old.  It's a heartfelt love note.  We’re being sensitive to her feelings, but we laughed and laughed.  I know that's mean, but it was written in the most high class English ever.  She used words like "emancipated" and "shall I?"  Woah, where did she learn that kind of English?  We'll just give her a Book of Mormon in return. 

Our neighbor was singing at the top of her lungs the other day when I was taking a nap.  She’s about twelve, and was singing a pop love song.  I got up, swore under my breath, and got the ear plugs that Sarah had given me. Thank you Sarah!  No, I should not have sworn, but you don't know how annoying it was. 

I had my first mango.  I love the Philippines.  I will buy seven more today.  Oh man!  It was so good!  You cannot imagine.  It was worth two weeks of sitting idle.  It was work the 15 hour flight to get here.  It's was worth nine weeks trapped in the MTC.  Let me tell you.  Even if there weren’t the great feelings that come from missionary work, and if I weren’t blessed in any other way from the work we've done here, that mango would have been enough to cal it all worth the effort. 

Sorry, I still haven't received any packages you have sent me.  We'll see next week.  In fact, no letters or anything have come for two weeks.  They come in waves though, so I'm not worried.  It's not so bad not to receive letters because I receive your e-mail every week.  Thanks for the e-mails!  

I love you all so much.  I'm doing very well.  Elder Pipit is feeling better, so I hope we can work this week.  We have a couple of people getting ready for baptism.  The work has lost momentum because of splits three weeks ago with Elder Cruz, and these last two weeks of Elder Pipit being sick.  We're going put the pedal to the metal.  Don't worry about me; there isn’t anything to worry about.  We’ve got it under control, and if we don't, Heavenly Father does.

I love you all.

Monday, March 14, 2011

dwarves and aswangs

Monday, March 14, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

Elder Pipit was sick this week, and we didn't do much.  I was really bummed about it.  He slept a lot.  I did a lot of language study and wrote some long past-due letters.  It was a boring week, and we had terrible numbers.

I've learned to cook.  I make some mean ulam (topping on rice.)  I cooked all week.  Elder Pipit didn't want to touch the food.  Since I had a lot of free time, I experimented with stir flying veggies into our ulam.  Being creative in anyway makes me happy.  I had fun.

Last week I found root beer in Kalibo.  I bought just one.  Every day it was in my fridge, and I resisted the urge to drink it.  I wanted to wait until I had done a good days work to drink it.  Sunday (yesterday) was the only day we did a good days work, so I drank it.  It tasted like poison.  I was pretty disappointed.  I couldn't believe they even called it root beer.  It was a sad few minutes, but I drank it, and then drank some other stuff to get rid of the taste.  I’m not giving up; there has to be some good root beer somewhere!

They have this nasty root here that people feed to us all the time.  It could not taste worse.  It resembles a potato, but tastes like a rotten macadamia nut.  We always eat it when they offer because they are giving from their hearts.  Maybe one time I should have put up a fight - one of the members made us an entire root crap cake!  I told Elder Pipit "Look, we struck gold, an entire root crap cake!"  We ate it.  It was an adventure.

Since I had been cooped up all day, I was really itching to go out.  So in the evening one night we went to the church and I ran circles around it for like 30 minutes.  I have never sweated so much in my life.  It was crazy.  I lied down on the tile floor, and when I got up, there was a lake of sweat.  The Philippines is so sweaty.  It was good to exercise, but afterwards my shorts smelled so bad that I had to wash them.  It probably took longer to wash my running clothes that it did to run.  Washing clothes by hand is tough.  I miss washing machines so much.

This week we went to the church to watch some Preach My Gospel DVDs.  There were some teenagers playing basketball in the church’s (outdoor) basketball court.  We started the DVDs, and then Elder Pipit said “Let’s give those guys a tour of the church.”  So, we went out there and introduced ourselves, then invited them on a tour.  We had an opening prayer and taught them just based on the stuff around the church.  It was cool.  We got five new investigators from it.
James Templo went to the hospital in Iloilo.  They couldn't do much.  His condition is very sensitive and pretty high risk.  The doctor there didn't feel comfortable working on him.  It requires some pretty special skills.  So the next step is Manila, but even there they may not be able to do much.  From the assessment of the doctor in Iloilo, there is only a one percent chance that he'll walk again.  We went over there and I shared "Thy faith hath made the whole" talking about that woman with the issue of blood.  Afterwards, he said the other 99% will come from God.  He has so much faith.  I really love that family.  They are undeterred.

On Sunday, I gave my fourth talk in ten weeks.  I talked about faith in Christ.  It was a faith in Christ kind of week.  I did a lot of study on the topic because of my talk, and thus was able to share a lot of it with others this week.  I really enjoyed studying about it. Giving the talk is a little different though.  I didn't really enjoy giving it - it's kind of a nerve racking experience, especially after my unintentional blasphemy the previous time.   It went ok this time.  I asked people if there were mistakes, and they said that there were none.  That's really good to hear.

Also yesterday, there was a bird in our chapel, just flying around.  Right before Sacrament Meeting, I turned off all the fans and lights and opened all the windows, but it stayed up in the ceiling.  We finally had to turn all the lights and fans on because it was time to start.  So, we’re all singing with this bird flying above the fans, and I jsut knew what was going to happen.  During the Branch President’s opening remarks, the bird hit the fan and dropped with a thud.  I looked up, and there were feathers just floating down on me.  I looked to my left, and the bird was about three feet away from me.  One of the young men got up and picked it up, no doubt to put it outside, but then an old man got up and took the bird from him.  The old man showed the boys in the white family the bird during sacrament meeting.  The white boys just passed it to each other.  Man, I love the Philippines.

As I mentioned before, there is a white family living in our ward.  Everyone speaks English to them, but not to me!  It's ok, but man, I've been trying so hard to communicate with them!  It's funny though.

Yesterday we visited a member who is less active, and just had and baby, and is sick.  We went over there expecting to give a blessing.  Nope.  We just talked about fire breathing dwarves and aswangs for 40 minutes.  Aswangs are creatures that eat babies.  The locals blame miscarriages on them.   The Philippines is so superstitious.  This lady swears that there is a fire breathing dwarf in Antique.  I can wait to go there and see it for myself!

I'm on splits with Elder Light, and we’re going to hike in the mountains for P-day.  I've been looking forward to hiking all week.  Sister Danner has been feeling kind of low, so sometime this week we're going to go over there and do a surprise service project by installing a hammock for the sisters.  It should be fun!

I'm doing pretty well.  Sorry for such a boring email.  I love you all.  I miss you so much.  This week we will work harder, because Elder Pipit will not be sick.  I will be leading.  I hope all is well back home.  I love you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I stunk

Monday, March 7, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay

This week I worked with Elder Cruz.  Elder Ball had to go to Iloilo for some medical check-ups, and Elder Pipit had to go for training.  I spoke in Aklanon for the whole week.  It was the most I had ever spoken in Aklanon.  My language has gotten pretty good.  We were only supposed to be together for three days, but Elder Ball had so much to do that we were together from Tuesday to Saturday.  We worked in my area first, and then we went to his area.  I thought that we would only work in his area for a day, but we were there longer.  So, I only packed one day’s worth of clothes.  I didn't even bring a razor either.  I looked like the shaggiest missionary ever.  My billy goat beard has gotten really thick having shaved it every day since October.  There’s still not much on my face, though.

While we were in Ibajay, we worked with one family in particular.  They are recent converts, and are really going strong.  They have a couple of kids, and two of them joined us tracting.  One night while coming home, one of them ran ahead.  We were close to their house, so I thought he went home.  I walked along singing out loud to myself while Elder Cruz talked to their other teenager.  As we walked down a dark road, this boy jumped out.  It scared the crap out of me.  The whole family was there waiting for it to happen.  I yelled "holy s___" at the top of my lungs, and pumped up to swing at him.  I didn't because I realized who it was in time.  It would have been bad because the whole family was there.  It was bad enough to curse in English around them.

Elder Cruz and I sang “Nearer My God to Thee” about ten thousand times together.  I sing harmony to that song pretty well now.  We sang it to our investigators in Ibajay.  It did bring the spirit and was fun to do.  Elder Pipit has assured me that it's not going to happen with us.  Elder Ball purchased a really crappy guitar a while back, and while at their apartment in Ibajay I got to play it.  I wrote a song and it felt super good.  Man, it was good to write a song again.

Wednesday night the power went out.  I was washing my clothes at the church.   (We wash there because our water is too rusty for white clothes.)  The power went out without warning, and it was kind of late at night, and there was thunder and lightning, and Elder Cruz was already uncomfortable washing there that late.  It was like 8:30.  Like many Filipinos, he is really superstitious, and he got really scared.  So, we packed up and went back to the house and just left the clothes soaking, and finished washing the following morning.  That night we had to plan and close the day by candlelight.  It was not the perfect candle lit dinner - I would have preferred a change of cast.  Still, it was fun.

Hauling Bamboo
We did a service project in Ibajay.  We went into the bukid and cut down bamboo trees, then dragged them down and cut them into strips, and made a fence out of them.  It was fun, and I loved working with a machete.  It was really good to get out in the bukid.  

I stayed an extra day in Ibajay.  The apartment didn't have water, so I couldn't shower.  I didn't have my razor, and we didn't have clean water to brush my teeth.  I was wearing all the same clothes from the hot day before, socks, garments, and all.  I stunk.  When we got back to Tangalan, we ate and then I went straight into the shower.  I was in the shower when Elder Pipit and Elder Ball returned.  Elder Ball is feeling better, but needs some more medical treatment.

Fred has a baptism date.  The ward isn't ready for that, but they need to get ready.  We talked with the ward council about it, and now they are going to fellowship him.  He's progressing really great.  Our work has really, really slowed down; everything has been falling through.  We went out and worked from 1-6 yesterday without teaching.  We finally got two at the end, even though one of them told us she wasn't interested.  We still have two ready for baptism, though: Fred, and a youth girl who's been going to church for two years now with her neighbor - who is married to the Italian man.  We weren't able to keep a lot of appointments and keep our momentum going because Elder Pipit didn't get back from Iloilo until Saturday Afternoon, and he was super tired when he returned.

Yesterday was Sunday.  We had a lot of youth at church for some reason.  They all thought it would be ok to hang out instead of go to Sunday School.  Elder Ball and I took the job of herding them to class.  It was funny.  We had record attendance for our Gospel Principles class.  It was testimony meeting, and some guy said that the Angel Moroni came to him in a dream and told him that he needed to start going to church again.  Honestly, whatever gets you to church is good enough for me.  It was awesome.

While in Ibajay, that family that we worked with wanted to see pictures of my family.  I didn't have any on me, and they thought was a crime against humanity, and they pretty much scolded me.  So, I brought my photo album to church to show them - the Ibajay group joins us on Fast Sundays.  That was not a good idea.  It got passed around to all the young women.  Finally it was too much.  I had to take it back and I did.  One of them had a question about one of the pictures so I opened it up and all the other young women swarmed around.  So, I closed it and they started all grabbing at it and tugging on the photo album.  Someone even ripped off a scab from my hand.  That was too much.  I put it away and walked off.  I am not showing anybody any more pictures.

The Catholic Church is really powerful here, and it really hurts our work.  We never teach anybody who is super catholic, and we don't tell people that they need to change from being Catholic because it's bad.  We just talk to the neutral ground people.  We have been teaching brother Ludin and his wife, Sister Ginda, for quite some time.  In fact, they had a baptism date and were going to be baptized on the 16th, but then the Catholic Church got to them.  They said if they joined our church that they can’t get buried in the cemetery.  First, that is not true because it's public, and second that’s just plain ole' dirty.  Now our investigators don't want to be baptized even though they are reading the Book of Mormon and believe us, and say that our church has a great spirit. It's kind of a big bummer for us.

We also have starting talking with Fred's brother and sister-in-law.  They have a business.  They are interested in our church because they've seen the great change in Fred, but they cannot commit to anything because their business is endorsed by the Catholic Church, and if they go to another church then their endorsement will be revoked.

I don’t want to seem sentimental, but they have the most beautiful sunsets here.

Elder Pipit and I are doing well.  I'm myself and he's himself.  I'm working really hard, and my language is really good – so says Elder Cruz and some other folks.  Elder Pipit does question my spirituality sometimes, but we work and that's what I want.  We do everything we need to, plus we get along pretty well most of the time.

Today I've hung out with Elder Lowry all day.  He is sitting right next to me. It's been fun.  Next week I'm going hiking with Elder Light all next p-day.  I'm super stoked.

I'm doing really well.  I’m really getting the language, and am teaching better.  I feel relaxed and happy.  I miss you.