Monday, April 16, 2012
Bugasong, Panay Island, Philippines
I’m writing a day early because we’re back in San Jose, where they have an internet connection. I’m here for another appointment with the ear doctor, and have a long time before I'll get in, so this is a better use of time. We have about three hours to wait, so I'll go ahead and send my email now.
Anyway, life is good. I wasn't planning to again bring up this ear thing to Sister Pagaduan, but yesterday in church I could hardly hear, so I figured it was better to get it addressed.
This week was great. It looks like we can still keep up the pace of work that Elder Montecer and I used to have. I thought it was going to be difficult to do because we have four hours of study every day. But, in regard to lessons with a member present, we had the highest of my mission. We were a eight short of the highest number of lessons I've ever done, but we still had a great week. We were just super stoked.
Church yesterday was kind of wild. It was a really, really hot day. We got all five electric fans from our apartment and brought them to the church to help out a bit. Even with all the fans, it was ridiculously hot! I ended up teaching the gospel principles class. I hadn't prepared, but neither had anyone else, so I taught it. I taught about obedience. It went all right, but not the best. I could have used some preparation time. The church is right beside the highway, and it has no windows. It's not a great environment. Trucks and stuff go by three feet away from us. I tried to make it work, though. I talked about how the people didn't listen to Noah and ended up dying. I drew all the people laughing at Noah, then Noah's ark up on the hill. I made a speech bubble for one of the laughing people. It said "buwang tana" which means "he's crazy." Then I drew the water about waist high on him, and changed the speech bubble to say "o gali" which means "Oh i guess he's right." Then I drew the water over his head and made the speech bubble say "patay ron" which means "dead now." That may have been the highlight of the lesson.
Elder Sefeti and I spoke in sacrament meeting. He bore is testimony in part English, part Kinaray-a. He did really well. The members really love him here, and are just so enthusiastic about helping him out. When he spoke, everyone was silent and paying attention. I was impressed. Often, to the untrained eye, Filipino Sacrament Meeting may seem like circuses. I spoke about the Holy Ghost and what we need to do to qualify for its companionship. I felt like that went well, too.
We had a few investigators at church, but not the one with dates. In fact almost all of our investigators have come to church now, but not consecutively. For instance, they'll come one week then miss the next; then only the kids will come, and then only the mother the next week. We are happy that people are coming to church, but it makes it impossible for them to be baptized! It's a rule here that they have to come four times in a row. Each time they miss, it starts over. We would have already had baptisms here if we didn't have this rule.
Last night we were on our way home, and it was a little early, and I had the impression to visit a family on the way. It was still way far from our house, and pretty soon there wouldn't be any more rides, so I was reluctant. We followed the impression and told the tric driver to stop. Elder Montecer and I had only visited this family a handful of times because they aren’t anywhere near the areas we were focusing on, so I didn't know them that well. They are pretty less=active by the way. So we took the chance to get to them. They just loved Elder Sefeti's mixed language. Right now he's using English sentence structure, but putting in any Kinaray-a word that he knows. They thought it was super funny.
We talked for a while, then asked if we could share a message with them. We went into their roadside stand and sat down on the dirty bamboo floor with them. One of the kids had just come home from college in Sibalom, and so the family was almost all present. We talked about the Sacrament and how it relates to repentance, baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We read the sacrament prayers, talked about their feelings when they were baptized, and how they would feel if they could take the sacrament. It was an awesome visit. Even Elder Sefeti did a great job sharing, though it was mostly English. We said a prayer, and after the prayer I didn't yet feel like we should leave. So, asked if we could sing for them. We sang "Be Still My Soul." It was good. After that, they fed us some soda and spaghetti. It was a great, uplifting visit, but we got finished late and there was hardly anything on the roads. I wasn't feeling up to walking all the way home, but we didn't have a choice. About a minute into our walk, we caught a ride with people in a random, beat-up pickup truck. They took us straight to our apartment.
We had some other just great lessons. We are teaching a recent convert’s daughter who is home for the summer from school. She’s a great investigator, and this last week we talked about Alma 32. We took it slow, but it was great. My favorite part of the lesson happened super randomly. I wanted to demonstrate how taking the first step of faith is hard, but then afterwards it gets easier. The thought came to me to show them an object lesson. I asked Elder Sefeti to stand up, and took my tie off and wrapped it around my eyes. Then I told them that I was going to fall backwards and Elder Sefeti was going to catch me. After we did that, we sat back down and talked about how I didn't really know that Elder Sefeti was behind me, but I trusted him to be there. Then I explained how if I did it again, it would be easier for me to because Elder Sefeti had already caught me once before.
The lesson actually drifted a bit because of some of the recent convert’s input, but it drifted into a great direction. We talked about how having temptation helps us build our faith, just like playing basketball against someone makes us a better basketball player.
One other great lesson was with Sister J and her family. We made sure we had a fellowshipper that matched up well for J before the lesson. We asked a Relief Society leader to join in the lesson. I was reluctant to ask because it was far for her to come, and it was only one lesson, but we asked her anyway and it was a great lesson. The fellowshipper had great input. We talked about the first part of the plan of salvation. The spirit was super strong. It was a completely free-form lesson. None of it was prepared, but it ran so smooth. We talked how our personalities are not just from our experiences on earth, but also from the time we spent with Heavenly Father before we were born. The kids really liked that idea.
She didn't come to church, though. Bummer.
We had interviews with President on Friday. It was a good experience. My interview with president went well. I was glad, because the only times I’ve really gotten to talk with him for the last couple months were when I was in trouble, i.e., out past curfew or having a messy apartment. Also Sister Pagaduan and I talked a bit. We mostly talked about culture shock, but then she out of the blue said "Elder Waggoner, do you remember when you told me you weren't sick. It turns out you were right." That made me feel like a billion pesos. I said it was no problem, and that she was just following protocol. That was about the extent of the conversation, though she did request I give back the remaining 5000 kilos of elephant pills they had prescribed me. I told her that it was no problem (seeing as there are no elephants in Bugasong.)
Elder Sefeti and I have been singing to investigators. He is also starting to teach a little. He can pray in Kinaray-a format, but still does it part English. Our language studies are going well. I hope I get to train again after him, but it's not too likely.
That's all the noteworthy things I remember from this week. Life is good. I love you all.