Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014. I MADE IT TO ILOILO!!

Hi Mom, Dad and Hayley! Time is short, so I’ll just get right to it filling you in on the details of the past 10 days. What an adventure it’s been!
The flights over from the U.S. were not all that fun to be honest. They were horribly long, and I only got about 20 min of sleep the entire 15 hours of flight.  I had that bad cough I brought with me from the MTC, so all-in-all it was pretty miserable. But that's all in the past now! I was so amazed with Japan and seeing all of the different things I have never seen before! The flight from Tokyo to Manila was the worst! It felt like it took forever. I was bummed I didn’t get to fill you in with too many details while I was at the Manila MTC the first 5 days. They only let us on the computers for a tiny amount of time. I didn’t like the city at all. It was super-hot and there is a ton of pollution in the air.  And the traffic is insane! That was the first thing I noticed when we got out of the airport on to a bus was that the traffic was insane haha. We stayed in a really nice hotel in Manila which was great and it had everything a hotel in USA would have. The food is kind of difficult for me to get used to because we have dinner for all three meals. Tons of rice! But I only eat a little bit with each meal. The first day we were there we went proselyting with missionaries in the city and we were all so nervous! It ended up being the best thing we had experienced so far! The culture is so amazing and I was blown away at all of the craziness that was going on. Riding in cars through the city is the scariest thing at first because people are all over the road and there are motorcycles diving in and out of traffic. It’s absolutely crazy!
Last Wednesday we got up at 330AM and headed to the airport to finally head to Iloilo! We were all so excited. It was a quick flight and so nice to get out of the gigantic city. It was really cool to see all of the islands and clouds below us. When we got to Iloilo the plane landed and we walked into the airport, got our luggage and walked outside where there were missionaries with a welcome sign and Pres. Aquino shaking everyone’s hand. He was so much smaller than I had imagined! Super nice guy and he’s funny too! We loaded into some vans and I was so relieved because they had A/C in the vans and I just soaked up the cool as much as I could. All you do in the sun is sweat..... It is super-hot, but in Iloilo it feels A little cooler and I’m starting to get used to it now.
We got to the mission home which is a church and it’s pretty nice. President Aquino and a few other people talked to us and we ate lunch. I met Elder Sessions and he is really nice! I told him you read his blog, so that was really cool that he mentioned me in his blog and told you I was fine. What a nice guy!  After lunch, we got to go out proselyting again. I went with a guy named Elder Lazaro who is a native and an incredible missionary. It was fun to throw in what I knew to what he was teaching and the people are really nice so they understand how I can’t understand everything they are saying. I also had to place a Book of Mormon all by myself and I gave it to some guy who said he was catholic but I told him it was about Jesus and he smiled and said all-righty I'll take it! It was cool but I was so dang nervous.
When night came we slept in this hotel that was really sketchy looking but I was super tired so I did not care. I was dying in my sweat and filth and turns out there was no running water so I couldn’t shower. AAG! I felt disgusting but I was so tired it didn't matter, I was still able to sleep. The next morning we did studies, and then finally we were told who our new companions would be and what area we were going to! My companion is Elder Fogavai from Samoa who is a super cool guy. He is really nice and he’s always laughing and smiling. I got assigned to Buena Vista on the island of Guimaras (pronounced Gima’ras) off the coast of Iloilo. We took a boat to the Island which was so crazy at first. We walked across these skinny planks to get on the boat. People load their motorcycles on the boat going across the planks. It was funny to watch and I thought for sure the bikes would fall into the water, but they didn’t. I have a picture of it I’ll try and send you. Everything crazy that happens here is just a normal part of life I am discovering! haha
We got to the island and two Elders named Walmer and Banang greeted us. We piled onto a tricycle (all four of us with our luggage) and headed up to the house. People were laughing and staring at us because it looked ridiculous and of course it was. The house was better than I thought it would be. It has heated water and lots of fans and the beds aren’t too bad. Elders Walmer and Banang are really cool and it’s nice to have another American Elder in the same room so I don’t feel completely alone culture wise. We got to relax for a little while then went on splits with the experienced Elders to figure out the area. Once again, I couldn’t say too much but it was still fun. I was feeling really culture shocked the first few days.  I’ve just missed home and my family but I’m really getting used to it and I feel great right now! I am learning so much and being humbled so much! The last few days haven’t been too rough.
The hardest thing for me right now is figuring out what to eat. My companion is an incredible cook so that helps. We went to the market a few times but I just HATE that place it is so disgusting haha!! Meat is just sitting out and the whole place smells like rotting food.  It’s just a horrible miserable place (sorry to be negative).  I told my comp I hated going there haha he said I'll get used to it :) Luckily, there is a little store that is really clean and nice and it reminded me of home. I bought some stuff (toilet paper-no one seems to like toilet paper they just use their hand!!) I will never do that! As long as I have toilet paper and I should! :) I really am getting more and more used to this place though and teaching really is fun. It’s sometimes hard to teach because there is always loud music playing which makes is difficult. Lots and lots of noise in the Philippines! But there are really nice members who make me feel very comfortable and that helps a lot!
Thanks for all your emails and for sending pictures. The fence looks incredible that will be so nice! That place is going to be a completely different world when I get home! I am seeing our home as heaven. We are so spoiled in the US. This country is really different, but all of the people are nice and you can literally walk up to anyone you want and talk to them and they will talk to you like a friend.  Everthing is found out through talking to people like finding places and figuring things out. My companion is really great. I feel like he’s Dad, which is funny because trainers are called Tatay which means dad. He is teaching me tons and it is great! I get called "cano" and "joe" a lot and lots of people stare at me since I’m tall, light skinned and blonde, but it’s no big deal. As soon as I learn the language I will speak and blend in more and won’t look like such a greenie!
I have really missed you Mom and Dad and Hayley, so much! I hope you know that!!! I love you so much!! I hope you’re doing great and I really hope you don’t worry about me because I’m doing great! As long as I know you are ok I will always be happy!!! Missionary work is super hard I have figured out, but Pres. Aquino told us to replace the word “hard” with “challenging”. So that’s what I’m trying to do.  As soon as a few weeks go by I’ll be so much more comfortable. Even just in the last few days it has made a huge difference. I love you lots and pray for you every day. Love, Elder Michael

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17, 2014 Last Day at the MTC

Michael's District

Hi Mom, Dad and Hayley ~ We have a mini "P" day today and they are allowing us to email and do laundry and work on getting our packing done. Thanks Mom, as always, for your Dear Elder you sent  me this week.  It was full of good information--it's fun reading all the details of everything happening at home:) I think that is so awesome that Hayley got on the USU Equestrian Team! I'll bet she is ecstatic

Yesterday was really good day. We had Elder Scott from the quorum of the twelve talk at the Tuesday night devotional! We were all worried we were going to go all six weeks at the MTC without seeing one of the apostles speak. He had a great talk too! 

This week has seemed kind of slow because I've been sick since last Saturday. There is an awful head cold going around so everyone is sick!! I've been sick twice since I've been here so that is another reason I am excited to get out of here.

I'm not sure how it's going to work out with being able to call you from the airport.  I hope I'm able to find a phone and there will be enough that I won't have to hurray our conversation for the other missionaries waiting in line behind me. I should have plenty of time to cal though, because I think we'll be at the airport for like 3 hours. I'll call your cell phone and my best guess would be between 8:30-9:30.  But it could be later/earlier. Surprisingly I'm not nervous to go!  My only worry is teaching for the first time and not being able to understand anything haha.

They haven't given us any information on our flight from Manila to Iloilo. Our itinerary just ends once we arrive in Manila, so I'm guessing they will give us the rest of our itinerary once we are there.  I think we are staying at the Manila MTC for a day, and we'll get to go to the temple and get filled in on everything.  It's a little annoying not having all the information ahead of time, but I'm not too worried about it because I know we will be taken care of whatever happens.
Talk to you tomorrow!!

Love, Michael 

Monday, September 15, 2014

09/12/2014 - The Start of Michael's Final week in the MTC!!

Hi Mom, Dad and Hayley! It has been really good weather lately to work in and I'm trying to soak it up as much as I can before I head to the wet heat in 6 days! 

This week was kind of a stressful one, but it went by quick, as usual. Yesterday we did our in field training which went all day from 8 to 5:30. They taught us how to work with members and how to make goals and things like that. It was a long day haha.. We also got to skype again with a guy in Bacolod, Philippines, which was pretty cool! He was really nice to us and told our teacher afterwards that we did a good job!

We got our flight plans last Friday! The plane is leaving Salt Lake around 11:20 Thursday morning and we head to Tokyo from there. Then from Tokyo to Manilla. I sent a letter in the mail that has a copy of the paper I got so you can see the details. I'm so looking forward to talking with you on the phone--I just hope I'm able to get to a pay phone and I don't have any trouble. A few of the Elders have disposable cell phones with them just for calling from the airport. I know we talked about that before I left, but I can't remember what we decided to do about that. Let me know what you want me to do ok?It will be so nice to make some changes next week!! I just can't wait to get going!

Sorry this is short - the weeks are all the same here, so I don't have much to report. I'm hoping that they will let us access our email Wednesday before we leave so I can check in one more time before we head out. 

Thanks for sending the pictures of the fence Mom & Dad - I can't wait to see it when it is done and I can't wait to talk to you on Thursday!

Love you! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 5, 2015 - One Month Down!

We received an email and 2 snail mail letters from Michael this week (he makes his Mama so happy), so I will condense them all into this one post. 

Hey Dad And Mom!

This week went by so fast! The only time that seems slow is when we have extra study time. It always seems to take forever and I get stressed because I still don't feel like I've found a very effective way to study yet. But all-in-all it's going well. 

Looks like your trip was a lot of fun! Yosemite does look really cool, but I think you're right--Zions is more impressive. But no where is better than Utah! (we may be a little biased!) I'm glad you were able to make it home safely and that you are out riding your motorcycles.  Every-now-and-again when I'm outside someone will roll by on a bike and it makes me miss it. :/ BTW; Thanks for taking care of my bike and my truck. It makes me sad that I can't baby them for awhile!

I got Mom's Dear Elder a few days ago- thank you for sending that! It's so nice to be able to stay in the loop with what is happening. I also got one from Hayley which is cool!  I forgot to bring the letter you sent with me to the computer so I could comment on your trip, and I cant really remember a whole lot of what it said. haha! Sorry...There is just so much information getting crammed into my head each week! It's nice though and I'm learning so many good things like I have said before!
I'll try and answer the questions you've asked. I've tried filling you in with everything, but I know you like details, so here goes:
  • There are 8 Elders (including me) in my District: Me, Elder Adams, Elder Kellershass, Elder Seeds, Elder Cuillard, Elder Wardle, Elder Orr and Elder Blamires. There are 4 other Elders going to Iloilo - Elder Chapman, Elder Robertson, Elder Staples and Elder Mudrow--but they are not in my district. We do not have any Sister missionaries going to Iloilo, but there are 4 in our Branch going to Bacolod.
  • The rooms are pretty comfortable here at the MTC. We are in a nice remodled building. Some of the other buildings have not been remolded yet, and are kind of old and 70's'ish looking, so I feel pretty lucky I got one of the new ones.  Plus most have 6 elders to a room and we only have 4--lucky again! ;) I take my showers at night still, which works out good since most everyone else takes there in the morning. We all have I.D. cards that are like a debit card to use at the MTC to buy stuff at the bookstore, the vending machines, etc. They put $6 a week on it, but I only use it to buy stamps and stuff.  The Bookstore is pretty cool. They pretty much have everything a missionary would need...letters, paper, pens, notebooks, journals, food, laundry stuff, soap, medications. They also have a barber shop (free haircuts), print shop, dry cleaning, and post office. I was really surprised how much stuff they have here! It's like a small city.
  • Sundays are the best days. They are easy days since we don't have as much studying on those days, but there are a few meetings that I have to try not to fall asleep in..haha. 

This week we got to help with the new missionaries again. My district did traffic control so we told all of the families where to park and where to go. It was pretty fun! I put sunscreen everywhere but the top of my forehead so I got a weird looking burn--it was kinda funny but still helping with incoming missionaries is fun! We had about 30 new Philippines missionaries come in (they are all speaking Cebuano) and a lot of them are from Tonga/Somoa. They're cool and really nice guys. I had them help me out with playing volleyball today and I surprisingly learned a few things! 

On Thursday we got to Skype members who speak Hilyganon! I was really nervous about it because all the other people we have taught have been in person. We actually did't do too bad, but I had to use a lot of English to get the point across.  The language is a gigantic barrier, but I pick up new words everyday. We also got to teach a lady name Grace through Skype. She is Filipino and served a mission in Iloilo. She was really nice and totally babied us with the language. I really, really enjoy teaching, but it is going to take a lot of work to get the language down. I was expecting that, of course. But still.  I figured I would be really nervous when I teach, but I haven't been. I've surprised myself with how much I enjoy it.  Hopefully, I can keep that attitude up when I teach the Filipino people :)

I am really looking forward to getting to the Philippines! We are supposed to get our flight plans tonight hopefully so we are all looking forward to knowing the details. Only 11 more days I think and we GET OUT OF HERE! :) I can't wait! I am really looking forward to talking with you all on the phone that day too. 

Here are some Pics I took this week:
Me and my Comp with Bro. Metcalf from our Branch Presidency. Super nice guy!

I got a Hilyganon Bilble to add to my Hilyganon Book of Mormon. Sweet!
It's nice to have a break on P-Day.  It is really needed after a week like this one! We did all kinds of stuff and we are all so worn out mentally.So knowing you have a break coming helps! And of course I always look forward to emails on Friday. We went to the Temple this morning and did sealings and that was really cool. Now there's still a lot of stuff I have to get done today like laundry, haircut, clean up our room, and do some studying. Sounds like a heck of a good time I'm sure you're thinking! LOL Only one more Friday after today and I'll be done with the MTC!

That's awesome that you are starting the South fence.  I can't tell you how upset I am that I don't get to dig the holes for it! ;) haha.  The outside of the house is going to be sooo different when I get back. The trees will grow a lot in 2 years.  I am looking forward to seeing it!
I gotta run! I Love you very much!!
Love, Elder Rasmussen

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August 29, 2014 - The end of week #3!

Sunday 8/24/14 Iloilo District With a few Bacolod Elders
Hey Mom and Dad! 

The pictures I sent last week were of all of the Iloilo guys! My district has only 8 people but there are like 12 going to Iloilo in September! The ones with just me and two other guys are my roommates who are going to Bacolod. And the other one is my comp and I.

I hope you are safe on your motorcycle trip to Yosemite Mom and Dad. It sounds like fun and I wish I could be there!
The MTC is starting to drive us nuts every now and then but we are still having fun. Only 2.5 more weeks and we get the heck out of here! We cannot wait to get to the Philippines!

We were able to do hosting for the new missionaries last this week which was pretty fun. There were about 450 new missionaries which is crazy and I got to host 6 of them. It was kind of funny to see all of the different reactions of them and their families! None of the missionaries that I helped shed a tear and neither did their parents. It was so interesting! Another family sang "bye bye bye" (N'Sync song) to their son and they were laughing and smiling like they were dropping him off for soccer practice! It was so funny. (Note from Mom: The 4 of us bawled like babies in a group hug when we left Michael at the MTC--what can I say? We Rasmussen's wear our hearts on our sleeves!)

My District also Ushered for the Tuesday devotional this week. We got to wear Usher tags so we felt like we had some intense authority :) haha

Things are still going well and even though we all have bad days every now and then, there are way more good days to compensate for it. After this next week we should be getting our flight plans to the Philippines which we are all excited for. The districts that have been here 3 weeks longer are leaving next week and they got theirs this week. We cant wait to get into the real deal! The language still kicks our butt lots of the time but we really are learning a lot! We have really good teachers--I can't say that enough! 

Well that's pretty much it for the details there probably wont be anything too exciting until the Philippines but Ill keep you filled in on anything!
Love you and be safe on your trip! :) And thanks for the Dear Elders Mom! 

Love, Michael
The sack lunch line at the MTC--you have to be dressed up to use the cafeteria so on P Day most of us choose to get a sack lunch and eat outside--but the line is always HUGE! There are so many people here!