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

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