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.

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