Philippines Cauayan Mission

Monday, April 30, 2012

30 April 2012

Magandang Hapon po!
Kamusta po sa inyong lahat!
It's been a pretty crazy day and I'm emailing a little later than usual. The Assistants to the President decided to join us to go to the same family we went to last week and have the coconut party and lunch. One of them previously served here and it turns out that the other assistant knows them from before the mission, so it was a nice little party. We then had to go to Roxas to get our haircut because it turns out that there are no good barbers here in Mallig. In fact, the couple that are here are all parlor shops run by gays, and we know this because we got our haircut here a few weeks ago and did not want to repeat that experience. 
As usual, our week flew by and super busy. Tuesday we went to Cauayan for the Faith Factor activity and Elder Llorin had to feed me a bowl of pudding while he was blindfolded, so it was fun. And tasty. All that night I was going back and forth from the bathroom because the lunch (that I ate a nicer restaurant that should have been clean) obviously didn't set well. It's always a blast having stuff come out of both ends at the same time.
This area is definitely a lot different than Cabagan because life is VERY simple here. Basically, if you or someone in your family doesn't work in a rice field, you don't live. And there isn't that much money in it for them, so people are well off if they have a cement house and a floor other than dirt. Most of the houses are the size of our office or smaller. Dinner appointments are usually a little more interesting-a couple nights ago I ate a bird smaller than my hand that they had caught and cooked the same day. It tasted alright, but there wasn't much meat. Most of the work here is focused on less actives, and we only have a couple investigators because we are constantly trying to reactivate. But, the investigators that we do have are pretty awesome and super nice. With only about 50 people coming to church (on a good week) out of more than 300 members, there is plenty of work to do. But, the people here are always over the top nice, even if it's obvious they don't have much themselves. 
You asked more about Elder Llorin-well, he was baptized about 2 years ago and he is the only member in his family except for one of his brothers that has been inactive for a long time and has no interest in coming back (which is actually how the missionaries found him). He is a good cook and very nice, and his goal is to become a movie writer someday because he is sick of watching all the crappy Fillipino movies. Haha. 
It's a good thing I havn't sweat to death yet-I'm pretty sure all I do every day is just drip and wipe my face. The people here are saying it's 40 celsius, so when added with the 90 %humidity, it equals sweat. At night we just lay on top of the sheets and hope there is no brown out to make the electric fans turn off. Otherwise, we wake up to the imprints of our body on our sheets from sweating. Ice water is our best friend. 
Well time is a little short today. Good luck to Kyle on his adventure to Tuba City. And Mom, seems how I know you will be asking about Mother's Day next week, I'll beat you to it. We'll just do the Skype like we did at Christmas, probably on your Sunday evening/night. That way you don't have to pay to call our cell phone. 
Mahal Kita,
Elder Nay

23 April 2012

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat!

Sounds like another busy and fun week back on the home front! Weird that Kyle and Aimee are now off to the part of being tossed around the United States in order to do big kid doctor stuff. Today we were finally able to do something other than clean. It was fun to be able to travel through a couple of kilometers of nothing but rice fields on a caliglig (a bunch of metal welded together to make a big cart with wheels and a long front end with another set of wheels and a 20 horsepower motor strapped to the top) in order to get to a member's place to hang out and get a bunch of coconuts to make fresh coconut juice. I also got a good picture with a pig and pig face that only Bill would love. 
This week was a great week of teaching a lot of appointments and having 4 investigators come to church. I think I also heard the best excuse yet for not being able to read from the Book of Mormon. I've heard a lot of excuses before, but I think this is my new number one. When we asked one of our investigators why she wasn't able to read the BOM, she said that she wasn't allowed to because she had to wait 7 months after giving birth (just had a baby last month) before reading anything or else her eyesight will go bad. That is probably the weirdest wise tale I've heard here so far. I had to force myself to be nice and not tell her that was nothing but a joke, but when we left I just couldn't help but laugh. 
This week I also realized how sad some people are as a result of the apostasy and why there are so many different religions. One lady told us she wasn't allowed to pray because in her religion, only the pastor can pray and talk to God. How sad is that that people aren't even allowed to talk to their own God? Fortunately, after spending several minutes explaining to her that Our Heavenly Father loves to hear the voices of ALL of his children, we were able to get her to pray. Something so simple, but yet so important. With a different lady, it was a great experience to see that even though she didn't properly address Our Heavenly Father and close in the name of Jesus Christ, she cried out in tears as she gave thanks for the things in her life and talked to God. It was a neat experience and the Spirit was so strong, and helped me understand that God really does hear prayers from everyone-even if they aren't perfectly 'correct'. 
As we started focusing on and teaching a 16 year old girl after showing great interest in the BOM and wanting answers to life's questions, I realized how important the light of Christ is in all of us. After teaching her more about the BOM and her interest kept peaking, we asked her to come to church. She said she would love to except she is actively involved in the choir and youth programs of her church at the same time. It is always great to see great people of different faiths, but I couldn't help but wonder to myself, If she is truly devoted to her religion, why is she listening to missionaries of another faith? Then I remembered that that is the job of the light of Christ in all of us-to keep us interested in the truth, even if they don't know it yet. 
Well my back is sweaty from sitting in the chair too long and Elder Llorin is waiting for me, so I'd better wrap this up. Which reminds me-mom, if you could get around to sending a simple package to Elder Llorin, that would be awesome. He's been out here for over 4 months now and hasn't heard anything from his family and gotten only 1 small note from a ward member. I'll leave it up to you if you want to make it anonymous or not. He is good at English, so that shouldn't be a problem. 
Thanks for all you do and keep on keeping on! 
Mahal Kita, 
Elder Nay

Monday, April 16, 2012

16 April 2012

Magandang Hapon po!

Kamusta po kayo!?
Happy birthday to me! Not surprisingly, just because its my birthday, not too much has changed! We started off the day by having an absolute blast washing clothes, then moved on to our next exciting activity of cleaning the apartment. We spent a couple hours just cleaning our bedroom alone-to give you an idea of how absolutely disgusting the room was, while we moved everything and swept, we swept up several long girl hairs (hopefully from the sister missionaries.... Haha). Now, the last time sister missionaries were in there was about a year and a half ago. I'm guessing that's probably about the last time the place has ever been dusted or really swept. Not to mention the random trash laying around. We decided to take a break and have lunch and email, then when we get back we're back to cleaning some more. Conveniently, we have apartment checks this week so we didn't really have any other option than to clean today. Nothing that says happy birthday like cleaning other people's dirt and garbage all day! Hopefully next week we'll do something more exciting though to make up for it. There isn't really any special or weird birthday tradition here, pretty much just like at home with being able to pick dinner and stuff like that.
It has been really extremely super uncomfortably hot all day every day. To make it even worse, our apartment is just an oven and traps in the heat and it is colder outside than it is in our apartment. At night I woke up a couple of times because my back was too sweaty so I turned over to let it dry out. Good times. Last night Elder Llorin and I just laughed at ourselves when we tried to go to bed because we knew it was going to be futile trying to sleep. Even all the Fillipinos are complaining about how hot it is-that's how bad it is. But I do have good news-people are actually telling me I'm starting to get fat! Ha! Wouldn't that be weird? 
In Roxas there is a place where they make backpacks and fanny packs and stuff for super cheap. There are some just as good as quality as my mountainsmith and can be customized to whatever size and accessories you want, only for about 400 pesos (about 10 bucks). Too bad I paid about 80 for mine at home!
The area here is definitely different than in Cabagan. It is a lot more rural and the people here are much more poor. We teach some people in their grass huts smaller than our living room overlooking their rice fields. Rice fields is the way of life here, and it makes it difficult to find people home to teach during the day because everyone is out in the fields. But the good news is that when people are home, we are super busy and have lots of appointments. People are especially busy now because its harvest season.
Going to church was a little different than normal to say the least. The meetinghouse is probably smaller than our apartment and there aren't any rooms to teach classes in except for the 2 small bedrooms. When church started, there was a grand total of 15 people there, but by the time sacrament started, it got up to a whopping 25 or so. And what a surprise, I was asked to speak over the pulpit. Because all the talks didn't go very long, church was only 2 and a half hours instead of 3. It is definitely an interesting experience, and a lot of the work will be focusing on increasing the faith of members and the less actives. 
Not to worry about the eggnog that was sent-it did make it through customs. I will probably chug it later tonight. And it works out well because the last American that was here left his unopened traditional birthday cake frosting here. 
About the street cards, you don't need to send anything like that because they are all free here through the mission. And if you can find my credit card, go ahead and use it. I hope you remember where it is because I sure don't! Feel free to treat yourself to a new car or something with it. Haha
Thanks for all your birthday wishes and emails, sorry I don't have time to respond to them very quickly. Happy b-day to Jenna too! Crazy that its already been a year. 
Mahal Kita,
Elder Nay

Monday, April 9, 2012

9 April 2012

Magandang Hapon po!

Kamusta na kayo?!
I guess I wasn't meant to be the one to break the record of being in Cabagan the longest. Once I found out for sure that I was being transferred on Tuesday afternoon, I spent the last day and night in Cabagan visiting my recent converts and investigators that I have known for a while. When I visited them I shared with them in Alma 27:25-26 about how we are filled with joy when we share our conversion story with others, then basically had a little testimony meeting with all of them and had them share what they had learned from the time I have been with them. It was a great experience to even hear the investigators that havn't been baptized yet share what they had enjoyed from the simple things such as learning how to pray and read the Book of Mormon. At transfer day, it was fun to see everyone again because my whole batch from the MTC was there and I even got to give Elder Allen a pat on the back and talk to him for a few minutes. It was great to see that Elder Landeen (batch from MTC) took my spot in Cabagan and I know he will be able to make it even better. Now I am the follow up trainer of a batchmate of Elder Aguila in the promised land of the Roxas zone. I knew I was heading off to a fun start when after we threw the luggage on the top of the rented jeepney at the transfer meeting and got in, people had to get back out and give it a push so it could be clutch started. Reminded me of great times of pushing the jeeps halfway around the block. Then in the jeepney floor there were decent sized rusted holes to see the road beneath that I was just hoping the extra weight of my foot wouldn't cause it to break through. I am now in the Maliig area with Elder Llorin. Because of conference I haven't been to church in the meetinghouse yet here, but I am told "it will be an interesting experience". When I first arrived I had to haul out boxes of trash and clean up the apartment to make it somewhat safe before I fell asleep that night. Today that was also our P-day activity-cleaning. We got the place looking okay now, but I think after next weeks P-day activity of cleaning will finally make it reasonable. I couldn't believe how disgusting missionaries have let that place get. I don't think it's really been cleaned in well over a year. I am told there are even worse apartments too. The apartment itself isn't too bad, just needs to be cleaned up a bit (or a lot). But, I will definitely miss the Cabagan apartment. Elder Llorin is very nice though and I can tell this is going to be a good cycle because we see eye to eye on a lot of things. He is a Filipino from the San Pablo region. He is also a good cook so I have been getting a lot more decent food.
I got your package this week. It was opened and inspected by the U.S. Customs, but I think everything is still there and in good shape. Thanks for officially inviting me to Bryan's wedding too. I have been practicing some of the magic tricks to be able to show off to little kids. And of course the sugared goodies are a welcome invite. 
My SD card that I've been using finally became victim to the virus filled computers here and now my pictures can't be read by anything except for my camera. I might just send it home in an envelope and let dad mess with it. Luckily I bought a USB and backed them all up about a week before it crashed so there are only a few that I would lose if worse comes to worse. I also have a couple extra SD cards so I should be good until the next virus makes its way over. 
Easter here wasn't anything too special because i'm in a smaller area. But I'm told that the flogging and people hanging themselves on crosses and stuff was going on in Roxas which is about a 30 minute jeepney ride. The only thing here is that old ladies were singing some verses in the New Testament starting at about 5 in the morning until about 11 at night. It reminded me of the mosques in Egypt. And luckily for me, our apartment is right next to where they were singing. 
Well I think that's about all I have time for today. Thanks for writing and for being you!
Mahal Kita,
Elder Nay

Monday, April 2, 2012

2 April 2012

Magandang Umaga po!

Kamusta na kayo?
This week I am emailing a little earlier than usual so I might just have to read your emails next week. We started out the morning playing a little basketball with a bunch of members and it was another humbling experience to see how absolutely terrible I am at it. Every one thinks I am amazing because I am American and 6'2", but they were in for a nice surprise! It really is surprising to see how popular basketball here is. There are hoops and small courts everywhere (streets, fields, random cement pads) and I always love to see the ones that are rigged up to a tree. Most Fillipinos are surprisingly good at basketball and follow the NBA and NCAA much more closely than I ever did. Everybody knows the Utah Jazz and the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
This is most likely my last couple of days here in Cabagan because transfer days are this Thursday. Who knows, maybe my 7 and a half months here will turn into 9! They say the record here is 11 months for one missionary so we'll see if I can beat that. Haha. Just to be safe though, I've already started my goodbyes and giving away a lot of stuff to make my packing easier. I didn't realize how much extra crap I brought with me here! Haha. It's been fun though to be here so long and especially to see the area grow so much from since I first got here. I've been passing around a book of remembrance to several members and investigators that I've been working with for a while so I have their information.
The unusual cold and rain has now left and I think later today it will be back to the blazing heat of the summer here. It was over 7 days of not seeing the sun so it's kind of weird to see it now. I tell people I wish it was the same weather as last week and they think I'm crazy. One of the days it rained for about 12 hours straight which was fun. Especially because we didn't have an umbrella. Good thing we're waterproof though! Haha. And no, my waterproof shoes are no longer waterproof because of the huge holes on the bottom. Tops are still good though! They've still got a little life left though before I slap some tire tread on the bottom. Everybody that saw us walking around in the rain as if it was nothing told us we were going to be sick the next day (one of the weird wise tales here is that if you get rained on, you will get sick). And what a surprise, the next day, we did NOT get sick!
As usual we were extremely busy this week and I even beat my last record of lessons taught in one week, which is now 31. It is summer break here so not as many people are in school which makes it easier to teach and also there are several members that are able to work with us more often so we can go on more splits. It was kind of weird this week because I feel like I was on splits with ward members more than I was a companion with Elder Aguila! It's kind of nice to be able to cover twice as much territory though and we are able to visit people that live more on the outskirts of our area that we couldn't visit before. I didn't realize how absolutely huge our area is until earlier this week. It's probably over 30 kilometers big north and south, and who knows how many kilometers east and west. All I know is that it is a couple of "sees" big-that is as far as you can see, then as far as you can see again. I was able to visit a little town on the bottom of the mountains and nothing but pure fields of rice and corn and banana trees. I was only there for a couple of hours but it was fun while it lasted. One of our investigators that will most likely be baptized this month said something interesting that I thought I would share. She has been an investigator since December and just last week was able to completely leave the coffee. I asked her how her prayers were lately and she said much better than before. When I asked her why she said it was because she started praying more for other people rather than herself. It's great to see how much something as simple as teaching someone how to pray can make them feel so much happier and bring them closer to our Heavenly Father.
Hopefully you all had a great conference weekend, and I'll try to do the same this week.
Mahal Kita,
Elder Nay