Sunday, January 8, 2012

Baptism, Fire, and New Year's

Monday, January 02, 2012
San Joaquin, Panay Island, Philippines

It has been quite a week.

I'll tell you first about my Saturday because it was the single-most crazy day of my mission.  That morning I returned from Iloilo where I had been on splits in the city with the zone leaders, had a baptism, fought a raging fire, got some good grub at a member’s, then had a New Year’s party in Miag-ao.  I'll focus on fighting a raging fire.

After the baptism, we were super beat.  We hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, and hadn't eaten breakfast.  After our baptism, we went straight home and got some food and rested a bit.  We were just chilling on our beds with the electric fans going on full blast.  I heard a commotion outside and went to see what it was.  It wasn't too weird to have a commotion outside because New Year’s here is anarchy anyway, but this time was different.  I walked out the front porch and saw our neighbor in the street with a face of fear.  She yelled to me to kill our power.  She said something about a "sunog." (fire)  I went out into the street to get a better look, and black smoke was pouring up into the sky about 40 yards away.  It was behind our house, then across the street, but pretty close still.  I get Elder Eror and told him to grab his camera.  On our arrival, we saw high flames and a ton of spectators.  I waited a second, checking it out, and then noticed some people yelling at the house nearby.  I told Elder "let's go help."  He didn't go into the house because apparently it was smoking, but I did.  I went to the back of this house, which shared a border with the house that was up in flames.  It was super hot.  Super hot.  Right on the other side of this house’s back wall was a raging fire.  I help some locals fill up buckets and throw it on the house’s roof and other bordering parts.  There was a manual water pump, so we used that for a while until it broke.  The back of this house was semi outside like most kitchens are in the Philippines.

I turned on the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom and put pots under them.  By then other people had arrived that were better at doing the water stuff.  Also by then the water pump had broken.  I then helped people get stuff out of the house because we figured it was going to go.  No fire truck had shown up yet.  Once the house was unloaded, in a matter of minutes, I helped get water to the scene.  There was a local pump across the street, but there were too many people waiting for water there.  There was a big line there, and a big line going behind the house I was working in to throw it on the fire and keep it from spreading. So I called to Elder Eror, and we got a few other folks and got another water pump going a few houses down.  Elder Eror pumped, and a few boys and I ran it to the house.  My adrenalin was going.  It was such a rush.  Some fire trucks showed up, and the fire was soon put out.  It had not spread to any other houses.  Many people had done the same thing in other neighboring houses.  It was a success.  When it was over, I wanted to go home.  People were pointing over to us and trying to talk to us, but I was so drained.  We went back to the apartment, and I took a shower and changed clothes.  We then went out to see what else we could do. We helped some people move stuff back into their houses, and made sure some buckets we had borrowed without permission found their rightful home.  We got a teary eyed thank you from the house I worked in.  It was such a crazy situation.  It could have so easily have spread, but everybody pitched in and it didn't.  All the houses are super close.  Crazy, huh?  It was so hot in that house when I first went into it.  I don't know when the fire trucks arrived, but I know at some point while working they came.  If they hadn't come, a huge piece of San Joaquin would be gone. 

So thanks for the Skype call last week.  That was super cool.  It didn't make me trunky.  Actually, it just got me a little more excited for working.  I think it's because we pretty much only talked about missionary work. 

I found a good home for that camera I bought.  I found a missionary who needed it, and sold it to him for 5/8ths the price.  I wasn't going to be able to return it to SM because it had been over a month.  (I don't know if I mentioned this, but the camera started working just fine a day or two later.  It's been fine since.)  It's not a great camera, but it’s still a camera. 

We had a baptism on Saturday.  Israel, who is in a part member family, and his eight-year-old sister were baptized in the ocean.  It was a nice little service in a wood shack, and we had a pretty good turnout.  For some reason, he and his family didn't go to church the following day!  A lot of people didn't come because it was the day after New Year’s, but it was a bummer that he didn't!  So, he is not yet confirmed.  We'll get him next week. 

I taught district meeting last week.  I taught about the Holy Ghost.  I talked about what it's supposed to be like when the Holy Ghost is present in a lesson, how to attain that, and how it helps the investigator. I quoted Dad's Christmas story a few times, and even showed them the candle analogy.  It went pretty well, and the spirit was present in our meeting. 

For New Year’s we went to Miagao.  We bought a ridiculous amount of homemade river water coconut flavored ice cream, had cake, pizza and played Phase Ten.  It was a good time.  Midnight was crazy!  New Year’s in the Philippines is crazy!  Anarchy for sure.  Explosions everywhere.  It looks like an all out war. We watched it from the roof. 

I did two different sets of splits this week.  On Wednesday I had splits with Elder Lowry.  That was fun.  We did some good lessons, and I always enjoy working with him.  He helped me a bit with Kinaray-a.  I took him out to our bukid investigators.  It was fun.

On Friday I went on splits with Elder Lado.  He's the zone leader for the Iloilo zone.  We worked hard.  His area is in the city, so it’s about a five minute walk between lessons at most.  From about 2 to 9 we were either teaching, walking, or talking to someone.  We got punted quite a bit, but managed 6 lessons.  It was fast paced, intense work.  I loved it.  That's the way I've always wanted to work.  It was so much fun.  I also really liked Elder Lado.  He's from Cebu, and is humble and hard working.  He gave his all in ever lesson.  We talked a bit about missionary work, and both agreed on a lot of things that need to be done to help folks progress. One thing he mentions was visiting investigators a couple times a week even if you don't teach.  In the past I've had some comps who thought that was a waste of time (Elder Eror doesn't) and we talked about how effective it was.  I enjoyed the crap out of splits.  It gave me a new insight about working in a city.  I always just thought it was dirty and crowded, but I think it would be so much fun to work there.  You can work every hour of the day!  I still like the bukid more, of course, but the city wouldn't be too bad. 

We only had one investigator at church.  I won't complain because a ton of members didn't even come.  Hopefully we'll get more next week. 

We got to teach some investigators this week that we hadn't been able to teach in a long time.  They were great lessons, too.  That was up in the mountains in New Gumawan.  The power was out up there so, when it got to be night it was super cool.  Just bright stars and cool(er) mountain air.  We hitched a ride with a van down the mountain. I got to sit in the back seat and look out the window, just like old times. 

This week I hit a year in the Philippines.  MAN!  Time flies. 

We did a lesson with a lady who had her son die a few years back.  She had a lot of questions but mostly just cried about it to us.  We didn't teach as much as we could have because it seemed like she needed to cry it out real good.  We did share a few things from the scriptures. I'm glad the scriptures say stuff about it because as a 20 year old, I had no idea what to say.  Whew.  We have a lesson with her again tomorrow. 

I hardly have time to write about it.  We’re emailing late and have an appointment in about an hour.  Earlier today we went to the city and bought some fabric for flannels and jeans.  There is a guy here who makes great clothes.  He's a member and he gives us a missionary discount.  We also had some Mexican food!  Tasted so good!  It's been so long!  We also played basketball earlier.  It's been a good p -day.
A car hit some birds on the highway while we were walking by.  Within a few seconds, some people had gotten them. We heard someone say "Namit ang Karne."  (The meat is tasty.)  

I love the Philippines.

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