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.

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