Sunday, May 29, 2011

unplanned act of service

Monday, May 30, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

Yesterday when I woke up, I felt like I hadn't slept.  It was one of those days when it was close to impossible to get up.  But I did because we had church, and that isn't really the kind of thing you skip.  I suffered through it, and afterword rested the entire day.  I slept a lot of the afternoon.  It's weird because I did sleep the night.  I have no idea why I was so drowsy.  I feel fine, and I don't feel sick.  I was just super tired, and it took too much effort to stay awake.  Today I feel just fine.  We woke up this morning, cleaned our apartment, and studied.

We had six at church this week.  That was pretty sweet.  It's funny we had so many at church because we didn't have a great week of work.  Only two of them stayed for all of church though.  Filipinos are a lot like me - they have no attention span. 

We had zone conference this week.  It was O.K.  Elder Arrieta gave a good talk about revelation through the Book of Mormon.  Most of the other stuff was the same that we learned in the MTC.  At least for me, I really think most of those meetings are a waste of time.  I think splits with zone leaders would be a more effective alternative.  It was really boring to sit there for 8 hours and listen to the same stuff you read from Preach My Gospel every companionship study.  Really, all I want to do is work.  It was good in one way, though: free lunch.  It turned out to be all the food we could eat because the zone leaders had over ordered.  It was all really good food, not that any of the food besides watermelon even mattered to me. 

Kalibo Zone - click to enlarge
After zone conference, we all took a picture as a zone, with the AP's and the mission president.  I stood behind President Pagaduan.  Someone was complaining that they didn't have a chance to get their camera out.  I could not resist the chance to make a joke, but silly me, I did it in my dry humor (which Filipinos don't get.)  I said "Don't worry, I'll put it up on Facebook on Monday."  President turned to me and gave me the look of "Are you serious?  I'm right here!"  He did not get that it was a joke.  Oh well.

I got second worst haircut of my life this week, the worst being in the MTC of course.  I got it from a guy in the salon in Tangalan.  He cut it so short on the sides and in the back.  It's kind of long on top, but really only in the front.  It's a good thing hair grows back, because this is a terrible haircut.

We dropped Fred.  We'd been teaching him for five months and he was not making the sufficient changes.  I wanted to help him because he was super lost.  Who does the gospel help most?  The people who are the most lost.  But when we got right down to it he hadn't been making the sufficient changes in his life.  We decided to drop him after we caught him ditching our appointment with him to go to a party while he was wearing a skirt and blue jeans.  We gave him one last lesson during third hour on Sunday.  He didn't seem to care that we aren't going to teach him anymore.

We have this fun investigator out in Baybay.  Her name is Estelina.  She is nine years old, and lives right on the beach.  Her parents aren't members, but her neighbor is.  Her neighbor brings her and her older siblings to church every week.  Since the parents aren't members, we teach her.  She's really energetic and happy all the time.  She really loves us and can't wait to be baptized.  Elder Pipit and I taught her a few times, but only off and on because he didn't really like to teach to kids.  So, Elder Arrieta and I started from the beginning.

The lessons have been going great, and she really gets it.  We had been hearing from her older siblings, who are already baptized, that the parents didn't want Estelina to be baptized, so we had to talk to them.  We went a couple times this week, but the parents weren't there or hid from us.  I had prayed that everything would work out with the parents.  On Friday we went there and found Estelina and her older sister, Jussclair, carrying pieces of sod and transplanting them into Sister Gloria's yard.  (Sister Gloria is the neighbor that brings them to church.)  They were carrying the squares of sod with a homemade carrier, which was a rice bag stretched out on two pieces of bamboo.  We jumped in and took it from them and finished the job.  They led us back to the source of the squares of grass, and that's where we found Estelina's father.  We helped him until the job was done.  We didn't talk about Estelina or anything like that, we just did the work.

Afterwards, when the job was done, we asked him about Estelina's baptism.  He said it's fine, and that he'll stop giving Estelina coffee.  I truly believe that unplanned act of service made the conversation go well.  Before that, the parents had been just cold to us. 

I hit my seven months mark.  It's actually kind of slowed down.  Or maybe I'm just ready for some change. 

This week we washed in the rain for like two hours.  The last time we washed clothes Elder Arrieta had been preparing his talk for zone conference, so I had washed alone.  Elder Arrieta had double to wash this time.  As a Filipino, he is very reluctant to be in the rain, and stayed in the cover of the church's overhang.  I rinsed his clothes for him in the rain.  I didn't care - it's just rain, but for a Filipino, it's crazy to be out in the open rain. 

We have started to play chess in the evenings.  He kills me at it. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

an awesome week

Monday, May 23, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

Man, what an awesome week.  I doubt that I'll have time to describe all of it.  It had been, hands down, the best week of my mission.  I Loved it.

View of mountains from Pandan
I got to go to Pandan this week.  If you look at a map and find Pandan, you will know why I was so excited.  It has the biggest mountains that I've seen here.  Man, it was so pretty.  The Ibajay Elders had an investigator there that needed to be interviewed for baptism.  They don't usually work there because it's out of their area, but the father and the kids come to Ibajay for church, so they get to go to Pandan to teach them.  Since Elder Arrieta is the district leader, he had to do the interview.  Maybe I'm just kind of sick of staying in between Kalibo and Ibajay for 6 months, but I was so excited to see new things.  It was so pretty.  It was about an hour drive from Ibajay to Pandan, and I enjoyed every second of it.  In Pandan, it was just as cool as the trip to get there. 

Towns in this blog - click to enlarge
Now, get this.  In Tangalan, people will always look at me because I'm a white guy, but they see white guys fairly often because it's on the route Kalibo to Boracay.  In Pandan, it's a whole different story.  They didn’t just look at me – the people there watched me, and I mean every move.  I must have been the first white missionary there!  No joke.  When I bought some bread and spoke, some people nearby expressed excitement that I could speak Aklanon.  In Pandan, they speak a version of Kinoray-a that's similar to Aklanon.  A ton of people asked me what I was doing there, so of course I told them that I was a missionary and what my purpose was.  I got to plant some of the first seeds there.  It is my fondest wish to open that area. 

Stick Pulling in Pandan
We ate at the interviewees’ house, and then Elder Arrieta did the interviews.  I taught some neighborhood teenagers lesson one, and then taught the neighborhood kids a pioneer game.  I also had time to just stare at the mountains.  I even lied down on my back for a while, and Elder Unabia got a video of my resting.  We taught the kids the "stick pull" game (the one Joseph Smith played.)  I actually threw all the other missionaries, which is pretty impressive because they all work out and I do not.  Then again, I am like 6 inches taller than they are.  I'm pretty sure Elder Arrieta let me win, though, because all the kids were rooting for me.  Then the other Elders showed the kids magic tricks.  It was a real fun time in Pandan.  When we left, we had to wait about 40 minutes for a bus.  While waiting, I helped some people clean a park behind the bus stop.  They were pleased that I helped them, and I got to share more about the church. 

On the way back I stood almost all the way home.  It was a packed bus, and whenever a seat opened up for me, I gave it away.  It was a little bit of a bummer because I am too tall to see out the windows, but I felt good about letting the others sit. 

I went on splits with Elder Solis, one day in my area, and one day in his.  This, combined with going to Pandan, meant we were only able to work four days in our area, but we still had a killer week.  We had 6 people at church, and 17 new investigators, which is the best we have ever done.

Writing steps of repentance
On Sunday, I taught Estelina on the beach.  It was fun lesson.  Any lesson on the beach is fun.  I taught her repentance and baptism.  For repentance, I wrote the steps to repentance in the sand with my finger, and then for baptism I got my hand all dirty and then I washed it off in the wave.  The kids stole my camera, so I actually have pictures of it.  Kids always ask to see my camera, and since it's practically indestructible, I let them. 

Teaching about baptism
Fred had yet another relapse.  We found him drunk off his rocker and wearing lipstick.  We asked him why he had been drinking again, and he told us about what Edgar Allen Poe had said in the bible.  I was surprised to learn that Poe is mentioned in the bible. . .

Right after Sunday School, all the primary kids rushed in and handed us notes they had made.  I got 5!  They we all like "thank you for guiding us to Jesus."  (Elder Arrieta also got 2.)  It was so cool, and I was so happy.  It meant the world to me.  They all spelled my name wrong, but that's ok since I butcher their language.

Elders Waggoner and Cruz
The baptism that the Ibajay Elders had was on Saturday at our chapel, so we attended.  It went well, and afterward we played ping pong and ate duck!  After the baptism, everyone was in high spirits, and I have an awesome picture of me on Elder Cruz's back that I'll have to send you. 

We found a white guy investigator.  We found him on May 21st, so he wanted to talk about the end of the world.  He moved his business here because it's an internet based business.  We found him through his kids.  We were tracting, and I went to talk to some kids, and they responded in perfect English!  I asked how they knew English, and they said "Our dad is American."  So, I asked the kids to take me to him.  It was a great lesson. We got to teach in English, and we taught the plan of salvation.  That is a hard lesson to teach in Aklanon, so I was thankful to get to teach it in English.  

The best part of the lesson was when we explained that separation from God is a result of eating the fruit, and thus started mankind to walk by faith.  Because of the questions we asked him, he basically taught that concept for us.  It was super cool to teach the benefits of eating the fruit without really having to teach it.  He wanted to come to church, but had other plans, so he will come next week.  He was impressed that we don't have any paid clergy.

Elder Arrieta and I went running one morning.  We ran to Afga point during sunrise.  It was a lot of fun.  We ran along the beach, and then took pictures at the lighthouse in Afga.  It's such a pretty veiw.  It feels so good to run after you have only walked for two months.  I felt like I was flying.  I was just jumping off of stuff!  By the time we were in Afga, we were really tired, plus the sun was up and it was really hot.  So, we walked back a different way and explored a part of our area we had never been in.  Then when we were ok again, we ran back.

While I was on splits with Elder Solis, we had some good times and some difficult times.

The difficult times:  It’s hard to communicate with him because he speaks pure Tagalog and I speak pure Aklanon and English.  When I try to explain some things, he just doesn't get it.  It can be frustrating, especially when he cuts me off.  Then he would speak way too fast for me to understand.  He's really excitable, too.  At one point we got a text from our companions that they were leaving Iloilo (over four hours away.)  He wanted to go wait for them in Kalibo, and told me that we had to go there right now.  I thought that there had been an emergency.  We started going back to Makato Poblacion to catch a ride to Kalibo when I asked to see the text.  Then, for like 30 minutes, I explained to him that we don’t need to leave for Kalibo yet. 

Earlier in the day, we were working with two 14 year old girls and I explained that it just isn't allowed.  He just didn't get that either.

Later in the day, we gave two priesthood blessings and the spirit was really strong.  One lady had a bad skin rash, and the other lady was about four days away from giving birth and was in real pain.  After that experience, I didn't care about the difficulties we had earlier.  It was such a cool experience.

I taught district meeting, and it went alright.  I taught the doctrine of Christ.  The district has a hard time sitting still and listening, but it’s not like I should be allowed to care.  How many thousands of teachers have been frustrated at me because I couldn't sit still?

We accidently stood up a dinner appointment last Monday.  It was the last day of fiesta, and when we got back from Kalibo, I said to Elder Arrieta "Don't we have a dinner appointment tonight?"  He said he didn't think so, and when we were invited to eat at our neighbors, we accepted.  We had just returned to our apartment from eating when we received a text asking us where we were.  The text was from the real dinner appointment.  We were so stuffed that we could not even walk to her house, much the less eat when we got there.  We asked to postpone, but she said no.  So, we went there the following day and apologized.  I got on my knees and begged.  It was funny, and she is still playing mad at us, but she is just playing.

Remember Mr. Hart?  Remember how the neighborhood kids would go to his house and ask for candy?  I don't know how it happened, but that's us now.  We get kids knocking on our door asking for candy.  I love it.

That’s all I’ve got.  It's been a good week.  I hope I get time to send pictures. I love you all. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

in Makato, “Bam.”

May 16, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

It was quite a week.  One event, in particular, could take up this entire e-mail, but for the reader’s sake, I will not describe it in too much detail.

We had the Jubilee Cultural show here in the Kalibo.  It had happened for metro Manila two weeks earlier, which we had watched at the stake center.  It's a celebration of the church here in the Philippines for 50 years.  It's pretty cool.  Seeing it, you can really see the progress of the church over the past fifty years here.  They had pictures of the original missionaries in Kalibo, and the first meeting houses, and the first members.  It has really grown quickly in just 50 years.  

Tangalan Ward performing the Tinikiling
The best part was the dances.  All the youth got together and put on awesome cultural dances.  One of them is the dance (Tinikiling) in between pieces of bamboo.  Two people, one on each end of the pieces of bamboo, snap them in a rhythm.  The dancers dance in between them on the offbeat.  Our ward had been practicing for weeks.  They rented a jeep to take the ward to Kalibo for the show, and we rode with the ward.  I rode on the back of the jeep, which is not a jeep at all; it's like a school bus with benches on each side, and then a small metal platform on the back.  I was on the back because there was no room.

Now, about the time we got to Makato, "IT" hit me. 

Let me explain.  The day before, I was feeling kind of light headed.  It was super hot, and I needed some water.  I went to a roadside tindahan (store) for some water.  Usually you can buy bottled water there for like ten pesos, and that is what I planned to do.  However, it was Elder Arrieta who asked for water, so we got handed two bags of water.  Filipinos will pout water into plastic bags and put the plastic bags in an ice box.  It looks like a chest full of water balloons.  You drink by biting the corner of the bag and then squeezing the water out into your mouth.  I drank mine, and then I had another - it was only two pesos, compared to ten pesos for bottled water.  I had two, and Elder Arrieta had one. 

The next morning, Elder Arrieta wasn't at his desk for personal study.  When he came to his desk, I asked him what he's been doing downstairs.  He explained that he had been on the toilet and he must have eaten something bad the day before.  That sounded logical because we been to two feistas the day before.  I was careful about what I ate, but he had been less guarded, which most Filipinos are.  I figured it was something he had eaten that I hadn't. 

Painful route to Kalibo
About the time we were in Makato, “Bam.”  It hit.  My stomach screamed "I GOTTA GO!!!!  NOW!!!"  I put my head on the roof of the jeepney and said a heartfelt prayer that I could hold it.  There was nowhere to get off and do my business, plus the ward was late, and the entire ward was in the jeepney.  Finally the feeling went away and I went back to enjoying the wind in my hair.

In Numancia, it hit again, only worse.  I was at 99% of capacity, and with one more percent I would have loaded my pants.  I whispered to Elder Arrieta that we need to get off at the Numancia Elders’ apartment, which is right along the way.  He took out his cell phone to make sure they were home, but we passed them before we could get off.  We went through the city part of Numancia and on toward Kalibo, with me using all my power to hold this inside of me.

We went over the bridge into Kalibo.  I saw a restaurant that I knew had a bathroom, and hit the jeep with my coin to stop.  The whole ward was asking why we were stopping because we were late.  Elder Arrieta explained to them that we had someplace we need to go. "Can't you wait?”  "No, we can't."  I jumped off the jeepney before it had stopped and walked very quickly toward the restaurant.  The bathroom was super dirty, comparable to Bonnaroo, but I could not have cared less.  

I'll skip the details, but it was the worst 20 minutes of my life.  I was in severe pain, it was so hot and smelly in the bathroom, and I hoped never to go through that again.

But I did.  Thirty minutes later at the complex where the Jubilee was being held.  And then after that one more time.  We have been taught to carry toilet paper with us everywhere.  I borrowed some from some other missionaries. 

Moral of the story: pay 8 pesos more for bottled water.  It was basically the worst experience of my life, with the exception of seminary.

Fred is back.  He is really opening up to us.  He really trusts us.  He never could just open up before.  As a result, we've enjoyed teaching him.  We have even walked with him along the street talking to him.  We're still formal in our teaching, but we aren't reserved about being his friend.  Before the last transfer, I was Fred’s only fellowshipper.  Now we are talking to every member about fellowshipping him.  It's good, actually.

We found an awesome investigator.  He is the son of one of our investigators who really isn't interested.  We went to this house (hut) and made it know we were there.  No one came out, and we turned to leave, but then this guy came out.  I started to talk to him in Aklanon when he just shook me off and said "You can speak English, bro."  Woah.  We explained our purpose, and he said "You guys gave my dad that other bible, huh?"  So, we taught him.

He is Filipino, and grew up in the UAE.  He had always attended an English speaking school there.  He is studying in Manila at a Merchant Marine Academy, and he only knows a little Tagalog and no Aklanon.  He is spending a few weeks here to sort out his papers.  We taught him in English.

I think we could have given him a baptismal date.  Since I got to teach in English, I was relaxed and myself, and it felt so good.  We taught only the first half of lesson one because he was so interested that we couldn't go on.  I explained the relevance of each concept to him.  He lives in Manila, and asked if we had churches there, and if the missionaries could visit him there!  We'll teach him until he goes back there. 

I'm teaching district meeting tomorrow.

It was fiesta week.  What is fiesta?  It's like Thanksgiving for two days straight.  Each barangay had it on different days.  So, we had many meal appointments.  I have never been so full.  We went to one this morning, too.  It's mostly just rice still, but a lot of it, and with a lot of different toppings.  The purpose of the current fiesta is celebrating some patron saint.  Basically, though, it's a bunch of people getting hammered.

My companion can cook!  He made fried chicken twice.  It's a pain to clean up, but really tasty.  I really enjoy him.  He’s so fun to be around.  We're only speaking in Aklanon, and he's really helping me out.  He often will correct me, but he will always tell me how to fix it.  I'll be set after a few weeks of this.  

We've got a couple committed to baptism, but not very many investigators other than the ones we've committed.  We need to do a lot of finding this week.

Elder Arrieta
Elder Arietta is a big hit with the ward, and with our investigators’ kids.  He has these magic tricks that he shows everyone.  They're cool, and the kids eat it up.  Everywhere we go in one of our areas we have kids asking for magic.  And he also can make a farting noise with his hands.

We have started looking for a new apartment.  There is not one near us.  We did find one in Baybay that's super, but pretty expensive.  It's right on the beach.  It has ceiling fans, and no rats or termites.  It's has a lot of space to hang clothes and wash them.  It also has clean water, and it's near some members and some investigators.  The only problem is that it's super nice and that it's kind of far from the main road.  Really, there aren’t any other options.  We checked it out one morning, and Elder Arrieta took a lot of pictures.  He is sending them to president right now.  I hope we get it.  It would be so sweet.  It had two bathrooms, and space for four missionaries!  It had three bedrooms.

There was one strange thing about this.  The day after we saw it, the owner said that we couldn't use the master bedroom.  That's a strange requirement.  We don't know why we’re okay to rent the house but not okay to use the master bedroom.  The house originally wasn't for rent, but since it was empty and not being used we talked to the family of the owner to see if we could rent it. At first the owner said ok, but then he made this weird request.  It would still be enough space for us. I hope we get to rent it.

Elders Solis & Waggoner
I'm going to be on splits for a couple days this week.  Elder Arrieta is going to Iloilo for training.  I will work with Elder Solis.

All is well here.  I'm happy with my situation.  I just wish I could communicate a little better.  It's super hard to understand people, but I can speak pretty well.  Love you.  Hope all is well with ya’ll. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

He squeezes his hands together. . .

Monday, May 9, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

It's really rainy in the Philippines.  We’ve had so much rain, and it reminds me of the Seth Avett song "Rain on my Tin Roof."  Oh, by the way, I have a tin roof. 

I'm sitting next to my new companion, Elder Arrieta.  He's really smart, and is a hard worker.  We were really wet because we both didn't have umbrellas (I lost mine – more on that later) and we just ate a place with air conditioning.  My hands are basically frozen.  I can't really type fast, so we'll see how I do.  How is it that I'm cold in the Philippines?  This is the second time.  It's usually like ten thousand degrees here. 

Since I was without a companion this week, I went on splits a lot.  It was awesome.  When I was with the Numancia Elders, I had some time alone – at least by missionary standards.  They have a big apartment.  I sat on the porch outside and just sat.  It was great.  In our apartment, since it is so small, I was always with Elder Pipit, no matter where I was.  It is hard when you have to be near someone who doesn't like to talk to you.  I saw him off Monday.

I was on splits with Elder Light for a while.  We did a lot of finding.  He's an expert finder, probably because people just want to see his blue eyes closer.  Everyone here has brown eyes.  When Elder Arrieta and I went back to those same people, most of them didn’t want to listen anymore.  Man, I wish I had blue eyes!

Click to Enlarge - places mentioned are in purple
Elder Light and I went out to Jawili to teach someone.  We never go out there unless we know she's there because it's so far, so we made sure she was.  When we got there, she was nowhere to be found.  We decided to skip lunch and went to see some waterfalls.  It was pretty cool.  It was super hot, and below each of the falls, there is a natural, clear water pools.  I wanted to take a swim.  We joked about it a lot.

I introduced Elder Light to a couple songs of the Avett Brothers.  He really loves “In the Curve” and “Ballad of Love and Hate.”  I wrote them out for him the morning before we left to go back to Numancia.

I also went on splits with Elder “Puppy Dog” Solis.  He's soft spoken, doesn't wash his dishes, walks into you as you walk, sings out of key all of the time, points with his lips, and has some personal habits that would be considered gross in other countries.  Still, I loved splits with him.  He was so helpful and humble.  He's two transfers behind me.  He's really new, and about five foot four.  He falls asleep everywhere.  He even fell asleep on the ride from Numancia to Makato.  I didn't know where to get off, so I woke him up.  If I had known, I would have let him sleep.  He didn't fall asleep while we worked though.

We worked the whole afternoon in my area something, and got punted eight times.  That’s a record.  No lessons taught.  It was ridiculous.  In the evening I washed my clothes.  I don't like to wash my clothes when I'm on splits because I'm wasting another person’s time, but I was completely out of clothes.  I let Elder Solis choose what we listened to while I washed.  He had never used an i-pod before, so I taught him how to use it.  We didn't get through one full song because he was so curious.  I didn't mind.  He finally settled down when he found music that he really liked.

We worked in his area, way out in the backwoods.  We taught in unity.  It was easy to do because he is so humble.  It went great.  When I didn't understand what they were saying, he said it real quick to me.  He also took me to a giant hill nearby, where we could see all the way to Kalibo and all the way to Antique.  I took some great photos.  It was rainy, and the mist was moving through all the valleys.  When it rains here it reminds me of the Appalachians.  We only taught two lessons because he was so nervous about his new companion. 

We went to Kalibo early to pick up our new companions.  We went to eat at his favorite restaurant, Jollybee, which is like the Filipino McDonalds.  Some homeless kids outside asked me for money, so I told them I'd buy them some food and to wait.  I went inside and ordered, then gave the food to the kids.  Then I went back in and ordered for myself.  I had not sat down when Elder Solis told me it was time to leave, so I scarfed down the food in 30 seconds and we left.  When I looked at the text he had received (on my area's cell phone) it said that our new companions where in Altavas, which is about 40 minutes away.  He was just nervous.  We waited at the bus station for them for a long time, and he couldn't sit still.  Finally the sisters came to pick up their new companion, and they calmed him down.  I left my second umbrella of the Philippines at the bus station. Bummer.

Elder Arrieta plays the guitar, and he can even sing harmony. He's fun to work with.  We're only talking in Aklanon, which is what I need.  It's already really helping my comprehension.  He jumped on the “help James Templo” bandwagon and gave Brother James a hot water pack.  Before, he used a glass bottle wrapped up n a rag.  He's very sensitive to the cold – at least to what seems like cold here – so that was nice of him to do. 

Elder Arrieta came from the office, and is pretty keen on obedience.  That’s fine by me because he's at least fun to be around.  It looks like p-days are going to be more structured.  We studied and cleaned in the morning.  He’s very helpful and kind of playful.  Elder Pipit was more focused on "dignified silence" but Elder Arrieta is not.  He shows all the kids his magic trick.  He squeezes his hands together and makes a farting noise.  Maybe I'm still mentally five years old, but I think it's funny.

British people!  There where white people in Chow King.  It was really crowded and loud, but I wanted to see where they were from - it's not every day that I see white people, you know.  I went over to their table, and they ignored me for a few seconds.  Before I could even ask where they were from, a man looked at me and said "We're busy, we're having a business meeting."  I quickly said “Sorry, I don't want to interrupt, but where are you all from?"  His reply was "Yes, you are, and we're from London."  So, who has a business meeting in Chow King!?  Chow King is as crowded as a New York City subway - who has a meeting there?  If all white people were like that, I’d move back here.

We didn't have much success in our work this week.  We had zero at church, and have zero with a baptismal date.  On the other hand, there were only about forty people at church.  It was really rainy, which also means really muddy.  Also, Pacquio, a famous Filipino boxer, had a fight, so some people chose to stay home and watch that.  We'll give some more baptismal dates this week. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Call

Sunday, May 8, 2011
Las Vegas, NV

Some random notes from our Mother’s Day call with Elder Waggoner:
Pronunciation guide
The municipality of Tangalan is pronounced Tahn-Gahl’-un.
The language, Aklanon, is pronounced Ah-Klonn’-un.
The next town out, Ibajay, is pronounced Ee’-buh-hy.
You may be curious why we would spend such precious time discussing proper pronunciation, although that is not terribly unusual for Waggoners.  For each of the above words, it went something like this:
Dad asked a question using one of the above words.
Elder Waggoner asked “What?”
Dad repeated the questions and explained what he meant.
After Elder Waggoner recognized what Dad was saying, and quit laughing, we were told the correct pronunciation.  A couple of times, it took a while for the laughter to subside.
New Chef in the Family
It sounds like Elder Waggoner has become a popular chef.  Because they are in a more rural area, and have less access to restaurants and members that cook, Elder Waggoner and his companion cook most of their food.  After learning to cook rice and a few toppings the traditional ways, Elder Waggoner began experimenting.  Now, whenever other missionaries pass through, he cooks for them, and he has become a bit of a celebrity chef among the missionaries.  He has a collection of spices that Mom sent him, and this has added to his culinary options.
Fan Etiquette
It is of course hot and humid year round in the Philippines.  Most people sleep with a fan blowing on them, and use a fan during the day whenever it is an option.  It is considered very rude to stand between a person and their fan.  (Maybe like blocking a person’s view of the television in the U.S.?)  He added that if the electricity goes off in the middle of the night, you know it right away because you suddenly wake up feeling very hot.
Multi-use Fabric
Obliged to spend the night in Numancia (New- mahn’-see-uh, one of the few towns Dad was pronouncing correctly) Elder Waggoner found himself sleeping on a cold floor with no bedding.  He said “I took off my white shirt and used it as a pillow.  The next morning, I ironed my pillow and wore it home.”
After four plus months in Tangalan, Elder Waggoner is now well enough acquainted with prices, tradition, and customs to understand how things are done.  As a result, he can now discern when he is being ripped off versus what is fair and reasonable.  Although he sounded quite content to pay prices on that are on the high side of the fair range, he has a singularly negative reaction to people who seem to be taking advantage of the rich/na├»ve American.  (See Jan 17 post for story of broken plastic washing machine for instance.)  One example of this is the Jeepney or Trike fares, where speaking the language well has made it difficult for the driver to ignore him when he asks for his change.
The Language
Most of the Island – and Mission – speaks either Ilongo, or a dialect that is fairly similar.  However, in most homes where Elder Waggoner works, the locals speak a very different language, Aklanon.  We got to hear some samples of the languages.  Ilongo sounded reasonably similar to Tagalog, the way Portuguese is similar to Spanish, or Swedish is to German.  However, Aklanon sounded other worldly, and is very different from anything Mom or Dad have ever heard.
In the other areas in Aklan, the missionaries are able to get by with Tagalog.  Tagalog is spoken in the most populated areas of the Philippines, and is the language the Iloilo-bound missionaries learn in the MTC.  However, owing to the rural nature of Elder Waggoner’s area, many people speak only Aklanon, so any missionary serving in his are is obliged to learn and teach in that obscure and unwritten language.  

His expertise seems to be growing.  A more senior missionary, who was visiting from another part of Aklan, challenged Elder Waggoner’s use of a particular word.  Elder Waggoner wanted to just let it slide, but the challenge became persistent enough that he was irked, and they went out into the street and asked several people.  All of the passers-by agreed with Elder Waggoner.
Popular Adjectives
Since Elder Waggoner is white, none of the locals expect him to be able to understand Aklanon, so they are indiscreet in talking about him as he walks past.  He said the two most frequent words he overhears are “Mormon” and “skinny.”  He paused, and added “You know, for a Filipino to be describing someone else as skinny, that takes some doing.”
Rice Babies
In that vein, Elder Waggoner mentioned that he is having some of his clothing tailored because loose clothing gets caught on things when he hikes through his area.  He mentioned that while his shirts and legs are very loose, his waist doesn’t seem much smaller.  Annie joined in to describe how a carbohydrate diet tends to maintain weight around the waist.  Elder Waggoner rejoined, “Yeah, we always talk about that, how eating this diet makes it look like you’re having a rice baby.  Elder _____ is in his third trimester!”
Miss Us?
Asked about homesickness, Elder Waggoner said “Huh?”  He went on to elaborate that he loves what he is doing, and he is often amazed that “It is already P-day again.”  He said that he thinks part of the reason he isn’t homesick is that his family loves what he is doing.