Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 8 (Aug. 31, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

2 months??

Wow, time sure is fun when you're having flies, and we have a LOT out
here :P (Have I already made that joke? I don't remember :P ) Anyway,
I was actually able to jot down some things I want to write about, so
this week's letter should be a bit more organized :)

EMAILS!!!!!!!!!! I try to email everyone I get a message from, but
returning letters may be a little difficult because the humidity sort
of upgraded my box of envelopes. They now come Pre-Sealed!!! :D It's
tricky, but I can be pretty handy with a knife :)
Something I forgot to email about last week was our Community Service
Project. Because we just barely purchased our meeting house which was
last inhabited when Spain colonized the Philippines, we have a bit of
clean up work to do. So While I was in the Priesthood Room peeling
Hulk Hogan And Princess Stickers off the door, the bishop was across
the hall playing songs from Journey, Chicago, Air Supply, Queen, etc.,
through his Stage Speakers :P It was difficult not to sing along to
those I knew, and I knew quite a bit (Thanks Dad!! :D )

So to this week!
We have a neighbor who always says hello to us every morning. He's
usually smoking or drinking with his friends (they range in age from
13-17, though most are 13/14), so we usually don't attempt to share
anything. Tuesday, however, he said hello, and then asked where we
attended Church. After we told him, he asked if we wanted to teach him
and his friends. There were more than a few groans from inside, but he
held the invitation, so we accepted. Out of 9, only 2 seemed to care,
one of which was our neighbor, John Irish Ku. We've given him a Book
of Mormon, and have walked by to see him inside reading a couple times
now :) It's exciting, and I'm looking forward to see where it will go
from here :)

Our neighbor across the alley (that's where we live, in a little back
alley with doors on both sides... it's better than it sounds, that's
just the best way I can describe it :P) has a son who we see playing
outside every morning. Whenever he sees us, he shouts "Oy!" and runs
away laughing to hide. There's not a lot of places to disappear to,
though. So we just peek out our door and "Oy!" back at him. He loves
it and it puts us in a good mood :) He's about as old as Liam and
talks just as well, but in Tagalog, so of course I have no idea what
he's saying. Even his name is just a bunch of noises, so I decided to
name him Dave. It's a good name

Dave....What a guy!

I'm attempting to learn the ancient Tagalog Alphabet at the moment,
just for kicks and giggles. I've got a feeling I'll get to use it
eventually :P It's a bunch of curves and hooks, and you don't write
out vowels. You can start a word with a vowel, or you just assume that
one exists between two consonants. It actually makes more sense, but
is just hard to explain :P It's cool though :)

Of our 4 Baptismal dates, all but 1 fell through :\ The investigators
now avoid us, and Elder Maestrado seems ready to drop just about
anyone :\ I'm reluctant to give up on them, but he probably knows
what's best. The one we are still preparing has her date set for
September 13 :) Her name is Juliana Conde, she's 10 years old, and her
Mom is a Less Active Return (as in, she attended church for four
consecutive weeks) as of yesterday! They're actually the first family
I taught, and one of my favorites. There's always a bunch of little
kids, so it can be a struggle to maintain the Spirit at times, but
it's a happy atmosphere :)

There's a Recent Convert in our Group who is preparing to serve a
mission in within the next year, so he's constantly going out on
Splits with us. He's really fun and nice, and enjoys the work. His
name is June Lester, but we just call him Lester. That's actually VERY
common in the Philippines to name your child after the month they were
born in, Boy or Girl. I find it kind of unfortunate, but I tend to
keep those kinds of things to myself :P

For my fantastic foods this week, I was able to Dugo ng Manok, as well
as Pituka ng Manok. That means Chicken Blood and Chicken Intestine.
Ask the Dalley's about the blood, they know :) They even grilled it up
fresh, just for me :) I feel so pampered :D The taste wasn't bad, but
the texture made swallowing a bit difficult. The blood is congealed
into a Brownie/Jello kind of consistency, and the intestine is just
rubbery. My biggest struggle is the "why." Do they have any sort of
nutritional value? Do intestines and blood contain protein? How do I
benefit from eating such exotic foods? Bragging Rights? I'll accept
that :P

Unrelated to my recent Vampirical tendencies (yes, vampirical is a
real word. I made it up, just now), I got a little feverish this week
and had to take a rest for an hour. I felt sort of guilty but I can
tell that it really helped for the following days. I basically just
downed a liter of water and wrapped up in my blanket without a fan to
try and sweat it all out. It actually worked :P Hooray for Uncle

Speaking of Vague references, I really like Elder Zierenberg's
letters. Cambodia is actually VERY similar to the Philippines. We get
the privilege of sneaking strange little foods through the bamboo
slats, as well as riding the nifty motorcycle things. I can't remember
what he called them, but they're just trikes here. There's plenty of
fascinating foods, but the demonic bugs are more like toys than
weapons out here. People are constantly kicking around the dogs and
cats, unless they're in a particularly grumpy mood and decide to just
shoot it, like last night. Bye-bye kitty kitty.

I'll end this letter with my Prime Spiritual experiences from the past few days.
During Personal Study this week, I read a talk given to us at the MTC.
"Master the Tempest is Raging" by President Howard W Hunter. It is an
INCREDIBLE talk, and I advise all of you to look it up and read it. It
has so much truth and power, and I've made it my goal to read it at
least once a week. I am CRAZY excited for Conference in October. A day
doesn't go by that I don't think of it and just start smiling :)
From another Conference address given by Elder Jeffery R Holland (I
don't know what it's called, it was part of a clip from The District),
He testifies of the Book of Mormon in what is now one of my favorite
quotes. In his voice of Thunder and Flame, he says:
"No wicked man could write such a book as this. And no good man would
write it; unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so."
just typing that up again fills me with the Holy Ghost. It's SO
powerful and true. I can't even express how grateful I am for the
Prophets and Apostles we have in our church, and the revelation they

During one of our lessons with a 10 year old Recent Convert, Trisha
Heron, her Less Active father, Riko, walked in and decided to listen
in. He's a Security guard who works from 4 PM to 4 AM, and so spends
the rest of his days at home resting up. He had a few days off though,
which is why he was available. Anyway, throughout our lesson Brother
Heron would add something, or would be constantly nodding his head. He
helped us in keeping Trisha's attention, and allowed us to share with
him afterwards. The Spirit was SO strong, and I have no doubt that
even after these years of inactivity, he still has a Powerful
testimony. He says he continues to read the Book of Mormon, and prays
when he can, but Church Attendance is a struggle. Sadly, he wasn't
their again yesterday, but we're still going to try to meet with him.
And now to end with my Favorite Scripture.
D&C 121: 7-9
"7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine
afflictions shall be but a small moment;
"8 And then, if thou it endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high;
thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
"9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with
warm hearts and friendly hands. "

Stay strong everybody!! I love and miss you all!

Elder Syphus

"ANG AKLAT NI MORMON" sa Sinaunang Alibata

Our Bedroom

The other room of our house: Study Area, Dining Room, Kitchen, and CR to the left of Elder Maestrado

The famed WalterMart :D

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 7 (Aug. 24, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

First, send a Happy birthday to Kambree, Dad, and Shaun for me! Sorry I forgot last week :P
This week has actually been pretty great... I just wish I remembered it all :P I should probably just bring my journal whenever I write emails, because it Should all be in there :)
I'll just go day by day though, and put in as much as I can from off the top of my head :)
After Emailing last week, we went to the local WalterMart (Yes, Walter, not Wal :P ) and I got some Cookie Crisp and a box of milk. It was nice to have a taste of home again ;)
Wednesday was exciting because we had a "Mission Tour," and met up with a bunch of other Zones in the Angeles Mission. I saw Sister Dalley again!! This time we were actually able to talk for a while :P President and Sister Ardern of the Asia Area Presidency were the Special Guest Appearances, and they gave really nice talks. Sister Dalley's Zone performed a Musical which she was in charge of. They sang Be Still My Soul, and she started off the third verse alone. Later, Elder Maestrado said that when she started singing, he thought it was an angel. He's right though :P Her voice is Incredible :)
Ay, this is hard :P I wish I had a better memory. I think it'll be easier if I just let you unscramble everything :P
One of the Members in our Ward, Brother Gerald, allowed us the privilege of watching him pluck and gut the duck he had just killed, before cooking it and serving it up for dinner. It was actually really good, just chewy :P The bone shards were a bit iffy, but I think I found most of them ;) I haven't tried Balut yet, but I'm hoping to soon :D Most nights, a man rides his bicycle around our Area, shouting "BALUUUUUUUUUT! BALUUUUUUUUUT!" I normally try to hide while Elder Maestrado laughs, but he showed me how to eat it the other night and it doesn't look that bad. Except it only tastes good at night, because you can't see it, dow :P Also, you have to eat it with salt and/or Spicy Vinegar.
Today is Tsinelas Day here in Gapan. They have entire Parades and Festivals dedicated strictly to Flip Flops. Yup. Flip Flops. EVERYBODY here wears flips flops. The Motor Cycle Drivers, and construction workers, the Missionaries on P Days (During Non Missionary Attire Activites, of course ;) ), everybody. It's sort of exciting and Super confusing :P
The other day as we were driving down the street on a Trike, I saw a stand selling Gasoline. In order to measure a Liter, they use Soda Bottles. This Particular Gasoline Stand was using Pepsi Bottles. The left side was labeled "Regular" and the Right said "Unleaded." I actually started laughing pretty hard :) It was nice little remember of Dad :)
Also, Karaoke here is EXTREMELY popular. People rent Karaoke missions ALL the time at ALL hours of the day AND night. On my First day, our Zone Leader, Elder Magno, told me "You will learn that all Filipinos love to sing, even if their voice is so ugly." And it's so true :P They don't care how they sound, they just love to have a good time :) I've gotten quite a few "solos" myself out here :P Elder Maestrado doesn't have the greatest pitch, but loves to sing before every lesson, so he chooses the song, and tells me to choose the key. I find what's comfortable, and sing the first line or so by myself before we restart with everyone. Despite their love for it, I've yet to meet a great Filipino Singer ;)
On a more spiritual note, we have four baptismal dates set! I'm not sure how many are going to work out, but a few seem legitimately interested in the Message (I'm still not a huge fan of "Our Message"... I'm just the messenger. Am I looking at it the wrong way?). Julianne Conde is a Part Member. She's 10 and her Mom is Less Active. Mary Rose is an investigator, and we usually teach her with the Barrera Family, a LAR bunch. Romnik is a New Investigator we found, and asks quite a few questions, but doesn't seem to be accepting a whole lot of it. We'll see though :) The fourth is an Older Nanay, and I can't even remember her name. Mary I think. We met her doing Findings, and felt prompted to invite her to be baptized during the lesson. She accepted, but we haven't been able to meet with her since. She's been out of town :\
Another Thing I found very spiritual and Motivating is in Alma 43:47. It says to "Defend your families even unto bloodshed." I think it's incredible, that God would rather have us Take another Man's life, if it means protecting our families. Murder is one of the worst sins you can commit, right about up there with denying the Holy Ghost, but if it means protecting your family, then do it. It really shows how important Families are in God's Plan. Really puts things into perspective :)

Anyway, love you all!! I'd defend you unto bloodshed, but know I won't have to!! The Lord protects his Disciples!!
Elder Syphus

​My Tatay was a Trainer before, and therefore has another Anak. My Kapatid! Elder Tufele :) He's a Psycho, and will eat anything put in front of him. I'm so Proud :P
PS Gel doesn't work so great :P

​Sister Dalley and Me!! It's hot out in the Philippines, so I'm usually more red than white :P I just wanna be tan ;)
(I fixed my hair after I saw the last picture :P)

​Zone Activity!! Today we went to one of the National Parks in Gapan and hiked along the cliffs between the lake and the jungle. It was Gorgeous!

A homemade Kawayan Bridge :) (Bamboo) A few of the more muscular missionaries were a little unsure but I thought it was sturdy enough ;)
 Cliff Jumping- Not Even Once
Emperor's New Groove, anyone? 
Though I don't think they could've caught themselves here :P 
 Rockin the Woot shirt!! :D

We made it through! Havin some fun on the beach.

Pics from Sis. Clark's Mission blog

Dinner at the mission conference

Answers to questions:
Our Area is San Leonardo. There aren't enough members for a ward, so we're just the San Leonardo Group. Sister Clark said she was going to send all the Parents an interactive map with our exact location starred. Has she not?
I like the Dear Elders. Thank you!
Elder Maestrado is from a smaller island in the Philippines- Buhol. Their native language is Cebuano.
Ya, the money we have is plenty (so far :P) I'll probably withdraw around $25 a month for personal spending until I'm out. That's 1000 Pesos.
I don't know if we're allowed to watch videos. I know we can't send them, so probably not :/
And yes, Elder Maestrado is still awesome :)
I actually though of some things I need/would like. First, a tie Hanger, like Shaun has. That would be SUPER helpful :) If you could get me a Pocket Sized Children's Songbook as well, and a little baby Book of Mormon. Literally Pocket sized. You could probably wrap it in a single dollar bill. Basically some stuff Avonlea had me try to get for her at the MTC, but they were all out. Maybe you can find out what They're sending Sister Dalley with her packages that you think I might want or need, and ask me about it. Because I know I won't think of anything :) Thank you!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week 6 (Aug. 17, 2014 San Leonardo, Philippines)

From the Greenie in the Heat

Some call me Elder, must most just call me "Joe." It's hot and it's humid, and as told by Brother Bowler, "You're sweating before you can get dressed after your shower each morning." Our apartment is small -about as big as our dining room- and not all that clean. And I love it here :)
My Tatay out here in the Field (Gapan Zone San Leonardo Area) is Elder Mark Reyes Maestrado. He's been out for 20 months, and is AMAZING. He's so amazing in fact, that I'm worried about why they chose him to be my trainer... What do they have in store for me? O.o He was District Leader in the MTC (Ammon District, just like me :D), and after he was trained in the field, became a Trainer himself. Twelve Weeks later, and he became District Leader for a Transfer or two, before being promoted to Zone Leader. He's stepped down from that calling in order to train me. I really do admire him. In the Mission Office, President Clark told us that our biggest challenge with our Tatays would be to out serve them. He wasn't kidding. He's ironed my shirt two mornings in a row while I'm bucket scooping water for my daily "shower." He's incredibly patient as well. He's not big on breakfast, and I haven't pulled anything from my cards, so we don't have cereal yet. I'm surviving so far on a Spoonful of Peanut Butter every Morning :D We broke out the Pepsi on our First night here, and both enjoyed a glass. I've determined you're not a true Syphus until you've had Pepsi out of a Coke Glass ;) He's actually a pretty good cook, so he'll make us something from lunch around 1, and then we have Dinner at the End of the Night around 9:30. Today though, we went to lunch with the Zone Leaders, and ate out at a small little Diner. We had Pork Sisig which is Delicious :D Ask Marilyn about it :P
The People here are wonderful, and very hospitable. Because electricity is so expensive, the fans only seem to come out when the Elders arrive. They set out two plastic chairs for us, then set on the floor to listen. I've decided I like the floor better, so I'll probably join them from now on :) We remove our shoes before entering a home, and simply walk around in our socks. It's comfortable :) I haven't gotten many names down yet, but we've had plenty of appointments. The language is a bit of a struggle of course, but it's coming along alright. Plenty of people know enough English that they can help me :)
We don't have a chapel here; just a meeting house. Our attendance is ~30. I think it's a change from somewhere else, because they have clean up projects every Saturday.
For the First hour of our P-Day, we got down on our hands and knees and scrubbed tiles, because we don't have a mop :P It was filthy and disgusting, but looks SO much better now :) I've been doing little Odds and ends in my free time, and demolded a bit of the Fridge the other Day :P I also degreased a bunch of soot and caked grime off our counter burner. It stills looks terrible, but it's much better :)
I don't have much else to say, but maybe some pictures will trigger something ;)

A little crooked, but another nice Temple Picture. SO Beautiful :D
Ammon District in Front of the Temple (across the street :P)
Sorry for the Blur. I think the Elder that took it was broken :P 
Ammon District with Brother Aracena and Sister Hernandez
Philippines Angeles Mission Logo
My Mission Ring. Around the Outside is PHILIPPINESANGELESMISSION.
 Inside is my Full Name :)
Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming... IN BOILING OIL!! MUWAHAHAHAHA :P Fun Food for the Foreigners.
Ismael Garcia- #1 Cook sa MTC. 
He's always super nice and happy, and walks around talking to people during Mealtimes after everyone has their food.
Last Lunch in the MTC

Bathroom for my First Night out of the MTC at the AP's apartment.
I'll spare you from seeing what I live with now, though it is cleaner :P 
We make do in our Apartment with the Bucket and Scoop, Wall Faucet, and Toilet Bowl 
(No tank). It's More Fun in the Philippines ;)
My awesome trainer companion....Elder Mark Maestrado
(Note from MP's Wife)
Here they are! Our First Incoming Batch! 
 They are 20 amazing missionaries from different lands but with one purpose, to teach truth to the people of the Philippines.
Pres. and Sis. Clark (My mission president and wife)

I'll send the rest next week :) Love you all!!

Elder Syphus

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week 5 (Aug. 7, 2014 MTC Manila, Philippines)

Hi Mom! :D
My appetite is still pretty low, but I've maintained the 10 pounds I've gained :P
I love photos and stories. It's nice to see how everyone is doing :D
Ya, I'll try to find a suit coat out in the field, but I'll let you know again if I still need one :)
We will be driven from the MTC Wednesday morning, VERY early :P We stay in the Mission home for two days, so my next Email may actually be a little sooner than normal, rather than later. I'm not sure though, so don't take my word for it :)

That's crazy that Mike's already gone! Whoa!! And school already??? That's insane! What do Kambree and Kendyl's schedules look like? Also, the SLC flight isn't the only thing down for a month; The Manila Temple is undergoing renovations, so we weren't able to go today, but we went last Saturday. Two days in a row!! The new video is INCREDIBLE. I love the different kind of attitude Satan has. It's super interesting to ponder on.
You told a bit about a few deaths last email, but I saw that you meant to delete it, so I didn't say anything. First off, that's so sad to hear, especially about Mrs. Lusk. It's definitely a blessing having the knowledge we do about the next life though :) The reason I bring it up today, is because of something that happened this last week: we lost someone here as well. Our incredible and inspiring District Leader, Elder DeLaMare, was sent home Wednesday Morning at 5 o'clock for personal reasons. He will return in about a year though, and we're all excited to see him again. He's an incredible person, and a great leader. I won't say keep him in your prayers, because that's not allowed, but he's definitely in all of ours. Elder Chan is now with Elder Murdock and I in a tri-some. He's District Leader now, and has been doing a great job, but still misses Elder DeLaMare. I'm thankful we had Proselyting again on Wednesday, because it took our mind off of the matter for a while, and we all came back with brighter spirits.
Proselyting was awesome this week! I was partnered with another Zone Leader (do they think I'm a trouble maker? ;) :P ), named Elder Villaponda. He's Filipino, and is an excellent Missionary. We had a Ward Clerk Member come with us just to sit in on some of our lessons, and add somethings every now and then. We were only able to have one appointment, and I taught about God's Plan and Purpose, and Families in straight Tagalog. It was an incredible experience :D Elder Villaponda and the Member Present continued on for most of the Restoration, and I tried to pick out some words :P They speak SO fast :D I was able to say the Opening Prayer, and bore my testimony at the end. It was a good Lesson :) All the little kids were running around, gambling coins, and whenever they would shout something out, I was reminded of Linkon and Liam. They sound so similar!!! It's awesome :P I couldn't help but laugh :) As we were walking, we saw this old lady bathing out on the street. She was fully clothed, but she was soaked, sitting in a wash bin, and her head was covered with soap and suds :P It was actually kind of amusing, but humbling at the same time, just because of the condition they're all in. It's remarkable how happy they still are. The Philippines is awesome!! :D :D :D

I don't have much more to write about, so I'll just attach a few pictures and be on my way :) I love you!!
Elder Syphus

PS While I was waiting for the pictures to load, I thought of a few more things :P I passed the Sacrament on Sunday, and will be blessing it in Tagalog Tomorrow :) I also bore my testimony because it was Fast Sunday! Only 22 More :D Whoa!!
This is Shaun (from Pysch). I bought him at Rustan's after emailing last week because of how adorable he his :D This is him with his Tribal mask.
This is him without the mask, with my uber flashflight and pink raspberry lemonade in back. We had him for lunch on Monday. I have a new favorite way to cut and eat Pineapple :D (Sorry for all the gory details ;) )
Our new Kasamahan. Although we all miss Elder DeLaMare, we're blessed to still have the help of one another. Elder Chan is awesome!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Week 4 (Aug. 1, 2014 MTC Manila, Philippines

Yes, I did finally get the debit card. Thank you! I also got 2 Dear Elders from Mark. It's so fun reading about his week :) Thank you for the Highlights! I love it :)
The "split" was extremely needed. It was nice to get a break :) Elder Murdock is okay, but he's really immature and very self righteous :/ I struggle, but I've only got two more weeks. Which means I've been out a month!! :D
I would LOVE letters: especially handwritten. Like Shaun was telling Delaney- it's like Christmas to get a physical note from someone :) Please send! :D

So, during District meeting the other night, we were studying the Book of Mormon- we each just picked a favorite scripture to share. Sister Bishop shared Alma the Younger's experience of repentance, and when I opened up to follow along, I saw Dad's handwriting at the top: "The Path to Repentance." It was just such a shock to see his handwriting in MY scriptures, of all places. After Sister Bishop finished, I shared what I found, and just bore my testimony about how the Path is always there. We all stray, but no matter how far you go, you can always find your way back. I cried like a man :P It was a really spiritual experience, though :)
I've gained weight! About 10 pounds, or 4 kilos, actually. I don't understand why, because I seem to be losing my appetite (as in, I can't eat as much) :/ That's actually probably the most upsetting thing in my life right now :P I don't know what it would be from, so your guess is probably better than mine :P
So, on Wednesday, we went Proselyting in the City! I was paired with a Zone Leader from the Manila Mission, and we walked through the slums. It was an incredible experience. I got to ride a Jeepney, which is sort of like a really small bus the never really stops. You just hop on from the back and pass your money to the front. The driver counts out your change during the ride and passes it back. It's actually really cool :P Anyway, our first stop was a RC at his work. We were lucky enough to catch him on break, so we just stood and talked for a bit. Elder Webb had me relay some phrases over, and was a huge help :) While we were talking, I felt someone pulling on my pants, so I turned around and there was just a crowd of little 5 or 6 year old kids wanting to play with the Elders :D We gave them all hi-fives, cause that's the extent of the contact we're really aloud to make, and starting walking to our appointment. They kept running around us, and everytime we rounded a corner, we would hear "ELDERS!" and turn to see a few more little kids running for us. One grabbed onto my arm as I walked and just hung. It was SO funny :P One Elder actually had two siblings climb up onto his shoulders!! He just laughed and kept talking to people. Then he committed a guy to get baptized. After knowing him for 5 minutes. It's an Awesome story :D Our appointment fell through because Brother Cedric was gone (we were an hour late), so we just talked with some members. The homes are SO small, but the people are SO happy. It's remarkable.
We went to the Temple again today, and we saw the newest video! It's really interesting, the way they set the mood and everything. Don't look at it as bad acting. Read the expressions as actual expressions. It gives a whole new view on everything. I LOVED the Creation Sequence. Beautiful Watercolors.

Tell everyone how much I love them!! But I love you most!! :D
Love, Elder Syphus

                                                                                                                                               Ammon District on Birthday Tuesday!
Are dearly departed Zone Leaders, Elders Tan and Hartfield.
Now in their respective missions. Elder Tan is an amazing Missionary.
                                                                                                                                                  Elder Chan being a Ninja Assassin
Found the Glass as Rustan's. 
It was the one thing I could find that reminded me of home, So I grabbed it.
I plan on filling it with Pepsi when I leave the MTC :D 
Elder DeLaMare is in the back getting ready for his Foot Zone

Angel Moroni spire from the MTC Courtyard                             
                                                 Gym Building from the Courtyard
Missionary Purpose inside the MTC Lobby                              
                                               Not quite like Dad's but it's pretty good :)                             
"Cookie put her SWEAT and BLOOD into this cake, 
and you will consume the ENTIRE confection."
"Entire Confection!"..

"See ya at lunch..."