Monday, October 27, 2014

WEEK #13: "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

October 27, 2014

Hey Mom and Dad! We are having a very busy P-day today, so I’m emailing a little later than usual.
Thank you for your emails! I love to hear about what is going on and what you’ve been up to. And thanks for the recipes Mom. Please send me anymore easy recipes you think I can throw together with Philippine ingredients.
This last week seemed to move fast, but it had some slow days also.

Cave Exploring!
For our activity today we went and explored some caves around Buenavista and then made lunch in the outdoors! It was really cool and there was a river running through the cave. I got some good pictures I’ll send along! For the lunch we bought fish at the market this morning and then we cooked it over a fire and we used banana tree leaves for plates! Really crazy looking the way everything was done! My companion does things like that all the time in Samoa, so he and the Filipinos did all of the cooking. In the cave there was a ton of bats and a few times they were seriously hitting our heads! Haven’t gone crazy yet! (From Michelle:  All is well if our boy is still quoting Andy Griffith!  Barney to Thelma Lou: You know what you find in caves? Bats! And they fly in to your hair and get tangled up in there and lay their eggs, and you go crazy!”)

Lunch in A Cave!

Our lunch!


This week we had some really good lessons and we were also able to do a service project for a family we are teaching. We knocked out a bunch of rock around their house so they can extend their kitchen. It made more room around their tight little house. I got some good blisters from it! I wish I would have had gloves.
I had one frustrating lesson this week when I taught this lady.  She was nodding like she completely understood what I was saying and then when I was done she looked over to Elder Walmer and said "indi ko kabalo ano ginhambal niya” which meant she had no idea what I was talking about. I was really annoyed by that, but haha but oh well.
A few days ago I experienced a baptism for the first time done in the Ocean! It was really cool and I so look forward to being able to baptize someone like that! After the baptism, we played a bunch of games with the Branch and had lunch and  it was a fun day.
I’ve been figuring out more and more things to eat and look forward to going into the city again to buy some more "American" supplies. This week I got to thinking about “The World’s Best Corndog” we ate a few months ago and I started drooling! You can’t buy corndogs here, so now I’ve got to try and figure out how to make corndogs!

I so look forward to being able to go on a motorcycle ride when I get home! I want to go on a long trip, like the ride you both did to Yellowstone with Uncle Rob and Darin. That would be so fun! I also can’t wait to go camping and riding in the Swell again. I have so many good memories of that place. I get so excited when I think about camping in the Swell again.  My companion loves fishing, so I tell him all about all our fishing trips we did Dad.! I can’t wait to go walleye fishing at Yuba again. Taking those things away for a while has really made me appreciate them so much more. I was so spoiled!  

I hope and pray my family is doing well and that you know that I am ok here and doing great! I think about how much time I have every day. It will go so fast though! I can’t believe how fast the last 2 months went. I love you and really appreciate everything Mom and Dad. I wouldn’t be here without my parents and even though this isn’t easy, I’m learning so much and being blessed a ton, and I know you are too! The Church is true! and Jesus loves you! Don’t ever worry about me because I am so well taken care of. Love you all very much!! Love Elder Mike


Monday, October 20, 2014

Week #12 "And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint....."

"Yo Yo Yo"
Kumasta Family & Friends!
We did a zone activity today so I wasn’t able to get to the computers as early as usual. We met in the chapel and did a testimony meeting and then played a little basketball and volleyball. I wasn’t really in the mood for it, but I’m learning to just go along with things I normally wouldn’t be interested in doing ha-ha!
This week went by pretty quick. We had interviews with President and Sister Aquino and a few other people last Tuesday, so we got to go into the city for most of the day. President Aquino told me about his experiences in Utah and also interviewed me on how I have been doing. He is a great guy! We have an awesome Mission President!
 I wasn’t feeling very well when I got into the City to meet with President.  I ended up having an upset stomach for the next couple of days. I'm sure it was probably something I ate, but I don’t know what. I am feeling much better now! I'm still having stressful times with buying and making food for myself, but I’m still alive so I can’t complain too much! I worry a lot about finding healthy things to eat. I have been learning how to make simple meals with vegetables and chicken. I never really shopped for myself at home and then when I get here all we have is the disgusting market I’ve told you about ha-ha—so it’s a BIG learning curve! I can’t believe I’d ever say this but I miss Walmart so much!! I am learning though and that’s really part of the fun of going on a mission is learning how to take care of myself. So don’t worry about me Mom, because I can handle it and I will get used to things as time goes on! I was also able to get some physical work in this week, which felt SO GOOD! We did a service project for the Sisters at their home. We trimmed their trees because they are surrounded by jungle and picked up all the trash and made it look nice. Then we burned all the trees and bushes we cut down. It took us about 6 hours to do everything, but I have to say it felt good to get some physical work in. 

We also had District Conference this week, which is basically just like Stake conference. We hired a jeep on Sunday to transport all the Buenavista church members to the meeting house in Jordan (about 9 miles away).  So we piled everyone in including the missionaries and away we went! I feel so bad for the people here because most of them do not have any transportation--not even a motorcycle or scooter! So always be grateful for having your own transportation! I will never forget what it is like to have to walk everywhere or hire a jeep or trike to get anywhere!
The people we are teaching have been doing well. We are currently teaching about 5 or 6 families and another 5 or 6 people in addition to the families. We are still teaching the 4 ladies also—they are my favorites because they really listen. We gave them a Book of Mormon so that was a big accomplishment this week. I feel pretty confident and can do lesson one by myself in Ilonggo with just the basics now. Sometimes I forget little things that are important but Elder F helps me out.  I really don’t feel nervous about teaching, especially when we get into the lesson. But what is a big challenge for me is to learn how to start conversations with strangers and getting the people to feel comfortable with us so they will want us to teach. You know…chit chat...which you know I don’t like and am not good at! I am really praying and hoping to learn to love it, so I can start being more comfortable when we meet new people. 
 *Is there anything that you can absolutely NOT get there that your are missing? Gravy. I miss gravy. So some gravy packets would be nice. I’ve bought the milk here, but it’s really expensive and it’s the non-refrigerated stuff, so it’s not my favorite.
*Do you walk everywhere you go or take the local transportation? We mostly walk – A LOT – but if we’re going somewhere really far then we will take the trikes. We only take the Jeepneys when we go to the chapel in Jordan. It’s about a 30 minute drive. But we mostly stay on the Northern side of the island in Buenavista.
*Have you been able to have dinner with in any of the member's homes? We do not eat with the members very much, but we have eaten at the Branch President’s house pretty often because he just lives across the street.
*How are things with your companions/housemates? Do you get the chance to goof and have fun occasionally? We get along really well and there is tons of time for us to goof off in the morning and at night when we are not working. They are all very good missionaries. I look up to Elder F. a lot, and Elder W. has been really great because he has really helped me the most with adjusting to not living in the USA anymore. It has also been an interesting adjustment for me to learn to have to share my space and things, since I’ve always had my own room. But it's not so bad.
How has the weather been? It was really hot this week, but there were a few good storms that cooled things off. The only time it is miserably hot is when the sun is out but most of the time there are at least clouds to cool things off some.
Have you seen any snakes or exoctic animals? The only snakes I’ve seen are dead snakes on the road that were about the size of a blow snake at home. Not sure what kind they were. I haven’t really seen anything exotic yet, except for that monkey I saw last week. But I did see a spider the size of my hand the other day and that was pretty cool. It was the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen! Thank you for all your emails and for filling me in on all the things you are doing at home. I really like to read what is going on at home with my mom and dad!  I miss you so much! I look forward to getting back with my family and to all the camping, hiking, motorcycles, and all the other fun stuff we’ve always done together. I will keep trying to send more pictures! I Love you tons!!!  Michael 
Buenavista Elders

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014 - Small Typhoon and a Dirt Bike!

Hi Mom and Dad! Thank you for your emails and pictures! Looks like you had a really fun time on your motorcycle trip this weekend! 

We watched conference yesterday and I saw how the trees are changing colors there and that’s how it is in your pictures too. I miss Utah so much, but I get over myself more and more each day :)  

This week was really slow because of the "typhoon" that went through. It rained for a full two days almost non-stop and one of the days President Aquino told all of the missionaries to stay inside until the storm passed. We were in the house all day but I was able to get a lot of chores done, so it was no big deal. We were lucky and only lost power for like 10 min and never lost water. The sisters in the area lost their water for three days! AAAK! That would be terrible! 

I had the coolest thing happen this week after we taught this guy. He's a wealthier guy in the area with a really nice house and he has 5 motorcycles. After we finished teaching his family, he had his sons give us rides home and he offered to let me drive one of his dirt bikes! He did not have to ask me twice! It was just a cheap China 150, but I didn’t care I was riding a dirt bike again so I was overwhelmed with happiness ha-ha! 

I’m slowly figuring out better things to eat. I eat lots of vegetables and eggs. I made pancakes with bananas and apples in them for breakfast yesterday and they were so good! There is a lady that sells chorizo across the street from us, so I mix that in with eggs, eggplant, and brown rice. Creativity with the meals is really helping to find stuff to eat. I was really worried about food the first couple of weeks, but my companion loves to cook and doesn’t really like to eat out so we cook 95% of our meals. So that has really helped me get more comfortable with the food. 

It has been kind of a rough week and I wasn’t having very much fun. The language is hard, but my problem is not the language so much, as it is my same old problem that I have no idea what to say to people. I told the other Elders, "I have a hard enough time talking to people in English how the heck can I do it in Ilonggo!?" I know that slowly but surely it will get easier as I learn how other missionaries are able to do it. I remind myself that one of the biggest reasons I came on a mission was to learn how to talk to people. It will happen! 

We did have a really good lesson last night that was fun for me. We are teaching these 4 ladies and they’re really nice. We still haven’t gotten past the restoration yet, but we will the next time we go there.  

General Conference was really great to watch. This is sad, but I think it’s the first time I’ve actually sat down and watched all 5 sessions! :/ We watched it in the chapel in the town of "Jordan". There were a lot of people, and it was great to see them and how diligent they were in staying for most of conference. On Saturday, we ate at this cafe which I really didn’t like because Filipinos don’t care if their food is cold. They have fairly good food, but it’s always cold and it just ruins it!  I’ve been carrying PB&J sandwiches around which I think I’ll keep doing for a snack in the future days. On the way back from conference we piled 4 missionaries and another member plus the driver onto a trike! We had a 30 min ride back to Buenavista, but the trike got 2 flats on the way, so the driver got rid of us and we took a jeep the rest of the way. People just pile onto whatever transportation they can here, which I thought was crazy at first but now I’m getting used to it as I do it myself. :)  

To answer your questions we are teaching around 15 people through the week. We are always looking for more, but we have to go door to door, which is not my most favorite thing to do.

If you look on Google Earth you can see the area I’m in. It is Buenavista on Guimaras. Our road is Sinamay, but none of the streets are marked, so you probably won’t be able to see that.

The coolest thing I saw this week was a monkey! He was some guy’s pet chained up across the wall from the church. I got a few pictures I’ll send. I’m sorry I can’t send pictures this week. We are emailing from this internet cafĂ© and it’s nothing special and apparently these computers have viruses, so I’ll have to wait until next week. I’ve got some really great pictures to send though and I’ll shoot some off to you as soon as I can.

The members here are really nice people. Not good singers (ha-ha) but they are very good church members.

There are a ton of stray dogs here. You’d hate it mom--it even bothers me. There are a lot of horrible things that goes on with animals here and it definitely brings out my soft side. I guess all those years of fostering dogs and helping you with the dog rescue really did rub off on me.

Don’t worry about sending me a flashlight. I have that lantern you bought me, which has been great inside the house, but I don’t carry it.  Elder Fogavai carries a flashlight with him, so I promise we are not trekking around through the dark. Ha-ha.

The drivers here are all over the place, but surprisingly I haven’t seen any accidents at all! It seems like they drive really fast, but in reality we only go about 30 MPH tops! Ha-ha. So be thankful for cars, freeways, and nice roads in Utah!

I think and pray about you daily and hope my family is happy!! I Love you! Michael

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 - It's Not Mango Season!!

Doing My Laundry!
Hi Mom, Dad & Hayley! I'm doing well here and things are finally starting to fall into place. It's been hard adjusting to everything, but everyday it gets easier. I am learning so much and have realized how thankful I am for Utah and where we live! I am still adjusting to the Philippines but I really have improved over the last week. I have had a few emotional days.I miss my family to death but I'm having fewer and fewer of those days! This week we did many things and were able to teach quite a few people. Im still not able to say everything I wish I could say but I'm learning more and able to understand people when they speak.

I'll try and answer more of your questions.

Are you loving all the Mangos on Guimarras? It isn't Mango season right now and I'm so bummed!!  I did buy some at the market last week and I loved them. Apparently Mango season is in a few months so hopefully I'll still be here to eat lots. There are mango trees everywhere, but none with fruit :( Tons of banana trees too and they are growing now so that's good. I eat a ton of bananas.

How is doing your laundry in a bucket? Laundry isnt too bad I just wish it would dry faster. Always be thankful for having a washer and dryer. Ahh! We are so incredibly spoiled never forget that!! :)

What is a typical day like for you? We do studies in the morning for about 3 hours which goes by quick. Then eat lunch, and then head out about 1 to teach. My companion and I are still figuring out the area because we're both new here, so weve come home about 7 or 8 a few nights. We do one last planning session, and then go to bed! It probably sounds super boring to you, but there are lots of other little things that mix up the day and make it more interesting.

Have you been getting rained on a lot? Last monday was really the first rainstorm I experienced here. Surprisingly it hasnt been as rainy as I thought it would be, but it did rain a few times this week. We got soaked coming home from church yesterday! It started raining right when we left.

Are the Bugs awful? The mosquitoes have only been bad when it rains. Other than that not too bad! And the Mosquito spray you made me Mom works great!

Did you get to watch General Conference?  We won't watch conference until next week and it will be recorded. It should be in English since most people can understand English fairly well. It was Fast Sunday yesterday and that was kind of hard. Toward the end of the day I was weak and so hungry so I almost fell asleep in our last lesson!

What are you eating? I'm learning to cook a few new things like using lots of vegetables and I eat a lot of eggs and oatmeal which isnt too bad! We went to a bakery and had dinner a couple of days ago. Elder F and I both got the "2 person hamburger" which had like 2 pounds of Mayo on it with like turkey burger type meat. haha The mayo tasted weird - it was really sweet. I love the clean places and especially today we are in the City doing our monthly shopping so we will go to Mcdonalds so I'm pretty excited about that! The Market in Buena Vista is the most disgusting place on earth! I can't stand it! But that is where we get meat and vegetables sometimes. Its really not clean and smells horrible, so I am really careful what I buy. For shopping mostly its in Buenavista but today we will buy stuff here in the City (Iloilo) that you can't get there. We often have stores try to rip us off. They see they white guy and the Samoan and suddenly the prices go up. We get that all over the place. I can't wait to smite them with some Ilonggo when I learn the language!! But the people are really nice so if we turn to leave they usually will grab us and give us the normal price.

How do you find people to teach? Tell us about your favorite teaching moment this week:  We have done a lot of door to door because both Elder F and I are new in this area. I don't enjoy tracking door to door much. I feel like a salesman. We have a lot more people to teach now though so we shouldnt have to do that very much. We have mostly been teaching the first lesson, which is The Restoration. I havent really gone past that yet, but I should  this week because we have a few "progressing investigators". We don't teach in the middle of town because it's so noisy. Noise is a hard obstacle to get around. There is always loud music playing here--always! My favorite teaching moments were yesterday teaching these four ladies. They had a nice comfortable home and it was quiet and they listened really well to what we were teaching. The spirit was strong and I was able to say the things I wanted to say in Ilonggo. Elder F currently does most of the teaching, and I testify and pray a lot :) 

How are you adjusting to the climate? The humidity is weird. It has been hard always feeling like I'm wet. I hated it at first, but now I'm getting used to it. Its hard to dry clothes after you wash them. It usually takes about 2 days.

This should be around the time we email each week. Usually around 9 or 10 a.m. here,  so 7 or 8 p.m. your time. We go to Iloilo once a month on Pday (always on Mondays). I really am figuring things out quickly and getting a lot more comfortable here. I was so worried the first day. All 3 of the elders in my house have been here way longer than me, so I was so worried when they acted so normal about everything and I was freaking out trying to figure out why I'm in the middle of the jungle and how I'm going to do this! haha That was just the first 2 days though. I'm so much more comfortable now.

I want to tell you how much I miss doing the fun things at home like riding motorcycles, camping, fishing, hiking or whatever! I will never take those things for granted again! Please don't sell anything like the camper or bikes or boat or any of that stuff because I am telling you I will want to go camping for like 2 months straight when I get home! I miss those things so much. I was so spoiled at home.

As much as I miss you guys and home, I am having a great experience here and am so thankful to be learning the things I am learning. Teaching the gospel is so fun and when I get the language down I will be so much better at it! I really miss you so much and love you all tons!! Please be safe! Love, Michael