Monday, July 30, 2012

our trio is back to two

Monday, July 30, 2012
Molo, Iloilo City, Philippines

So this was another week. 

We’re back to just two of us again.  Elder Foshee was called to serve as the mission financial secretary.  Elder Foshee was not happy at all because he apparently sucks at math.  Elder Manwill and I get along great, so it's cool, but we both miss Elder Foshee.  So now it’s only the two of us, and that's weird because it's one of the biggest apartments in the mission.

This happened last Monday.  All day, President was trying to call us, but every time he called we were shopping or something.  Then when we called him, he was busy.  It wasn't until the evening that we finally got to talk to president.  He wanted to talk to Elder Foshee alone.  We were worried that Elder Foshee was getting sent home for a medical release because of his back.  So this news isn't quite that bad, but is still sad.  I felt like I'd been transferred to Sibunag all over again.  In three weeks, Elder Foshee had become like a lifelong friend.  I am sad to see him go, but if God needs him to count money and sit in a chair all day, I guess that's what he's got to do.

He had to pack right away.  A previous missionary here had, for a prank, changed the lock code on Elder Foshee’s suitcase.  There are 999 options for that.  I got to number 304 when it unlocked. 

District Meetings lesson was on the Doctrine of Christ.  Any lesson that you’ve heard over and over can get kind of lame, and we review that one a lot.  That’s even more the case in our district because most of the missionaries have been serving for a long time.  So, we put it into a different light.  We talked about what has to happen between the baptismal commitment and yes.  We practiced explaining what someone has to do to prepare for baptism.  It turned out to be pretty a nice district meeting. 

I think I've gotten the hang of things here.  Monday-Friday the elders in this district are too busy with mission business and sick missionaries to get stuff done in their area.  Then Saturday and Sunday they are so busy with sick missionaries that they only get a little work done. 

I had a baptismal interview in Arevalo.  The lady I interviewed was prepared, but had a problem with the Sabbath day.  Before I went into the interview Elder Nunez told me quickly that she had a problem in that she needs to work on the Sabbath to support a family.  He said they had already talked to the bishop of their ward about it.  The bishop said to go ahead and baptize her and the ward would help her to keep that commandment.  I went ahead and did the interview and of course it came up.  I didn't feel comfortable passing her like that, so I took the interview in a new direction.  I taught her about the Sabbath day and faith.  She committed to it, so I passed her.  She was super solid otherwise.  She got baptized last Saturday and the elders have promised to follow up on her commitment.  

I did splits with ZL Elder Light last Wednesday.  We did some good work.  We have both come pretty far since the MTC.  He is on this trip about not teaching anything other the extreme simplest doctrine.  We actually clashed a little bit in teaching, but got along great.  For instance I explained that the Book of Mormon was from the Americas and the Bible was from the Middle East.  I guess elder light thought that was unnecessary extra input.  On the other hand everyone remembers everything elder light says because he teaches the bare minimum. Like instead of saying what I said he'd just say "the Book of Mormon is not the Bible."  He seemed to want to teach a certain way.

Besides that, we got along great.  We talked about the good old times back on Guimaras and up in Aklan.  Man, he helped me through my time with some difficult people, and we both laughed about how some people were. We told some stories about things that happened between then and now too.  It was great to catch up with him.  He jokes around more than any other elder I know.  We talked about how crazy fast the mission is.  He tried to convince me to move to Montana and become a doctor.  We taught five lessons together, and even managed to get some Japanese food for lunch.  His area has the nice part of the city.  We taught well-to-do people.  It was crazy.  My area is the slums, but I actually prefer that.  Although in my area, you don't get fed as much as they do. 

One day this week we taught a less active man.  He's kind of old and had a stroke a while back.  He was the epitome of grumpy.  We offered to take him to church.  We would need to physically have to carry him up stairs and stuff.  He not only declined but added in a few words of his own.  He blamed his stroke on the missionaries in the past.  He said we are only faking our care for him, and if we arrived at the church we'd quickly ditch him, and that God understands his situation and doesn't expect him to go to church.  We tried to explain that yes, God understands, but he would be happy if you accepted our offer to come.  He was super grumpy, and we left his house having seen no success.

Our investigator Maria is doing great.  We enjoy teaching her the most.  We talked about following the prophet, praying always, and obedience this week.  Elder Bednar is coming in August to speak to all the single adults (and so a mission conference!!! YES!!! WAHHOOOOO!!) so we invited her to that.  She is stoked to go.  She didn't go to church because it was her little brother's first birthday and she had to stay and help out.  I don't know how great an excuse that is, but whatever.  American humor and Filipino humor are very different.  In America, this would just be stupid, but not here: We played around at the start of the lesson.  We started off it off by asking her why we had cried and cried earlier in the day.  We even pretended to cry.  They were dying of laughter.  After that, the lesson was great. 

I told you last week about our awesome referral.  We only got to meet with her once this week, but we had four ward missionaries there for it!  It was the coolest lesson ever.  Elder Manwill and I just conducted the lesson, and hardly taught.  It was sick.  We taught prophets through the start of the restoration, and left her with a cliff hanger and an assignment.  We gave her a Book of Mormon the first time we met with her, and apparently she brought it to school with her.  Cool.

It was a very rainy week - very rainy.  You can't use an umbrella here. It's too crowded.  We just get soaked. 

Saturday morning we cleaned the font.  It was disgusting.  Elder Manwill did most the work, and I was his "step and fetch it."  Elder Foshee, Loe and Vennard were there too.  We ended up getting it pretty clean.  One of Elder Foshee's folks got baptized and so did ours - Faye.  Most people showed up late, or didn't show up at all because of the rain.  (Remember pasmo.)  The baptism was good because she got baptized, but we were pretty disappointed with the ward.  No one from our bishopric showed up, and the members that did show up chatted through it.  One girl even answered her phone during one of the speakers.  I was quite upset, but of course didn't get on anybody about it.  Later that night we ran into the bishop, and he seemed quite embarrassed that no one had come. 

In church today, they nearly forgot to confirm her!  They were about to do the Sacrament when I got the attention of the bishop and did a hand signal for confirmation.  He tugged on the shirt of the 1st counselor and whispered in his ear. The 1st counselor said, in English "Oh that's right we have a confirmation . . . the confirmation of . . . of . . . of . . . Who again got baptized yesterday?"  I was feeling frustrated.  No wonder people here go inactive!  It wasn’t a good welcome to the ward.  We visited Faye and her aunt later in the day to do damage control.  I might ask to bishop to go over there and smooth things over. 

So that was the week.  We did a lot of finding because we have a lot of free time now.  We have found a few pretty promising people, so we'll see what happens.

Monday, July 23, 2012

this week took the cake and ate it, too

Monday, July 23, 2012
Molo, Iloilo City, Philippines

(Most names in this blog have been changed to protect privacy.)

This week was the quickest, most disappointing, hardest, craziest, most frustrating, most fun and adventurous week ever.  What a wild ride.  It's going to take a long time to type this, so I’ll just get started.

Happy Birthday, Leah!  Have a good one.  I guess you’re an adult now?  Is that right?  I bought you a present this week, but you'll have to wait until November. 

Remember how Elder Foshee got a companion?  Well, yeah, that was a quick trip.  He was fun to have around, and we liked him.  He thought we were crazy, and we are, but at least we are hard working.  It was kind of weird for him to be put into our apartment all the sudden.  The three of us get along really well, and do things like tackle each other and throw stuff at each other for fun.  He felt a little out of place at first, but we did our best to make him feel at home.  He was sick most of the time he was here, so last week and the first part of this week he and Elder Foshee got almost no work done.  Elder Ballad had to eat like 13 bananas a day for some sickness he had.  Tuesday, President did some interviews, and I guess Elder Ballad is going to go home to get better and give it a try again in a few months.  It's a medical release.  So, we are back to a threesome again.  Elder Ballad really liked Elder Foshee.

Monday night our Tag-iya (house owner) pranked us.  He had let Elder Manwill in on it, so we all knew it was coming when it happened.  We would not have gone along with it if we didn't know it was coming.  He invited us over to do some voodoo stuff.  He turned off the lights and lit a candle and we sat around a table and he had us pass around these plates.  Then we had to put our hands on our face and think about a question we wanted answered.  When he turned on the light, we all had black soot on our face from the plates.  He laughed and laughed and laughed.  We laughed too, but partially faked because we knew about it.  Elder Ballad didn't know what to think.  We added more and more black soot until we covered our entire faces with it.  I'll send a picture if I can find one.

I taught district meeting again.  It was on how to begin teaching.  I brought the guitar again for the hymns.  Most of the people in my district are office elders, and are maybe the most stressed elders in the mission.  We feel the spirit, but we have fun.  About halfway through the lesson, I showed them how not to do "how to begin teaching."  Elder Foshee pretended like a golden investigator and I acted like an unconfident bible study teacher.  It turned out pretty funny.  Later we practiced for real. 

After district meeting while I did interviews with the district, Elders Foshee and Ballad did interviews with president.  When I finished the interviews, I went over to them in the other room and found out Elder Ballad is going home.  We went out to eat.  We went to an Indian hole in the wall restaurant.  It may have been the best food I ever tasted.  We ate a lot and had a good time.  We are meeting Elders Galloway and Loe there in a while.  The food gave us some unusual bowel movements, but it was still very worth it.  The cook turned out to be a member from Oton.  I recognized her face.  It turns out I went with Elder Eror to Oton when he did her baptismal interview. 

On Wednesday we had interviews with President.  He thanked me for extending and said some other very nice things.  He said I was reliable and stuff.  He's never gotten so genuine with me before, but this time was different. 

On Thursday we went to the mission office yet again to do studies with some elders there.  With the office elders’ schedule, it's impossible to do regular splits with them.  So what I did was do studies with them in the morning, then after 4:00 do splits with them until 9:00.  While there at the mission office, we drew a picture in crayon of two missionaries on Boracay.  We then typed up a letter to president.  The letter went something like this:

"Dear President, We are sorry that we have to show you this.  We have learned that two missionaries went to Boracay last week.  Enclosed in the envelope is the proof.  The picture was taken by a member of our ward and he showed it to us.  You will probably recognize these two elders.  Sorry we had to show you this."

We put that letter in an envelope, and then put the crayon drawing in a smaller envelope and enclosed it with the letter.  We put the letter on his desk and left. 

I worked with Elder Advancula in his area.  It went well.  Elder Vennard worked with Elders Foshee and Manwill.

Friday night we taught a group of girls the law of chastity.  It was Maria, her member friend Holy Grace, and four of their friends.  We blew their mind.  It must have seemed crazy to hear a message like that from three good looking guys.  The culture here is not in line with the law of chastity.  Those girls are all ages 18-21, and have grown up in the harsh environment.  I love doing this work.  So many people here grow up in the slums, and don't have much going for them.  They then settle for what they can get.  I feel like as missionaries we are showing them a better way to live.  That lesson was fun, and we talked about it for quite a while afterwards.

On Tuesday night I sat at the end of Elder Foshee’s bed and sang him a forty minutes song.  I sang from about 10:15 until 10:55.  It was a song about everything I could remember that happened that day.  He was laughing, but said in the morning he really just wanted to kill me. 

I did an interview with someone in Elder Foshee’s area which is actually my own area too.  I called the AP's and asked them who should do it.  Since I had only taught the guy twice they said I should go ahead and do it.  He passed his interview.  His name is Bernardo. 

One member wanted us to teach her husband, who came home from Saudi Arabia this week.  He'll be here for about a month.  He apparently had been taught by missionaries in the past, but didn't like it because they asked too many questions.  She warned us that we needed not to ask him too many question or he'd get uncomfortable.  She wanted us to teach about Eternal Families and the Temple, which is her goal for them.  Man it was hard lesson.  We do half our teachings through asking questions.  It was so hard not to ask questions.  He came to church this week.  We honestly don't know what to do with him.  We don't know him that well.  Maybe we'll ask his wife questions.

We found out Maria has a word of wisdom problem.  We had to push back her baptismal date a month.  She quit her problem, though.  Just straight up quit.  How cool is that?  In fact, she missed church on Sunday because she was having a terrible headache.  It was the effect of withdrawals.  She’s awesome.  We gave her blessing that she can resist it and she has.  We taught the Word of Wisdom, and then knew what she had to do.  It's way cool.  She knows that the church is true so she accepts whatever we teach hands down.  It's ok because we only teach the truth.

We cleaned the apartment on Friday morning.  If you can get in touch with the parents of Elder Gunnel and Elder Chandler, please tell them to give their sons spankings.  We had do dispose of so much junk they left.  We also had to clean up all the banana peels that elder Ballad had left around.

We woke up on Saturday morning with a text from president.  He wanted to meet with us in his office at 9:00 a.m.  We went, and he invited Elder Foshee in first.  We figured it was about the letter we left him, but then Elder Foshee was in there for a long time!  We were starting to wonder if Elder Foshee was in trouble.  Then he called us in.  President started interrogating us, asking things like "Whose idea was this?"  "Did you give you consent?"  "Did you think it was going to be funny?"  "Do you think I don't already have enough stress as mission president?"  “What was the purpose of this?"  He really dug into us. Then he said he was just joking, and wanted to scare us the way we scared him.  He joked around with us.  He called us terrible artists and stuff like that.  He then talked to us about the area.  We are in a pretty rough situation.  He wanted to know if we had any solutions, and how we were handling it.  

He then joked us with us some more.  Last week he saw us working with three sisters.  We aren't supposed to walk around with sisters unless there are three of them, and I knew the rule.  He said that we broke the rule last week when he saw us.  I told him that we hadn't.  He said they weren't three, and I said there were.  He said no, there were only two and a half.  We just about died laughing - one of the girls working with us was a midget. 

We got a sweet referral this week.  We had it all set up to teach her at the church with the guy who gave the referral.  No one had a key to the church, so we ended up teaching on the church grounds.  There are four benches surrounding a tree.  You can't see the people sitting across from you because of the tree, so it was a little awkward at times.  It still went well, though.  The referral’s name is Nikki, she's a girl.  She decided from reading that bible that catholic church has incorrect practices.  She doesn't like some things about other religions and is searching for the truth.  She’s sweet, but she brought her friend, Katrina, too.  Katrina was all dressed up for meeting us.  She just checked us out during the entire lesson.  She asked questions such as "Do you have a Facebook?"  "Do you have girlfriends?"  She called me cute, so yeah, not so fun.  So Nikki is a great new investigator, but the lesson was super awkward.

We had correlation Saturday night.  All the ward missionaries were there, and they talked through the whole thing.  They didn't even listen when we talked about how the work is going.  Literally nothing good came out of it.  When it ended, they left the room within five seconds of Amen.  We five missionaries (Elder Galloway, Loe, Manwill, Foshee, and myself) were left sitting there in a daze.  We talked and decided to get the "we miss you letters" up and running on our own. 

The next day we had Wilma (the unofficial bishop of our ward) go around and get people to sign the card.  Then the bishop had the ward go outside after church to be photographed.  I was the photographer.  There were so many people that I couldn't get them in the photo.  I had to go on the other side of the fence.  Even then I couldn't get everyone.  A jeep was parked the street, waiting to pick up all of the members.  So, I ran off and stood on top of it to take the picture.  I had him start backing up while I was standing on it so I could get a better shot.  Some members freaked out about that.  The picture turned out well.

Apparently in Elder Foshee's correlation meeting, he brought up doing that in his ward.  He discussed how to do it.  Some lady in the meeting talked about how crazy I am.  I guess city folk aren't used to people being on top of jeeps.  He told them that it was ok, and that I was a cowboy back home.  Then all the people there were just like "Okay, that makes sense, okay, that's fine."  Once he said that I was a cowboy, they just flat out accepted it. 

We will have a baptism this Saturday, which is Elder Manwill's first.  He will baptize Faye, the 14-year-old niece of an active member.  She is super-prepared.  We've been teaching her every day for this last week, prepping her.  She's super smart.

The ward missionaries were frustrating this week.  Every time we had someone set up to work with us, they cancelled.  Every single time this week!  We didn't have one of them work with us all week.  That was why this week was so frustrating. When someone does not call nor show up, it wastes our time waiting for them, and then we have to figure how to do both days’ plans in one.  We were a threesome for most of the week, and that kind of hurt the work.  We still got the important stuff done.  We're doing pretty well despite the situation. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

change of plans

Monday, July 16, 2012
Molo, Iloilo City, Philipppines

Here’s some news: I'm coming home in November.  Since the day that I chose October, I never really felt at peace.  (Due to a shift in transfer schedules, all missionaries in Elder Waggoner’s group were asked to choose between coming home two weeks earlier or four weeks later.)  I thought and prayed about it.  It was a difficult decision, but I think it's the better of the two.  I think I will do more good here.  The mission’s more senior missionaries are all leaving, and I'm one of the most senior now - there is a huge gap between my batch and the next substantial batch.  I could probably train again, plus I'm enjoying the work.

I had prayed a ton about it, and didn't seem to get an answer, so I went with choice means “more banjo” - that’s usually pretty sound logic.  But then I wondered if I was even willing to go home in November, so I asked the mission secretary to show me the roster of who's going home each month.  I switched my name to November.  I was going to pray about it that night, to be sure I was willing to going home in November.  To tell you the truth, that night I was just too tired to give it a good prayer.  It turns out that it didn't matter anyway, because when I checked up again with the mission secretary, he had already sent out the itinerary for the missionaries departing in October.  I guess I missed that train!  I feel good about November anyway.  A big thing was I wanted to see Kentucky in October, but I'll get that next year.  Don't tell me I didn't learn patience on my mission.  I just put off Kentucky, the banjo, and girls for another six weeks. 

We have this great investigator named Maria.  This week at the end of our lesson, see mentioned something about waiting for another sign.  It spent me head spinning.  We feel the spirit every lesson!  Why does she need another sign?  I started by asking what she meant.  She said she had two signs now, and wanted one more.  What?!  We talked about Alma 32, and told that her belief isn't going to be an answer to a “yes or no” question, but a “I believed it that much, and now I believe this much” sort of thing.  Then we talked in verse 28 about how the seed grows.  She said she felt that.  I asked her if that's the Holy Spirit.  She said “yeah.”  Then we read Moroni 10:5.  We didn't even use verses 17 and18 in Alma 32.  She got it before then.  She said that she didn't need a sign, she already knew.  I've used the scriptures to solve concerns before, but that was the best instance ever.  It was a blast.

Friday morning we got a call from President.  He wanted to meet Elder Foshee in his office at 10:30 am.  After the call, we were all stressing about it.  Once president called someone else who also had health problems, and he sent him home.  We were afraid that was going to happen to Elder Foshee.  We also wondered if Elder Foshee’s grandmother had died, or something like that.  On our way there, we basically interrogated Elder Foshee.  He hadn't done anything wrong that we knew of. 

So turned out that Elder Gregerson is out of commission, and his trainee is struggling.  So, his trainee has joined us, and we are no longer working in a threesome.  It's just Elder Manwill and I now.  If Elder Gregerson gets sent home, then it's permanent.  If he gets better, then we will be a threesome again. 

We played soccer this morning.  I accidently slide tackled Elder Manwill.  Both our shins hurt.  The field was wet.

We had a really fun FHE last Monday.  It was with a really cool active family here in Molo.  They were supposed to invite some investigators over, but they didn't do it.  That was a bummer, but we still had fun.  It's always super fun to talk about faith being something not seen for FHEs.  We had one of the girls fall backwards with a blindfold on after spinning around.  They don't know that someone is behind them.  It was super funny getting this girl to fall.  We decided that she didn't have much faith!  She tried to feel behind her to see if someone was there, but the older brother moved out of the way.  After waiting for two minutes, she finally kind of fell.  The family had a good time laughing with her.  I brought the guitar too.  We sang a few hymns.

Elders Foshee, Manwill, Waggoner, & Galloway

We seem to have this tradition where after church Elders Galloway, Loe, Manwill and I go to the mission office and cook a good lunch.  It's like our family.  It's nice and relaxing and fun to cook together.  I rarely take much time to cook a good meal, so it's nice.  

I gave a blessing to a pregnant lady in Elder Foshee's area the other day. Sundance and Lefty elected me to do it so that the girl could understand it.

I taught my first district meeting as district meeting last Tuesday.  I have a district as big a Guimaras Zone.  We talked about extending invitations, have people committing and the following up.  I focused on inviting someone want to say “yes” rather than forcing them.  It's been a real problem in the mission.  You can get anybody to say yes to anything here, but that doesn't mean they are going to do it and it's no use.  I also brought my guitar and played it for the opening and closing hymn.  We had a ton of class participation. 

We had two days of leadership training.  I love Elder Galloway and Elder Lado, but they were pretty boring.  I believe the stuff we learned could have been learned in two hours.  Instead, it took two days.  It was more like they wanted to make sure to fill up the whole time than say something worthwhile.  We did get good food though and it was sweet to catch up with some folks.  We had a ton of fun despite it being boring.  One of the trainings was practicing filling out a progress records.  Elder Light and I filled it out with star wars characters.  Then ours was chosen to be used as an example.  When Elder Lado read it to everyone all the Americans were dying laughing, the Filipinos didn't get it. 

At one point president was talking about how homosexuality is against the commandments. There is a lot of it here. I don't think he was trying to be funny.  He said "what are people confused about, what makes a boy a boy?"  No one said anything, but Elder Lowry chuckled, and everyone looked at him.

Elders Waggoner, Faran, and Lowry
After the training on Wednesday I worked with Elder Workman.  It had been a long time.  He and Elder Lowry got assigned to us three.  Elder Manwill and I took Elder Workman so that Elder Lowry could work in his old area with Elder Foshee.

Yesterday we had three single adult girls work with us.  I invited one to meet us at an appointment.  She and one more girl showed up.  After the appointment they came along again, and they invited yet another one that I didn't know about.  I wasn't about to bring five people to an investigator's house, so I sent them off the go visit some less actives that needed fellowship.  I didn't do it in a rude way - I explained how the less- actives needed fellowship, and not that it was insane for five people to go to one person’s house. 

We had an amazing week for work.  We are having success.

I gave a talk in church yesterday about reverence.  I asked the bishop last week if I could because this ward needs it.  He said I could and asked how much time I would need.  I said 4-5 minutes.  When I get to church, he asked me to speak for ten, and I said that was fine.  Then another speaker, a high priest, didn’t show, so they asked me to speak for 20.  It was good talk.  I read 3 Nephi 11 when they hear the voice and then the role of the Holy Ghost.  I shared some stories, too, and kept the people's attention.  Sometimes it seems that all Filipinos have ADHD, so that's pretty impressive.  Some folks told me they liked my talk.  I think that liked my topic.

Hey when I get home, I want to read the Dead Sea scrolls.  I might sit up in the front room and do that in December. 

Love you guys!

Monday, July 9, 2012

high speed chase, July 4, brush with First Presidency

Monday, July 9, 2012
Molo, Iloilo City, Philippines

(Most names in this blog have been changed to protect privacy.  The editor’s comments are in this italicized, purple text.)

This was the single fastest week of my mission.  Some things have been hectic.  We just keep going and make the best of each situation. 

Elders Waggoner, Manwill, Foshee
For instance, Elder Foshee has back problems, and now he's stuck in that endless cycle of doctor visits that can happen to a missionary here.  Sister Pagaduan insists.  Friday at 1 pm he had an appointment.  We went by jeep (taxi) to the mission home to get Elder Foshee's records.  After arriving and walking across the parking lot, I realized that I left my scriptures on the jeep.  I told Elders Manwill and Foshee that had to get them.   We ran back to the road and tried to flag down a taxi.  After four minutes, we got one.  

Our "Chase" Driver
Please remember: when something is lost in this country, it's gone (except for those sheep who wandered off.)  We told the taxi driver to go fast and what we needed to do.  He knew the routes the jeeps take.  We didn't remember what the driver looks like, and only remember that the jeep is a silver color - about half the jeeps here are silver!  Elder Manwill remembered that that the money case (where the driver puts the coins) was a certain color.  That was a start, and we were zooming.  We slowed down by silver jeeps and rushed around other colored ones.  We accidently motioned for the wrong jeep to pull over.  We never explained to the driver of that jeep what was up.  We just got back in the taxi and went off.  It was such a rush. That jeep had gotten at least four minutes ahead of us.  We got all the way Oton (about seven miles, and twenty minutes.)  We pulled into the jeep terminal, jumped out, and ran over to a jeep that just pulled in.  While running over towards the driver of that jeep, I asked "Nagsakay kami sa imo diba?"  (We rode with you, right?)  He denied.  "No you didn't."  He probably thought he was in trouble.  I was about to turn back and get in the taxi when our current driver said "They're just looking for something."  The previous driver said something like "Oh, you mean this" and pointed to the inside of the jeep.  There were my scriptures, in the leather scripture case from Jerusalem.  We got them back.

At the doctor’s appointment later, I practiced the language with Elder Manwill.  We have been writing down things he says wrong and we go over how to say them later.  I've been writing full sentences, and then he tells me them.  I wasn't so sure about how to say one of the sentences, so we asked the lady next to us.  It turns out she lived in England for 26 years and speaks better English than we do.  She is native to here, though.  She helped us.  Then I had an evil idea. There was a sentence I had written down that says, in English, "Give that to me or I'll kill you."  Remember, there are people all around us in this waiting room.  She taught us how to say it, and we died laughing.  The people around us were just confused!  Eventually, they all laughed about it. 

Elder Foshee had two doctor’s appointments this week.  They were quick.  Sister Pagaduan came with us for one of them, on Tuesday, and she and I discussed something that happened earlier that morning.

We had Zone Meeting, and the ZL's wanted to have fun with a role play.  They wanted us to do badly, so they pulled aside the most experienced missionaries (that's me now) and told us to teach the Book of Mormon super badly.  Game On!  I wasn't too shy about teaching poorly until Sister Pagaduan joined my group.  Man, I was horrible.  I talked about the urim and thummim, and then we went through the picture book of mine, and I showed the sister I was teaching, and Sister Pagaduan, all the bow and swords.  I said stuff like "through reading the Book of Mormon, you will learn about hunting and boat building."  I used a strange analogy, an extremely confusing scripture, didn't check for understanding, and kept a straight face the entire time.  Man, I left those two confused!  Sister Pagaduan asked what the context of our practice was!

Later that day, at the doctor’s appointment, she confessed that she was concerned about me before she learned that we were messing up on purpose.  “I thought Elder Waggoner was a good teacher!  He has always done so well when he trains.  Why is he talking about hunting?  Is this the way he teaches less-actives?!”  That was funny.

During the zone meeting, President Pagaduan clarified some things.  I am the senior of two areas, and I don't need to focus on one over the other.  After this transfer, though, I will only be in Molo 2b.  We have three with baptismal dates in this area.  All three accepted in the past week.

We had one girl who has the most true desire to know. She's 18 and is friends with a member.  Her member friend is way cool.  Most young adult members here are super bubbly and kind of peppy, and in my opinion don't get the big picture; this girl is kind of rough around the edges but has a strong testimony.  When she goes to church she doesn't socialize too much with others, but that's nice because that means she listens.  I believe this investigator got her true desire partly from her member friend.  We have not been pushing this girl, Maria, to baptism at all.  Every visit, she says she’s getting closer to making a decision.  She's been reading a ton.  When we visit her, the first 20 minutes are her telling us what she learned from her studies.  We just clarify, add a bit, give a commitment, bear testimony, and leave another assignment.  It's sweet.  We gave Maria a baptismal date this week. She said yes. 

We had investigator who was very tired when we showed up for his discussion.  He had stayed up all night, could hardly stay awake, but he wanted to listen to us.  We did the Macarena a few times until he was more awake.  After that, it was good lesson.  I've never done that before, but it was really effective.

I did my first baptismal interview.  I interviewed a girl named Carmen.  She passed.  At one point I felt that I should re-ask a question in a different way.  When I did, I got an entirely different answer.  That was cool that the spirit was there.

Homemade U.S. Flag
We celebrated Independence Day on the Fourth of July by drinking root beer and toasting all the things we missed about the U.S.A.  We did the Pledge of Allegiance to a mini-US flag sticker that Sarah gave me in an "Abraham Lincoln Sticker Book."  Actually, she gave it to Elder Doig, but gave it to me before we left the MTC.  We then sang the three patriotic hymns at the back of the hymn book as loud as we could. 

After studies, we went out for pizza and drew an U.S. flag on the back of a piece of paper.  We had it pinned there between the wall and the salt shaker while we ate.  The three of us downed 3 pizzas.  Good Independence Day!

So yeah, it was a great week.  We have a lot to do.  I'm going to get my hair cut by a sketchy, less active guy in a while.  Pray for me.

A while ago, I wrote a 250-word story about the work Elder Matthews and I did with some less-actives.  President apparently loved it, put it in the mission newsletter, and forwarded it to the Area Presidency.  Little did I know, but the Area Presidency loved it too, and when they gave a report on the less-active work in the Philippines to the First Presidency, they read my story.

I didn’t know about it, but President Pagaduan told everyone about it at a transfer meeting, and Elder Gallaway repeated the story to me.  The strategy that we are using with less-actives is now being considered in Chile and other places.