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. 

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