Monday, January 23, 2012
San Joaquin, Panay Island, Philippines
I'll just start off with the worst part of the week if you don't mind. (The rest of it was just great, though.) First, there’s some background:
Elder Matthews and I are working like demons. We’ve been so busy that, until this morning, I was behind a couple of days in my journal. We would come home every evening, stay awake long enough to shower, and then get into bed. We both feel asleep this week while praying a couple of times. A few nights we came in so tired that we skipped dinner. I'm not saying this to show that we are “poor, overworked” missionaries, but to show how much we simply love the work and are doing well. I love working like this. We waste just about no time.
Saturday morning we got up, prayed, ate a little bit, and went way out to the bukid to visit some members. It's quite a hike to get to them. We ended up getting kind of punted, but that's ok. Needless to say, when we got back for studies and lunch, we were beat, smelly and sweaty. We just shed our clothes, and I went to sit under the fan while Elder Matthews went to take a shower.
While chilling with the fan on me, I heard a "tagbalay." It was faint, but I went to look through the window to see if someone was there. I walked into the other room to do so, but I didn't need to look out the window because someone was looking in at me - President and Sister Pagaduan and the AP’s. There I am in a state of undress with President looking at me. I asked them to wait a second, and I ran and got on clothes and let them in. It was an apartment check, and we were about to fail.
We failed big time. I knew that from the moment they walked in. The apartment was a wreck. Not a wreck in the “after-a-party” sense, but a wreck in the “two 21-year-olds who haven't had the time to clean up” sense. I figured we would be asked to clean up a bit and that would be it. I know they are supposed to do apartment checks, but they came in and searched through our stuff! Their tone and demeanor were not kind. It felt more like a drug bust, and I felt violated.
Another thing was that a lot of the furnishings are broken in the house. For instance, one bed is broken, one desk is broken, and one fan has no guard on it. I was using all three of those because I didn’t mind, and I didn’t want to give the broken things to my new companion when he arrived. I knew we were supposed to repair or order new stuff if something in our house was broken, but I just didn't mind. So, President chewed me out a bit about that. Even our landlady got in trouble because she didn't have proper screens in the house. Also, we got in trouble for how dirty our little concrete sideyard was. I tried to explain how the neighbor’s cats get into our trash, and how the chickens run through our yard and leave drippings there, but President said he didn't care it is our yard.
I’ve always hated it when church members bust someone’s chops. The sad thing is that this past month has been the best of my mission. We've been working super hard and having success. I feel that I’ve been becoming a better missionary in a lot of aspects, and just as everything is going so well: drug bust! It's true the house was a mess - a super mess – and we should have been busted, but not in that way. I'm over it now. Sometimes you just have to “school your feelings" and let it go.
Besides that, we had an awesome week!
We met the coolest guy. His name is Phil. He’s white, and grew up here in San Joaquin. He lives here in the banwa near us. We've seen him a couple times, and he always invites over for dinner. We weren’t ever able to go until last Friday night. We had dinner with him, his wife, and his sister. They have been here since they were born. They own a Bed and Breakfast here. In fact, we took a lost Australian there to them last week. At dinner on Friday, they just told us stories about the Philippines during WWII. (They are pretty old.) Apparently, seven Japanese soldiers came to get Phil's dad, and took Phil captive. Phil's dad shot five of them. By the time the other two came back with help, Phil and his family had fled into the bukid. They spent the next few years hiding and living in the bukid. About three years later, in 1942, Phil’s father was shot by Japanese, but the rest of the family survived the war. He and his sister, who remembered it better, told us some cool stories about hiding all over the mountains of Panay. It was so much fun to just talk to them. It was just like at home, talking around a well cooked meal.
Saturday was also fiesta day in San Joaquin. The highlight of fiesta was this thing called "pasungay." It's like a rodeo, but with carraboa, (small) horses, and cattle fighting each other. We went and checked it out. It was sweet. The best is when the giant carraboa (water buffalo) gets loose and runs for the stands.
Sunday we had a brother work with us. He's a recent convert of a year, and has a darn near fiery testimony. The first lesson we took him on we accidently let him loose. Oops. We were just talking to the investigator about the Book of Mormon, and we asked the brother to share his testimony about it. He talked for about thirty minutes without stopping, and the also talked about the pre existence, Adam and Eve, urim and thumam, and a bunch of way deep stuff. He thoroughly confused out investigator, but it was still pretty funny. Afterward we talked to him a bit about "milk before meat" and he was fine in the rest of the lessons. It was comical to watch. Actually, this type of things happens pretty often in the Philippines.
My birthday was Wednesday. We had interviews with President in Iloilo that day. I got to pick up my package there. Those strings feel so nice! Thank-you. Also, thanks for the camera and the candy. We devoured the skittles promptly. Sister Pagaduan had even gotten me a little cake. That's way funny because she had forgotten that she had given me some cupcakes for my birthday a week before at transfer meeting. In the evening, we had dinner up in the mountains at our branch president's house. We ate the cake there. It was a nice little birthday.
In my interview with President, I asked if I could extend. He wasn't sure because it depends on the area presidency, so we'll see. I might be coming home mid-December.
Earlier in the week, I went on splits with Elder Soderquist. Man, I like him. That guy doesn't have the tiniest bit of bad in him. He has had trouble with some disobedient companions, and we talked a bit about that. He loved having someone to talk to. We taught six lessons together that day.
This week has been great for music. Elder Matthews and I sing at the beginning of many of our lessons. He can sing wicked harmony. We even sang to some drunks Saturday night. We sang "Nearer My God to Thee." Also in our district, Elders Soderquist and Vernard can sing. We all sang some hymns after district meeting last week. Elder Soderquist helped me sing the tenor parts in the songs.
Life here is good. I love it. We are doing some great work. This week, despite interviews in Iloilo on Wednesday and the fiesta on Saturday, we broke my personal record for teaching here in San Joaquin. It's so good being in a rugged area with a good companion.