Monday, January 26, 2015

Week #26 When It Rains Look For Rainbows

Kamusta Mom and Dad! Thanks for the emails as usual! I'm jealous you got to go ice fishing Dad! I can't believe how many fish you caught! Man I miss Ice fishing! I'm glad I'm not missing out on any really good snowmobiling weather! haha hopefully the winter I'll be home will be cold and really snowy :) I *really* miss the snow! It's amazing how much you appreciate snow and cold when all you have everyday, day after day, is hot and humid! haha 
This week has been a good week and went by super quick. I forgot to write down the things we did in my planner so I'll have to do my best to remember the good stuff. We had another baptism on Saturday. A girl named Ruby who we've been teaching for 5 weeks. It was cool to hear her testimony afterwards. I was the one who confirmed her in church yesterday, and that was really a nice experience.

I spent some time with Elder Krueger this week and we had a lot of fun. I generally hate tracting, but if I just go and do it with a good attitude, then things usually end up working out and it turns out being fun. We were walking along the highway and it started raining really hard.  There were 3 people in a welding shop that saw us and they invited us in under the garage to get out of the rain. They were very nice and asked us many questions about where we are from, and what the heck a couple of white dudes in shirts and ties are doing here! haha  Most people here have heard of the Mormons but they have no idea what we're even here for so it's always good for a conversation starter. We ended up teaching them a little lesson and got a return appointment so it was a pretty successful rain storm for us!
Yesterday was a fun day. Last sunday you may remember that we got a referral from this lady (the one who cares for the other 90 year old lady we taught) for her daughter who lives down our road towards the ocean.  We have visited her a few times including yesterday. She is very devoted to her church she said, but she is super nice and very willing to listen to us. We spent like 30 min talking about the Book of Mormon and answering all her questions. She has a lot of really great questions and it was such a cool experience to visit with her!  And what is even more amazing is that she told me she works online for a guy who lives in Sandy, Utah, whose last name is Rasmussen! How crazy is that?
So that's pretty much all that happened this week that I can think of right now :) This morning we did a lot of cleaning in our house which is great. I love to have a clean house again. Not sure what else we'll do today.
Oh yah!! I finally got my Christmas packages this week so thank you very much for all the stuff you sent! If I end up getting transferred this week it will be a little difficult to carry everything so they came at the wrong time but oh well. I'll do the best I can! Thank you for the stuff you sent! I love it! Especially all the granola bars and snacks and the pillow cooler.
Here's the answers to your weekly questions Mom:
#1 What meal do you most often cook for yourself? Lots of pasta, tuna fish. stuff like that.
#2 Does the branch sing hymns in english or Ilonggo? All in english. No piano so they lose the tempo and beat a lot haha
#3 Are you able to find milk to drink? Is there a food you can't find there that you miss? They have milk, but it isn't the same. That's what I miss the most is dairy! I'll come up with a list of the other stuff I can't get for next weeks email :) 
#4 Do you see horses there? I haven't seen one horse here I dont think. But there are lots of skinny cows and carabao (water buffalo). Love you lots Mom and Dad and Hayley.  Elder Michael

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Week #25 What we love determines what we seek

January 19, 2015
Elder Ducatan and Elder Rasmussen

Hi Mom and Dad! Thank you both for your great emails! Congratulations Mom on your reward from your work! Of course I am not surprised! You deserve it! I can’t believe granny sold her house! That’s kind of sad. I’ll miss going there and staying with her in St. George for winter riding trips.

I haven’t gotten any of your letters yet Mom. I'll let you know when I do. I wish they got sent directly to us but they go through the mission office first. Still no word on the packages either.. I’m not complaining or anything. I’ll get them when I get them. Thank you for thinking of me though :)  Thanks for sending the pictures! You've made a ton of progress on the basement Dad! It already looks way different! Keep sending the pictures. It’s fun to see the progress.
This was a really good week and we had some fun along the way! 

On Tuesday we ate at a restaurant and they happened to be playing the movie “The Wolverine” up on a big screen, so that was actually pretty cool to get to see some of that! :) While we were working that day some members gave us some saging (bananas) and that of course is very nice because I love bananas. People are so kind to us and are always willing to give us food.
Just goofing off with the kids

Me and one of the YM from the Branch heading out to teach

On Wednesday A couple of our investigators got married and on Saturday they were both baptized! At the wedding on Wednesday they had a big party at their home with a lot of food to eat. It was Elder Dactutan’s birthday on top of that, so we had another appointment at a member’s house after that the wedding, and they fed us again. So we ate a lot of food that day!  
Housemates: Elder D, Elder Ras, Elder K. and Elder B

On Thursday the ZL's (Elder K and Elder B) moved back into our house so there are now 4 of us living here again. They are cool, so we have a good time.
Also on Thursday the new Senior couple missionaries arrived to replace the Taylors and they are very nice people. The sister is pretty outgoing haha she doesn’t seem afraid of anything, which is perfect for this mission :) On Saturday they gave us a ride to our baptism (us and 4 other Elders) where we baptized Analeah and her new husband. It was a little bit cold and the sun was covered by clouds so I felt a little bad that the weather wasn’t better for them but they were still so happy to be baptized!
Baptism Day!

A Gorgeous Guimaras Sunset

On Sunday our other investigators (the Bingco family) actually beat us to church! They were there a half hour early! They have been doing so well and it has been amazing to see the change and how far they have come since we began teaching them in October! We gave them a baptismal date in February and I would really like to be here to see them get baptized, but at the same time I really feel like I want to get to my second area this next transfer. I might end up staying here, so we will see what happens! Either way I will be happy.

Elder Krueger and I had a funny experience yesterday with this house that we tracted. These two ladies who were taking care of a 90 year old lady. She said she would try and get the 90 year old lady to come outside because she said she wasn’t sure if she would listen to us haha. She ended up coming out and talking with us and she was so funny! I was just like cracking up the whole time because the old lady couldn’t hear us very well and every time we tried to talk she would butt in and start talking and it was just funny because she was kind of crazy and said the funniest things. The other ladies ended up giving us a referral for one of their daughters who lives on the other side of the island down by the ocean. So Elder K. and I decided we'd go down there and visit her and she ended up being the nicest person and she was excited that we came to talk with her. So we got a new investigator out of that whole funny experience.

View of Iloilo from the Bukid

Today we went on a little "hike" to the Balaan Bukid that had a really cool view of Iloilo. It was a fun excursion. The Balaan Bukid is a landmark in Guimaras and alongside the trail to the top are 15 stations called "Way of the Cross", which depicts significant events in the life of Jesus Christ. We went with a few members and brought some snacks and stuff. It’s funny to walk through the little towns along the way because everyone stares like they’ve never seen any one white in their life. They’re also pretty surprised with our Ilonggo language skills (even though I still am not very good at it haha)
Our P Day Hiking buddies from the branch

Here’s the answer to your questions this week Mom:
Tell me 5 phrases in Ilonggo:
Sa diin ka magkadto?  - Where are you going?
Ano ang pinaka barrato?  - What is the cheapest? (when buying things at the store)
Indi ako manggarranon! -   I am not rich!
Nalipat ko and payong ko diri sa tindahan. – I forgot my umbrella at the store.
Gusto ko maglangoy pero indi puede kay bawal para sa mga missionary  - I want to swim but I can’t because it’s not allowed for missionaries.

What made you laugh this week? I laughed during our lesson with the 90 year old lady haha she was really funny, but you just had to be there!

What was your favorite day this week and why?
My favorite day was Saturday because of our baptism! Their family was very happy and excited for them and it was fun to be a part of it.

That’s pretty much my week! I’m downloading pictures now, so check out the dropbox later!

Love you lots and thanks so much for the emails and love from home :)

Love, Elder Michael


Monday, January 12, 2015

Week #24 Ye Shall ever Open Your Mouth and Proclaim My Gospel

January 12, 2015
Hello Mom, Dad and Hayley!
Thanks for the emails! Thanks for the pictures Dad ha ha that was “The Bubble Boy”. I really miss Seinfeld ha ha and wow those gas prices are incredible! Glad you had a good time at the Palisades party. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was talking with Brad about Parker being on his mission to the Philippines—I can’t believe that was 2 years ago. Now I’m the one in the Philippines….that is a weird feeling!
Tell The Fuzz I say hey and give her a belly scratch from me:) I get teary eyed thinking about her looking for me in my room! (Note from Michelle: Our dog Izzabelle [aka The Fuzz] was acting really strange Sunday a.m. She kept staring at Michael’s bedroom door and whining and scratching to get in. When I opened the door for her she ran around his bed jumping up on the side so I lifted her up on the bed and she began sniffing all around, under his covers and the pillows. I think she was convinced he was in there somewhere!)
I’m glad your week was good. My week went by quick like it always seems like it does after SM day (Note from Michelle: SM is the big Walmart type store in Iloilo. The Missionaries on Guimaras Island are only allowed to travel there on their first “P-Day” each month). On Monday I was able to get all of the American food that I wanted in Iloilo and I also bought some really expensive doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme store (45 pesos/approx. $1 each) but it was so worth it! I haven’t had a doughnut in a long time! And of course we also went to the McDonalds and hit a few other stores. On Tuesday we went to our recent convert’s house to teach her the lessons again and she always feeds us a snack or something. We met a 90 year old "spring chicken" lady who seriously acted like she was in her 70's!  She was way cool. On the way back from there the Jeepney stopped to pick up several big bags of coconuts so I got out to help them load them. Everyone thought it was strange that the “big, tall white boy in church clothes” was helping them haha it was fun to show off a little bit of my Illonggo too. When we arrived back home to our road, the jeep conductor would not accept my money for the fare. It was cool and made me feel really good!
The next couple of days were a little slow with work especially Friday where we were "punted" all day long, so that made for a long day.
We have to return back to our smaller area (Buenavista B) this week because the ZL's are moving back to Buenavista since the new senior couple missionaries are coming in on the 15th. Our area is much more difficult and doesn’t have much member support, so hopefully it goes ok. It’s been really nice the past couple of months to have the whole Buenavista area to cover as it kept us really busy, which I like. There are only 2 more weeks until the next transfer and I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m really hoping to move on to a new area. I love the members here in Buenavista, but I thinking I’m ready for some change. I’ve been here in Buenavista/Guimaras since I arrived in the Philippines, and even though I feel like I just got here, it still seems like I’ve been here forever haha.
Yesterday during church we got a text that there was a region broadcast in Jordan so we travelled there after church. On the way there we had to take a trike because there wasn’t a jeepney and I sat next to a girl who was very good at speaking English. I spoke as much Illonggo to her as I could and she replied in English, so we both got to practice. She told me she loves reading so when we got to the church I told her to wait and I hurried into the church and frantically looked for a BofM. She wanted English but all I could find was Tagalog. It was another great OYM experience for me [OYM=open your mouth] :)
We stayed in Jordan for the night with the ZL's and got fed an awesome dinner at a members house here. He had a huge piece of pork and covered it with salt/sugar then fried it in oil :) Yah, super healthy! haha It was way good though! And he made us smoothies which were very good too.

We got up really early for a zone activity we did this morning. I went running and then we played basketball at the church and did some games and stuff. We bought 2 pizzas (Filipino pizza) and some treats and things. It was fun. We are still in Jordan now and we will head back to Buenavista after we finish email’ing.
Here’s answers to your questions Mom:
What is your favorite Filipino food so far? That fried sugar/salt pork meal we had last night. I’m sure it was way unhealthy, but it sure tasted good :)
How many members are in your Branch? I think there are around 60
What was your favorite teaching moment this week? Teaching the Bingco family. They’re getting very close to Baptism and I’ve been with them from the start!
What made you laugh this week? It wasn’t really a funny “haha” laugh, but more funny/intriguing "whoa! That's intense" laugh…I was studying in Moroni Ch. 8 where Mormon talks to Moroni about little children being alive in Christ because of the atonement, and I was shocked by how serious it gets about baptism of little children being an awful wickedness and evil abomination. We teach a lot of Catholics here, so it’s the first time that really struck me.
What was your favorite service moment this week? Helping the dudes load the coconuts.
How long has your companion been out? Is his family LDS? Elder D  has 1 more transfer than me (so he’s been out 6 weeks longer than I have). His parents joined the church when he was 4 years old.
Sorry I was only able to upload 1 picture. More technical difficulties on this end and I don’t have my SD card reader with me so I’ll have to wait until later. Sorry. I’m sure they will show up in Dropbox eventually.
Love you lots!!
Elder Michael

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Week #23 Serve Him with all your heart, might, mind and strength. . .

Jan 5, 2015
Hi Mom and Dad!  You are both so right--this week went by quick but on the other hand it seems like forever since I emailed last. We are in Iloilo today. Thank you for your emails and the thoughts and prayers :) I was actually able to get some good sleep on New Years Eve! I just put ear plugs in and slept like a baby. The two Filipino Elders stayed up til twelve but Elder Kruegar and I were fast asleep by then haha. I missed home so much on New Years Eve, but its over now and I'm doing much better because we've had some awesome experiences our last few days. It has rained a lot this week too, so the work has been easier because its been cooler, which you know I appreciate!

So this week was very good even though it seemed to take forever sometimes. On Tuesday we got rained out from our district meeting, but we didn't know it was cancelled until we were about a mile down the street. So we got all wet and just walked back home.

On Thursday New Years Day, we had the Gallo family (Branch Members) feed us a great lunch and they of course treated us like kings. They are so nice! They had some great food and there was plenty to eat! Maybe I'm starting to put some weight back on?

I'm getting better and better at the language and I have felt very confident lately. It's such an awesome feeling! On Friday we went tracting, which you know I dread...but I saw 3 people in front of a store and I could tell they were saying things about the "Cano" (white guy) walking around so I walked right up to them and talked with them. They were very surprised when I started speaking Ilonggo to them and we ended up having a great conversation! :) I really am getting way better at tracting and now that I'm getting better at speaking the language I'm really starting to have fun with it.

Yesterday we went on splits with the young men in the Branch. I took 2 with me and Elder D took 3 with him. I ended up having a lot of fun and things went very well! It's amazing how much easier it is for me to get a word in with people when I'm the only one that really does any of the talking! haha I wasn't too sure about my leading skills either but turns out I can do a lot more than I gave myself credit for :)

Today on the boat over to Iloilo, I sat next to a guy who was reading the Bible and at first I was scared to say anything to him, but I knew I shouldn't pass up such a great opportunity, so I started talking with him and he was the nicest guy in the world! I gave him a Book of Mormon, and sure enough he kept talking to us! And we even sat with him in the Jeepney on the way to the mall and before he left us he gave us his phone number and asked us to contact him--which almost never happens! I'm so glad I decided to be brave and start talking with him and not miss that opportunity. So how cool is that?

So today like I said we are in Iloilo to do our shopping and we are going to the Atrium mall so I can get some good ol American food! Then we'll head to SM to get everything else we need and eat lunch with our zone.

I'm way jealous that I'm missing out on winter and snowboarding and everything right now, but like you said I'll get to do all that in the future (at least I better!!) Make sure and keep up with your exercise Mom and Dad so you will be in good shape to do lots of riding/hiking/snowboarding when I get home! haha:) I'm going to wear you out! 

I can't wait to see more pictures as the basement progresses so keep sending me some good pictures. It's going to be so awesome when you get it finished.

Here are the questions you asked this week Mom: 
What made you laugh this week? Some of the Filipinos act so tough and yell at me "joe" when we are walking by, but then they crawl right back into their shell when I walk up to them and start talking to them in Ilonggo :) That's become my new favorite thing to do lately!
What was your favorite meal this week? New Years Day feast with the Gallo Family. We had some really good chicken and a Banana Float. Yum!
What was your favorite teaching moment this week? Teaching with the young men in our branch. I have to lead, and it was a great confidence builder.
How are your shoes holding up in all the rain? I wear my cheap, rubber shoes when it rains so my nice leather shoes are doing great.
Did you learn a new phrase/word in Ilonggo? I learn new stuff each week but I can't think of anything. Sorry! haha 
It's 2015 so now I can say that I will be home "next year" haha ;) time flies! I Love you all! Elder Michael