Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prayer really works

Monday, April 25, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

Prayer really works. 

We have been praying long and hard for James Templo, all the time.  If we blessed the food, we prayed for him.  It became about as common as amen in our prayers. 

Yesterday I was setting up the Sacrament, and I saw two vans pull up onto our basketball court, which doubles as a parking lot.  I didn't recognize the vans at all.  I assumed it was vacationers from Boracay.  (Dad’s note: Boracay is a world-renowned beach resort, 26 miles west of Tangalan.  One needs to see only a picture or two to know why no missionaries have not been assigned to work there.) It turned out to be four people from the U.S., including one guy from Sacramento, California, and one from Portland, Oregon, and their wives.  Sometimes the angels that God sends are everyday people

These two men are returned missionaries who served here in the Philippines in the 70's, when it was an English-speaking mission.  They brought about fifteen investigators with them from Boracay.  They say that there are about a hundred interested over there.  We couldn't count them as investigators at church, nor can we teach them.  Boracay is off limits, but I got their names in case it ever opens up.  Two of them live in Kalibo because that's where they go to school, so we referred them to the sister missionaries. 

We got to talking after Sacrament Meeting.  They talked a lot about their missions, and how extreme it was.  We talked about our work.  They explained that they do charity work here, too.  We started talking about the ward, and they mentioned Sister Templo, who was talking to all of the visitors they had brought.  Sister Templo had worked in Boracay before.  I explained James Templo's situation to them, and they asked how far does he live?  I said "Not far! Let's go!"  I got Jaymhars, James Templo's oldest son, told Elder Pipit that we're going on splits, and we were off to Panayakan.  (Dad’s note: Panyakan is about three miles from the chapel, on the road back toward Boracay.)  

It was a fun drive.  They enjoyed the Filipino mountains, and I told them about the area.  I played tour guide - not in the “giving directions” way, because there is really only one road - but in the "we have investigators here, you can buy awesome rice there" kind of way.  We pulled off the road when we got to Panayakan, and Jaymhars went on ahead to prepare his father.  Sister Templo and I led them to the house, and I served as translator.  

The visiting wives are appalled by the living conditions, and told their husbands that he needs a new roof.  The guy pulled some money out and handed it to Sister Templo for a new roof!  I translated their conversation with James Templo.  It was fairly brief, probably because they already understood his situation from our previous conversation.  I also introduced them to Jaymhars and explained that he is trying to go to college so that he can help support the family.  It turns out that they sponsor Filipinos to go to school!  By the time we left, they promised to sponsor Jaymhars.  They also they know a lot of people in Manila, and probably have someone that Brother Templo can stay with if he goes there for surgery.  Ayos!!!  They need some info about the cost of travel, which I hope to find out this week.  I got their e-mail, and told them that I'll send them all the info that I have.  They promised to help. 

It was time to leave, and we stepped outside of the hut.  I explained that I had to go back to church, and that we were going to just grab a jeepney.  He offered to pay for the jeepney, and I tried to decline, explaining that I've got my missionary funds for travel.  He repeatedly insisted, and I accepted.  He handed me way more than the cost of the trip back Tangalan.  I explained that it was too much, but he really wanted me to take it.  I think I'll put the extra in a fast offering.

As we left, one of the wives tried to hug me.  Oops.  I hope I didn’t seem unkind in the way that I avoided being hugged.

I have to be careful about this because as a missionary I am not allowed to be part of any money transactions - nor can it look like it.  It is completely against the white handbook.  If these visitors are going to help the Templos family, we’ll have to find another person to handle things.  I can give information, but if I get involved in any money stuff, I could be in deep doo-doo with my mission president. 

Also yesterday, we came across a guitar player in Pudiot (about one mile south of Tangalan.)  He was sitting outside, and we stopped to listen to him.  He has long black hair, and kind of reminds me of Ed (a friend in Las Vegas.)  After a while, we talked, and Elder Pipit suggested that he let me play his guitar.  I taught the guy "Come Thou Fount."  I have a great video of me teaching it to him.  A bunch of kids and a few adults gathered around to watch us.  Next time I'll teach him "Nearer My God to Thee" and teach him the first lesson.  He's already agreed to it - I teach him one song, and then we teach him one lesson.  Sweet.  Music is the best. 

We had interviews with President Pagaduan this week.  We were asked to bring our 72 hour kits with us so they could see that we had them.  Everyone is on a safety trip since that tsunami in Japan, and I can’t blame them.  I got high pints for my 72 hour kit.  My camel pouch of water was a hit for sure.  Sister Pagaduan accidently opened it, and spilled out the contents of my 72 hour kit, but that was no big deal.  Mom, the bandaids and medical stuff you packed in there were a big hit!

I enjoyed my interview with President Pagaduan.  I was really myself, and talked about my thoughts openly.  We didn't talk about anyone else.  I just expressed love for James Templo and my area.  I showed him those maps that Dad had sent me, and I ended up giving them to him.  We had a good laugh about the map that shows a church in the middle of the ocean.  Those were really cool maps, and will be used in the mission office.  President Pagaduan asked me if I was being obedient in all things, and I frankly admitted that I am not.  He seemed surprised that I would be so forward.  I wasn’t being defiant – just honest.  We talked a little about it, and now I'm going to be more obedient. 

This past week was Holy Week, and the Catholic Church sponsors a lot of events.  We watched the Friday parade from our driveway.  Now the entire population of Tangalan and surrounding barangays know where we live.  We even saw a few of our investigators in the parade - imagine that.  It was a weird parade.  It was mostly just folks with candles, but had some Jesus floats too.  Little baby Jesus dressed up like a king.  They call it St. Ninos.  All the events hurt our work.  Everyone was spending time with their families.  Oh, apparently God is dead on Saturday.  People really take the Friday in holy week seriously.  Some people even go as far as to nail themselves to a cross.  I saw it on TV. By the way, Filipino TV is a lot more graphic than TV in the U.S. 

Other news: life is good.  Elder Pipit and I have taught well, and I felt the spirit in our lessons. 

Earlier in the week, I had helped Jaymhars with the PEF form.  That is such a cool program.

Fred, our investigator, fell off the deep end.  Seriously, we're back to square one.

A few weeks ago, we had an investigator give us back a Book of Mormon.  She really wanted to give it back to us, so we took.  I got it in my hands and said, “Let’s go give this to somebody else."  That’s what we did.  We had two great lessons with them.  Then the lady talked to her husband who was working in Manila, and at the next meeting gave us back that same Book of Mormon.  So, now I still have this boomerang Book of Mormon.  Bummer. 

We had Italian food again at the same home.  It was swell.  We again  talked about German beer, but also about Italian art.  He was impressed that I knew some Italian artists, but I was really just naming off the ninja turtles.  Man, that food is so good - or maybe I'm just sick of rice!

I have become more original and creative in my teaching.  When I first got here, I taught like I saw Elder Pipit teach.  He’s a great teacher, but I’m my own person and have my own teaching style.  This week I made a puzzle for a young investigator of ours.  I made a picture of our church building, and then cut it up.  I wrote some characteristics of our church on each puzzle piece.  I split the church up into its pieces when I taught about the apostasy, and helped her put it back together for restoration, talking about each piece along the way.  

This is a good sign for me.  It's like the difference between working at Jamba Juice and the gun range.  At Jamba Juice, I had to be some kind of Nazi cheerleader, but at the gun range, I could be myself.  I could provide customer service in a way that was natural for me.  So, now I am teaching like I want, although I’m still crippled by this crazy language.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Monday, April 18, 2011
Tanagan, Aklan, Panay Island

We got to work this week, and work we did.  I’ve been leading all week - for reasons unknown – but I set a high pace.

sunset from Kalibo
Last Monday evening was a little wild.  We had another endless P-day, and I mean endless.  We didn't get back to our apartment until the next day.  We went to another FHE in Kalibo, where we played games, had a lesson, and they didn’t bring out the food until about 9 pm.  It was on top of a building in Kalibo at a really wealthy family's house.  We watched the sun set over the mountains from one of the tallest building in Kalibo.  It was cool.  It would have been rude to leave before eating, and they cooked A LOT of food, so we stayed.  They had spaghetti, rice, ulam, all kinds of meats, some awesome pineapple juice that was at least worth dying for, and tons of desserts.  Elders are supposed to be in their apartment by 9:30, but we didn't start eating until 9, and we were in Kalibo.  Did I mention it was a lot of food?  A lot.  It was all very tasty, and we definitely pigged out.  I could not keep up with Elder Aquin from Hawaii, but I sure tried.  

I left completely stuffed, and we walked the night streets in the rain until we could get a trike driver who looked to be a nice guy to drive us the dark way to Numancia.  We slept on the tile floor because there were also two other elders crashing there.  It was a wild night.  I slept rather close to Elder Aquin at one point in the night.  It was funny.  I rolled over half asleep, and I'm breathing, but my breath is coming back to me warm.  I opened my eyes and saw that I was about four inches from a giant Hawaiian.  Sometimes a mission makes for strange situations. 

National Service Day
We had National Day of Service this week.  We swept the streets.  All the youth and adults wore yellow Mormon Helping Hands shirts.  I had fun and really pitched in.  I was soaked in sweat by the end of it.  Man, I stunk.  I'd rather work with the members than fellowship them.  It's funny - they were all in awe that I was working hard.  They tend to think that Americans are just lazy and rich.  They kept on saying stuff like "meroon ka magsilhik?" like "you have the ability to sweep?"  Well, yeah - I had a mother too!

Early this week, our work was dead.  It's hard to pick up after a couple weeks off, and last week wasn't that great.  On Wednesday and Thursday, our numbers were like straight 1's even though we had been working all day.  It was such a bummer.  Actually, we still end up hanging out with members, so that's why, but I honestly can't do nothing about it. Trunkiness kills.  So, I decided that from now on we were going to skip my language study and get to work first thing in the morning.  My language studies were half hearted anyways because all I ever did was learn new words.  I decided that, because I'm not ok with numbers that low.  Not from me.  I didn't come on a mission to be kind of effective.  So that’s what we did, and it went great.  The hours from 10-11 is great for tracting.  People are outside and at home.  The first day we did it, Friday, I said "Elder, let’s go find a golden family."  I was putting that whole faith thing to the test.  Elder Pipit said something like “whatever.”  But we found a great family the first house we went to.  It was a good discussion, and one of the girls got all choked up in the prayer because the spirit was so strong.  Man sometimes, it's just good. 

I helped Jaymhars Templo fill out a PEF form this week.  He didn't have all the info he needed, but we did as much as we could.  He hadn't done the sufficient research about his desired field of work, so I took him around - against his will - and we interviewed some cooks there in Tangalan.  So, we at least filled out that part. 

The power went out during lunch on Saturday, so we couldn't cook our rice.  So, we went downtown and ate there.  We found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and ate there.  My food had hair.  You have got to love the Philippines.  By the way, there is no distinction between an item and where it comes from.  For instance, the word for pork, baboy, is the same as the word for pig.  The word for wood is the same as the word for tree.

On Sunday I talked in church for the fifth time.  Gosh, for not understanding me, they really like to listen to me.  I talked on charity and service.  It was an ok talk.  I didn't write it out.  I just highlighted a couple scriptures, and talked from experience, so it was new type of talk.  I'm comfortable enough to be unscripted, so that's a good sign. 

teaching about prayer
I taught some primary kids how the pray.  I taught without Elder Pipit, which is actually happening a lot lately.  He was an office elder, and I'm sure he just feels put out to pasture.  He’s in his last transfer, and he's just training this punk American. 

Oh, in another lesson I called Joseph Smith a girl, but Elder Pipit caught me and corrected in.  It doesn't help that boy and babae both start with a B.

I received my package.  It was like Christmas, and it was fun.  All of the other missionaries were standing around watching me open it, which is actually common, but this was my first time.  When the almond m&m's came out, I was all the sudden the center of attention.  Thank you, I really loved the package.  I love the tic tacs, and the root beer barrels, and everything.  Everyone had a good time looking at the map you made.  No one has seen that good of a map of Panay.  Man, it was good. 

Fred, our solid investigator, has gone through seeming gay, seeming crazy and weird, being smelly, all the way to wearing a white shirt, combing his hair, and sitting for three sessions of conference.  We were supposed to baptize him this week, but he had a mental breakdown.  I tried talking to him, but he's just not in there.  We talked to his family, and they said it will usually take a week or two to recover, so we'll see what’s up then.  That was a real blow to us.

It turns out Elder Pipit is kind of a guapo Filipino.  I’m not much of a judge for guys’ looks, and I don't know Filipino culture, but this week he got texts from the daughters of some investigators telling him “Goodnight” and he received another love note from the same girl.  It was in invisible ink.  I told him you have to spread citrus on it to read it.  He said he didn't read it, but I saw him cutting an orange.

We have a lot of ants.  I'll be studying, and I'll notice dark spots on my sleeve or shoulder.  It takes a while to realize that it's ants, but when I finally look at my sleeve, I see an army of ants.  I just brush them off, but dang, there they are again.  And again.  On Thursday, I was a walking ant farm.  I finally just sprayed myself in mosquito repellant and that seemed to ward them off. 

I love you all so much, and I mean it.  Thank you for all your prayers.  This week, I worked hard all week.  We got some great new investigators, and I'm excited for the future.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

listening in a different way

Monday, April 11, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panya Island

I've been starved of good, hard work for weeks.  Elder Pipit was sick for three and a half weeks, so I was so pumped to work.  I was so eager to work this past Tuesday that I barely let Elder Pipit sit down with members.  We just worked.  We got 7 teaching that day, which is ridiculously good for our area.  I came home in the evening absolutely ecstatic.  I was so tired, but I felt so happy.  When Elder Pipit started to sit down with members, I told the members we were leaving to tract.  We killed it!  The rest of the days weren't as fulfilling because, well someone is trunky.  That first day, he could not have made me sit down unless we were teaching.  The other days he did.  I never want to be in the office.  I never want to be a district leader.  I just want to work.  I got to do one day’s serious hard work, and I want that every day.  So this week I am determined to work all week.

However, we do get some referrals from talking with members like he likes to, so it's not all that bad.  We received three referrals this week, and they are likely to progress.  One is a family, and they are really nice.  The kids love me because I gave them suckers.  I carry around suckers with me all the time to give to kids.  I got the idea from Elder Light. 

(In the Philippines, General Conference is shown the weekend following the broadcast in the U.S.)  General Conference was SO good.  No joke.  I was listening in a different way, though.  Usually, I only listened if something really applied to me.  I just filtered out the other stuff.  This time I listened for my investigators, one of which was sitting by me.  Man, the topics where great too - family and service, and a lot on marriage, which definitely didn't apply to me.  Not now, and not for a while either.  I was listening for the investigators we have just like I used to do it with my CD's.  I'd listen as if I were other people I knew, and it helped me refine the music.  So, I did that for the talks.  I really loved all the service stuff.  That's what makes us saints anyways.  We haven’t been doing service projects as a companionship, but now I've got to fuel for it, so I hope to.

I really enjoyed Elder Bednar’s talk.  His, and President Eyring’s in Priesthood.  Man, he floored the listeners.

After Priesthood Session, I was set on getting ice cream. (A family tradition.)  Elder Pipit refused, and Elder Lowry had been sick and was not supposed to walk very far.  Elder Light was set on watching the choir music.  I went with two Elders from the US that I didn't know as well.  It was a good chance to get to know them. One was Elder Thayne.  Elder Thayne was in the MTC while I was there.  I also invited Fred, our investigator, but he really didn't want to.  Still, I did do my ice cream trip.

Also, I can definitely tell I’m in the Philippines because I had an eager eye on the female section of that BYU-Idaho Choir.  Not that it was overly attractive - notice the Idaho part of their name, but yes, there were some very pretty girls there.  Oh, I'm a sinner!

Fred went to Conference and really just loved it.  We only expected him to stay for the Priesthood Session, which was first, but he stayed for the whole day’s sessions.  After the 2nd session, we left him with our Branch President.  When we returned, we asked our Branch President where Fred was, and he said inside sitting down.  He wasn't.  He had wandered off and missed the start of the next session, but he did come back in time to hear the first talk.  We were kind of hacked at our Branch President who has never shown interest in Fred.

with the Masula family
Last night we went to dinner at a member’s.  This member found out that we had been eating at another member’s house fairly frequently and got jealous, so she fed us too.  I honestly don't mind; I got fed.  It was the Masula family.  The two daughters of that family teach me Aklanon.  I have a lot of fun joking with them.  One of them didn't go to General Conference.  I asked her what she was doing instead, and she said washing clothes.  I asked her, in her opinion, which is more important.  She said Conference.  I went on to say "Next October you will. . .” and she started to answer, but I cut her off, “. . .bring your clothes with you to Kalibo and wash there"  (Kalibo is where Conference is shown.)  Of course this conversation was in Aklanon. 

Earlier today I bought breakfast for two homeless kids.  We're not supposed to give homeless people money as a mission rule, but I have always wanted to.  I had the thought to just buy food for them like Mom always does for homeless people in Las Vegas, but I figured that was against the rules too.  Then I saw Elder Lowry do it the other day, so it must be okay.  I did it this morning, and even got to talk with them.  I felt good.

Today we went bowling again. I got a 105.

We have a new investigator named Franklin.  He was a referral, but he was drunk when we contacted him.  He told us that he was sad that we came when he was drunk because he had really looked forward to us coming.  He told us while we talked to him that he wanted to be baptized.  Later, after we left, we walked back by his house again and saw him fall of over because he was so drunk.  So I don't think we're going to count what he said as legitimate baptismal commitment.  We went back and visited him when he was sober, and he didn't seem so rushed to get baptized.

There is a huge, clear sky here at night.  I finished my washing early and just lied in the grass of the church for 30 minutes while I waited for Elder Pipit to finish.  It was great to just lie there and think.  I miss camping.  How can anyone look at a clear night sky and say there is no God?  It's beyond me.

I’ve thought a lot about what got me on a mission, but let me tell you what definitely could have kept me away: The White Handbook.  If I had read that, it would have scared me right out of those papers.  I'm sure that is no surprise to you.  I'm trying to be a better missionary all the time.

I don’t know exactly what got me on a mission because I didn’t make the decision all at once.  I definitely waited to make the decision until it was completely my decision.  That has proven to be a good thing, because some who had their parent make their decision for them are having some hard first months.

I don't know why it is, but some missionaries love to preach at me.  It’s as if they are trying to be influential to other missionaries, and say profound things, and be all-stars.  It kind of bugs me.  The other day, I asked an elder who had just been transferred from the office if the work was easier in other areas.  I was just striking up a conversation, and I had already heard from other missionaries that Aklan has always had lower numbers, and people are less receptive here.  He took it as an opportunity to preach to me about determination.  Suddenly, I became a student by force.  It really bugged me.

By the way, having the guitar has not been a distraction.  I want to work more than I want to play it.  When it's time to work, that's the only thing I want to do.  We work all day, and then I update the area book and write in my journal.  If I still have a few minutes before bedtime, then I’ll pick it up and play it.  If anything, it's been a great outlet for expressing myself.  I have learned a few hymns, straight from the hymn book.

I love you.

more pictures

This gecko is nearly three feet long.
 Elder Waggoner uploaded these images on April 11.  To see a larger view, click on the picture.

A really big leaf.

No washing machine, no dryer.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"This is where it's at."

Monday, April 4, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

(Elder Pipit was still ill) so last week was boring.  It got better though, because I got to work some!!!!  Not working for so long has convinced me that I never ever want to work in the office.  I want to be a field missionary only.  Dad, what were in the office?  Elder Pipit was financial secretary.

This week we received a referral from the Templo family.  It's for their father/grandfather.  We went with Jaymarsh to Pudiot to find him.  Actually, that was to do a follow up lesson with him and try to teach the family too, because we had already taught him once at the Templo's home.  So, we went to Pudiot, which is the opposite end of our area from where Jaymarsh lives, Panayakan.  We took a long ride on a jeep, and then start looking.  We were directed through the baranguy.  We asked people, and they would point the direction.  Then we'd ask some more people and they would either point back the direction we came or tell us to go further.  It's almost like asking for directions from hillbillies.  At one point we had walked a really long ways, and we were in the bukid already. We asked some lady where Pio Templo lives, and she points further down the road, says "malayo pa, sa bukid."  (Further on, in the wild.)  What?  Are you kidding me?  This is the wild, this is already far.  It took most of our Sunday afternoon to find him, plus the travel from the opposite end of our area.  I still had fun.

We did find him, and we got to teach the family.  It's great to teach people who already have a relation to the church.  They can easily see how the gospel blesses their family through James Templos part of the family.  They had a lot of questions, which is a great sign.  If they ask questions it’s almost never because they are trying to prove it wrong; if they think it's wrong, they don't care to listen to us, which is another story I have to tell.  If they ask questions, it usually means they have the desire, if you have the desire, then faith is supposed to be pretty easy to get from there.  We had a great lesson with them, and afterward they kept on asking question.  

Then they insisted that we stay and eat a snack with them.  We were hesitant because we were far from the road, and it was late afternoon, but we're missionaries and we can only say no to a few things.  We waited.  Eating a snack with them entails one of their kids walking far away to get the stuff and come back.  I didn't see this as unnecessary, I saw it as super nice, and we always thank them.  Usually this is alright, but this time they brought back coke!  Coke is bawal (taboo) for missionaries in our mission, but I had been fasting, I was thirsty, and we had walked so far that we weren't in our area anymore.  I wanted to drink it, which brings up a side story. . .

At Bonnaroo last summer, it was super hot and muggy.  I remember to it was Brandie Carlisle’s show.  She was going strong, and I was having a great time.  I was also super thirsty.  Without even knowing that I was dry, Devon handed me a cold Dr. Pepper or Pepsi.  (Our family almost never drinks caffeinated drinks.)  I took a sip, and it was liqueur to Townes (van Zandt?)  It was manna to the Israelites.  It was wine to the Italians.  It was brownies to Ben Gibson.  It was Yoko to Lennon.  It was genealogy to Dad.  It was motorcycles to Uncle Kenny.  It was a little sip of the celestial kingdom.

Back to the Coke. . .I was hoping for the same experience.  Damn the rules, I'm thirsty.  However, Elder Pipit pulled the obedience card and excused us from the Coke.  Instead, we drank dirty water!!!  How much better is dirty water than coke?!  Not much.  But we were being obedient, so I doubt the water had amoebas in it.

We also tried to teach Jewel Morales yesterday.  We haven't been able to teach to him since we had finished the plan of salvation.  We had been teaching him plan of salvation since the beginning of my mission.  We finally caught him at home.  He had quit his job, had taken his furniture out of the front room, put a pad down and some pillows.  He was lying in boxer shorts and a t-shirt from his old company, and was watching Star Trek on Tivo.  He was watching it without his kids too.  Star Trek was almost over when we arrived, so we waited for it to finish.  I prepared my thoughts and scriptures.  When Star Trek finished, Wolfman was on next, and he asked if we want to watch it with him.  I said that I'd prefer to teach, but he said he wasn’t in the mood, next time na lang. (just next time).  I thought that was the definition of lazy.  He saw us preparing to teach, and then said “Well, I'm not in the mood.  He let us in to turn us away.  When he said next time, that didn’t mean next time, it meant not now. 

I've been getting organized.  I made pocket calendar, and mapped out the dates that our investigators could be baptized.  It's realistic now because it shows how many teaching we will have to do between now and then.  We plan daily and weekly, but never far in advance. We planned it out for three of our progressing investigators that have committed to baptism.  It's cool, and we showed it to them and showed them the importance of each meeting with them. 

We got to work with Jaymarsh.  It's fun to work with him.  He speaks slowly and clearly to me.  He's upbeat and excited to work with the missionaries.  He'll make a great one.  That whole family is so humble.  He actually looks like a young George Clooney.  I hope to have pictures for you later.

I received a letter from Ben this week.  I was dying laughing.  We have way too many inside jokes - mostly just quotes, actually.  He struggled in the MTC the same as I did it sounds like.  We both really dislike being trapped, and the lack of music.  I was laughing so hard that Elder Pipit asked me why I was laughing.  I read part of the letter to him.  Ben is really funny. 

We are now teaching Bernard and Sheryl.  They are Fred's brother and sister-in-law.  It’s cool to teach them because they can see the obvious changes in Fred.

Next week we will watch general conference here in Kalibo.  We're taking Fred, Bernard and Sheryl.  It will be good.  I'll try and get ice cream afterward.  Maybe Elder Lowry will come with me and can substitute.

Elder Pipit is better now.  We went to the doctors on Friday and got him all checked out.  He is supposed to rest until this next Wednesday, but I'm going insane, and he feels fine.  We started working hard again on Sunday, after one more half-day of rest on Saturday.  It feels so good to work again. Sunday night, I laid in my hammock strumming my guitar, drinking a root beer, and thinking to myself, “This is where it's at.” (After I did the area book, of course.)

The Avetts have a great line in one of my favorite songs. It says "I found God. . .in a long day’s work and a good sitting chair."  Yeah.  Those two go together nicely - a hard day’s work, and then a sitting chair.  Or a hammock, take your pick.

On Saturday when we did that half day of work, it was clear that I was out of practice.  My language was slow, my teaching was choppy, and my head was nervous.  Sunday was better, but I'm still a little rusty because of the three weeks rest.  Just before Elder Pipit got sick, the language was going great. I had really picked up momentum.  Hopefully I can get that back.  It was really hard to study Aklanon when we were staying in the apartment all the day.  I just didn't have the heart.  I’m sure my language studies will be better now that I'm actually using it.  It will be like it used to be.

kids shooting pool
Last week we played pool with the district.  It was really fun.  We played three games.  Little kids usually come and watch us play, and we talk with them and practice our language; they high five us when we get one in.  This week we went one step further.  One of them asked to try, and that was it.  After that, we each had a replacement kid for all of us.  We gave our pool sticks up to the boys, and we rooted for the kid that took our stick.  It was fun, and I have some great pictures from it that I will upload next week. 

We had 99 people at church.  That's the largest it has ever been.  We had been focusing on less actives, and got the Relief Society to make a plan to get them to church.  The Relief Society visited the less-actives and boy, did it work!  We had to get more chairs for Sacrament Meeting.

We saw a little bit of the KY-UConn game.  It was cool to see the word Kentucky on the screen, but besides that it brought no pleasure to me.  Kentucky was playing like hockey players in the first half.  They soon turned it off, and we started our lesson. 

We're still working hard on James Templo.  Our response from President was still the same – “talk with the priesthood leaders.”  I’m kind of bummed about that, but he's the boss, and I trust him.

Elder Pipit and I have this one particular spot to <relieve ourselves.>  It’s in an open field on the long walk from Pudiot to Tangalan.  We usually do it twice each week.  We’re always given juice at the Batister's, which is the last person we visit on the days we go that direction.  We are always loaded by the time we get to that spot.  Sometimes I have been more than loaded, but still wait to go at that spot.  It's always dark by then, and the cool wind will blow across the field, and the shadows of the mountains in the distance. Yesterday we got to do it again.  It was awesome.  I'm having a great time.  In what other mission can I <relieve myself> by the side of the road?  I got called to the perfect place. 

Today we went bowling with the zone.  It was fun, but really hot.  It was a very old place, and kind of run down.  Someone kept score for us.  The district leaders, zone leaders, and sisters and companions were invited.  It was fun.  The whole floor was slippery, and not just the lane.  I slipped a couple times on the approach.  It only made it more fun.  One of our zone leaders is from New Zealand.  We talked about Lord of the Rings.  He tells Filipinos that there are Hobbits who live in New Zealand, and they believe him.  We joked that men are descended from monkeys, and hobbits from rabbits.  That's why they have long hairy feet.  He's clearly put a lot of thought into this.

Thanks for the emails. I love you all.