Monday, May 2, 2011

Native Chicken

Monday, May 2, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

Map of Area - Click to Enlarge
 We had area conference on Sunday in Kalibo.  We had spent the night in Numancia, and left there early that morning to go back to Tangalan to clean up, change, and then go back to Kalibo.  Once we got to Tangalan, Elder Pipit washed some clothes, and I fell asleep on a church pew.  After that, we showered and changed.  We went to the bus stop and waited for about an hour, but couldn’t get on anything.  There was some kind of special trip, so everything was full.  We were both getting kind of frustrated.  It was ridiculous, and never happens. 

After about an hour and twenty minutes, two women approached us and asked us why there was no church.  Now, we had never seen these women before, and in talking with them, we learned that they had both decided, randomly, and separately, to attend church that day.  Not only that, but they were both from the Numancia area, and had tried to go to church there.  One was a really inactive member, and the other was a nonmember who had never been to our church.  These women had met each other for the first time in Numancia earlier that morning, when they both showed up at the empty chapel.  When no one was there, they came to Tangalan, where they also found an empty chapel, and decided to leave.

We explained Area Conference, and volunteered to accompany them to the church in Kalibo.  We waved to a passing van, which pulled over, but was completely full.  It had pulled over to let off a family coming to church!  It was the white family from a few of weeks earlier (not the ones who want to help the Templo family.)  I quickly explained that they should get back on because they might not get another van, and they should stay in the van until they get to Kalibo.  I also told them how to get to the church in Kalibo.  So, by not getting a ride for 80 minutes, we were able to help a bunch of people find the Area Conference.

Right after that van left, a practically empty jeep rolled by, and we hopped on with those two women.  We arrived just after the opening prayer.  The two women are now the Numancia Elder's investigators.  Sweet, huh? 

I said goodbye to Elder Pipit this morning.  The word on the street is that my next companion is another office elder, and is Filipino. 

The work is excellent.  We don't have anyone committed for baptism, but I expect to invite six this week.  Remember Sister Dejuan, the one who had the baby?  She's back in our investigator pool.  She's so ready.  She's a lot more spiritually prepared than before she had the baby.  We had the BEST lesson about prayer.  I taught about 75 percent of it, and related it to her life.  She's been praying night and day ever since.  Twing aga at gabi.  Heck yeah!  We'll extend her a baptism date this week.  I'm on splits with Elder Light.  It's harvest time.  We have a great area now.  Too bad Elder Pipit left right as it got awesome. 

Elder Pipit, Vanessa Ramos, Elder Waggoner
Speaking of harvesting, we had another baptism on Saturday.  It was Vanessa Ramos.  She's 14.  She's about 4 inches shorter than Leah (which makes her about 4’-10”.)   Elder Pipit had to baptize her by the neck.  We thought that the water in the font was a little low, and that we might be in trouble, but when someone is that short. . . We could have baptized her in a rice field’s irrigation stream.  Actually, literally we could have - it's only a two minute walk from the church. 

We had two come to church in Kalibo (in addition to the two we randomly brought.)  One is the mother of a family we'd been working with.  I had asked the kids, who are the only members, to start praying as a family, and maybe their parents might catch on.  I didn’t expect it, but it actually worked!  When I saw her at the meeting, I just about jumped five feet high!  The second one was an investigator lady who the Relief Society fellowshipped.  The Relief Society is the best to work with.  They can fellowship anyone.  It’s so effective to work with them.

Remember that family we had found that day that I said "Elder Pipit, let’s go find a family!"  Well, yeah, they're sponsored by the Catholic Church, so we can't teach them.  It's such a bummer.  They were so golden.  The Catholic Church plays dirty here.  Really.  Their Catholic neighbors will tell on them if they let the missionaries in. 

This week was the Jubilee Cultural Show.  It was a celebration of 50 years of missionary work in the Philippines.  It was so sweet.  My Pinoy pride was sky high.  It was so cool.  They had a bunch of Filipino dances, broadcast from Manila.  Those dances showed how the Philippines is such a cultural mix.  I could see Spanish, Oriental, and Pacific Island influences in both the dances and the costumes.  It's super cool.  They even had an Ati-Atihan themed dance with local costumes.   Ati-atihan is only danced here in Aklan.  The members cheered so loud for it.  I was kind of thinking "Man, we're in the chapel."  You would have thought that we were watching a basketball game!  But more than that, it was just awesome.

We wound up sleeping over in Numancia twice this week.  It wasn’t planned, but that’s the way things worked out.  I don't really like to sleep in Numancia because I can never sleep, but sometimes you take one for the team.  Both times, I rode on top of a tric from Kalibo to Numancia.  A tric is a motorcycle with a sidecar.  Over the side car is a hood, and I laid on top of that hood.  It felt like I was hovering over the road.  It was night time and super fun to be riding through the moist Filipino air beneath the huge, dark sky (except for the stars) on top of a third world public transportation vehicle.  Sometimes, man, life is good.

We've had a couple of dinner appointments recently.  Mostly I just eat the food without thinking about it - it's easier that way.  A couple of times, people have fed us "native manok" or native chicken.  I would always think “Of course it's native - where else are you going to get it?”  Then, at this dinner appointment, I realized something.  It all clicked when I was eating chicken on rice and heard the other chickens outside.  Native doesn't mean native to the Philippines.  It means native to the backyard.  I had always wondered why people had made sure to tell us it was "native" chicken. 

I had the perfect watermelon the other day.  I split it with giant Hawaiian, Elder Aquin, and his companion Elder Solis, plus Elder Pipit.  It was the best watermelon I had ever had.  It was perfect.  I cooked for all of us when Elder Aquin came to do our baptismal interview.  I cooked a lot of food.

I got two letters this week, one from Ben and one from Ed!  They were both so funny.  Ben's was super cool because he was writing it as he traveled from the U.S. to Germany.  It was really funny and upbeat.  It reminded me of how exciting it is to go abroad.  That feeling wears off after a while unless you get a letters like Ben’s.  Ed’s was epic.  It was 16 pages, with a cover page too!  It had his band demo and a magazine that they were in.  It was so funny.  Ed's handwriting is terrible, but he's a really creative writer.  A couple of other Elders read it because I was laughing so hard.  They laughed just as hard.  Ed should be a comedic writer if the band doesn't work out. 

We played volleyball last week.  I didn't do half as bad as a thought I would.  It was a surprise game.  We knew about it before hand, but decided not to do it until the last minute.  I had fun even though I played in my tracting shoes and clothes.

We’re still working out the details of getting the funding from that visiting group to help James Templo. 

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