Mon 9/12/11 6:48 AM
Well, I'm here, and I'm still alive. That's always a good sign. The 14 and a half hour plane ride to Hong Kong wasn't too bad. I was able to sleep for about 7-8 hours. Cathay Pacific airlines is definitely the best I've ever flown in. The snacks and the cup of noodles you can get at any time are pretty awesome, and its all free. The food tasted pretty good too-not like the rubber goo they serve on Delta. If I wasn't a missionary, I would have enjoyed the personal entertainment system too. Hong Kong airport is really cool looking. After we picked up our bags in Manila and followed our instructions to go outside down the ramp and wait, the first thing I noticed was the sweat beating up. Just from standing and not doing anything in the shade, it gets pretty bad. I was clipping my fingernails today and the sweat was dripping from my elbows and tip of my nose. Good times. They say that there is 2 kinds of rain here-the kind you can see and the kind you can't see. It rained on us (the kind you can see) for the last couple of nights, and when it rains it pours. Even with my cheap made in Japan umbrella, I was still soaking wet from head to toe by the end of the night. Its really nice too when the puddles fill the entire pathway. I went back pretty muddy too.
Luckily, the 2 guys that came up to the 5 of us and said, "Elders, come with me" wasn't an axe murderer. They split our bags up in one van then us in another. It sounded pretty shady. They took us (and our bags) to the Manila MTC to wait for 7 hours for the bus to Cauayan. We also met 7 other native missionaries from the Manila MTC that were going to Cauayan with us. We ate Lunch and dinner there, and they let us go to the Manila temple (across the street from the MTC) to do a session to help kill the time. The 10 hour bus ride was pretty bad. Luckily it wasn't a chicken bus, but the driver still stopped every hour or 2 for bathroom breaks. Even with an Ambien, I didn't get a good night sleep. President and Sister Carlos fed us a really yummy breakfast and they are really nice. The mission home and office is by far the nicest area in town. They actually have warm water and washing machine and dishwasher there!
I met my new companion Elder Tangi during the transfer meeting in the morning. He is Tongan, but lived in New Zealand his whole life so he speaks English, Tongan, and Tagalog. He is pretty awesome so far. From Cauayan we took another 2 hour bus ride to our area which is Cabagan, about 30 minutes outside of Tuguegarao. I am pretty sure I am the only white person here. I get a lot of stares and a lot of people practice their english by saying "Hey Joe, wash (supposed to be what is but sounds like wash) your name?" Or "Hey man! Whats up?" They call all American's Joe's because of World War 2 and GI Joe. Most people here actually understand basic English, especially people about 40 and younger. I am able to get by okay by using a lot of Taglish, and they understand it. Yesterday, they asked me to bear my testimony in church and it was mostly in english, but I tried to make it as simple as possible. There is actually a ward here with about 100 members, but there was only about 50 there yesterday. Its pretty funny that nobody can really grow leg, arm, or facial hair so all during church, little kids were sitting by me and rubbing my arm hair. If only everybody could be as manly and hairy as me! Haha. Elder Tangi and I are focusing on strengthening the members and get a higher retention rate. The church is about a 10 minute walk from our apartment, which is the nicest in the mission. We actually have a shower (still no hot water) instead of a bucket, and a well (which is never used), and 3 bathrooms and 3 bed rooms with a decent living room. The set up is kind of funny on it. We have to do all of our cooking outside. Don't worry though, there are still some Butikis (little lizards) to roam the house and help take care of the bugs. I am lucky to have this apartment for so long-I will most likely be here until middle of January. Today I had my first experience with burning our weekly garbage and washing my clothes by hand. The town is pretty neat. Its a small-medium sized town, but no Mcdonalds or anything big like that. Just the typical street shops and internet cafes and occasional market like any other respectable 3rd world country would have. Several of our investigators live a little more in the bush, and we have to walk through a dirt trail in the trees to get to them. It was really fun to do in the rain with the mud. The driving here is just like any other 3rd world country too-the lines are just mere suggestions. It was really funny on the way here when all of the other American (and Australian) missionaries were white knuckling it in their seats and fearing for their lives. It still amazes me that there aren't more crashes. I havn't been in a jeepney yet, but the tricys are pretty awesome. I'm going to try to convince President Carlos to let us get one. Haha. The tricys are everywhere here.
Well my time is up. FYI-we have an hour to email, but I can't reply to anyone but immediate family. That will have to be by hand. Sis Carlos says it takes about 3 weeks for stuff to get to me by snail mail, except around Christmas time, then it takes about 2 months.
The following comes from Sister Carlos's mission blog:
Eleven Amazing New Missionaries Arrive In Cauayan
After the transfer meeting we met with the 11 new trainers and their new missionaries for a brief orientation on the new 90-day training program for new missionaries. We are so excited to see and hear how this new program works for this batch.
They sang a gorgeous arrangment of "I Need Thee Every Hour"
Wow! What a batch! They are astir!
After a long plane flight, and an all-night bus ride the North Americans were particularly hungry and tired.
President Carlos welcomes new missionaries and shares some of his vision for their missions before breakfast is served.
At 5:30 am Thursday, September 8, 2011, we welcomed our newest batch of missionaries. We were totally impressed wtih every one of them! In fact they have so much musical talent that we asked them to put together a musical number to sing at the transfer meetings. Five were North Americans and 1 Australian. And low and behold they were able to sing two verses of a hymn in tagalog. All of the missionaries at the transfer meeting were totally blown away. They were fantastic. Not bad for a quick practice between showers, breakfast, interviews with the President and a 90-minute orientation meeting. We are looking forward to getting to know and work with these missionaries. They are truly a special batch!