Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Bugasong, Panay Island, Philippines
Last week, I went to leadership training. The trip itself was wild. We left Bugasong about noon thirty, and got to San Jose a little past two p.m. Man, it was so difficult to get a ride, but we eventually did on a rickety ceres bus. Once in San Jose, I got off, and Elder Sefeti and I went to get Elder Quinantoto. We picked him, I handed Elder Sefeti off to Elder Dalu (who had just come from Iloilo because Elder Gregerson is sick) and then we got on the road. We hitched a ride with the same rickety bus that I rode from Bugasong. I got a window seat next to a lady with kids – who were all sick and throwing up. I helped her out. She had one of her kids lean over onto some boxes in the isle because the kid was so sick. The driver kept on getting ticked at the lady because every time he made a turn the kid scooted closer to him. He was afraid she would mess with the stick shift. I told the driver that I'd take care of it. I did for about an hour. The lady was really thankful for the help. She couldn't manage alone. After that hour, we were near the Antique-Iloilo border, and the bus started having trouble. Something went wrong with the brakes. Just after New Gumawan, the driver decided to abandon ship. I agreed because the next thirty minutes of that road are all downhill and curvy mountain roads. Not a good thing to do without breaks.
We walked back towards antique about a half mile so that when the next bus came by we could hop on it. About twenty minutes later we were back on our way to Iloilo. It was so cool to go through San Joaquin again. Man, I miss that place.
Once in Iloilo, Elder Quinantoto and I headed for SM Mall. I had to find marbles for the training I was going to give. We ran around until we found them. We finally did in a book store. I also bought a new tie. It's brown, just like the rest of the ties I usually wear. It was so weird to be in a mall. SM feels like the U.S. It's weird, after being in the bukid for so long, I barely knew how to walk around naturally. Also, I'm such a sissy now - I freeze in air conditioning.
In the evening, we crashed in the Molo apartment. That place was loaded with some of my best pals in the mission. We talked until really late. I got to catch up with Elders Galloway and Thayne, and Elder Lowry was there, too. There were some others that I really enjoy, like Elder Chandler and Gunnel. I played “Gospel Train." We even got Elder Chandler playing some harmonica on it. Elder Galloway and I made some after-mission plans. He's a wild man – he’s won wilderness survival competitions, and is a folk music genius.
I feel like I went on my mission at the right time. I've gotten to meet some way cool people - some folks I feel I'm going to be life friends with.
The next day at training, I was the first to go. I was glad to get it over with. It went well. A lot of folks said they enjoyed it, and that it was fun. I had made a fake "check you progress" chart on a regular piece of paper, and had hand written it. Then I drew the church emblem down at the bottom, in terrible handwriting. It was funny. the "check your progress" was about the 12 week program. We talked about how the 12 week program sets out the missionary skills and stuff in a "line upon line" way. I included an object lesson. I had a cup full of marbles and an empty cup. The full cup represented a mature, experienced, knowledgeable missionary, and the empty cup represented the trainee. The marble were knowledge. Then I had a funnel, and when I dumped all the marbles in the funnel, it got clogged. We talked about that method of training. Then we tried putting in the marbles one by one, and talked about that method of training. I made a few jokes, but was mostly serious. (Since President doesn’t speak Illongo, most of the jokes went over his head - they were mostly jokes about making mistakes in that language.)
After my training, we took a ten minute break. President came and put his arm around me, and told me that if I wanted to work at the MTC in Provo that he'd recommend me. That was pretty cool.
Later that afternoon, I worked with the Elder Anderson, one of the AP’s. We worked in a crowded part of the city. It was nuts - just thin alleyway after thin alleyway. I was so lost. We taught four lessons, and it was fun. The work in the city is so fast paced. It's not like in the bukid, where you walk twenty minutes to your next appointment. And in the city, if your investigator isn't there, you can just come back in an hour! I actually wouldn't mind being called to the city.
I lost my voice later that night. God was punishing me for staying up too late. It's still gone.
Sister Pagaduan gave a fun training session about health. It was almost like she was teaching kids. She taught us about blowing our noses, washing our hands, taking showers, etc. She even included some voodoo Filipino health things, such as “if you are hot, don't drink cold water or you will get a sore throat.” And “if you are sweating, don't go shower immediately or you will get a cold.” She gave us candy for participating, so we all did. I got some gummies.
Elder Montecer was also at the training. They called on the two of us to demonstrate a teaching skill together. We did well. (Another Elder accused us of cheating because we had been companions before.) Man, I miss that guy. He seems to be doing well.
Church was a struggle. The branch president and first counselor didn’t come, so our shy second counselor had to do it. I helped him out where I could. We didn't have a key to the branch president's office, and the sacrament trays and cups were in there, so I used a bamboo stick through the window to unlock to door. That way we could at least have sacrament. It was a hot day, and things were disorganized. Good thing it was fast Sunday or we wouldn't have had speakers!
I taught the gospel principles class about baptism. We had a lot of fun with it. My voice is shot, so I had every one scoot in. We had a great discussion, and I came up with a few object lessons on the spot. For instance, we were talking about our sins being lost at baptism. I had Elder Dalu stand up. I handed him one hymn book after another until his arms were full. It was pretty heavy for him. We asked him how he felt. We took our time about it. The whole time, he was struggling to hold the hymn books up. Then we took the hymn books away, and asked him how he felt. There were some other things we did, too. Nine investigators attended, six from our area, and three from other elders’. Unfortunately, two of ours slipped out before Sacrament Meeting! Lame! I didn't see em' slip out.
On Saturday night, we taught Sister J and family. We had been teaching lesson two about resurrection, but I decided we needed to stop that and switch gears. I realized we hadn't talked about eternal families before, even though Sister J’s husband had passed away. We talked about it, and the spirit was there. It was such a cool experience. We talked about how 80 years isn't near enough time to be with our loved ones. It went well.
We went back to a former investigator this week. We taught her back when Elder Montecer and I were just tracting all day. Anyway, during the time since we had last seen her, she got an infection in her hand and had it cut off. She's pretty angry at God about it. I don't blame her, really. We had an interesting lesson with her. We didn't teach too much, but mostly just let her talk to us. I don't know what to teach the upcoming visit. I'll probably figure that out in my personal study tomorrow.
Yesterday we went by the radio station here in Bugasong. We got the go ahead from President at training to sing and introduce ourselves to Bugasong on the radio. We’re in the process of setting it up. Right now, it's in the AP's hands, but it's likely that it will happen. We’re just trying to get them to do it as a public service instead of paying for air time.
Life is good. No worries. I go on splits with Elder Lowry tomorrow. I'm excited about that. We're working hard. Success is so close that we’re bound to have some, but it's still just flirting with us at this point. We've had a ton of folks come to church lately, but not on consecutive weeks! That makes it impossible to have a baptism.