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.

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