Monday, June 6, 2011

Nagtaksay, Monkeys, Baptism, and Saturn

Monday, June 06, 2011
Tangalan, Aklan, Panay Island

One of the awesome things that happened this week was fishing from the shore with huge nets.  It’s called "nagataksay" or "taksay-ing."  One day we went to teach to Estelina out in Baybay, and she was swimming when we arrived.  She saw us and got out of the ocean and went to go change.  I was impressed that she'd stop swimming to listen to missionaries.  Most people won't listen to us if they are washing clothes.  While she changed, I suggested that we help out the local fisherman, so we helped them pull their nets in.  They take a boat out maybe 8 football fields from shore and drop the nets, and then pull the nets in from shore.   There are two teams of people that at first are really far apart, and as they pull the nets in they walk toward each other, meeting in the middle when the nets, with all the fish, are finally at shore.  When we taksayed in Baybay there were maybe eight people on each team, and we only did it for maybe 20 minutes.  I learned how and had fun.  Everyone holds on to rope and then steps back in rhythm with each other.  It was fun, but we only did it for 20 minutes and I didn't get to see the fish we were pulling.

A day later, we had finished tracting in Afga and it was dusk.  Like two slightly A.D.D. missionaries, we decided to walk home the long way through the beach back to Tangalan.  Good decision.  We found another group of fisherman, and I suggested we join in.  I love Elder Arrieta - he's like Ben, always ready for something cool.  We taksayed from the beginning for about an hour and a half.  At first there weren’t many people, but as the nets got closer to shore, more people joined in.  Everyone was so excited to see a white guy helping them with the nets.  I got to know so many people, and of course had so much fun.  We started taksaying from Afga, and ended just before you get to Tangalan.  This was way bigger scale then we had done in Baybay.  As the nets came in, the whole town came out to meet the fish.  I guess it's free fish?  We saw so many investigators that we had dropped or had dropped us.  They thought it was awesome that we had been helping.  After a while, my socks and shoes we so soaked that I just took them off and rolled my pants up to the knee.  This allowed me to be more efficient because I could start pulling the nets from the front of the team.

Our Fish
When the nets came in, it was awesome.  Elder Arrieta was joking that we caught a mermaid.  We did catch a lot of jellyfish though!  Elder Arrieta held one, and later had a swollen hand.  I told him he had to pee on it.  I don't know if he did, but he wasn’t complaining about his hand the next day.  They handed us a huge bag of fish, so we had dinner for a few days.  I gutted them.  Elder Arrieta thought I had committed a huge crime because I cut off the head before I gutted them.  Apparently, here in the Philippines you just don't do that!  Thanks mom for the fish spices!

We were going through the baptismal interview questions with Estelina and her siblings joined in.  When we asked Estelina what was not allowed in the law of chastity, her younger brother said "bawal magihit sa puno it niyog."  I didn't understand it at first because I didn't know the word niyog, but I did get the first part.  He said "it's against the rules to pee on a coconut tree."  I thought you'd like that.

We played basketball last week in New Washington.  It was way fun.  I'm pretty good at defense, especially against Filipinos.  I blocked multiple shots.  I'm not saying this to be cocky, but only because I have never before been any good at basketball!  I was really proud of myself, but really I was just playing against short people and other American missionaries. 

We got that sweet new apartment that's right on beach.  It's very unlikely that I'll ever get to live in it though.  Transfer day is coming up real soon.  Sometimes I hope I don't get transferred so I can just live in it, and see all these people I've been teaching get baptized.  On the other hand, I’m ready for some change.

Monkey in Numancia
Ever since the MTC, I have been seeking for a certain experience. Elder Lowry had it, and other missionaries had this experience, but I just could not find the chance to have it.  Then last Thursday I went on splits in Numancia.  I found a monkey!!  Woah!!  I was with Elder Christenson in his area, just walking on the gravel road, when he points to a wall and says "Elder, look at that!"  There was a monkey chained up, eating bread.  We played with it.  I have a video of the monkey going through my hair and nibbling on my finger and holding my hand.  I was freaking out for like 30 minutes afterwards.  A monkey!  Could the Philippines gets any cooler?  (Yes, please – it’s way too hot here!)  The word for monkey is "Amu."

Thursday I went on splits in Numancia, and Friday I had splits with a zone leader, Elder Scott, in my area.  He had served in Tangalan before and had quite a trip down memory lane here.  We had a baptismal interview with Estelina and after she got "Jesus Smith" cleared up, she passed.  She knows who Joseph Smith is, but said Jesus Smith.  We also visited James Templo.  Elder Scott had been the one who found James Templo, so it was way cool.  I really enjoyed Elder Scott.  He's down to earth, fun to talk with, and likes a lot of really good music.  He was really sad that he ever had to come back to the Tangalan apartment, though.  And for good reason, too.  Later that night we had the worst storm I have ever experienced.  I thought it was a hurricane.  Thunder, lightning, buckets and buckets of rain, and wind and wind and wind.  We had a brown out (no power) so we couldn't turn on our electric fans.  It was too hot to sleep, so we stayed up talking for a long time.  At one point, we had both dozed off and then there were two ridiculously loud claps of thunders.  Those woke me.  Then there was lightning so bright I'm pretty sure it hit our apartment, then a split second later the loudest thunder I have ever heard.  I felt it from head to toe.  It sounded like a bomb had gone off.  It was so loud that I curled up into a ball with my hands over my ears.  I felt really small.  It's flooded here right now.

While on splits in Numancia, I had not slept well because there was no fan for me, and it was too light, and plus there house is right on the road and too loud.  Then in morning I woke up at the crack of down to do a wild CSP.  (C0mmunity Service Project?)  Then I worked all day Friday with Elder Scott, and didn't sleep because of the storm and brown out that night.  Then we got up at the crack of dawn again to go to Kalibo to exchange companions back, and then had the baptism for Estelina.  Needless to say, after Estelina's baptism on Saturday, I took a nap.  We didn't work that day. 

We were so behind on laundry, writing in journals, and sleep, that we took Saturday off to recover.  We both hadn't washed for at least a week.  We washed our clothes that evening for about 3 hours. 

That CSP was awesome.  Basically, we destroyed someone’s house.  They needed to remove a member’s house in Numancia, and move the wood so it could be used again at another location to rebuild it.  The first half was way fun - and way unsafe.  I had not brought proper clothes for the CSP, and the other Numancia Elders had not worn the proper clothes for something this destructive.  The first half was whacking stuff with a crow bar.  In the U.S. they would have attached the house to a Ford F-250 and pulled it over, but here they handed us weapons of slight destruction and we had batting practice.  It was unsafe because it was not organized.  There were rusty nails, and falling ceilings, and huge spiders, and missionaries in flip flops and basketball shorts.  It was awesome until we had to clean it up, but we stuck around for that too. 

Estelina's Baptism
Estelina's baptism was way awesome - my favorite so far.  I had been teaching Estelina off and on for a long time.  She just loves us.  We had the service on Sister Gloria's front porch.  The ocean breeze was blowing on us.  It was a nice, short service, and not far from the beach.  We had a song, a prayer, a short talk about baptism, a practice, and then went out into the ocean and baptized her.  Then we had a 9-year-olds testimony, a few closing words from Elder Arrieta, a song, a prayer, and some ube bread.  It was awesome.  Our bishop didn't show up, and there were only three priesthood holders there, including us.  Estelina was so happy.

We've started teaching out neighbors.  We are teaching a full family, and they are coming to church.  It would be so cool to see them baptized, but I don't think I'll get to be there for that.

Fred bore his testimony yesterday in church.  The first time he did it, the ward almost had a cow, but this time they listened intently because it was so strange.  He said he wanted to be a philanthropist, the BOM is an OK book, but not great, and that he wants to be an astronaut and go to Saturn, the most beautiful planet.  I bore my testimony after him to do damage control. 

Yesterday we went on splits with members in our area.  I visited some less actives.  It's the same ones that talked with about fire breathing dwarves and aswangs the last time I visited them.  The family was super sick, so the conversation wasn't as fun.  We did share a little bit about prayer, and then I had the chance to give priesthood blessings.  That's always awesome and makes me glad that I’m worthy.  The hardest part of the blessings is always saying the person’s middle name.  Filipinos have realy strange middle names.  Yesterday’s was "Magdaluyo". 

Man, it was a good week. 

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