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. 

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