Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 25 (Dec. 28, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hi Mom! :D Skyping was awesome!! I loved seeing you all :) And I think I'm the type that gets reinvigorated :) Tell Kari I was happy to see her too :P

So, last week, after transfers, I spent a day and a half, over the course of 3 days in A whole different zone, out in Cabanautan :P We had a baptism, but I don't think you should count that one for me. I met the kid the night before :) Anyway, after the baptism, Jovin (the kid that was baptized.... age 9 I think?) and his family took us across the street for lunch :) The dad took pictures, and I was the only one with a camera, so I get to keep them :) Jovin and his family are at a different table, but this is everybody else that showed up for the baptism.

The guy in green conducted and baptized, the two girls in different shades of blue gave talks, and the girl in pink showed up after the closing prayer. It would've been sad if the kid cared. I think he was too upped on candy to notice. He practically dived in the baptismal font after shouting "SWIMMING!" Ah well. It was fun :)

Later that day, the guy in Green, girl in Dark blue, and girl in pink worked with us during our lessons. The girl in Dark blue and the guy in Green are sort of a thing, I think, and the girl in pink is a psycho, and is sort of my favorite :P She calls me "Baby Blues Eyes." Yea, she's sort of super nuts, and really loud and hyper and awesome :D She does fine between the oping and closing prayers of the lessons, but any other time.... ya :)

We had a Mission Conference on Tuesday with one half of the mission, and our Zone got to perform Silent Night. The Zone Leaders sort of gave it me to take charge of the whole thing, but I have very little to no creative ability, and we only had a single hour and a half practice, so I taught half the guys the bass part, and let the other half sing melody with the 4 sisters in our zone. I would've added the other parts if we had more sisters, but we made do. I thought it sounded nice :) I also learned to play Silent Night on the piano :D

Also, at the Christmas Conference, I met up with all the Missionaries out of St. George!

Sister Shipley, Sister Freeman, Sister Dalley, and Elder Bundy! I need a haircut.

Our whole group at the Christmas Conference

I also got a Christmas card from a "Fish. A Girl from Hong Kong" Tell Fish thanks. She's a pal :)
Jody Hughes from the Blooming Hills YSA 2nd ward also sent me a card. She's a pal too :)
(I actually have never met either of them)

The one on the far right is from the First Presidency. They're pals too :)

I made a Christmas Tree :)

And Christmas Dinner :)

These are the most ginormousest ants I've ever seen ever. Literally as long as your finger nail is wide.

So ya, those are the pictures.

Christmas was really fun :) We visited about 10-12 homes: investigators, less actives, recent converts, and our group leader for a work report. We were fed at all but one appointment. So super delicious :P The only one we were actually scheduled to eat was our last appointment, but I was so full that I just sampled everything :P

The Day after was just as filling, with a whole bunch of left overs. I also got to Skype you guys, so that's awesome of course :)

Anyway, My brain is sort of fried right now. The music wasn't as easy as I thought and it took a bit of time, but I've finally got it. Love you though!! So much!!

Elder Syphus

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week 24 (Dec. 21, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

How long are you allowed for skyping?
I have 40 minutes for skyping, and we'll see how it goes. Erik will
have to guide both of us through it :)

Who is your new companion?
My new companion is good. His name is Elder Nalumen and he's from
Iloilo City. We've only been together for one full day though, so
you''ll here more about him next week.

Are you still serving in San Leonardo?
Yup, still in San Leonardo :)

Where was Elder Maestrado from and what are his plans now that he's home?
Elder Maestrado is from Bohol. He wants to be a seaman, but isn't sure
because that could lead to him becoming less active. I don't know much
else about it though.

Have you had a chance to make your birthday desserts yet?
I haven't made them yet. I'm planning on doing it sometime this week.
We don't have pie tins or cake pans/ the thing the Oreo dessert needs,
so I'll buy some today. And yes, I can buy milk :)

What is this I hear about the Madrigals changing their name to Aero something or other?
They changed there name at the beginning of the school year. Snow
still isn't completely sold on the idea, but she's willing to give it
a try,

Are you allowed to view little video snippets on your email from the family?
I don't really know. Sister Clark sends us a slide show every week, but
I don't know if we can accept them from our families. I would think
probably not :\

So this week was interesting. First, remember that I'm writing these
emails to you specifically. You get to decide what's suitable to share
with the public if anything at all. Just a reminder.
Things have been sort of rough since Elder Maestrado left. He's the
one that taught me just about everything about being a Missionary, and
it was really hard seeing him go. My new temporary companion was the
Zone Leader in Gapan and is COMPLETELY different than my Tatay, and
the change was a huge shock. I had to spend about 45-50 minutes one
morning just laying in bed trying to control myself. Breathing and
breathing and just emptying everything out of my head. Elder Maestrado
is very quiet and lets me handle things by myself. More than a few times
he would walk up to me and say something like "Are you okay?" "Do you
need Something?" "Should I do something?"
I realize he was just trying to help, and I truly appreciate that, but
my only response was "Ssshhhhhhhhh.... Ssshhhhhhh..... Ssshhhhhhhhhh"
I think I was saying it to myself as much as I was to him.

I was hardly able to teach any of our investigators this week, because
half of the time we were in my temp comp's area. After coming home
from the transfer meeting in Cabanautan on Thursday, we went straight
to a ward Christmas party that lasted until 10 PM. It was very loud
and chaotic and had very little if any spiritual moments, and I felt
like throwing up more than once. The music was full of swearing and
innuendos that nobody but I understood because it was in english. My
new companion was enjoying himself though, so I just took a plastic
chair outside and sat next to the window, trying to get some air.
Friday, we went back to Cabanatuan and I was left with the Zone Leader
there to work with him, while his companion and mine went to Manila to
attend the temple. I had taken three 1-hour bus rides in 2 days and
was now working with another Zone Leader in a whole different Zone.
Four companions (two of which are zone leaders), three areas, two
zones, and one big mess of emotions, all in a week. I worked with him
Friday evening, and all day Saturday. Our companions didn't get back
to Cabanatuan until around 10 PM, so we had to take the hour bus ride
home Sunday morning before our 8 AM church meetings. I sort of fell
apart again after we got home from church. My falling apart isn't that
big of a deal to anyone watching. I just lay down, close my eyes and
breath slowly. It's pretty intense though on the inside. I just tried
to empty my head again until my alarm went off, telling me that I'd
been working at it unsuccessfully for about 2 and a half hours, and
that it was time to give up and get to work. So I did. I got dressed,
we left and I stared at my feet for the whole 15 minute walk to our
first appointment. Things got better after we started teaching though,
and I made it through the day.
I don't tell you all this to worry you, but I just needed to get it
out somehow. Sorry. I should be fine this week, but I'll let you know
for sure on Christmas. Love you Mom.

Elder Syphus


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Week 23 (Dec. 14, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hi Mom :)

So ya, I got the packages! Thank you so much Mom!! I only opened the birthday one, and will wait for Christmas to open the other. I got it yesterday, right after Elder Maestrado and I parted ways. I was already a little sad because of that, and when I opened up the "Memories" book, all I could do was cry. They weren't necessarily sad tears, just "I-miss-you" tears. Thank you SO much though :) I've been really wanting pictures from home for a while. Easily the best Birthday Present anyone could've given me. Thank you!!

I don't know if I'm losing weight, but I'm definitely not gaining any. Exercising hasn't gotten any easier, and my appetite has gotten significantly smaller since I left home. I don't really feel sick, but I don't feel like the image of health either. We stayed home from work on Tuesday, because my stomach wasn't too happy with my cooking the day before. I don't know if that's really the reason, seeing as Elder Maestrado was fine, but that's the only thing I can think of.

Truly? Not sure right now. I miss Elder Maestrado, and wish I could've celebrated my birthday with him. I'm partnering up with the Zone Leader right now, which is fine and all, but his Polynesian heritage is a little loud. He is also the exact opposite of Elder Maestrado between him and me, we didn't talk a bunch at all. He just sort of left me to my thoughts, which I was fine with for the most part. I've always liked to think. Sometimes when I was up in my room at home and it was noisy downstairs for whatever reason, I would climb up on the roof and just watch the sky. Thinking about everything and nothing, all at once. It relaxed me then and it relaxes me now. Granted, being Elder Maestrado's companion could be sort of lonely at times, but I've been relatively "happy" for the last 3 Transfers. I feel like the Lord has given me two extremes. Elder Murdock at one end and Elder Maestrado at the other. I loved one and.... didn't love the other. Now I'm just waiting to find where the breaking point is. At what point in that spectrum will I not be able to handle a companion. I'm hoping it's lower rather than higher, but I'm not too sure...
Chances are I'll be staying, but both missionaries leaving in a single transfer isn't completely unheard of either; just sort of rare.

Investigators are doing alright. King was out of town yesterday, and I've yet to hear from Denmar, but neither attended church yesterday, and so won't be being baptized until January at the earliest. Mary Rose still seems to be progressing, but we'll find out for sure a little later. We found another investigator, Victor Riego, who asks good, legitimate questions, and we're able to give pretty good answers. He seems pretty interested, but wants to know more before he commits to attend church and be baptized. We'll keep working with him :)

All I know is that you're not supposed to send them through FedEx or UPS. The fee for me through them is close to $50 dollars a package, I think. Also, don't be super specific in the declaration thing. "Missionary Supplies", "Non-Perishable Food Items", "Birthday Gift", and/or "Christmas Gift" should suffice for just about anything.

I'd love some music. The only stuff I have right now is BYU Men's Chorus. If you could, my wishlist is Instrumentals (Piano Guys should have some good ones), Pentatonix (just their Christmas stuff), and MoTab. If you can think of anything else that would do me good, you can send that too :)


And now, for the rest of the happenings this week :)
On Wednesday, President Clark visited our district meeting to share a short message of encouragement. He says we're on our way to achieving our goal of 1650 by December 31st, but if it doesn't happen it doesn't mean we're all damned. We need to do our best, of course, but the Lord doesn't work in specific dates. Time is our problem, not his. If we baptize 1649 by December 31st and then 1 on January 1st, all the Lord sees is 1650 souls returning to him and our Heavenly Father.

Thursday was a birthday party for Tatay Pepe (72) and a farewell party for Elder Maestrado (22). There was cake (chocolate) and spaghetti (tomato.... I think. It could've been banana. They do that here). They also had a live karaoke machine for anybody who wanted to, and EVERYBODY wanted to. I don't know why :P

Saturday was Elder Maestrado's last day of work and we worked till the end. 10 lessons and 10 contacts. The Standard of Excellence in a week is 40 lessons and 35 contacts. It was a good day, and ended pretty well too :) We went to a Member's house for their birthday and they ended up giving us gifts. A pair of tsinelas formy birthday (19), and a pair of tsinelas for the soon departing Elder Maestrado (22). Fun fun :)

We went to Church early Sunday morning, had lunch at the Carpeso house, they dropped me off at the Gapan Stake center where Elder Maestrado and I parted ways, and I teamed up with the Zone Leader. He's my companion now until Thursday :)

That's my week! Love you all, and thanks for the letters of love and support!

Elder Syphus

 Happy Halloween/ Happy Birthday :)
 Garcia Family
 Conde Family
Brother Denmar

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 22 (Dec. 8, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hello my Lovely Mother!! :D

I got the Envelope, but no package yet. No worries though :)
I cooked for my birthday :) More Details later :)
No news about the typhoon besides we don't need to really worry about it.

So, I actually wrote in my Journal this week!! :D About everything I did last week!! :D Which means pulling blurry memories from the back of my mind..... Yup, I've got nothing.

We still have some good investigators though :) Denmar and Mary Rose are still progressing towards the 27th, but King has to be pushed a week back. He got sick yesterday morning and wasn't able to attend church :\ We also have a family! Lyka, Leonardo, and Mrs. I don't know her name, but Leonardo is her husband, so she has to be a Mrs. Leonardo is set for January 10, but none of them have been able to attend church yet. We'll see how it all works out :)

I'm low on time today, sorry :( I blame all of the AWESOME Birthday Wishes I got (Thanks friends and family!!!!​​! :D ) So I'll cut to pictures.

Went birthday shopping on Monday. Boom. Blue na Blue :D Yay for $5 gift packages :D

I got a puzzle from a friend! I don't get it... (I also don't have a window to put all of them on) :P

Sometimes, I feel bad that I'm not a better artist. I then I think of Shaun. And then I say. "I am a top-notch artist."
Top 3 (in no order) - Shaun, Erik, Katelyn :)

Carpeso family made me dinner for my birthday. Thanks friends :) (That's not a Carpeso. That's a Jerald. He was working with us :)

Cake! :D

Story about the cake- The Carpesos gave us a ride home from Stake Conference and Sister Carpeso asked what my favorite Cake was. I didn't really answer because I'm not all that fond of cake. Brother Jerald in the back jokes "coffee cake!" Remembering a Coffee cake given to my dad and I a few years back by some members, I said "Ya, that's delicious." (It's a normal thing to say in Tagalog). Everyone starting freaking out saying "That's not allowed! Against the Word of Wisdom!" I clarified saying that it's not really coffee. It's not even coffee flavoring. I don't know why it's called a Coffee cake. It's more of a crumble cake. Anyway, they understood me, but then I showed up at there house later that night to teach a lesson, and they handed me this cake. It's coffee colored, smells like coffee, and the box is marked "MOC" Mocha? Long story short, I ate the sugar flowers, and put the cake in the fridge, waiting for a definite answer from a reliable source. 

Cooked breakfast this morning :D French Toast, Bacon, Eggs, and Orange Juice. Don't worry, my comp's plate looks the same :)

Apparently this is called "Southwest Chicken." I was told of a magical dish wish involved "black beans, corn, and shredded chicken on top of corn chips, with sour cream, cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese on top of that." No instructions, no portions. So of course I tried it :D Turned out all right. :)
These are all of the missionaries who had birthdays in October, November and December.

Anyway, little short this week, sorry :( Next week will be better! I promise!!

Thank you, love you!!

Elder Syphus

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 21 (Dec. 1, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

MERRY CHRISTMAS MERRY CHRISTMAS MERRY CHRISTMAS :D :D :D :D *happy dance, happy dance, oh what a happy dance*
A few minutes ago, a motorcycle taxi drove past playing Christmas music. I said "stop it." I then I stopped. And thought. And then smiled. A big, happy, beautiful (always beautiful) smile. Like this :D 'Cause it's December 1st!! It's Christmas time!!!! :D :D :D :D :D
I miss people that know how to sing :(

So, this week won't be as detailed or long as normal because I didn't write in my journal this week :/ I opened up "Our Heritage" during Personal Study one day, and have been spending all of my free time this past week reading and then finishing that, reading and then finishing "Our Search For Happiness," and then reading but not quite finishing "Jesus the Christ." I feel like Joel again. I'm reading :D

Here's some updates though, of what I can pull off the top of my head. Mary Rose had her BGD moved to December 6!! And then they scheduled stake conference for that week. And a ward temple trip the next week. And the Ward Christmas Party on the 20th. So now she's getting baptized on December 27 :P I just hope she continues to attend church. She had the flu yesterday and missed it, and can't miss it again. That tends to be the hardest thing for investigators out here. It's the only meeting house in about a 25-30 mile radius.
Our other progressing Investigators are Denmar, and his cousin King Leonard (that's his legal name)! They're both scheduled for December 27th, and both attended Church yesterday :) This is Denmar's second time in attendance. He's probably one of our smartest investigators we've/ I've ever taught. He catches on really quick. Last Sunday, our Gospel Principal class was about the Priesthood, and then back on Wednesday, we taught him the Gospel of Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, Endure to the End). After we showed him the picture of the laying on of hands to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, he asked how he could get the Priesthood. His cousin, King, was there and asked him "what's the Priesthood?" Denmar says "It's like God's power. If your family gets sick you can heal them with it, and baptize people." Elder Maestrado and I just looked at each other like "What? Where did he learn all this?" Turns out he actually pays attention in church. Right-O good sir. Right-o.

We also stopped by Jessica Talana's (squiggly n) house this week. She let us in, and we talked, but she wouldn't let us teach. She says she wants to become a Mormon, but wants to decide for herself. She says that when we were teaching her, we almost had her convinced, and she doesn't want to be convinced. That wasn't conviction (right?), that was CONVERSION!!! She thinks we're like, brainwashing her or something. Danielle Stergis, I blame you.

Also, I've started subconsciously comparing the work to a Harvest Moon game. In Harvest Moon, in order to build relationships with people, you talk to them every single day and give them something they like a lot, like an eggplant or a turtle....dove..... feather (It's a magical blue feather, I know. I just wanted to implement turtle somehow). Sometimes, the person isn't at home, and so you go to the only other place they ever seem to go to. That's what it's like here. Everybody seems to be in one of two places. We go and talk to all of our investigators every day to build relationships an give a spiritual thought. When they're not at the first place. They're at the Second place. Always. It's actually super convenient :)

Anyway, love you so much!!

Elder Syphus

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 20 (Nov. 24, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

I Promise that I didn't forget your Anniversary!! I wrote about it in my Journal and everything :P Sorry that I didn't mention it last week, but HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD :D

Nope, I'm not serving in a city :) It's sort of like Winchester, but a lot noisier and bigger. No big buildings or stores or anything like that. We've got the market and a couple gas stations, and there's a 7/11 on it's way! :D
Mary Rose, Shiela, and Denmar are all doing well :) Mary Rose and Denmar attended church yesterday, but Shiela had to stay home and help her mom with something. Her mom is also an investigator- Vangie Alcantara. Mary Rose is now in 2nd Nephi of the Book of Mormon, and Denmar just finished Joseph Smith's Testimony, but Denmar is a lot newer than Mary Rose :) We taught him the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity yesterday with the help of a Less Active Returned Member. He had a lot of questions (not arguments) that we were able to answer well enough :) He said he used to smoke and drink, but when we asked if he'd quit, and follow both commandments, he said "Of Course! It's a Commandment of God, right?" Right :) He was also wearing an earring, and as we started talking about the law of chastity, our member friend told him straight up, "Earrings are forbidden." I cringed a little, but then Brother Cabrales showed him the piercings in his own ear, reassuring him that he need not be ashamed. Denmar was happy enough to get rid of it :)

Thanks for the quote Mom!! I needed it :P Although being a Missionary helps a lot with staying positive, you do start feeling down when a Progressing Less Active starts smoking and drinking, and a strong member entertains the thought of going apostate because of something she heard on the news (Apparently, Joseph Smith had 40 wives, the youngest of which was 13...) I guess that's what we're here for- to help these kind of people fight there trials and restore their faith. Carry on!

So, Monday and Tuesday weren't terrible exciting- I spent my free time writing replies to letters I've received, and reading "Our Heritage." Excellent book about the History of the Church, by the way. I definitely recommend it :)

During our weekly District Meeting on Wednesday, one of the Zone Leaders walked into the Room with a Water Gun, giving us each 10 seconds to convince him not to shoot us. When he came to me, I yanked the gun out of his hand and shot him in the face. Boom. Convinced.... He still shot me. -_-

During our Lesson with the Ecot Family (the Part Members we found in the Jungle) this week, like twenty 12-15 year olds showed up to listen... and a chicken. This was the weirdest chicken I've ever met in my life. It kept jumping off of the ground and sitting in my lap!! I tried moving it onto the bench next to me, but he started eating my bag, so I put him in a tree. Then he jumped out of the tree and onto my shoulder. What is wrong with this thing!! He wasn't afraid of people, just chillin' with us. Eventually, we used him as part of an object lesson. Really, we just spun him in circles, watching as his head stayed in place. It's a wonderful thing :) I named him Gus, by the way. We became okay friends. After the lesson was over, we stood up to leave and all the kids that came late just got really big eyes and started staring at me, saying "Tall... tall... tall... tall...." Um..... thank you?

Another lesson was to Danilo Nagano (squiggly n), another investigator progressing towards baptism. We gave him a WoW pamphlet at the end of our previous lesson for him to look over, and when we returned, he had read the whole thing voer to cover at least 3 times, and readily blamed his daily cup of coffee for his stomache problems. But ya, he committed to live the commandment on his own because of a pamphlet. Sounds good, sounds good :) Oh, also, he doesn't really have legs and cuts hair for a living. He's sort of my favorite :)

Anyway, love you and hope you're well!!

Love, Joel / Elder Syphus

I was going for a bunny. Platypi are good too :) Yay circles! :D

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GREAT VOLCANO, THE DIAMOND BACKS ARE KNOWN. ....somethin somethin somethin rice fields somethin.... WITH COURAGE all/on OUR OWN!! WE'RE DEPENDABLE.... and something something..... NEVER ENDS. sometinh somethin somethin somethin somethin somethin else..... WE STRIKE!!! SSSSSSSSSSS... WE ARE THE DIAMOND VALLEY DIAMOND BACKS! DIAMOND VALLEY!!! :D :D :D
(can I get the rest of the words please?)

The jungle next to the field. and orchard.

The Orchard of calamansy. (sp?) Sour little lime babies.

The sunset above the orchard.

Biggest Ant I've ever seen. It's longer than your finger nail, and about as wide (legs included) as a pencil. And it has spider web powers.

After setting up the meeting house for church the next day. That's the podium in the bottom left.

The Beetles got trapped in their yellowish submarine. Thankfully the wonder pets were there to help.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 19 (Nov. 17, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hello Mother :)

I think I'll just email you from now on, and you can be in charge of deciding what you do and don't want to include in the blogpost. Our time on the computer has been cut to 2 hours, and that include filling out reports and writing the Mission President, which usually all takes about an hour, so... :P

Anyway, remember the names I told you about last Week? Mary Rose, Jessica, Richard, and Jefferson? Well last week, if I had time to tell you, I would've said something like this:
"Woah! We've pretty much got the coolest investigators ever! They're all reading the Book of Mormon, attending church, and have really great testimonies! :D "
A lot can change in a week. So can an alot. But that's besides the point. Mary Rose is still going strong, thank goodness, but the others..... All I want to do is cry sometimes, even just thinking about it. Here's what I've got to say about it now:
Jessica Talana: She has a Testimony. She knows this Church is True. She knows Joseph Smith is a Prophet. She is reading the Book of Mormon, and knows it's from God. But she's afraid. Her family is Catholic, and she doesn't want to leave them. She is no longer taking lessons from us...
Jefferson Kagurangan: He has a Testimony. He knows this Church is True. He knows Joseph Smith is a Prophet. He is reading the Book of Mormon, and knows it's from God. He has attended Church 3 weeks in a row. But he's stressed. He has 8-9 hours of school, not including homework, 6 days a week. He's not home at night, and we as missionaries are studying in the Morning. He is no longer taking lessons from us...
Richard Berlis: He was supposed to be baptized in two weeks. He's attended church twice. He's been reading the Book of Mormon. But he doesn't pray. He has no testimony. He doesn't want to leave his all Catholic family. He is no longer taking lessons from us...

Satan's not joking around. He's been playing this game a lot longer than any of us have, and he plays dirty. Sometimes it seems hopeless. So we keep working until it doesn't. I think these 3 have affected me so much because they're the first few people I've taught that have really progressed, and then flipped a U-ie all of a sudden. I'm not depressed, and I'm not giving up, I'm just a little frustrated is all. It's not all bad though. We still have a few really great investigators, like Mary Rose and her niece, Shiela. We met Denmar yesterday, and he seems really interested and ready to commit. We'll see how it goes and we'll continue to push forward :) We've also found two more Less Actives! We actually found them the same way. We OYMed a non-member, set an appointment, and followed up. The non-member wasn't there, but the person who was is a Member! It was quite an adventure trying to find one of them actually; it was about 6:30 PM and cloudy, so pretty much pitch black without a light. We OYMed Jelina a few days before, but not at her house. She gave us the general direction but that was it. We got lost for about 45 minutes trying to traverse a dirt path in the middle of a jungle like place with a cell phone flash light :P We heard a voice and started moving towards it. We found a random little hut in the middle of a jungle. Coolest thing ever :P Anyway, we asked the man inside if he knew where Jelina lived. In a really high voice (he has a really voice), he said he was her dad. SUCCESS! :D 'Cept she wasn't home :P
Anyway, her dad, Julius, is a member, and her brothers, Jason and Jerry both have BGDs! Now just to teach them how to get to the meeting house :P

In random unrelated words, I have met a lot of Color People. Not colored people, you racist, Color People. Red, Pink, Purple, Green, Blue, and Grey. Those are their legal names. Yup... Philippines...

​We found this cool Robot Spider Graveyard Place. I'ma go 'splorin.

Love you!!!
Elder Syphus

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 18 (Nov. 10, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Feels like a party everyday.....

...Hey Jessie.

This week and from now on will be a little different, and I'll tell you why in a bit :)

On Monday, after our P Day from Morning till 6, we headed over to the Zone Leaders Apartment. They are in our Ward, and had a Family Home Evening scheduled for the night. The Members said to invite the "Other Missionaries," and I guess that means us, because we were invited. (Dear Shaun. I apologize for calling you the "Other Brother." It hurts. I love you so much. You're welcome. Love Joel) Anyway, we headed to the Zone Leader's Apartment, but showed up and they weren't there. It's hot in the Philippines, and we didn't want to wait outside, so I climbed the wall next to their apartment, and wall jumped across the alley to their overhang second story balcony. Boom. I would have made a Great monkey in Tarzan. Anyway, they were smart enough to lock their second story door, but not the window. The windows are barred here, and there was a screen, so I had to jimmy the screen lock open with a key and reach through to flick the door bolt open. Success :D I was super proud of myself :)

After we got inside. I ran downstairs and unlocked the door for my companion. This is the window they left open. Behind my right shoulder is the doors lock. It was a long stretch :P

Family home evening was fun, but a little unplanned. Truthfully, nothing was planned. Elder Kadarmia wanted to do my fancy "balance-a-flaming-toothpick-and-two-forks-on-one-edge-of-a-drinking-glass" trick, but didn't know how. Pfft. Amateur ;) So instead he read a scripture and said he loved all of his, and so does the Savior. That was the entire lesson (He actually has a really awesome testimony. And an accent. That's always a plus). Then we drew pictures for the activity. It was a SUPER weird FHE. Food was good though, and we got pictures, so all is well :)

Family home Evening!

The rest of the week was kind of a blur, just like this picture:

That's what happens when your camera falls off the table while taking a picture.

Take 2

Anyway, the rest of the week.

John Robert, the super investigator, is now in Manila- a whole different mission :/ We sent his information to their MP, but don't know what will happen with him :( Definitely a setback, but we were able to push forward :)

We had quite a few meetings this week about how to push forward with everything we've got for the rest of the year especially. We had a goal for 2014 of 1650 baptisms, and we're only a little past 1200 right now. President Clark showed up in every zone to share some encouragement, and to install a new work plan. Follow Up 200. We now work in only two areas, in alternating days. When we're not teaching lessons in a specific area, we're following up on commitments. Daily contact with investigators, Lesson planning, and Teaching Time Outs are key in this mission, and will bring to pass the Immortality and Eternal Life of 1650 Men and Women.

As part of this, we've been working extra hard on 4 specific Investigators. Richard Berlis, Jefferson Kagurngan, Jessica Talana (squiggly n), and Mary Rose Ramos. I'm short on time today, so I'll update you more on them next week if you send me a reminder :)

But ya, SUPER short on time. In short, Love you all wish you the best, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BEAUTIFUL AND INCREDIBLE MOTHER!!!! LOVE YOU MOM!!!!

Elder Syphus

The moon (it was exponentially more beautiful in person)

Our meeting House at 8:05 AM on Sunday. Sacrament Meeting starts at 8. Oh ya, about the meeting house: It's the Meeting House for everyone in San Leonardo, which is about the Size of Saint George, so most people can't walk. About 10 people in San Leonardo (Saint George) own cars, and only one of those is a member. Instead, people ride Motorcycle Taxis everywhere. It's fun and cheap :) About a dollar to get from Diamond Valley to Bloomington.

No packages yet. Elder Maestrado says if they were sent by boat at the beginning of October, they may not get here until the end of January, but that's only a possibility :P No worries :)
Training is over, transfers are passed, and I will be killing my Tatay :P It just means I'll be Elder Maestrado's last companion. He goes home December 17!!
Tummy is fine :) It gets rumbly tumbly every now and then, but it's usually just bubbles :P

I'm still a little bummed I didn't get to see Tarzan, but it's all good. I'll have to borrow somebodies DVD when I get home :)
That's so awesome about Katie and Shaun!! :D :D :D :D Am I the first to know besides You and Dad?
Tell Keith congrats for me!!!! That's awesome!! Kid's going to do great! :D

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!! I sang to you probably 30 times yesterday. Just walking down the road :P I hope you heard ;) I think my voice has gotten better. I've got a bit of vibrato now, and I can hit higher notes better :)

Loves and hugs!!

Elder Syphus

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 17 (Nov. 2, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

So on Monday (I have literally no idea how to start these things), we headed to Cabanatuan. It's a whole different Zone from us on it's own, and would usually be off limits, but Elder Maestrado needed to get a X Ray before he goes home and the letter said to do it in Cab. So he went and got his X Ray, he emailed (that's why it was so early) and went shopping at the Biggest Mall this side of the Mission. It was still sorta junky :P I mean, it's nice and everything, but super cramped. I prefer City Creek in Salt Lake :) Th one plus side though, is that we got to go to Pizza Hut for Lunch!! It was about as expensive as Little Ceasars, which is pretty expensive here, but it was good :) We got an Italian Bacon Margherita, and I enjoyed it, but Elder Maestrado was disappointed with the lack of toppings. It was a little sparse, but still enjoyable :) After our time at the Mall, we returned to pick up the X Ray results, but they still didn't have them and told us to return the next day. Not possible... So right now, we are again in Cabanatuan, a week from his X Ray, to pick up the results. We probably won't be doing Pizza Hut again, though :P

Tuesday was a Party Day. I bought a can of Pepsi and a jar of Peanut Brittle (something I've been craving since I got here), at the Mall on Monday, put them in the fridge Monday night to re-solidify the Peanut Brittle, and to cool the Pepsi. Yup. That's how poor Missionaries Party :P We also taught Brother John Robert on Tuesday, and found out that he actually had attempted to attend church on Sunday! He wasn't sure how to get it, and was "shy" to go looking for the entrance. Shy is just the word the use. I guess it works :P We decided that although we still weren't going to count it as Church Attendance, we wouldn't restart his counter, and just continue from where he left off :)

Wednesday was was Sad/Happy in the Morning, and then sort of both/neither in the afternoon :P We had our Final District Meeting with quite a few Missionaries on Wednesday, because they're all "dying" within the week. They're all great, fun people, and it was sad to see them go, but they've served the time they were called to serve, and now get the chance to serve back home :) Elder Olila (guy's a fashion master), Elder Tsunoda (old AP... mediyo bakla ;) ), Sister Ocampo (didn't know her too well. She's Sister Shipley's Nanay), and Sister Leonaue (she did a fancy Hula dance for everyone. Yay Polynesians! :D )
That afternoon was exciting because we got to eat Ants. Yay... We were visiting a Less Active family, and after the lesson, they offered us "snacks." The Mom grabbed an old box of Pizza off a pile of broken furniture, and gadgets (basically a trash pile), and dropped it down on the table in front of us. We opened it a little hesitantly, and for good reason. There were four pieces left, and every single one was literally COVERED in Ants. Like, an entire colony was trying to to lift the thing out of the box, and carry it to their Queen. The Mom looked at us and said "Eat!" Uh... No thank you? "EAT!" Oh! okay ... I don't know if she didn't see it, or just didn't care. Anyway, she started getting pretty upset because we weren't eating, so Elder Maestrado Grabbed a piece, and took a big bite. Then gagged. Then swallowed. Then we shook and blew on, and did everything we could to get rid of the ants. The worse part? One of the better Pizzas I've had in the Philippines. Yup :P

On Thursday, we learned some interesting things, and taught some interesting lessons :P One of our Recent Converts, June Lester Lopez, hasn't been to church in a while, so we went and visited him. He's been a member for about 10 months, but his Grandma (who he lives with) only found out 2 weeks ago. She got super mad, hid his White Polo, Scriptures, neck tie, and dress slacks, and pretty much put him under house arrest. Hmm... Anyway, we saw her before we taught Lester, and she smiled and said, "Ya! He's just in the House, go right ahead!" So I don't really understand anymore :P He says she's gotten more used to it, and that it shouldn't be a problem for much longer :)
Another lesson was to a Returning Less Active. I won't put in her name, but I will say she's psycho. It's awesome :P It literally seems she's always high or on drugs, and that's why it's a party teaching her :)
One of our last Lessons was to a really promising Investigator, Jessica Talana. She's been praying the way we taught her, has read the assignments, and is already starting to have the beginning of a Testimony. It's Golden :D The Lessons we teach to her ALWAYS seem to be Super Spiritual :) The only thing that's a little strange, is that she refuses to shake hands. She shook our hands when we met her, but not since. Hmm. Ah well. As long as she has the Testimony and Desire, we're fulfilling our purpose :)

Happy Halloween!! Just kidding because that doesn't exist in the Philippines!! Everyone was still drunk, but that's for preparation for tomorrow. The big shock today was this morning during our Personal Study. A Less Active showed up at our apartment, said good morning, and walked inside. O.o The only thing on our Door is a big sign that says "DON'T come inside." I guess it would be more effective if it were in Tagalog, rather than English :P Anyway, he just wanted a picture for a job application, and knew we had a digital cameras. We snapped a couple shots, and sent him on his way as fast as we could. Turns out he just started asking around as to where we lived. We go jogging every morning, and a lot of people are awake by 6:30, and I'm the only white guy in 20 miles of the place, so we draw quite a bit of attention. Anyway, that's how he found us :P
Not a lot of lessons this afternoon because, again, everyone was drunk :P

Because Saturday was All Soul's Day! Also called Day of the Dead, everyone gathers up their families and heads over to the Cemetery. Graves in the Philippines aren't just big stones sticking out of the ground, but full fledged tombs.I would literally rather live in a lot of them, than our apartment. The places are decked out. People spend the entire day inside them with their families, just eating and hanging out. There are a bunch of stalls set up around the cemetery, with Pizza, Soda, Ice Cream, Cotton Candy, Games, etc. Basically just a huge fair without all the rides and a bunch of dead people. It's pretty awesome :P We had lunch in one of the Niches with a Part Member Family, and then headed to Gapan to withdraw our support for the month.
We didn't teach or talk much Saturday, either, because everyone was still drunk or at the cemetery celebrating. We did teach John Robert and his friends that night, and they fed us left over soup and Soda from earlier. Good stuff :)

Yesterday was another good day :) We had a few investigators and Less Actives Attend Church, and got to attend a Live Broadcast Devotional by Elder Dallin H Oaks and the Area Presidency. He taught a lot of stuff that I think applies to ALL of us :) The main things he taught is that we need to be Full Tithe Payers, and fill the Temples the Lord has caused to be built for us. We need to make Serious Scripture study a DAILY thing, not just "whenever we have time." I also really liked what he said about the 4th Commandment. We all know it as "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it Holy." Fact of the matter is, there's another part. "Six Days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work." We need to be a hardworking people. We ARE a hardworking people. God has commanded us to take advantage of the six other days he has given us each week, so that we can be better prepared to fully worship on the Sabbath. Just a couple tidbits I thought I'd share :)

Anyway, that's all for me! Love you!!
Elder Syphus

Some cool Flowers I found Proselyting during this week. I've never seen them before, and this was the only bush in sight. Any one know what they are?

"Mani" is Peanut in Tagalog. After I finish the Brittle, this will be my Money jar. Bwahahaha, I'm so clever :D
 Pepsi in a Coke Glass, on the rocks
 I've been taking the pictures of the Temple out of Conference Ensigns to Decorate my Study Area. I'm hoping to build up quite the collection throughout my life :)
 Sandugo 72 hour kit pack. Boom. So beautiful :D
They told me not to scratch my bug bites, so I rubbed it with my heel. Friction burns hurt.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 16 (Oct. 27, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Sige. Alright. Uh huh. Okay. Alright. Sige. Let's get to it!

Monday Morning was another "Zone Activity" I got to play the Piano for
about 15 minutes and then watch a bunch of other missionaries play
full court b-ball for the next 2 and a half hours. On the bright side,
they threw the ball over the wall and lost it :P Later that evening, I
got a haircut from a Members Uncle. The guy used to be a barber with a
shop about 20 years ago, but retired. Now he just loads up a wagon
with a stool and his haircutting kit, and drives around town in the
morning yelling "GUPIT!" (Haircut). He's like 70+ years old, deaf, and
walks around in Boxer shorts and a T shirt. The only things he's ever
said to me is "Matangos na Ilong" (Pointed Nose). Pretty much the
sketchiest/coolest haircut I've ever gotten :P

Tuesday was pretty awesome. We got three new investigators, two of
them we met at church the previous Sunday. I don't know how that
works, but it does :P Jeric, Kevin, and Roman/Omen. Jeric is the
Cousin of a Less Active who is returning to church, and Kevin and Omen
are friends of John Robert, our other investigator who brought the
Less Active to Church.

We got another New Investigator on Wednesday. Her name is Faith, so
naturally, I refer to her as Pam (Faith in Tagalog is
Pananampalataya). She's the neighbor of a Previous Investigator and is
interested in religion in General. We're hoping we can narrow her
interests a bit, or at least her beliefs. She seems willing to follow
up on any commitments we extend to her, but we've yet to follow up.
It's been a busy week. :)

Thursday's big Whoop-de-doo was another CSP! Jeric's cousin, the Less
Active (Jonah's her name) has a mom. Her mom has a garden. Her mom's
garden has weeds and random clumps of dirt. Missionaries have shovels,
gloves, garden hoes, and machetes. Sounds like a Service Project made
in Heaven, huh? Basically, we just went crazy with the machetes,
hacking at weeds and grass as if they'd disgraced a whole row of prime
planting ground. Then we got the shovels and hoes, churned up the
Earth, and removed the remaining bits of leaves and roots. It was fun

We found yet another New Investigator on Friday. Richard Barlis. He
has a Twin Brother, but he left in the middle of our lesson and didn't
come back, so we didn't count him. Richard is Jonah and Jeric's
neighbor. Raymond is Richard's Twin. I'll expound on this later.
Anyway, I got to try out an object lesson that is less for 22 year old
Richard, and more for 10 year old Jeric, but Richard enjoyed it as
well, and it teaches the doctrine, so I call bonus points. Ya!

We had yet another CSP on Saturday, but the ground wasn't so packed
and firm, so now fancy tools. Just pulling up weeds with our hands and
screaming at Fire Ants. Grrrrrrrr............... -.- We did move some
dirt around. We seem to do that a LOT as Missionaries. We moved it
from one side of a wall to the other. And then we moved different dirt
from the other to one side of a wall. Ya! Productive!
That afternoon, we had a reactivation meeting. Linggo Linggo, dow. As
we finished a lesson about Faith to a Family that was Active a month
ago, they got super offended, assuming we were accusing them of having
no more faith in the Lord. In reality, our Group Leader opened his
scriptures, read the first highlighted verse he saw, and we expounded
on it. Sheesh, chill-ax kid. Elder Maestrado and I just laughed
afterwards :P

On Sunday, we did that same thing my Home Ward did in St George. We
had Ward Conference and the Primary Program, all in one. We had some
investigators attend for their first time this Sunday. They said it
was more like a Market than Church :( The Primary Program was good,
they all spoke and sang in English, but it was super Chaotic. I hope
we can convince them to come to our normal meeting next week.

That's my Weekly re-cap! I'll try to be more thorough next week. Love
you all!! Thanks for your love and support!!
Elder Syphus

I look like I am in pain because I am. Sunburns hurt. But Batman makes it better :)

The Conde Family upgraded their Christmas Tree!! Pogi Si Cliff

This is Janna, a little girl in our ward. I'm not sure what she's riding, but my first thought was either an Alpaca or Llama. Other opinions were horse and donkey. I think you could still put it in your farm. I would. That thing is a party by itself :D
 Janna riding her undetermined pink animal thing. I claim alpaca.
 I forgot to wear Sunscreen during our CSP on Thursday. I was in the sun for four hours. I know, because I had a watch.
 Zone Pic Pagkatapos ang CSP. Jonah is in yellow.
 They prepped a Fiesta for lunch. Here's everyone just loving life.
 Food :)
 What does this tree remind me of?
 When it's not a fiesta, it's this. Mmmmm :)
 Don't worry though. We slice it and fry it, and serve it with eggs.

Ward Fireside last week. 15 in attendance, 9 had to be there. Yay!