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.