Sunday, December 18, 2011

He bit me

Monday, December 19, 2011
San Joaquin, Panay Island, Philippines

This was Christmas week, I guess.  It was also a really hectic week.  We didn't get as much work done as usual, but we did as much as we could, so that was nice.

Last Tuesday was our zone meeting.  We ended up leaving our phone there and had to go back to get it.  The Zone Leader had picked up our phone and taken it to his area, so we had to then go get it there.  What should have only been a few hours in Iloilo turned into pretty much an entire day.  By the time we got back, we were so worn out that working was hard.  When we got home, we admitted to each other that if we rested we'd probably not get up, so we went ahead and got to work despite being so tired.  We actually had two pretty good lessons, one of them being a FHE.

The FHE was a blast.  We had it at a member’s house in Masagud.  So many less actives from that barangay came!  Less actives that we can't get out to church for the life of us!  We had blast.  First I gave the lesson, and then we played games.  Man, I can't explain it, but Filipinos get so into games.  Back in the states, adults usually remained composed and never really let loose without a sufficient amount of booze.  Here, booze or not, people will become wild for any game.  You know how when a kid is so into a game that he can't stay in a chair, his knees are coming up to his chest, his hands are slapping stuff and laughing hard. Well, that’s how adults are here – kind of wild.   It was good time had by all.  I'll have to show ya’ll the games when I get back.  We ate some lugaw and got on our way back to town.  We managed to get home, but after that we just crashed.

Wednesday was this festival called "saylohay."  It was huge.  It's big here in San Joaquin.  I guess however many years ago some Malaysians sailed here and traded native Atis gold for the entire island of Panay.  I guess they landed here San Joaquin, or at least that's how the story goes.  It seemed like everyone was at the festival.  Working was difficult that day, but we got some done.  We worked just about the entire day, walking from place to place, just trying to teach some folks.  We even did some tracting even though almost no one was home.  We ended up getting three teachings, though.  We had made some appointments the day before that pulled through.  In the evening we checked out the festival itself.  It was way cool.  Maybe you could find a video of it to get an idea of what it is.  But there were five "tribes" competing, or rather high schools.  It was basically a big coordinated dance thing with costumes, flags, drums, and background sets.  It was way sick.  Plus there were a lot of venders selling mango smoothies.  That helps. 

Thursday and Friday were basically regular days of work.  Saturday was hard again.

We had the big branch Christmas party.  It was supposed to start at 8, but no one showed up until 10:30.  We had a talent show, food, karaoke, and more games.  Elder Eror and I performed Joy to the World.  He played the ukulele and I played the guitar.  At one point he turned his ukulele upside down and used it as a drum.  I put my guitar behind my head and played it.  We got second in the talent show.  We lost to the primary.  They just sang some Tagalog Christmas song.  The karaoke was way funny.  They get so into it.  One guy was basically Frank Sinatra and everyone just loved it.  The food was good, and there was enough for everyone.  Most everybody had to serve themselves, but the members brought food to us because they all wanted us to try the thing they cooked.  We got really full.  We played musical chairs too.  We did it by age groups.  Elder Eror and I were compelled to play.  When it got real competitive, I had to lose on purpose - I didn't want a lady sitting in my lap.  We also had a few more less-actives come, and they all had fun.

At church we had five investigators, one of them for the first time.  That was a good turn-out even though we didn’t get very much work done during the week.  Our investigators got fellowshipped pretty well, but the talks were terrible.  Plus, sacrament meeting was two hours long because it was a Christmas presentation.  The Christmas presentation was lame.  They hadn't prepared, but someone had printed off scripts and handed them out.  It wasn't put together very well, and we sang like a billion hymns.  We sang until I was winded, and a little past that.  I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost which wasn't too bad.  I at least didn't say that Jesus Christ killed for my sins.  The next talk after me was like thirty minutes long, and he talked about crazy stuff that our investigators didn't understand.  The investigators liked the classes though.  I'm sure they liked them because none of them were Elders Quorum age. 

Elders Quorum was wild.  Remember those kids "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum."  The male one punched me in the crotch last week.  Well, this week during the class he was banging on the piano hard during the lesson, so I went over and tried to get them to stop.  Three five-year-olds started attacking me.  No joke.  They nearly pulled my pants off, and the same on that punched me in the crotch last week bit my leg!  He bit me!  I shook him off my leg, and his mother came and got him, but he was back just a while later.  I let Elder Eror take of him.  He didn't get bit, and the kid calmed down a bit.  The lesson was on the priesthood.  One person asked if we have the same priesthood as Jesus Christ.  Someone answered it, and then someone wanted to add on to the answer.  It was our 2nd counselor.  He got out of his chair, pointed his finger, and basically yelled at the guy who asked the question.  It was crazy.  We had no idea where it came from.  It basically ruined the lesson. 

In the evening, we went to Iloilo for the Christmas missionary fireside.  We sang "It Came upon a Midnight Clear" and sounded alright.  I also got to see our converts and members from Sibunag.  That was a blast.  There were a bunch of people who sang, and some were really good.  The missionaries were all in the back where it was hard to hear.  When some seats emptied out near the front, Elder Lowry slipped up there.  We enjoyed it a lot more when we could here.  One choir did a great version of Little Drummer Boy. 

You would think that I would be more homesick around Christmas, but I’m not.  I'm enjoying Christmas here, and I don't even really compare the two.  

We slept in Iloilo that evening, and in the morning played basketball in Arevalo.  I'm not the best, but I at least played hard.  President played as well, and really schooled us.  He trash talked a bit, but you really don't know how much you can trash-talk back.  I told Sister Pagaduan, who was taking pictures, that if someone fouled president he'd send them to Sibunag.  She laughed.

We have some cool investigators.  One is a full family.  Only three of them came to church this week, but all of them accepted baptismal dates.  One of them isn't married but has a kid and is super willing to get married in order to be baptized.  She came to church and loved Relief Society.  Even though the priesthood here is dysfunctional and argumentative, the Relief Society is way solid.  I love it. 

One of our long time investigators, Tina, is going to Taiwan soon.  She had been waiting for her husband to be able to join before she gets baptized.  The husband is down to just one cigarette a week, but has only been to church once.  With her leaving for Taiwan, they have run out of time to be baptized together.  We talked with them about it, and they decided they will be baptized on the same day but in different locations.  We’ll continue to work with the husband here. 

That's that.  I love you all.  Hope all is well, and I hope that kid didn't have rabies.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

threesome week

Monday, December 5, 2011
San Joaquin, Panay Island, The Philippines

This week was a breeze; it was really fun, and went by quickly. 

Elder Eror leads District Class, and he can be pretty funny.  He had us do a "Whose line is it anyway?" version of practicing OYMing.  (OYM stands for open your mouth and offer your message.)  It was so funny.  We drew locations that he had chosen, and we had to fit in the phrase "Merry Christmas" as many times as we could.  The locations were hilarious.  They included in a catholic cathedral during mass, in a market, in the male bathroom, in an emergency room, and a few other locations.  My favorite was the one in the male bathroom.  Elders Lowry, Eror, and Domincel were in the role play.  Two of them stood against the wall acting like they were in the act, while Elder Eror joined them, and OYMed them.  Elder Domincel was sitting in a chair off to the side. I was afraid the sisters would have a cow, but they just laughed.  The purpose of the role plays was to show that there are some situations that aren't appropriate to OYM.  We sure learned that.  When we did the emergency room OYM, I was the dead person lying on the table. 

Elders Lowry & Eror in Miagao
Work with Elder Lowry was fun.  He's really a good missionary.  He knows the language well, is so smooth, and teaches to needs.  It was such a breeze.  We worked as a threesome from Monday until Friday morning.  We did good work.  On Tuesday we worked in my area, then Wednesday we cleaned his apartment and worked in his area, and then worked back in our area on Thursday.  The Miagao apartment had needed a cleaning for a long time.  We spent most of the morning getting it done.  I cleaned the bathroom!

Barangay Nadsadan, where we went to look up a referral

On Wednesday night we received a referral from the ZL's.  They made it seem like it was pretty urgent, so we re-arranged our plans to go contact the referral the next morning.  It was so freaking far.  We walked for at least an hour out into the bukid.  Not just out into the bukid, but up into the bukid.  We went to a barangay called Nadsadan.  We arrived in the barangay and started asking around where this person's house was located.  At one house someone just shook his head while we talked to him - almost like he didn't want it to be there.  People up there were so shy.  When we arrived at the right house, the people hid.  It was kind of ridiculous that we'd walk all that way, and then the people would hide from us.  So we turned around and went back.  We hitched a ride with a motorcycle.  Sitting on that regular-sized motorcycle were three full-grown missionaries and one full-grown, half-drunk Filipino, driving through mountainous dirt roads.  Sometimes this mission gets crazy!  I have a video of it. 

Friday we went to transfer meeting. Elder Workman is Elder Lowry’s new companion.

a less-active's monkey
On Friday evening we visited a less-active way up in the mountains.  It wasn’t as far as that referral, but it was still far.  We rarely visit her because she is so far away.  In fact, this was my first time there.  The lesson went well, but the coolest thing is she had a huge pet monkey!  It was wild, so we couldn't touch it, but I did get a good picture.  Monkeys are so cool. 

On Sunday we went to pick up some investigators who said they would come to church.  We had told them the day before that we'd go with them to church, but could not pay for them.  When we got there, they expected us to pay for them.  Ugh.  Also, the parents weren't going to come, and neither were the older siblings.  We ended up taking 7 kids to church, the oldest being 16.  We rented a tric for 50 pesos, and it got us all to church.  The kids seemed to enjoy primary - up until the primary president disappeared.  After that, they just wanted to play basketball. 

I got a haircut today.  It's pretty short, but doesn't look too bad.  Whenever I have gotten a hair cut here, people move my part way over to the side of my head instead of where it's always been.  I kept on having to ask the guy if I could use his comb so that he would cut my hair with the part in the right place.  I've usually just said "cut it" and let them go at it, but this time I really watched what they were doing. 

There is this dessert treat here called ice candy that I love.  I eat it as often as I can.  I can make my own, too, so I'll show you when I get home.  Anyway, this week we had peanut flavor ice candy!  I had my doubts at first, but that stuff was so good!  We had about 5 each. 

On Sunday, we got rained on pretty good.  Everyone was shivering.  I loved it. 

We got a sweet referral from one of our members.  The referral is a family.  The father of the family just got back from the marines.  He was wounded in Mindanao and retired early.  He said that he gave up drinking and cigarettes, and just wants to spend more time with his family because that's what is really important.  We shared our "gospel blesses families" lesson, and he loved it.  We have a service project there on Thursday morning.

Happy birthday, Dad.  I hope it is a good one.  I'll be at your next one!

I love you all

Tuesday night, Elder Eror stepped knee deep into mud.  He actually couldn't get out without leaning over and getting his shirt dirty.  He was caked in mud.  I fished out his shoe for him.  We got him washed off at a water pump, and then continued working.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Scott, the Turkey

Monday, November 28, 2011
San Joaquin, Panay Island, The Philippines

Scott, the Turkey

The first cool thing we did this week was buy a turkey.  We bought it for 400 ($9) pesos each.  We had been asking around for a while, and last Wednesday we realized that the next day was Thanksgiving and there was a turkey out there somewhere that was going to be our Thanksgiving dinner.  We realized, first, it was not ours yet, and second, we didn't know where it was.  One of the less active families in our area directed us to a small barangay in the mountains.  It wasn't too bad of a hike, but definitely off the beaten path.  We went looking for a guy named "Hikot."  We asked around, and eventually found him.  We explained what we wanted, and he took off charging down a hill with his shirt off, making turkey sounds.  It was the coolest.  Hikot reminded me off the Mexican guy on "Nacho Libre."  He was so excited for us to buy his turkey.  He gave it to us for a great price, and we named the turkey "Scott."  That's Elder Lowry's first name.  We kept Scott in our side yard, and even bought some feed for it.  Elder Lowry and Elder Gowey took care of the turkey after Friday night.  We ended up celebrating Thanksgiving on Saturday.

We have both been feeling that we need to focus on less active families here in San Joaquin.  Of course focusing on baptisms is more fun, but less active work is what this area needs.  The less active rate is outrageous here.  People tell us about less-actives that we can’t find on any list.  We teach a lot about family prayer, family scripture study, church attendance, and endure to the end.  It's a different kind of work, but it's pretty rewarding.  We had some folks come to church this week that haven't been there for a while.

On the way to a less active family, we walked by a lady waiting for her kids.  She said something like "Good afternoon" in English, and we said something like "maayad nga hapon" to her in Kinaray-a. She was like "Woah, you know Kinaray-a?!"  We ended up talking to her for a while.  When her kids arrived, we walked back with the lady and her family.  It was just a regular, casual, nice conversation - pretty fun, actually.  When we arrived at our destination, we slowed down a bit and asked if we could visit her family sometime.  She said no, but in a nice way.  We just took the no, and said it was great to meet you.  I like that.  We could have pushed them, we could have maybe gotten an appointment sometime in the future, but it may have ruined the nice pleasant walk we had with them.  So we just left it at that, and maybe in the future some missionaries will go to their house and they will remember us.  That's why I like Elder Eror.  He's not going to push someone into anything.

I went to the doctors on Friday.  In fact, Friday was way crazy.  We first went to Iloilo for a District Leaders meeting.  While I was there, I asked if we could get some money for my doctor appointment.  They had none.  It's the end of the month, and the office is out, so I had to pay for my doctor visit by myself.  I can get it remembered later though.  The doctor appointment was stupid.  When I first walked in, the lady was talking about TB and I didn't even know she was talking to me.  I literally asked "Are you talking to me?"  She said "of course" though she had not yet looked at me.  I asked her why she thought I had TB.  She said because of my symptoms.  I asked her what symptoms, becuase I have none.  She said "Don't you have a cough or a runny nose?"  I have nothing.  She sent me to get tests for TB.  I agreed because doctors are the people you let rip you off.  ("Let the wookie win" I guess.)  So I paid a lot for an x-ray and a shot in the arm.  The x-rays of course came back negative, and she told me to come back in today for the arm to see if my arm had swelled up from the shot.  I didn't go back today.  Anyway, she prescribed some meds for some mucus build up or something, so I bought those meds.  She also asked me to get some nasal spray.  I had already spent a lot, so I just will get the nasal spray when I get the reimbursements.  The lady eventually said I probably just had a build-up of mucus in my nose, so we'll leave it at that.  I'll take the pills, but if they don't work . . . oh well.  But I think they will work.

I also ran into Elder Workman at the hospital.  After we bought my meds, we ran into Elder White.  He and his bata (trainee or "kid" in Ilongo) were in Iloilo doing medical stuff too.  We ate at McDonald’s and caught up.  It was so nice to see him.  His bata lives by Coachella, and has attended the music festival a few times.  I hope I get to follow up his bata or something so that I can crash at his house during Coachella '13.  Elder White was my ZL on Guimaras and he's way cool. Actually, he's going home soon.  His parents arrive in two days.

After that, on Friday we went to buy shoes.  We were in a hurry and it wasn't the best selection of shoes.  I found some I liked and tried them on.  I walked a bit in them, then looked at the price tag.  There wasn't one.  I asked someone how much it was.  They took the price tag off of another pair of shoes and put it on mine.  It was a good price, so I went with it.  I paid for them.  Then the lady realized the shoes were two different sizes!  So i just said never mind, I'll just return them.  It was such a hassle to get a refund.  Not only that, but it took like 20 employees, and they all were just suggesting I buy these other shoes, or these ones, or try them on again see if you like them.  They were doing everything to not have them returned.  It was so frustrating I eventually told them directly “I just want my money back.”  I'm sure they were just scared of getting their boss.  The boss eventually came and authorized the return.  I explained to the boss it was my fault, and that the workers were very helpful - even though they annoyed the crap out of me.  So, I didn't get shoes on Friday.

We then went to Tigbauen to do a baptismal interview.  During the interview, I went with Elder Domincel and taught an investigator of theirs.  Turns out he was mostly deaf, and didn't understand a word I said.  After the lesson, he asked me if I wanted to shoot his makeshift gun.  I passed.  After that, we did a baptismal interview in Oton.  That went well, and then we went to Miagao and got prepared for Thanksgiving dinner!

We got back and cooked.  With four elders cooking, we got dinner on the table in under thirty minutes.  Elder Lowry bossed us around, he's the only one with any cooking experience so we listened to him. For dinner we had watermelon, peaches, corn, gravy, homemade mash potatoes with chives, root beer, mango flavored juice, bananas, rice and one dead turkey named Scott.  We wore Scott’s feathers at dinner.

The next day, Elder Eror had to go to the bathroom real bad.  It seems that Scott gave him some trouble.  We had to ask complete strangers, on two separate occasions, if we could use their bathroom because it was an emergency.  I guess we ask complete strangers if we can teach them about Jesus so it's not that much weirder to ask to use their bathroom.

We got a load of referrals yesterday.  One member took us to all his neighbors.  We taught a 15 person lesson outside by the beach as well. That was a cool format to teach, but it was no sermon on the mount by any means.

We also found someone who just moved to our area and was being taught by the missionaries somewhere else before she moved. That was definitely more than coincidence.  We will teach her tomorrow.

Today we “dropped” a few things.  Elder Gowey is going home, so we dropped him off.  I dropped my old shoes in a dumpster.  And, I dropped a camera.  Yes, while I was looking at a camera in the store, I somehow dropped it.  It hit the ground, but there was no damage to the camera.  It was the one that I wanted to buy, and I was testing it out.  I, of course, was NOT testing to see how high it bounced, but I sure found out.  The camera was perfectly fine, but they still wanted me to buy it.  I liked the camera, and it was the first I'd asked to look at after going to four or five shops, but I hated being forced to buy it.  We even got kind of serious about it with the lady.  If there is no problem with the camera, why do I have to buy it?  I didn't sign anything to say I have liability if you let me see it and so forth.  I ended up buying it because I liked it and I am a representative of Jesus Christ and wasn't about to just walk out.  I don't know how it works in the Philippines.  I thought it was "If you break it, you buy it."  The camera didn't have any mark on it from being dropped, and it worked just fine.  Though Elder Lowry and Elder Eror laughed at me, I don't feel bad about the camera, I like it well enough.  I withdrew a bit extra when I bought the camera just in case Sister Pagaduan insists that I buy the nasal spray.  I’ll be fine for a while.  I bought new shoes too.  My heel was going through the other ones
Elders Eror and Lowry, and Scott the Turkey
Sarah's package came.  I won’t dig into it until Christmas.  Also, Dad, your trip to Virginia makes me darn jealous.  Mom, I have a fiance?  Where was I?  Oh, right, playing my guitar.  (A reference to the movie That Thing You Do.)