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. 

1 comment:

  1. Great letter. Missionary letters are a parent's payday...and you should feel rich!