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.

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