Tuesday, March 27, 2012

God led us the entire week

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Bugasong, Panay Island, Philippines

We had a great week - the best of my mission.  I can't really explain how crazy it was.  I really feel like God led us the entire week.  We taught eight more lessons this week than we did last week.  We blew the record out of the water.  Every day was so amazing.  We came home everyday completely beat.  But you know what?!  I am up to date on my laundry.  Let's talk miracles!

after church
On Sunday I went on splits with Elder Dalu.  It is important that I know his area as well.  We visited some difficult less-actives.  Man, they gave us a hard time.  It actually really got to Elder Dalu.  We explained the Sacrament.  They were throwing a fit about it not being wine first of all.  Then they complained that the church throws away the bread after Sacrament Meeting.  "It's holy, you can't just throw it away!"  (Balaan Guid tana, Hindi mo mahaboy tana sa basura!)  Man, we were beside ourselves on how to approach that. 

We wanted to give Sister J and family a baptismal date last Friday, but it wasn't the right situation.  We just taught baptism, and then offered the invitation to be baptized.  She said that she was open to it, but had so many questions that it was impossible to give a date.  She and the family aren't ready for that kind of commitment.  At least we talked about it, though.  They know where it's leading now, even if they don't have a specific date.  They actually asked us "If we are baptized, what is going to be expected of us?"  That's a million dollar question that we really didn't have time to explain.  We will explain it tomorrow.  At first I kind of felt defeated after the lesson.  We had set a goal to give them a date, but failed to.  Later, thinking about it, the lesson was just as effective, even without a date being given.

We also had one of the best Word of Wisdom lessons of my mission.  We had this 21-year-old investigator who has some addictions.  We knew it was going to be a rough commandment for him, so we focused on it in our companionship study.  We decided to first start off talking about faith, and then lead it into obedience, then have a member bring up the word of wisdom.  The lesson ran kind of long, but when we left the investigator understood it well, had committed to stop smoking, and knew how using the gospel he could beat it.  It was awesome.  We even took a picture as "the day he decided to stop." 

Church was dismal.  The speakers and teachers were not prepared.  The teacher in Priesthood was so quiet!  I was literally two chairs away from him, and I could not hear him.

Sacrament was O.K., but lasted only about 30 minutes.  After the sacrament itself there was a five minute primary program, a five minute spiritual thought, then a closing song and prayer.  I was surprised when we went to the closing song.  I was expecting another two speakers.  

Elder Montecer, avoiding the rain
It's been raining pretty hard lately.  In the morning it will be super hot, and then about noon it will rain on us until the evening.  Our shoes and pants have been just covered in mud.  I like the rain because it keeps it pretty cool, but it sure is a mess. I don't know if you guys remember in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" when the guy comes around saying "bring out you dead!"  Anyway, in that scene everything and everyone is just covered in mud.  That's what Bugasong looks like after five straight days of straight. 

Elder Montecer is awesome.  He is from Rizal, Manila.  He went to school to be a welder.  That's a pretty good job here.  He sleeps with his feet in a mosquito net.  We don't need a mosquito net in our apartment, but he can't fall asleep without one because he's so used to it.  It's like his teddy.  Whenever I speak English to him he tells me "Don't English-English me, I am not a school."  He is pretty funny.  He also always says "Patay Tayo Dyen" which basically means "that'll be the death of us."  He always says it while walking on small muddy rice paths.  He always jokes with me that I gave him TB because one day I accidently drank out of his drink.  I thought it was mine, then asked him why he was drinking out of my bottle.  He was like "What are you talking about, this is mine."  I argued with him saying it was mine until he pulled my water bottle out of the fridge and showed it to me.

I don't really have much to write about.  The work is going well. Sister M couldn't come to church because of her stomach ache.  Miguel confused Adam and Eve as the Savior.  I eat rice three times a day.  The couple missionaries made us brownies. 

So anyway, I won’t go to college when I first get home.  I will retake the ACT or SAT, though.  I feel more smarter now anyways.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Holy Ghost was poured out

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Bugasong, Panay Island, Philippines

This week has been great.  We’ve been having a lot of fun, and it’s all going great.  We’ve for sure seen some miracles.  Just last night, we met a guy named Rolin and his mother.  The mother is a former investigator, and told us how much she loves the church.  We talked with them for like 15 minutes, and we hardly did any talking at all. His mom is now a single parent, and explained that she wants him to be part of our church because she knows that he needs the good influence in his life.  He says he wants to be a missionary just like Elder Montecer and I, and asked what he needs to do!  We explained it’s kind of a long process.

We also had another investigator read until 2 Nephi in between one visit and the next.  I may have already told you about that, but it was awesome.

This week we ate lunch at a resort that a member owns.  She fed us well and we enjoyed it.  Before we ate, we sang karaoke.  It was a bunch of fun.  Karaoke is big here in the Philippines.  I sang “Blowin’ in the wind” and “one love/people get ready.”

This week broke my personal record, and the record for the area.  Elder Montecer and I are doing great! I feel like a few weeks back Heavenly Father led our tracting.  Now a ton of those people we found are progressing and doing very well.  We have a great schedule, and very few appointments are falling through; and if they do, we find something else great to do within a few minutes (visit a less-active, tract a house nearby, and other things like that.)  It’s crazy!  Through our tracting efforts, we are finding less-actives and part member families.

You know how on the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost was poured out onto the apostles?  Well, I feel like that’s been happening to Elder Montecer and me.  Not like we are walking on pure bliss and stuff, but things are going well.  I’ve worked hard my entire mission, but now the work is just exploding!

We had a few people at church.  One person we needed to come didn’t, so that’s a bummer, but some others we didn’t expect did.

One of my favorite investigator here is J.  Her husband died a few years back, and she is a single parent.  I think she is part Ati, but I don’t know for sure.  Anyway, she’s pretty poor, but is one of the happiest people I’ve met here in Bugasong.  Remember the story about two women who were listening to us, and one said she was just listening to be nice but wasn’t interested, then the other llady told us “I don’t know about her, but I’m interested, my family needs this.”  That lady is J.  Her mom is the one who said that she was just being nice.

Anyway, we teach there twice each week, and we teach the whole family.  It’s great.  We never get through much of a lesson, but the spirit is felt and the kids love it and are included.  I love this family because they have it pretty rough, but all pitch in and help.  The oldest kid cooks, and they all clean and work selling veggies in the local market, they all wash their own clothes, etc.  They make it work.  It’s tough, they are busy, but they make ends meet.  Usually, if a family is in a situation as tough as theirs, they’ll say that they don’t have time to listen because they need to put food on the table.  Sister J is different.  She recognizes the spiritual needs of her kids.  She gathers them for us.  After the lessons, she thanks us for the visit wholeheartedly.  It’s just makes me feel great.  Then she waits with us by the road until we can catch a ride.  She has a billion things to do.  I’ve told her that she doesn’t need to wait with us, but she insists on doing so.  The other night I talked with her while waiting.  She told me about the adjustments her family made after the father died.  She wasn’t trying to complain or express how hard she has it - she was just simply telling me about how her family has pulled together.  Man, it just about moved me to tears.  My hat’s off to her.

Sister J and us
I was a little hesitant to invite her to church because I know she is super busy, and it would cost a lot for her family to go.  The spirit told me to go ahead and do it, but it didn’t feel right during the lesson, so I didn’t do it.  After the prayer the spirit gave me the go ahead, and as I shook her hand to leave, I mentioned it to her.  She said “yes” flat out.  I was a little surprised.  I explained a little about church and then that was that.

On Sunday she showed up. She had ridden a bicycle maybe about 10 km. That was great.

Church was great.  I played organ, and we had great speakers.  It’s weird in the Philippines.  The adult speakers do kind of bad, but the youth speakers tear it up.  We had youth speakers this week.

We have a lot of members way out in the bukid.  It’s darn near impossible for them to come to church.  Plus, one of them has son who can’t walk, and one is blind.  Every once in a while there is Sacrament meeting out there in the barangay nursery.  Elder Montecer, the Branch's second counselor, and I conducted the meeting.  The attendance was low because they hadn’t let the people know it was happening.  The people that attended were only the people that we could round up.  I was the sole speaker.  I felt like Joseph Smith, no podium, just teaching to humble people in a not-church.  It was great to have a meeting out there. I could tell those people were happy to have the sacrament.

This week we found a blind less-active member.  I didn’t get to talk to her much, but hope to in the coming week.

We also contacted an old less-active member.  She is bed ridden and doesn’t make much sense when she talks, but it was great to visit her.  She had picture of missionaries from back in the sixties.  Back when they didn’t even have black name tags!

I wrote a song this week. I had about 30 minutes before we had to go back out and work.  I decided to play the guitar for a second.  A song was there when I sat down.  It was pretty cool.

baby snake
We had a baby snake in our house.  Elder Gregerson and I flushed it down the drain.  The other two missionaries wanted to kill it, but we didn’t.

We have an awesome 21-year-old investigator.  He had a bunch of questions about vocab in the introduction of the Book of Mormon.  He wrote down all the words he didn’t understand, then found the answers for himself in the back of the Book of Mormon.  We were way impressed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TB, and Time Flies

Tuesday, March13, 2012
Bugasong, Panay Island, Philippines

A ton of things happened this week, but I didn't bring my planner, so I don't have anything to jog my memory.  It was another great week, though.  Actually, one part of this week sucked, and I will go ahead and tell you about that. 

Remember how that doctor lady in Iloilo said I have TB?  And how I told her I didn't?  Well, she called Sister Pagaduan again.  Sister called Tuesday night to tell me that I had to go to Iloilo Thursday morning for an appointment.  I was annoyed!  I am so tired of going to the doctors.  I told Sister Pagaduan, "Sister, I can't go to Iloilo, I'm in Antique."  That didn't phase her.  She insisted that I had to go.  So, we set it up that Elder Montecer would stay here and work, and I would go with a ward missionary to Iloilo.  Thursday morning I went to Iloilo.  We rode a hot bus through the mountains.  Right before I left the mission office to go to the doctors, I was informed that if I had Tuberculosis, I would have to take two weeks rest and isolation.  I told Sister Pagaduan that I didn't have it, so we don't need to worry about that. 

When I arrived to see the doctor, she right off the bat claimed that I had TB, and told me all the medicine I need.  She declined to show me the x-ray.  She said "I don't have it; it's in the x-ray room."  She prescribed me 6 months of medicine!

This was something like my sixth visit to this lady.  Each time, she is surprised that I don't have a cough or any other symptoms.  In fact, last time when I asked her why she had prescribed me what she did, she said "for you cough."  The cough I don't have!  I have not missed a day of work for health reasons since September.  This is also the doctor of Sister Danner and Elder Ball.  Those two are now home for medical reasons, and neither of which needed surgery, and Sister Danner didn't have anything as far as I've heard!  So, I don't trust this doctor.

I didn't buy the medicine, and went back to the office.  I asked to speak with President Pagaduan.  It didn't go the way I wanted.  I told him that I didn't want to miss work, and that I didn't trust the doctor.  I told him that I didn't want to go back to the doctor either.  I offered some evidence as to why I didn't trust the doctor.  Maybe I shouldn't have brought it up, but I mentioned Elder Ball and Sister Danner.  He didn't seem to like that.  He did explain that if he allows me not to follow the advice of the doctor, then he would be responsible.  He then mentioned that unless my parents and my stake president signed some form, then he had to make me take the medicine.  He was saying that to show how absurd it is for me not to take the medicine, but I was thinking "Yeah, let's do that!"  As we left his office, he said "Get well soon."  I told him "I feel fine!"  He then pulled me back into the office, and told me that even if I felt fine I could still have TB.  He couldn't tell me if I could work or not, so he directed me back to Sister Pagaduan.

She told me I couldn't work for two weeks. I told her that is ridiculous because I’ve been working forever with no problem.  She said it was just procedure, and said "We follow procedure, don't we Elder Waggoner?"  I told her something like "I don't know, Sister."  She saw that I wasn't open to the idea of taking off work, so she called the area health guy.  He gave me permission to work.  That's sweet!  After that, I submitted to the demands of the mission and bought the medicine.  It was about 4,000 pesos of medicine!  I am taking it, but I don't like to.  I take four pills daily, and it turns my pee orange.   

I hate to be a burden, and I hate to have to visit the doctors, and I already met with both President and Sister, so I'm just doing as they say now.  But man, isn't it stupid to take pills for something that you don't have?  I don’t think the pills are too harmful.  The label said that it may cause liver failure.  That's not too bad, huh? 

It's true that I may have TB in a very mild form.  That's possible, but I'm not convinced because last November or so I got a shot to see if I had TB and it came out negative.  How about that?  It's kind of frustrating.

Maybe I need a second doctor’s opinion?  However, I would hate to miss more work for it, and I would hate to bug Sister some more.  I don't want to seem rebellious to them - which is weird because I never cared about that before.  Maybe I should just let it drop and take the pills, and then this all will be over.

That was the annoying part of this week, but there were good parts. 

We broke my personal record for the work. The area is on fire.  Although we struck out for investigators at church, it was an awesome week for less-actives at church.  Usually, we have about six priesthood at church.  This week we had about 25!  It was awesome! 

We saw an interesting change in one of our less-active members. The first few times we met with him, he didn't seem to care too much, but this week he came to church.  When we met with him after church, he was listening and intent and seemed excited.  As we left, he gave us star apples.

Elder Dalu
This week I went on splits with Elder Dalu in his part of the area.  We went way up north to Tibiao.  There are some members and less-actives and investigators up there.  It's way cool up there.  We got to see two islands off the coast.  Apparently they have pure white sand beaches.  They don't speak Kinaray-a.  I guess they speak some more tribal language.  The work with Elder Dalu went great.  I went on splits with him in my first area and it didn't go so well, but this time it was different.  We worked in unity and had a great time. 

Some of old ladies just love us missionaries - especially the white missionaries who speak Kinaray-a.  They usually just love to make us feel comfortable and talk to us, but this one lady in Dalu's area takes the cake!  She gave me like 10 pieces of "uga" (sun dried salty fish) and a gantang or rice! (a lot of rice.)  It was way overly nice, but I had to take it.  She gave it to me mid-lesson.  In fact, she was a neighbor and interrupted the lesson to give it to me.  I then related it to the lesson.  Some people are too nice here.  It's like that Josh Ritter song "Best for the Best."  Or like the "widows mite" from the New Testament.  It's way more meaningful when people give from their poverty. 

Elders Montecer & Waggoner
Elder Montecer and I are doing great.  He'll probably transfer really soon now.  Bummer. 

Sister Lyman goes home this transfer, and the other sisters from my batch the next transfer.  I just found out that I might go home October 11.  I'm hearing a lot of things, so I don't know for certain what the final schedule will be.  We'll find out when we find out. 

It's funny.  Every time I feel like I've reached my potential, I find that I have so much more to do.  For instance, I used to think "If I could only work this way, it would be sweet."  But now that I'm working the way I wanted, I've got so many more things to apply.  Actually, at the end of this week, I felt like I had finished climbing the mountain and wanted another challenge.  It was kind of like "this area is now doing well, what's next?"  Of course there is a ton more I need to do, but the really challenging part is over.  Now that the area is on its feet, the work is more about the “enduring to the end” part and harvesting.  I was kind of bummed, but today in zone meeting I learned a bunch more stuff that I need to apply. 

It's been that way my entire mission.  Just as I can speak well in one language, I'll transfer and need to learn another.  Just as I know all the members, I'll transfer.  As soon as I get comfortable, God will throw me a curve ball of a companion or something.  I was afraid that I'd get sick of being on a mission after a while - you know, get tired of the same thing day in and day out - but it hasn’t turned out that way.  There are always enough curve balls to keep things interesting. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

filling in, following the spirit, and watermelon

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Bugasong, Panay Island, Philippines

Now, finally, I can write.  Internet service here in San Jose is lousy.

valley in Bugason
In some ways, church was ridiculous.  First of all, hardly anybody had shown up until 9:40.  That's when I finally said we just had to start with people missing.  Our schedule is backwards - we do priesthood first.  We didn't have a priesthood teacher, so I did it.  Then we had Sunday School.  After about 10 minutes of everyone just sitting around, I realized that no one was preparing to teach.  I asked around if we had a teacher.  No one knew.  I went to the lady in the Sunday School presidency and asked her if she'd teach.  You know, it is her calling.  She said she wasn't prepared, so I went over and asked Elder Dalu to do it.  He said he wasn't prepared either.  (Doesn’t he teach every day?!)  Then the Sunday School lady asked me to teach, so I did.  I taught about our need to forgive others.  I taught it from The Presidents of the Church manual about George Albert Smith.  I had been studying it all week, so I was pretty ready.  It ended up being pretty good. Elder Montecer helped me out a bit too.  He helped me explain some versus we read, and hissed some Kinaray-a words to me to while I was teaching, that better explained stuff.  Between the two of us, we got it done.  The best part of the lesson is when we acted out forgiving each other.  

One part of the lesson kind of scared me, though.  A lady asked me if she had to forgive her ex-husband, who she hated.  I told her “Yes, even him."  She said a few other things, and then left her seat and went away crying.  I looked to Elder Montecer with "oh crap” eyes.  It didn't turn out to be much.  I thought maybe I had offended her.  Turns out after being comforted by some fellow RS ladies, she was O.K. and later thanked me for the lesson.  It was kind of a rush to teach 50 people a lesson with no preparation, and then trying to keep it interesting enough to hold their attention in a hot room.

Then after that I played piano in sacrament meeting.  Elder Gregerson was supposed to do it, but he didn't feel ready, so I filled in.  He's actually way good at the piano.  Thankfully, all the hymns we sang on Sunday were in the Hymns Made Easy book.  One song I transposed from Bb to C during all the testimonies.  That too was a rush.  Playing songs I hadn't practiced.  After church, I was so burnt out. 

Elder Montecer
We did a lot of tracting this week.  We really got to work this week.  The area, like I said, was just split.  We knew it was going to be rough, so we really got our game on.  We had the beast week of work of my mission.  We taught 32 lessons, 16 with a member and 18 new investigators.  Now we have our time full this upcoming week.  It's been sick!  We are both just stoked.  One lady from our tracting has even committed to baptism!  Man, the area is doing well.  We still have to get all these folks progressing, but I was amazed at this week. 

I love Elder Montecer.  We work the same fast pace.  Not too fast during lessons.  We still have the spirit, but we don't waste time in between and before.  We are getting along great, and we only speak Kinaray-a with each other. 

This week has been a great week for the spirit.  We had a good fast, and I think that helped.  We have also been doing well at companionship study and stuff. 

Our 11-year-old with a baptismal date is so funny.  He's almost exactly like Simon Birch!  We just die laughing when we teach him.  He's really our friend, though.  He says the funniest stuff.  Like we asked him what was not allowed in the Word of Wisdom.  He said "shabu!"  That's cocaine in Kinaray-a.  He didn't just say it either - he flat out screamed it. 

Like I said, this week has been great for the spirit.  We've been directed where to go to tract.  Here's one example. 

Last Friday we were tracting, and I saw a house that looked like the Makasio's house back in San Joaquin.  I thought that was interesting, but I didn't want to try it cause it didn't look very approachable.  But the spirit told me to try it.  As we approached the house, I saw a teenager sitting on the front porch - the same way that Brother Makasio used to.  It was like deja vu!  So we introduced ourselves and started talking, and an old grandma came out and started talking to us too.  When the front door was opened, I got to look inside real quick. This family has the same wooden furniture as the Makasios!  Neither the teenager nor the grandma seemed too interested, so I started to wonder why the spirit had urged us to go there.  About five minutes into talking, a 21 year old girl came to the house and asked "Mormons, right?!"  We said "yes."  She then burst into an explanation of how much she missed the church, how she was baptized in Manila, how she loved her calling in the nursery, where is the church here, I know this elder and that elder, etc.  It was way cool.  She was so excited.  She changed the mood of the meeting, and we ended up have a really sweet first lesson with that teenager and the grandma.

kissed by a goat
Elder Montecer and I took "Jesus" pictures with goats in our arms. The goat I was holding kissed me!  The photo I'm sending was my reaction right after it kissed me. 

Elder Dalu is awesome.  He's a clean freak, and an awesome cook.  Elder Montecer is way tight.  In the evenings after we close, he plays my guitar.  He's getting better.  Really.

We have an American member in our area.  He goes to church in San Jose because it has air conditioning there, so that's kind of lame. He's from Mississippi, and has a hobby making smoked sausage.  We're going back over to his house tonight. 

Some of the people we have tracted are so cool. We had a sweet experience the other night.  We were teaching two ladies and one was saying "I'm not interested, I'm catholic, I'm just listening to be nice."  Then the other one blurted in and said "Well, I'm interested, my family needs to know this stuff!"  We were stoked. 

watermelon feast
At a lunch appointment with a less active member, I ate a lot of watermelon.  She brought out an entire plate of watermelon for us.  I ran over to her so I could carry if for her - we were outside, and it was a long walk.  When I set it on the table, I set it right in front of me as a joke.  She said I couldn't eat all that.  I said I could.  She said I couldn't, and called for the other half of the watermelon to be sent to the table.  I told her, "If I eat this all, will you go to church tomorrow?"  She said "Yes” because she didn't think I would."  I did.  She didn't go to church, though, because I guess she had health problems.