Sunday, October 23, 2011

frogs, forgiveness, and flickering

Monday, October 17, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, The Philippines

To protect privacy, the names of most people in this blog have been changed.

Our district leader, Elder Matthews, is from New Zealand.  He's pretty cool.  In most districts, meetings are just reading Preach My Gospel and then practicing teaching.  He’s done them differently. He (when he's here) gives the best lessons.  Last week was no different.  It was a good week, and I think it started at last district meeting.  I left that meeting super pumped to work, and that's what we did.

I got my shoes fixed, too.  The guy who fixed them was pretty much crazy.  He speaks crazy English at us.  He has long hair, and sits on a stool in a crowded, third-world pool hall.  I like him though.  A lot of missionaries have gone to him through the years, and he calls us "his friends."  He fixed them for 250 pesos (about $6.25). (I got the "friend" discount.)  They look brand new, but feel a little funky - not too bad though.  I got to watch him fix them.  By watching him tear it apart, I got to see how close to torn apart they already were.

Elder Workman and I are running in the morning, we're doing pushups and weight lifting and crunches in the evening.  I've been sore, but sleeping well.  I outrun Workman, he out-muscles me. 

I've started reading the Book of Mormon again.  I'm taking it super slow.  It's kind of fun taking it this slow.  In a week's worth of personal studies, I'm only in 1st Nephi 15. 

A couple of days this week, I've found frogs in my running shoes.  I'm paranoid about even putting on sandals now. 

We have a member, Sister Maria, who was formerly less active.  She just recently got active, and this week we went and shared with her about sharing the gospel with others.  We talked about the tree of life, and how Lehi wanted others to eat it too.  It was a good lesson, and afterwards she came with us to some neighbors of hers.  We got punted, but it was way cool that she came with us to work. 

We did a CSP at Rosario’s on Friday.  We helped her weave stuff.  It took three hours to do half a piece of weaving.  She's way cool, and we kept up conversation for about two hours.  The last hour she cooked us some stuff.  It was a very relaxing CSP, and I really got a greater understanding of how hard her life is.  After we did service, we got to eat at her house.  She and her husband had cooked us pork and boney fish.  We ate it and loved it. 

On Friday, Sister Merced joined us for a few lessons. We got punted pretty hard, so we decided to go tracting.  It's really effective to go tracting with a member because the people feel more comfortable letting us in.  Plus, Merced is pretty well known in the community.  Our tracting went so bad!  We first contacted a crazy Baptist old man who made no sense.  We tried to find common ground with him and explain the restoration, but he would just yell out bible verses at us that had nothing to do with what we were talking about, then he’d recite them from memory.  We were happy to leave that lesson. 

Then we tracted into two old, senile ladies.  One had previously tried to poison me with her version of "candy."  I recognized her, and realized we were in for a treat.  It was one of the funniest lessons ever.  When sister Merced went to pray, one of the old ladies went and sat by her.  I didn't realize why at first.  But when Sister Merced started the prayer, the old lady said every word that she said.  We tried to explain to her that she didn't need to do that.  Then Sister Merced tried again.  The old lady followed again.  We were dying, laughing so hard.  We pretty much bore our testimonies and left a pamphlet with them.  We didn't think much would come of it.

We taught Sister Johnson tithing on Saturday.  Sister Merced met us there.  Ann, Sister Johnson’s daughter, was there again.  We went over some things we had previously taught her, and she remembered them very well.  We then moved onto tithing.  We did it by an object lesson.  That seemed to go very well.  Sister Merced’s testimony about it sealed the deal.  It was an amazing lesson.  Sister Johnson was so excited when she learned that the money didn't go to any pastor or somebody.  When she read what tithing was used for in the pamphlet, she said something like "well of course, you need that."  We also explained about if you don't pay tithing, you're not in trouble, but you just forfeit blessings.  She was surprised at that remark.  It was such new idea for her, I think.  You don't account to man, you account to God.  So many people here have been to church their entire life but never thought that way.

We taught Sister Belinda later that evening.  We taught her about repentance.  We mentioned a little bit about forgiving someone and she looked like she had a question.  Elder Workman asked her if she had a question.  She said no, so we went on, but we could tell she had a question.  It really seemed to be on her mind.  So we asked her what her question was.  She said "no, no, go on."  We did, and finally we said "Sister, what's on your mind?"  The spirit was telling us that we had to get that question out of her.  She finally asked.  "Do I have to forgive my husband?"  Elder said "Let’s turn to Matthew."  I knew exactly where he was going.  I said "It's in the sermon on the mount."  We turned to Matthew 5:44.  As soon as we read it, that spirit came in like a tidal wave.  She was almost in tears.

Sunday at Chruch
So that brings us to Sunday.  Let me say this.  I had no idea what was going to happen.  The highest number of investigators that I've seen at church here in Sibunag is two.  That was, until yesterday.  There were seven investigators there!  Belinda and her two kids, Rosario, Sister Johnson, and get this - those two old senile ladies!  WHAT THE HECK!?!?  There were 20 people there!!!  More than a third were investigators!  Our minds were blown.  All the members more or less panicked, but we managed to get through it.  Sacrament meeting was just about worthless - it was super hot, and the speakers weren't prepared, and they spoke in slow, soft voices.  Sunday school was way good though.  Some lady from the stake was there.  Her lesson was "perfecting the saints," but for the sake of the 7 investigators changed it to "perfecting the families."  She saved the day.  

Something funnyhappened.  Brother John still hasn't fixed the wiring in the church, and the wire to the one light started smoking, and the light started flickering.  It was one of the moments that you will either cry or laugh.  I chose laugh. 

I got some way good news from Tangalan, my last area.  Fred, gay Fred, got baptized!  That makes me so happy.  I got so much grief about wanting to teach him.  Also, that family we were teaching before I left got baptized, plus a few other people I knew.  Pretty cool. 

It's been a cool week.  Sister Johnson is getting baptized this Thursday!  She wants to do it down at the beach.  We went down yesterday to talk with the owner of a resort to make sure it was okay to do it there.  He was more than supportive.  We also messed around a little too long down there, but I've got some great pictures.  We have four others with baptismal dates.  We may give Sister Rosario one as well.

P-day at the Beach
This morning we went down to a prime beach.  We had a good time.  We got star fish, and played ultimate frisbee with a ball on the beach.  We ate delicious shrimp, and went exploring in the shallow water and sand.  It was one of the best P-days of my mission.  It was also probably my last P-day with Elder Light.  He'll most likely be transferred this week.  It's possible I am too, but I don't think so.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

a few pictures

Eder Workman and a boy we had given a blessing

on the dock in Sabaste

a rice field in our area

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

chokeholds and conference

Monday, October 10, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, The Philippines

Please note: to ensure privacy, most names in this blog are changed or omitted.

To start off, this week we had one of the most bizarre experiences of my mission.  We were working in a remote area, and after finishing a lesson, we received word that Sister X did not want us to come by.  We love her but she had not been progressing, so earlier in the day we had prepared a lesson in detail just for her.  We asked the messenger why, and were told that her husband was home.  That was a little alarming because we had been told that her husband was out of the picture.  He had cheated on her, and also chased her around with a machete.  She really hates him, and just judging from what we’ve heard, he sounds to be real shmuck.

We told the messenger that we were going anyway.  I wanted to meet her husband.  As we went over there, I filled in Elder Workman about his guy.  When we arrived, the husband was rummaging violently through the house.  I asked if he could step outside, and if we could meet him, and he semi-yelled stuff at is.  Neither Elder Workman nor I understood what he said.  We stood there talking to their 14 year old son.  Sister X arrived from some other neighbor’s at that point, and was concerned that we were there.  She said that it was not a good place to be, and we had to leave before things got out of hand.  We wanted to make sure everything was going to be ok, but she just wanted us to leave.  

We asked her to come out to the road where she could talk with us more freely.  On the road, just a ways off, she told us that her husband was looking for a card of some sort, was acting like a demon, and she wasn't afraid to die.  She tried her hardest to get us to leave, but we refused.  In fact, I felt the spirit saying to stay.  She really wanted us to go, but both Elder and I knew we were supposed to stick around.  We reached an agreement with her that we'd stay on the road, about 30 feet away, unless it got out of control.

It quickly got out of control.  We had only been waiting about two minutes when we heard a ruckus.  We heard the husband and Sister X screaming at each other.  Elder ran to the side of the road to get a better look.  He then put his bag down and ran down to her house.  I dropped my bag and followed.  A male neighbor yelled at me to not get involved, but the other neighbors were yelling at Elder Workman for help.  When I got there, the husband had Sister X in a chokehold, and Elder Workman had the husband in a chokehold.  Another neighbor came running and yelling at us.  I got distracted by her because I couldn't understand what she was saying.  (Yelling in Hiligaynon is hard to understand.)  Next look I got was of Elder Workman setting the husband down on the ground.  He had choked him just enough to make him snooze.  Sister X yelled at us to leave before he got up.  

I stopped a motor that was passing, and we hopped on.  On the way, I called the police.  We intercepted them on the road, had a brief conversation with them, and then they sped off again.  We went home and called the AP’s, and then president called us.  It was taken care of very nicely.  Our landlord called the Mayor, President said that we did the right thing, and it really hasn't been much of a problem.  The police let the husband go that night, which was a bummer, but they say they got it all worked out.  Sister X has even told us how thankful she was for us being there.  I really hate the way some husbands treat their wives here, and it was kind of cool to have done something about it.

Elder Workman was very cool headed through it, too.  He was ready enough to get involved without a second thought, but at the same time was measured in his response.  I think Elder Workman showed great restraint by not responding too strongly.  I don't know how clear it is from the earlier paragraph, but the husband was hitting Sister X before Elder Workman laid hands on him.  So, that was quite an event. 

on the way to General Conference broadcast
This week we also had General Conference.  That was great.  It also meant that I got to catch up with Elder Lowry.  We talked multiple times.  He even lent me a blues gospel CD.  I loved the conference.  It means so much more while you're on a mission.  Everything is clearer here on a mission.  Like the idea that “if you follow the commandments you get blessings” wasn't so clear before.  I knew I had blessings, but I didn't recognize what was a blessing and what wasn’t, and I didn't know which blessings were a result of following the commandments.  As a missionary, it's so darn clear.  Not only in my own life, but also in the lives of our investigators.  

I was listening to the prophet and apostles, and when they were talking, I was thinking "yeah, that's so true."  One of my favorite things said was "though this time may be like the times of Noah in sin, it has one major difference, there are those in this time who are willing to uphold the word of God."  Cool. 

During Priesthood there was some excess talking going on, so I sat with Elders Light and Matthews to get away from it.  Priesthood was so good.  Watching it alone was weird, but made me feel grown up.  I felt like I was dad kind of.  Anyway, all the talks were excellent.  One person told a story about a man who had only converted one person on his mission and what that meant for that one person and his family.  It made me get kind of teary eyed, and that doesn't happen much.  I thought of the folks that I've taught and helped on their way to conversion during my mission.  After conference, I was so happy, and we all were. We went to a burger place called "crave burger."  After Elder Light and I ordered, we went and got some ice cream together.  His dad does that too.

That night we had a big sleep over at the Molo apartment.  We played UNO and other stuff.  It was fun.  Elder Workman and I had previously made up a song about teaching a monkey.  The highlight of the song is the monkey sounds that I do.  I do them way loud.  We sand it to all the elders, and they just about died of laughter. 

Sister Johnson came to conference!  Let me tell you how hard it is to save seats in the Philippines!  It's hard, but we did.  Sister Johnson came with the church members from our Group, and they arrived pretty late.  They were timid about walking all the way up to the front to sit down, but I pretty much made them.  In the back of the cultural hall there was a lot of talking, but in the front of the chapel everyone was listening.  Sister Johnson seemed to have a good time, although I don't think she understood much.  (The broadcast was in English.)  In the second session, she even kept Elder Workman awake.  We introduced her to President and Sister Pagaduan.  We introduced Sister Johnson as "our mom in Sibunag," and Sister Pagaduan as "the mother of all the missionaries."  

On the way home, Sister Johnson joined all the missionaries.  It was funny because she kept running off, and all the missionaries would get on a boat and be like "Where is she?" and we'd have to tell the boat guys to wait until Sister Johnson came running on.  Sister Johnson's daughter is committed to baptism too, but hasn't been able to go to church for two weeks now.  She did get this next Sunday off though!  Whoo!!  We are way excited about them!       

We actually had a great lesson with Sister Johnson and her husband this week.  We taught them the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom.  We taught them in a cool way.  We talked of course about the blessings of the Word of Wisdom, but the blessing we focused on was having a clear head.  We talked about how that would bless their marriage.  When we taught law of chastity, we talked about the family that God had approved. We talked about how two people can improve their marriage through dates, spending time together, working together, and going to church together, and then talked about what things can ruin a marriage: pornography, drunkenness, and adultery.  Elder Workman and I sometimes have lesson that are a train wreck, but other times they are way great.  What’s great is that when a lesson is a train wreck, we talk about how to improve it. 

One thing really ticked me off this week.  Our Group Leader said that he didn't like that we had gotten involved with Sister X's husband.  He told us "You guys move area every so often, but this is my Group and I have to live here.  You should have thought before you got involved.  What if people think badly of Mormons?" I actually rolled my eyes, and I didn't even realize it.  He asked me what my problem was.  I gave him our Mission President’s number and told him to call it if he had a concern.  Elder Workman was kind of appalled at the Group Leader’s reaction.  He was like, "This is what my dad taught me, and I won't let a man beat a woman."  I did apologize to Brother John. 

I have a bulge in my throat.  I've already talked with Sister Pagaduan about it.  She told me to take vitamin C pills.  We'll give it a week or two.  I can feel it when I swallow.  It's not too bad, but if it gets worse, I'll do something about it. 

There's a lot of extra stuff happening this month.  We already traveled to general conference, and I have to get my shoes repaired again.  Also, it's a five Monday month, so that means that I have to budget for five weeks.  We have a two day Stake Conference in Iloilo.  Also, we are hoping to go to the island in our area next week and eat at the resort there.  Apparently there is awesome seafood there.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the road peed on us

Monday, October 3, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, The Philippines

It's been a good week out here, but which one isn't nowadays?  I really enjoy working with Elder Workman.

Sad Sad Waterfalls
Last week on Monday, it was storming really hard.  So, we of course went hiking to some waterfalls.  The falls are called “Sad Sad” waterfalls, and they are huge.  It was a fun hike to them.  We got a tric first, and then the tric driver gave some brief directions to Elder Workman.  He only heard those directions, and we went on our way.  We walked the way he said to go until we had walked a long time, and still had not come to anything.  We finally caught some folks hauling charcoal through the woods on the back of carrabou.  They told us that we had gone way too far and pointed where we should go.  We walked back and got on the right path.  We reached the falls in maybe five minutes after getting on the right trial.  The waterfalls were just raging, and we had a good time taking pictures and jumping from rock to rock in the river.  The waterfall was maybe as high as a four story building.  Not the kind you canoe off of.

Last week at district meeting, Elder Matthews did not show up. He was feeling real sick.  He had a swollen tongue.  Elder Workman filled in and did a really good job.  He talked about goals and how they relate to faith.  We had a good discussion about it.  I have a really great district and each district meeting is a real recharge for the week.  It's never just regular.

Elder Waggoner in rain gear
It's been a really rainy week here on the island.  Last week we had to ride on the inside of the L3 van back to Sibunag. It was raining, and man just so stuffy in the van.  I was crammed pretty much in the same seat as the driver.  Elder Workman and I had a small lady in between us, and then he was by the window.  We asked if we could roll down the windows because we could hardly breathe.  The driver agreed.  This meant that the rain would get Elder Workman and the driver, and it really wasn't raining too hard at that point.  Little did we know, the rain was not the biggest problem.  The mud on the dirt road was.  We hit a puddle the size of Lake Erie, and that sent mud hurdling into the van through the driver’s window at the driver and me.  We both just got covered in mud.  The driver let out an expression of disgust, and I helped him clean it up with a rag he had while he was still driving.  I was pretty certain that the whole L3 had their attention on me cleaning up the driver, so took the chance to be funny.  I said "nagihi and karsado sa amon."  (The road peed on us.)  Everyone just about died from laughter.  Everyone was quoting it the rest of the drive until we got out.

We were going to have a sweet FHE at the Johnson’s, but it didn't happen because of the rain.  We still went there at the set time, but only one member came, Sister Meyda Rose. So, we just had a lesson about the Sabbath day with a member present.  After, Sister Johnson fed us a billion and a half avocados.  It's not bad, but it was a little much to handle.

We had interviews with President on Wednesday.  They were interviews, not much else.

Elder Workman at beach

Last Wednesday we found ourselves at five o’clock with no place to go.  The circumstances just worked that way.  We decided to try out down by the beach.  We took pamphlets down there, and wanted to try and see what things were like down there.  We only did one lesson, and it was to like twenty people at once.  It was cool, but not the most productive.  We talked to a lot of folks down there, and we figured out how to go out to the islands we have in our area.  We ate at some hole-in-the-wall down there.  I had pancit.

Sister Rita's preacher is kind of giving us some trouble.  He told Sister Rita that if she goes out to our church, then she cannot go back to his.  We decided to pay him a visit.  We talked about how each having the right to choose.  I told the story about how President Horlacher offered to take me to other churches so I could see them.  I added the zinger "The true church doesn't have anything to hide."  He agreed.  It wasn't a very confrontational visit at all, and we have a return appointment.  We even got into him changing churches.  We explained that our purpose is to get people to ask God what the truth is.  Elder Workman asked him "Brother, if you get an answer from God that this church is his true church, will you move to ours?"  He actually said he couldn't because his church is just a smaller part of another one, and they have a mother church that calls the shots for them.  Maybe he was just avoiding the question- we'll get to it next time.

Do you guys remember the deJoya family?  The one with a billion kids that pee on me?  Well, they haven't been progressing, and we haven’t really been visiting them much, but we decided to again.  The lesson wasn't great, but we did get to do some service chopping some wood, and we gave their kid Roberto a blessing.  He's got a nasty infection on his head.

Belinda hasn't been to church yet.  We visited her on Friday and Saturday.  We always have great lessons with her, but she just isn’t keeping commitments.  These two visits were kind of our last attempts with her.  We love her, really, and it's so sad, but she just isn't reading or coming to church.  She has the desire to, and she tells us that all the time, but she just isn't doing it.  Her situation is terrible.  She’s poor, her husband cheated on her, her kids are young teenagers and starting to have some real bad influences.  If anyone needs the gospel, it's her and her family.  We were so sad when we came back Saturday and she hadn't done her reading assignment, and on Sunday, though she promised, did not go to church.  Ouch.

We've been having brown outs all week.  It's been throwing off our sleep schedules.  It's been so hot at night that we just couldn't sleep.  We have made good use of our candles, though.

Saturday was a way productive day.  We had four lessons, which is not a ton, but they were all productive and with a member, Sister Merced.  She's a pal.

First we visited Rita, and Sister helped a lot there.  Then we went to the Johnson family.  The husband joined the lesson, and was pretty quiet most of it until the end when we asked if he had any questions.  Man, he just went off.  It was like he was drunk, but he wasn't.  He was saying the craziest stuff.  One thing was pointed at Sister Merced "You used to be catholic, how could you change?"  He said it in an attacking way.  Then he said another thing along the lines of "I can't be catholic and my wife be another religion."  My response was "O.K., come to church tomorrow too."  He even started going off on Elder Workman and I a little bit, and that got Sister Johnson crying.  Then he said "There is no divorce here, if she joins another church, what can I do?!"  That made Sister Johnson burst into tears.  Sister Merced took over and stuck it to him.  She said "If you love your wife, then this is the church for her" and "You don't go to church anyway, so it means nothing if she goes to another church."  He couldn't really argue with that.  I would never be that bold with someone, but because Sister Merced is local, she can.

Later that night, we went out to Sister Rosario.  She made your Christmas presents.  You're going to flip, they are so cool.  I spent my goat money on them.  I'll send it early November or so. It's way cool.

That’s it for this week.  We went to Iloilo earlier.  The waves were pretty fun in the rain.  Elder Workman and I are doing well.  I give him history lessons as we try and fall asleep.  He hates it.