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.

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