Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week 29 (Jan. 25, 2015 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hey Mom :)

I love the calendar, really :) It would be nice to have a little pocket one, but I can just buy one of those at the store.

My collection of Temples are all the Salt Lake Temple and I get them all from Conference Magazines. I may take them down though. They make me a little home sick :/

I'll be happy with whatever in the packages :) I don't have a lot of ideas; sorry :P Really though, anything would be wonderful :)

I still don't know for sure. I've heard he was a contractor and had an unpaid debt or something, but I don't know how true that is. He was a contractor though. I don't know about his family. They're in a different ward, and I barely even know the people in my own.

Haha, that's awesome about Shaun :) I want to take lessons again when I get home. Most church buildings here have a piano, but VERY few people actually know how to play. If we get there early enough, I'll sit down and sight read a few of them until I feel like I can play even just right hand, but even then, the chorister doesn't really know what she's doing, so I usually just sit back and sing bass.
Speaking of Church, I got to attend twice yesterday :) Sacrament is supposed to start at 8, so we showed up at 8:05. We were the first people there. An investigator showed up a few minutes later. At 8:30, the Ward Assistant secretary showed up and unlocked the door. We left at 8:40 to go find another investigator who said he was attending church. We got back at 9 AM (with the Investigator) and they were just barely finishing the Sacrament.... Grrrr...... So we ended up going to the 1 o'clock meeting in Gapan to partake of the Sacrament. It was frustrating.

Anyway, earlier in the week, we decided to try out Luz Kitchenette. It's like the nicest place to eat in Gapan; the place Shaun and Katie would only go to on their Anniversary or some other momentous occasion. It was a high class place. Not a single person inside was wearing flip flops. Ya. THAT high class. Elder Nalumen was freaking out because of how expensive everything was. I calculated the exchange rate. It was about as pricy as Arby's. I had a great time :D There was Squid Adobo, and real American Club sandwiches! I also bought a bowl of Halo-Halo, which is yam flavored ice cream with ice, cream, and a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and beans. It was superb :) I don't think Elder Nalumen will ever let us go back though, but we'll see :)

Not much else happened this week. I'm still trying to catch up with my Journal writing :/ I'm not very good at it, but I think I'm getting better :P
We've got a few good investigators still. Rex Delos Santos wasn't able to attend church again, but Victor Riego was with his two sons :) Denmar is the one we went to find, and we was there for the talks and classes, but we didn't count him as an ISM. Next time.
We also have an investigator working for Baptism on February 21. We set his cut off date for smoking as Jan 23 (last Friday), and he made it! We went back the next day to teach a lesson and he was drunk..... Guess we're teaching that lesson again. *sigh* :P

The Pope visited for about a week a few days ago. Every single home we walked into that had a Telelvision (not many have televisions) was watching a news article about it, including members. It was pretty big I guess :P Apparantly he's the only Pope in History to go to to the Philippines. Catholic church has been around dow (tagalog word with no real english equivalent, but works very well in this senence) for about 2000 years, and only now does their leader visit an All Catholic Country. Good for him :P
Anyway, life is good and I'm getting ready to be transferred, even though I don't necessarily want to. We'll see how it goes :P

Love you so much!
Elder Syphus

PPS (Pictures Post Script)

​Juliana Conde (Baptized last September) asked me if I knew how to braid her. I said "Pssh, of course I do." She told me to prove it. BOOM! Proved it! :P (I know, I'm terrible, but I still did it :P)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Week 28 (Jan. 18, 2015 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hi Mom :)

The youth mission thing sounds like a really cool idea :) I remember Kylie and Katelyn doing it, but I never got to. Is it just for the Young Women, or did they just skip my group? Either way, sounds awesome :) If I were to cook something from the Philippines, it would probably be adobo. But that's from Spain. The only thing here that's pure Filipino is Balot, and I don't know if I can get that in America. Everything else is either from Spanish or Chinese/Japanese cultures. They have this dessert that's called Halo Halo, but I'm not sure if that's pure Filipino either. It literally translates to Mixture Mixture (SUPER MIXTURE!). Basically it's ice, gelatin cubes, beans, different beans, cream, and Purple ice cream (YAM FLAVORED!) It's a party. There's a small child standing next to me, reading my letter to you. He's Filipino, but most Filipino's have a basic grasp of English, so I'm not sure if he understands or not. He's not reacting at all. Just standing there. Well, I guess that's it.

We get to go to the temple twice throughout our mission. We got to go once a week in the MTC, and I'll get to go again a day or two before I go home, but the other two aren't for sure things. If I help a Recent Convert or Less Active Return prepare for endowments and/or Temple Sealings, I can accompany them, but only twice. Right now, we have a Less Active Return and a Recent Convert Couple goaled for the 7th of March. If they're ready by that time, I can go with them, depending on how far my area is from the temple. It has to be to and back in one days time. 

I love the packages :) The Jerky was my fault. I didn't realize it could mold, and I was trying to make it last. I really can just buy a microwave. It's like, $60-70. I'll just lug it around in my suitcase :P (I probably won't though :P ) I'm sure I can make the cheesecake and oreo dessert work out somehow. It may not be top-notch prepared-in-America good, but I don't think I'll die because I mixed it with a whisk rather than an electric beater. I'll play around later if I have time, and let you know how it goes :)

I did prepare a box of the pancakes this morning though, and that worked out all right. We don't have a griddle, and our pots and pans are garbage. Even with the flame on the lowest of the low, they still burnt a little before the middle was all cooked. Just more experimenting :P

I also made some bacon and eggs. Sadly enough, bacon has come to be the bane of my existence out here. It's sort of super impossible to cook a whole strip of it out in the Philippines. I've tried everything. Frying it in a pan (midde burns and ends are completely raw), cooking it in the toaster oven (Katelyn would like this one. At 4 minutes and 59.9 seconds, it's still raw. At 5 minutes, it's nice and cooked. At 5 minutes and 00.01 seconds, it's black and shriveled.). I've even tried angrily throwing the few remaining raw pieces at the dog who always stands outside our door whenever I burn something (he stands outside our door a lot.... what does he know, anyway..)
Anyway, that was breakfast :D

Transfers are on the Thursday after this one. I think I'd be happy anywhere. I'd love some heavy fielded areas, or mountainous if those even exist in the Philippines. I here the weather is great at this time of year in Russia and Norway. I wouldn't mind serving out there for a year or two either ;) (I just super super miss the cold :( :) )

San Leonardo is huge. It's like working in the entire Saint George Area, including Bloomington, Diamond Valley, and everywhere in between, and all on foot. Some areas here are pretty heavily occupied, but there are a lot of fields too.

First off I just wanted to wish Grandma White a happy birthday last week and am very sorry I forgot to say so last week :( Also, happy Martin Luther King Jr day to you all tomorrow :) No school, I assume?

​This week wasn't too super exciting. At least, not that I can remember. Victor Riego is progressing really well. When we taught him the Word of Wisdom, he said he would go through about 10 sticks a day. Over about a week and a half, he was down to four. I offered to give him Priesthood Blessing, and the next day, he didn't touch a single cigarette :) You're absolutely right Mom. The Priesthood is incredible :) He broke the next day, and started to smoke one, but then got really dizzy so he threw it away immediately :) He wasn't able to attend church yesterday, because he had a fever, but has been reading the Book of Mormon.

We met another Now Progressing Investigator back on Tuesday. Rex De Los Santos. He's huge. And super smart. Or at least, he understands things really easily. He likes to ask a lot of questions and does a lot of personal research when we're not there. We ended up just giving him all the pamphlets and a copy of the Book of Mormon (in English. The Tagalog is too deep for him) after our second lesson. He committed to attend church yesterday, and asked if he could bring a friend. He didn't end up coming because he fell asleep at 4 in the morning while reading Conference Talks on He seems to be a pretty promising investigator :P

I don't have much more to say for this week. Sorry :/ I'll try to keep better track of my week, but no promises :P

Love you!!

Elder Syphus

​Temple pictures laminated :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Week 27 (Jan. 11, 2015 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hello Dear Mother!

Yes! Mary Grace Coralde Dela Cruz (Coralde, not Caralde)! was baptized! :D I'll tell more about that later. Also, yes it's the District Leader that interviews unless it's the DL's investigator, in which case, the Zone Leaders Interview. If it's the ZL's investigator, their DL interviews.
I don't know anything about msg, and haven't heard anything either. My stomach is usually fine so, no need to worry about that.
The desserts expire in February, and I can use a fork or a buy a whisk here- I just wasn't sure if that would work. We'll try it out though. I can also just use a different pan for them probably. We'll see.
I prepared my mac and cheese cups. The first, I just poured in boiling water and let it sit for 3.5 minutes, but that doesn't work. Apparently it needs to be at a constant heat. So the next one, I double boiled :) Do you think I could put the popcorn bag on a metal tray over boiling water? Prolly not. I might just buy a microwave and put it in my suit case between transfers. That could work :P
Elder Nalumen likes taking naps. So did Elder Maestrado. I just sing little primary songs to my self and study the language usually.
I have no idea why they wouldn't be allowed to read conference talks. That's probably the dumbest rule I've ever heard. We're ENCOURAGED to study the words of Living Prophets. Even in the Missionary Handbook, it says limit your study to the Standard Works and Church Magazines. So ya, we read those. I'm also in the process of laminating the temple pictures I'm pulling out of Conference magazines. It's probably the most expensive thing I've done here, besides eating at McDonald's. It's almost $2 a page. What's the price in the states for A4 lamination?

Anyway, this week has been pretty good. I'll start off by finishing Grace's story.

We scheduled her Baptism for 10 AM on Saturday morning. Actually, I scheduled her Baptism for 10 AM on Saturday Morning. Early Saturday Morning Baptisms are what I've always known, but apparently, it's supposed to be different. In the Philippines, they usually have their baptisms between 4-7 in the evening. We still had hers Saturday morning, but everyone was busy, so only about 10 people showed up. She was fine with it though. She's shy :)
Anyway, I got to baptize her, and one of her fellowshippers is Juliana, the little girl I baptized in September who constantly accuses me of trying to drown her :P Grace trusted me though :) Her baptism went flawlessly, and after she finished getting dressed and came back into the room, she bore a Beautiful testimony. She said she felt that day was the most important in her life, and how thankful she was to us as missionaries for helping her learn the Gospel. She was confirmed in Sacrament the following day, and then moved to Saudi Arabia later that afternoon..... Ya. We found out about 3 hours before the move. She explained that she wanted to be baptized before she left, but was too shy to tell us. She said she's going to try and find a church that she can attend out there, though, and that she'll get us her new address. Anyway, she's still awesome :P

Our other Progressing investigators are Mary Rose (14), her niece Shiela (13), and her nephew John Carl or Totoy (11). Totoy reminds me so much of Chandler. It's awesome :P They've all attended church 3 times now and should be ready for baptism by the end of February if they continue :) I'll probably be transferred, though, at the end of January, but ah well; that's mission life :)
Victor Riego also attended church yesterday! This was pretty big, for me anyway. All of our other investigators, baptized or not, either have a 20 second walk the church, or have been brought by a member. Victor lives quite a ways away, and has to pay for his own commute, but he attended church anyway :) He's progressing really well, but is still having a little trouble with the Word of Wisdom. We're still working with him :)

Things aren't all perfect though, of course. Saturday night, President Anselmo, 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency, and his 16 year old son were shot and killed. Another son was shot in the leg, but the shooter's magazine was empty, so they fled the scene. They still haven't been caught. Please keep the Anselmo family in your prayers. They've got another son on a mission right now.

Anyway, love you all! Here are the pictures!

They call this plant makahiya. Mahiya means shy. When you touch it, it "shys" away.

Exact same spot of ground. I just ran my hand through the bush.

Love you Katelyn!!

We found him. Is it a Tarantula? That's what they said, but I'm not very good with spiders.

Not ducks. Just Mud. And a beautiful sunset :)

Into the jungle...

Mary Grace Coralde Dela Cruz. I gave Elder Nalumen that watch. #NBD

Our Ward Mission Leader and 2 of the Conde Family.

Love Elder Syphus

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Week 26 (Jan. 4, 2015 San Leonardo, Philippines)

Hello Mom!
No, I haven't received Grandma's Christmas Card yet, but I have received a lot of letters, and I love every single one of them :) They're probably my favorites :P Really, like I think I prolly told you when I skyped you guys, I can literally hear her voice as I read them. I always laugh and smile whenever I read her letters :) They're wonderful :)

I still don't know why I look thin. I weighed myself the other day, and I have lost some weight since the MTC, but I'm the same as I was back at home. 125 lbs :P I'd say it's because the little bit of fat I used to have has turned into muscle, but we all know THAT'S never gonna happen -.- :P So ya.... Don't know:P

​Grandma ​Syphus today and Grandma White next week as well as everyone else that has birthdays this month :D

Well, on Monday, after emailing and eating and othering, I went to get a haircut. The barber I wanted was gone for some reason, but I REALLY needed a haircut, and the only available option was the 80 year old deaf guy that I went to before. I decided to risk it. I almost wish I didn't :P He practically buzzed the sides of my head with his little baby scissors, and barely touched the top. I look like a Justin Beiber... A very sad Justin Beiber that just got his Ferrari taken away. Ugh. Oh well. Next time :P

On a different day, New Year's Eve to be exact, we were only allowed to be out of the house until 6 PM, then it was inside for the rest of the night. I don't know if this is only in the Philippines, or everywhere that isn't Utah, but it seems like the only way people know how to celebrate the New Year is by getting drunk, so I decided to join in and bought a liter of Pepsi. It didn't have the same effect as every one else's drinks, but it was delicious none the less :P We were fed a bunch again, and had a TON of stuff to take home. Chocolate eclair, a plate of barbecue, a container of Spaghetti and some Coconut Fruit Salad. That's all we ate for the next three days :P Elder Nalumen went to bed at about 9. I pulled out the Birthday supplies you sent me, threw on a party hat, and ate some eclair off of my Cars plate :P It was fun to just goof around again :) I ended up washing the paper plate, drying it, and putting it back with the others. I never know when I'm going to need some party supplies :) I ended up going to bed at 10:30, and waking up at Midnight to the sound of all the fireworks. I pulled out the little horn things, had some fun with those for a little while, drank a glass of Pepsi, watched the fireworks, and went back to sleep :)

Every one was still drunk the next day, so we didn't teach a lot of lessons or contact very many people. Basically just walked around trying not to get hit by the random motorcycle taxis everywhere. I'm amazed there were no accidents. We had some left over food at a couple appointments with Recent Converts or Progressing Less Actives (The non progressing less actives were drunk :P ).

On the Second, I celebrated my six month mark! :D Of course, that means burning a Tie :) It was a tie that I brought, but have never been able to wear because it's too thin and therefore isn't allowed. I tried it on though, just for the one day, and I actually liked it. It was kind of a shame to burn it, but not really :P
 So, I tried on the tie, snapped a picture, took it off and tightened it around a stick. I sprayed it down with some sanitizing alcohol and...

 This is when the piece holding it on the stick melted through. The flaming tie fell into the puddle of alcohol on the floor and flared for a second. I screamed. It was a gleeful scream :D
 No worries, got it all under control :)
 It stank, REALLY bad :P
 And it started to drop flaming balls of molten plastic :D Notice the smoke.....

The smoke.....
 This is me running to shut off the fire alarm :D :D :D :D
 This is me bumping the table where my camera was automatically taking pictures.
 This is my camera falling over, taking a beautiful shot of the molten, flaming tie, unattended on the Bathroom floor. Good thing house here are built out of stone :P
 At this point in time, my Companion is finally waking up from his nap. We're both yelling and screaming in glee and confusion. I'm laughing my head off, and he's burying his head in his pillow. It reminds of the scene on The Incredibles when the message thing explodes. It was wonderful :P No sprinklers though :(

This was the remnants of the tie after we got everything settled down. The alarm went off three more times :P
That's an eldredge knot, by the way. Very fancy, jsyk :P
 These are some ducks. You're welcome :)

So, January 2 was a super whole ton of fun, as you all prolly know :)

Two days later, we had a Baptism interview! Mary Grace Caralde Dela Cruz. She has such a powerful testimony and is so ready for baptism.Our plan is for this upcoming Saturday. I'll fill you in on all the details next week :) Anyway, during her interview, the Spirit was SO strong. I was sitting outside the open door while they were having the interview inside, and I could still feel it. She's incredible :)

So.... I think that's it for this week. Still no cheesecake or Oreo dessert, and I think I need an electric beater too :/ I'd say I can do it by hand, but it calls for 3 minutes on medium speed. I don't know if I can make that kind of progress with a fork. Any ideas? Oh, and my jerky molded :P I didn't even know that was possible. Thankfully, I had already eaten most of it, so no worries :) Anyway, love you so much!! Thank you for everything! Love you Mom!!

Elder Syphus