Monday, August 29, 2011

basically poison

Monday, August 29, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, the Philippines

I hit my ten month mark.  If I were to go home at this point, I would look back on the mission and think “Man, that was a really long, hard vacation.”  I wouldn't really feel like I lived in a different country.  Time flies pretty darn fast.  I'm sure the mission is hardest on mom.  I'm sure it feels the longest for her, but for me, I'm almost a year!  That's crazy!

Anyways, on to important news!  I got some corduroy pants.  They are way cool.  They’re brown, and I feel like a UPS man.  In our last district meeting, they had me stand up, before the spiritual experience, and give the fashion statement.  That’s kind of weird, but I made it pretty funny.  I talked about inside pockets, as opposed to outside pockets, and stuff like that.  I just winged it, but by the time I sat down, everyone had decided to get corduroy pants made.  I can get custom pants for about 10 bucks.  If y'all send me measurements, I can get them made that way.  You'll have to wait two years.

Last Tuesday, we had an FHE with Elizabeth.  She isn't going to move to Qatar for a while, but not because of Elder Conjelado - it just fell through.  We had a blast.  We shared a little bit, but nobody was engaged until we played games.  Man, Flipinos go wild when we play the simplest games.  They can't stay seated.  They get excited too easy.  We played a few games that are too hard to explain, but if you lost, got coal smeared across your face.  I didn't lose, so I stayed clean.

I really don't have much to write about.  We had a nice week.  It rained on us almost every day.  Elder won't buy an umbrella (maybe because if he does, we'll have to work when it rains?)  So the rain slowed us down a little but, we did at least get three lessons or more everyday this week.  We also gave out two more baptismal dates.  None of the ones from the past have been going through.  It's as if we give them a baptismal date and then they run off.  We taught 21 lessons this week.  Before Elder and I got here, the average was 10-15.  We broke 15 and haven't been under since.  So the work is progressing.

It's santol season right now.  It's a kind of fruit they only have in the Philippines, i think.  It's so good.  They can be kind of sour, but I'm getting pretty good at telling if they are sour before I actually taste them.  They are everywhere right now.  Whenever there is a season of a certain fruit, they are everywhere.  Next season is pomlello fruit, so I'm looking forward to that.  Mango season was last April.  It’s a bummer that one is over.  Anyways, we have a santol tree in our yard, so we have quite a bit.  I'll try to send a picture of my comp in a tree getting santol.

This week we went to a former investigator and we were getting ready to actually teach.  After talking for a bit, I looked out the door and saw a really old lady approaching the house.  I ran to her and she held my arm and I helped her in the house.  Apparently she isn't this person's mom or relative, but she's just a neighbor.  She was such an old person.  She only spoke old Hiligaynon, and with no teeth, so neither Elder nor I really understood her.  Still, she was pretty cool.  I have never really had the opportunity to literally help an old person cross the road before.

I was happy for that, but here is the best part: she gave us candy that she had made herself.  I have had some pretty bad candy since being in the Philippines, but this candy really took the cake.  It was orange-red, with sesame seeds.  So, yeah, it was basically poison.  I ate it with a smile.  Sometimes smiles are hard to muster.  Elder didn't eat his until after.  I told him not to because he'd die, but he did anyway.  And he spit it out.  At least I swallowed mine.  So the lesson learned is: Don't accept candy from old people unless they are Mr. Hart.

Elder Conjelado and I are doing pretty well.  It's hard just because I'm American and he's Filipino, but we make it work.  I really do like him.  Here are some good things about him: He always does the dishes before I can get to them.  He always helps me with the language, and he's really close to the members.  When we work with members, he makes sure they have a good time.  I can't really hold a conversation for more than 15 minutes, but he can hold one for however long they work with us.  We're a good crime fighting team.

Also last Tuesday, we hitch-hiked an ambulance.  It was the same one that we took when Elder Conjelado was dying.  We caught a ride late on Tuesday with that old guy.  It was of course free, and of course a bumpy ride.  How cool is it that I can hitch-hike an ambulance?  For the most part, hitchhiking is way safe here, and I can hitch anything because I'm a white guy.

Being tall really stinks in the Philippines.  I'm always hitting my head.  Last Monday while running out of the rain, I ran into a low ceiling.  I almost knocked myself out.  Usually, as a missionary, I can control my tone and stuff, but some people were laughing at me and I yelled at them. "gamay tanan kamo nga pinoy, hindi maayo and pungsod nyo para sa akon!” which means "all of you Pinoys are small, your country stinks for me!"  They laughed about it even though I pretty much yelled at them.

I'm getting pretty good at teaching.  In my first area, if I could teach at all, I felt like I did well.  Now I really can teach to people's needs, and make it important for them.  In my first area, I didn't care what my comp said because there was no way I could do any better.  Now I actually get upset about what my comps say during lessons.  That's a sign that I'm getting better, huh?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Days are weeks. Weeks are days.

Monday, August 22, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, The Philippines
the beach

Last week we had the best P-day ever. Ever since the end of sleepovers, our P-days have been pretty lame - we hadn't quite figured it out yet.  But last week, we got our act together.  It was fun.  Get this - we went spelunking.  First, Elders Light, Chandler, Conjelado, and I went on a way long hike, which is nothing new, because we do that every day.  We hiked three miles from Alibhon down to the shore.  I still get a kick out of hiking through the jungle, but the others just thought it was hot.  I almost stepped on a snake, but it moved.  That's always fun.  When we came out of the jungle, we came upon a perfect white sand beach.  The ocean was clear, too.  So, we went for a swim.  The water was so nice, and the swim was wonderful.  Just kidding, but if I was ever going to swim during my entire mission, it was going to be right then.

from inside the cave
We did get our feet wet and talked to some locals.  They told us that the cave nearby was really dangerous, and we shouldn't go in it.  We asked some other locals, and they said it was fine.  Fifty percent chance of safety is good enough for me, so we went.  It was a huge cave.  It was super humid, and there were bats flying at us.  The floor of the cave was pretty slippery, but wasn't too bad.  Only one of us slipped, and he just fell on his backside.  We went pretty deep into the cave, but then the floor was so muddy that we couldn't go in any further.  Plus, the bats were really freaking me out.  It was a way fun experience.  I felt like a pirate, just off a beach in a tropical place, and into a dark cave.  But we only found bat poop, and no gold.  Bummer.  Still, boy scouts doesn't have anything on a mission in the Philippines.

Last week I also got my shoes fixed.  I bought them in Iloilo.  I bought the best shoes I could find, and they actually are steel toed.  I took a long time buying them, and I even banged my foot into a wall to see how good they'd be.  I wanted really sturdy shoes because my area is Sibunag.  Anyway, these shoes that were 2,000 pesos only lasted a week and a half.  I got them fixed for about 120 pesos.  They fit differently now, but I haven't had any trouble with them yet.  Right now they are covered in mud tough . . .

Elders Conjelado & Waggoner, muddy road
Last night it rained pretty hard, so this morning we woke up to a mudslide of a road.  We took a tric to Alibhon.  It was going to be half off, or we would have taken something else.  We got stuck in mud, so I got off an pushed and got us free, but also caked in mud.  The tric actually got a stuck a few times.  It took a different route through the hills because the road was so bad.  I can't imagine what the normal road was like if the road through the hills was better.  When we were finally close to Alibhon, and we get on the normal, paved road right before town, the tric busted a tire!  We had to hitch a ride with something else. Yeah, fun morning.  Really, it was.  I still enjoy anything that involves mud.

Tuesday and Wednesday I went on splits in Nueva Valencia with Elder Bono.  He is a batch under me, and was actually my zone leader for two weeks in the MTC.  We had a good time because neither of us is that great at the language, and in his area for some reason they speak a lot of Kinaray-a.  We managed, though.  We taught seven lessons in two days, and two of those were by tracting.  I do want to tell you one of the lessons though.  We taught this lady who is maybe 40.  Apparently, she always gives them a hard time.  We taught her the law of chastity, and I have never had such a hard time with that lesson.  The lady just would not accept that it's not ok to watch pornography, even if you’re married.  Elder Bono shared a story about pornography destroying a family, and I taught about "adultery in his heart."  We went back and forth, and she found a million ways to justify it.  Finally, I said "this is what Jesus said about pornography, you understand it's not ok to view?"  (Ini and pulong ni jesukristo parte sa mga bastos, inchindihan mo nga bawal ina?)  She said "No," so we said a prayer and left.  Man, if you get the Yes you just got to leave.  Sometimes if you get the No, you still just got to leave.

Still, the teaching in Nueva Valencia wasn't all bad.  We taught two girls, 10 and 9.  They were so helpful.  We'd be struggling to get out what we wanted to say, and they'd jump in and say exactly what we were trying to say.  They we so smart and helpful, and we had a great lesson with them about the importance of baptism.  Then afterward they asked us stuff in English.  They loved the heck out of us.  They didn't even know me, but loved me just because I am a missionary.  They wrote my name in a book of theirs, and when we left, they escorted us out the woods that they live in until we got to the road.

People here are so kind.  Elder and I literally took five minutes to think of one person who has been mean to us in our two transfers together.  We finally thought of a drunk guy from my second week here, and even he was pretty nice for being angry.  I feel blessed to be in a place where people like us.

The work is going well.  We did get punted quite a bit, but we worked really hard this week despite that.  We have a few investigators that are really progressing.  One lady we received as a referral just eats up everything we teach her.  She has three boys who are always getting into trouble, and her husband is living in Iloilo, and she just found out that he has been cheating on her.  So, he's now out of the picture.  Anyway, she is really eating up everything we teach her.   The only problem is that she is super poor and doesn't really have the money to go to church, or else she would go every week.

I know I should write more about the work, but that's hard to do.  It's really just one blur.  I am getting to be a better teacher, and my language is improving. 

I told you about Sister Elisabeth, and how she’s moving to Qutar.  This week in a lesson, Elder Conjelado did something that really ticked me off.  He guilt tripped her for leaving her son to go work in a foreign country.  He said if we trust in God that he'll provide for us, and used 3 Nephi 13:31-34.  The lesson got really uncomfortable, and she explained she was working in another country so she could provide for her family.  They started to go back and forth a bit, and eventually I blurted in and took over the lesson.  I softened our stance on the issue, and told her to just pray about it, and any answer you get is good by us.  Elder didn't like me saying that, but it’s so reasonable that he couldn't really get mad at it.  

Afterward, he was really happy that he got to say "what he wanted to," and I just listened, but in my opinion we almost lost an investigator.  I would have gotten into it with him about it, but we are all out of load for our cell phone; if we had needed the zone leaders to come, we couldn't have called them.  So I left it alone.  Elder Conjelado and I are still good.  It's funny we never get into arguments about each other, but just about the work.  I'm really learning to choose my battles, but sometimes it's worse if we don't talk about it.  We don't dislike each other at all.  In fact, we get along really well.  His teaching style and work style bug me a little, but we are getting along great.

The other night, there were no clouds it was probably the most stars I'd ever seen.  We walked home with our flash lights off again.  There were many Christmas trees of fireflies.  Life is good out here.  Days are weeks.  Weeks are days.  Anyway, that's all I’ve got.  I love you all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

blessings all around

Monday, August 15, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island

This week has been good, which is how most weeks are.  I can see blessings all around.  This week, a lot of our progressing investigators fell off the face of the earth, but then we found others more ready than they were.  This is by far the best this area has ever done, but it doesn't have much to do with us.  Clearly, God is putting people into our hands.  Just out of nowhere.  It's a serious blast.  I still want to be Bob Dylan someday, but right now, right here, I'm perfectly content.  Okay, one of the zone leaders gets on my nerves, but that’s such a small complaint.  It gets lost in how good things are going.  I love it here.  I may like it more than Tangalan, it's so good out here.

There is this less active 14-year-old that we teach. She is definitely the most stubborn person in the Philippines.  Sometimes I wonder why we teach her, but she actually has family in Las Vegas, and they are members there.  It's the Leida family.  Maybe you know them.

The Philippines has some really cool things - just awesome things.  Now, it isn't all cool.  For instance, dirty ice cream is completely bogus.  It is homemade ice cream, but most likely made from river water, which will make you reside on the toilet the following day.  Anyway, one completely awesome thing is the fireflies.  For some reason, they don’t just fly around everywhere here like they do in the U.s.  Instead, they always fly around certain trees.  It looks just like Christmas lights, except the lights are moving.  It’s incredible to see at night.  Sometimes, it's way scary to walk at night here, but we often turn off the flash light so we can enjoy the fireflies.

Yesterday I was fasting, but while we were at church we got a text inviting us over for lunch.  We got invited by some former investigators, so we didn't want to turn it down, and after church we went.  It wasn't just lunch; it was a fiesta.  The husband of the former investigator, Jenette, had come home, and that meant there was a lot of food.  They fed us well but the Coke was my favorite.  Let me explain.

It's a rule in our mission not to drink Coke, Pepsi or Mountain Dew.  About a month ago I downed two cokes just like Forrest Gump.  That night I was wired.  I was so tired, but just could not sleep.  My brain was off, but my body was still at a disco.  So, like any missionary does who has to work the next day, I prayed that I'd fall asleep.  In my prayer, I promised that if I could fall asleep that I wouldn't drink caffeinated drinks unless it was really awkward to turn them down.  I had gone a month without drinking any.

So yesterday at this fiesta we got poured Coke.  I downed mine.  Elder didn't want to drink his glass of Coke, so I drank his too.  Am I supposed to be sad if I'm compelled to drink Coke?  I’m not sure, but I'm looking forward to another fiesta.  (We never had caffeinated drinks in our home.  It looks like there will be some re-training late next year.)

We had one investigator at church.  That was nice, but I mistakenly called her by the wrong name.  That's way bad.  We'll see if she comes back.  She must not have been too offended, though, because she stayed for Sacrament and Sunday School.

One of our best investigators is moving to the Middle East for work.  She was progressing really well.  She was a blast to teach, too.  Her name is Elizabeth.  We just found out on Saturday, and she's leaving next Friday.  You cannot imagine how bummed we were.  She’s going to Qatar.  Is there even the church there?  We'll have one more lesson to her on Wednesday.

Not all is bad pertaining to investigators.  We are teaching a few families, including one that we so excited about.  They have very dark skin, and are pure native Filipino.  They live way out in the bukid, and it's a blast to even go to them.  It's an eleven person family, but only seven or so are still at home.  We contacted the family while walking, and they were carrying bundles of sticks on the road.  We carried them for the kids and contacted the parents.  We gave them a lesson 1 pamphlet, and when we went to teach them this week, every one of them who knows how to read had read it.  That was sweet.  We did a solid The Gospel Blesses Families lesson, and even talked about temples.  They ate it up.

branch FHE
This week we had an awesome Family Home Evening with the branch.  I've never really wanted to do Family Home Evenings because I thought it was time we could use for other things, but we found a time that it fit in so well that it would have been stupid to not do it.  We had a blast.  Both Elder and I shared about 10 minutes each.  I shared about how the commandments fit into the two that Jesus gave, love for Lod and love for fellowman.  Elder’s part was way good.    

boy with pancit
Then we had pancit.  For the most part, the pancit here has been not as good Mom’s, and is nothing similar.  The pancit at our Family Home Evening was basically Mom’s without shrimp.  It was so good.  I ate three plates full.  It was food that induced home sickness, and I splurged.  

We also played games.  The games were hard for me because it was in Hiligaynon.  We played a game where a person would say a part of the body, and then you'd have to point to a different part of the body.  I was so slow!

Things are going great.  Elder Conjelado and I are working so hard.  I miss you guys, but I'm really happy where I am.  It's a blast.  Elder Conjelado and I are getting along great.  It's true that it takes a lot of work to stay friendly when to people’s cultures are so different, but I'm in his country, so sometimes I've just got to shut up, you know?  We didn't have one disagreement this week, and we had a lot of times when it was just a pure blast.  I really love him.  He's so humble and helpful.  I'm going to be sad when he goes.  He’s helping me learn not be so straight forward, to disagree and still say it like I'm complementing someone, and also to learn the language and stuff.  I'm definitely going to keep in touch with him after our missions.

We had zone conference this week.  It was pretty good, but lasted really long.  Usually after the zone conferences, I feel really pumped to go out and work, and be a better missionary.  I’ve been doing most of what they talked about.  They talked about working with members, having comp unity, and a long talk about health.  I'm healthy, we're working with members, and Elder Conjelado and I get along really well.  Maybe other missionaries loved it, but I felt a little disappointed.  I would have rather just worked.  The best part was during the lunch break.  I talked to Sister Pagaduan about the cats at our house that are setting off my allergies.  She suggested I take some medicine, but then said "It's really better to just get rid of the cats."  I asked how, and she didn't really give a clear answer.  Does that sound like permission for a bow and arrow?

A while back I wrote a song called Gospel Train.  It's loosely based on "Down There By the Train” by Johnny Cash, but only loosely.  (The song is actually by Tom Waits, but was recorded by Cash.)  Gospel Train is a pretty funny song.  I showed it to Elder Light, who then told the zone about it.  Last Friday, at our sleep over after zone conference, I played it for the zone.  Most everyone thought it was the funniest thing they had ever heard - but one zone leader didn't think it was funny at all.  Here are some of the lines:

There's a slow train acoming, we're coming to your door
there room for all you liars, you hypocrites and more
you can bet that we're all sinners, but our conductor is the Lord
don't want at no station just come on get on board

I saw Hitler praying with John Wilkes Booth
Ghengus Kahn reading the good book in the caboose
the 1930's mobsters are in the dining car
learning to give service from their hearts

I've had Sunday mass on railroad tracks sitting next to Cain
and Townes van Zandt sang a hymn to the rhythm of the train
and the very Babylonians that carried off the Jews
are in their Sunday best, swaying in the pews.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

laughing out of joy

Monday, August 8, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, the Philippines

We had a pretty interesting week.  We still worked way hard but we didn't have as much success as we had the two previous weeks.  We only taught 19 discussions.  A few of our progressing investigators punted us.  It happens, and then we move on.  It's sad, but it would be worse to not accept it.  This week was kind of weird.  On Tuesday we got punted the entire day, and on Sunday we only taught one lesson, but Saturday was a different story.  It rained the whole day Saturday, and we were soaked from the first lesson that morning until the last lesson that evening.  It was the rainiest day I've seen here.  

Water buffalo (carrabou)
The day started off slow, but that was because of our Friday.  Just after personal study, our caretaker arrived with two teenagers and a water buffalo.  They were cutting down trees in our yard, and the water buffalo was there to haul out the wood.  Now, ever since I first arrived here in the Philippines, I have wanted to ride a carrabou (water buffalo).  I’ve seen a few chances, but it was always the wrong time.  When the carrabou arrived at our house, I called to Elder and I grabbed my camera.  As we were going out our front door, we received a text saying that we needed to go teach one of our investigators right then, or we can't teach them that day.  So once again, I missed the carrabou ride.

Instead, we went to teach.  Remember that lady with the five rowdy boys and the mother who was eight months pregnant?  Well, the zone leaders asked us to start teaching them, and now it's six rowdy boys.  They are really progressing.  They are in our area, but attend church where the zone leaders go.  They were our first lesson on Saturday. 

After that, we taught five more lessons that day.  It was the worst weather, and it made for quite an adventure.  All the poor people have roofs, and all the poorer people have straw roofs.  At one of our lessons, the rain was so loud on the tin roof that we couldn’t hear.  It was actually kind of awkward waiting for the rain to die down, so I got the idea to play a game.  We all sat in a circle (all the neighbor kids joined in too) and we played tie race.  It's when you have two ties, one with one knot and the other with two, and you pass the ties around in a circle.  If both ties land on you then you lose.  It's a pretty well known missionary game here.  We did that a few times until the rain died down, and then we taught a good lesson about the doctrine of Christ.

Elders Conjelado & Waggoner
I love Elder Conjelado, I have never done anything to tear him down, or anything like that. He likes me too. He tells me I'm fun to work with and stuff like that.  However, we get into silly little clashes.  It's such a same. Like every time it happens, I think it's so ridiculous, because the rest of the time we get along great.  For instance, Elder used a scripture for the spirit prison to describe the telestial kingdom during a lesson, and I corrected him.  He got offended and told me to do it, so I did.  He's a great companion and we usually get along great.  It's the same with many Filipinos.  It literally takes no effort to offend someone here, so I've always got to be on my toes.

Another time was when one of our investigators met us at the door and told us she couldn't listen to us because her cousin is a Catholic priest and her husband doesn't want her to.  We just suggested that she pray for help, and then I thought that we were going to leave, but Elder tried to get in the door to teach.  I told Elder "Let’s not, maybe next time" but he ignored me.  He kept on asking her if we could teach, and she kept on declining.  It was getting way awkward, and I several times discretely suggested that we should go, but he ignored me.  We were there for at least eight minutes.  After a while, Elder Conjelado was just standing there with his arms folded, and they were having a standoff, so I said to him "I'm going to walk away now."  I thanked the lady for her time, and said we hope that she'd continue to read, and if it was ok with her, we'd like to stop by every once in a while to make sure she’s doing well. 

I walked away, and Elder didn't follow for three minutes. When he came around the house, he was yelling at me about how I don't respect him or love any of our investigators.  I understand why he was mad, but we have to allow people their agency.  He does this. He has his favorite investigators, and when they don't progress and it's time to drop them, he gets mad at me for talking about dropping them.  If they drop us, he just won't accept it.  It’s happened a few times, but this was over the top.  Later that night, he was mad at me, but didn't want to talk about it.  I got my guitar and played him a song about my undying love for him for about thirty minutes in Ilonggo/Aklanon/Tagalog and English. He was laughing by the end of it, and we worked fine on Wednesday.

We had no investigators at church.  We wanted to cry.  Church also lasted three and a half hours.  Sister Angie went off. Man this area could be a sitcom - or maybe a tragedy?  In fact, we had a returned missionary who is a member here working with us one day this week, and he said to me "This is the worst area in the mission huh?"  What do you say to that?  I went for "Maybe not, I don't know."  
Way old, way catholic mat maker
We have this one set of investigators, and they are way old.  They are ancient, and way catholic.  They were a referral, but I don't know why.  They make these rugs from leaves that people sleep on.  I'm going to buy one.  They are 100 pesos ($2.30) for an 8 by four pad.  It's like a bed you would sleep on when camping, but made from leaves.  It's so cool.  One of them is blind.  I love to teach them because they are so crazy, and do not want to listen to us.  We've only taught them twice, though.  Since they were so old, we started off with the plan of salvation.  We were talking about agency affecting our salvation, and these ladies just went off.  They talked about burning in hell.  Elder and I were dying laughing.  It's so bad to laugh during a lesson, but this lady was dead serious and telling us all about hell.  The member we had with us actually led the lesson because we could not get a hold of ourselves.  He kept on getting interrupted though.  We'll go back to buy a sleeping pad, but maybe just teach them about families or something.

path through rice fields

I really love the Philippines.  People ride carrabous bare back through rice fields.  The sunsets are consuming.  The cool breeze runs over rice fields.  The tastiest mangoes in the world are here on my island.  Streams run everywhere.  It's such a trip.  I love it here.  I hope someday I can come back here.  Truly, don't take this the wrong way, but bringing my future wife here would be sick.  (That’s a long time from now, I have no one in mind, nor do I care to take suggestions, Dad.)  I know all the good spots.  Sometimes I forget I'm in the Philippines, and that mangos and the jungle aren't normal, but this week I remembered again how awesome it is.  On Thursday we went out into the bukid to find this one lady.  It was a fun hike through the rice fields and woods.  One we got to her house on top of a hill, there was an amazing breeze.  It was a hot day, but that breeze was delicious.  Then, as a sat down, about 25 little baby chickens came running and chirping and climbing on my feet.  I don't know what happened, but I just started laughing out of joy.  The Philippines is awesome.  I love it so much.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Some of these are mentioned in the blog post below.

Live Chicken Football?

Bamboo home destroyed by storm

Elders Waggoner and Conjelado

Sister Angie's son, borrwed nametag

Monday, August 1, 2011

prune-like toes

Monday, August 1, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island

Elder Conjeldado and I are both still here.  (Transfers were this past week.)  We're doing very well.  One of the new zone leaders was transferred, and they’ve reorganized some things.  We can no longer sleep over in Alibhon.  P-days are now the most hectic day ever because we have to skedaddle back to the middle of nowhere in the evening, and Tuesday wake up and come right back here for district meeting!  Most everyone in the zone is way ticked.  My companion didn't go to bed last night until 12 because he was so ticked.

We had a <great> FHE this week.  We showed the restoration video to a family that we are teaching.  It was cool.  We talked for five minutes about the apostasy, and then turned on the movie.  It's actually kind of funny in Tagalog.  That's the closest language they have to Hiligaynon.  All the things the pastors say are so heavy - crazy and over the top.  It's funny, but it was way cool because the spirit was there, and a lot of the neighbors joined to watch.  Afterward, we had an unplanned “question and answer” session.  We ended up talking about prayer.  It was so cool.  Every one of the people there committed to pray to know if it's true.  We'll follow up tomorrow.

We taught 23 discussions this week, and four people committed to baptism.  Let me tell you, that is insane for this area.  But it's not us.  Really, things are just happening.  I can't describe it besides it being divine help.  Earlier in the month, the island had a fast for missionary success.  We only had one person at church though, but the weather was bad, which it has been lately.

My shoes had holes, so I bought new ones today for 2,000 pesos  (about $46.)  Every day, my socks were soaked.  I had prune-like toes at the end of each day.

Elder is really helping me learn the language - even when he isn't trying to help me.  He only speaks to me in Hiligaynon, or sometimes a little Tagalog.  He quizzes me on words, and if I miss one, I have to do a pushup.  We went through my entire pocket notebook, and I only did like 30 pushups.  It's funny - what I know, I know with no problem.  But I am way lost in some parts of the language.  I don't know the word for some fruits, but I can teach the entire lesson 2 with no problem.

It's been storming pretty good.  In fact, one of our investigators house got ruined.  It looks like a tornado came through.  Her house is made out of bamboo, so it's not that surprising, but it is sad.  We will CSP over at her place this week.  We tried to this week, and went there with our machetes, ready to haul bamboo for a new house.  When she saw us, she said "I'm sorry, I have to go somewhere, just come next week.  I'll just live without a house for another week!"  I was thinking "Are you serious?  We’re here to help you build a home, and you telling us to come back another time?"  We’ll go back on Friday.

We have this awesome progressing investigator.  Her name is Rayline, and she's pregnant.  She is the one who was craving watermelon, and the Word of Wisdom pamphlet had a watermelon in it.  Anyway, her father-in-law wouldn't let us talk to her, and told us she wasn't interested and to go wander someplace else.  He was lying, and practicing unrighteous dominion. Some males here are just <redacted.>  I see it all the time.  There are awesome guys who work all day in their rice field to feed their family but there are the other ones who drink cheap coconut moonshine, play cards for pesos, and treat their women badly.  That leads into another story.  Gosh . . .

The one investigator who came to church – and has a baptism date - wasn't planning to come.  She was just wandering around, and we ran into her on our way to church.  We stopped and talked with her, and she was way upset.  Apparently her husband had been drunk the night before and had beaten her.  We brought her to church, and she talked with our Group Leaders wife, Sister Angie.  Sister Angie works for the local government and deals with this issue a lot.  They talked, and after church they worked it out.

Our house is plagued with cats.  It' not too bad, but I wake up with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose each morning.  It goes away when I go outside and get to work, though.  I'm going to talk with Sister Pagaduan about it.  Maybe I can get some medicine, or maybe make Cat Adobo for dinner.  One or the other.

This last week I went on splits with the zone leaders.  I stayed and worked here in Alibhon.  Let me tell you, I had a lot of fun.  The zone leader that I stayed with is Elder White.  We played live chicken football.  I won't go into details, but you will be appalled when you see the videos.  We also visited some investigators of theirs who have a bunch of kids.  The kids beat up on each other.  She has all boys, from ages two to seven.  At one point the, five-year-old socked the four-year-old in the face, square in the nose!  Elder White and I literally yelled "Oh, dang!"  It was bad that they were fighting, but we couldn't do anything about it.  We can't touch kids, and the mom didn't really care.  She's eight months pregnant.

Also while we were on splits, we visited a place that makes Catholic statues and stuff.  They had a black Jesus.  We asked about it, and he went off for about five minutes about how some church had burnt down, all but a statue of Jesus, and the statue was charred black.  Now they make a bunch of black Jesus statues. 

Later that night, Elder Price and Elder Light brought back the first anti-Mormon literature I've seen on my mission.  It was bogus.  It basically was the experience of some girl whose father was a polygamist, and they said it was the regular LDS church.  They got in a little bit about the temples, and it was so wrong and backwards that Elder White burnt the book.  I usually frown on burning books, but that book was so wrong, and slaughtered some sacred things.

Church was good, and nine people came.

That's all I’ve got.  I love you.