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.