Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 54 (July 27, 2015 Talavera, Philippines)

Hi Mom!
Time is sort of short, so I won't be able to make this very long. Next week though :)

Kate is getting married!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT IS SO AWESOME!!! CONGRATULATIONS KRATELET!!!!!! I've known for a while, but don't remember if I've already congratulated her on being so incredibly GORGEOUS and AMAZING!! Miss you like pie, Katelyn, and I miss pie a LOT. Think of how much you would miss pie if you hadn't had any in more than a year. Multiply that by about a Brazilian, and that's how much I miss pie. Times that by two, and that's how much I miss you. Yeah. It's a LOT.

I'm no longer as incredibly awkward and antisocial as I was before my mission, so that's a BIG plus. I can actually be friendly and make a total stranger feel comfortable around me within a few seconds. But then again, I'm in the Philippines where people actually DON'T have the tendency to call the cops when you ask them their name, phone number, age, and address.... Probably not something I should try on the streets of St. George :P

I was able to do exchanges with the Zone Leaders this week. Elder Jensen is from Provo Utah, and he goes home in October, with just about every other Zone Leader in the mission. It's a sort of super batch, and President Clark has let us know it :P Anyway, we did a LOT of contacting, but not too much teaching. Elder Jensen is really good at talking to everybody, like we're supposed to. We talked to more than 40 people that day, but I think the whole testimony part was a bit lacking. However, I did get to bear my testimony in one of the lessons we taught. We were teaching these two 20 something year old twins who were on the City's Council, and they spent a lot of time telling us how they had attended church in all these really big Filipino religions as part of their assignment, but they had never heard about "The Mormons," so they just kept asking us who we were and what we were doing and what made us any different than all the other churches they had been too. It was sort of hard to answer because they just kept asking more questions, but I was able to go off into a really quick but personally powerful version of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I closed with my testimony of the truthfulness of the message, and then they just sat there a little stunned for a few seconds, before one of them got out a weak "thank you" and then complimented me on my Tagalog. It was probably one of the most Spiritually powerful moments of my mission. I didn't even know my testimony was that strong. We ended with a prayer, and set a return appointment. Super cool stuff. I always love going on exchanges. So much to learn :)

So I actually do have a scripture to share, but no time to share it. Next week though! I promise!!

Love you!!

Elder Syphus

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 53 (July 20, 2015 Talavera, Philippines)

Hi Mom :)

Ya, time is short, but it's not that bad. When we were stil at two hours, we were the only mission in the Philippines with that long. Most of the others have about an hour, and some even limit their missionaries to 15 minutes. I still feel extremely blessed to even be given this much time :

We had a interesting week, but transfer weeks always are. I was transferred! I've left Camiling, Tarlac, and am now in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, which is part of Cabanautan Zone. I know a few of the missionaries here, but because our area is so far from theirs, I will only see them maybe once or twice a transfer. Transfer day was pretty hecitc. We have a lot of missionaries from the Indian Mission, because foreigners are only allowed a one year visa, after which they get dumped into the Philippines. Elder Ortega was assigned with one of them in order to be a sort of translator, and so was required to attend a training meeting, even though his companion has been out longer than him :P Because of that, we had to be in Tarlac City by 8:30 which is about an hour and a half away from Camiling, which means we would leave at about 6:45. I still had to finish packing because of a lack of time Wednesday night, plus getting ready, so I ended up waking up at 4:00. We left on time, and still just barely made it to the transfer point by 8:30. Another interesting fact is that the mission is split into two: Cabanatuan side and Tarlac side. My companion was waiting for me on Cab Side, and I still had a meeting on Tarlac side at 1 PM, so I didn't end up leaving to go to Cab until about 4:00. After that, we took the two hour drive in a crammed jeep to Cab and got their at 6 PM. And then we had to do another two hours of traveling to get to my new area. The one plus side is that it wasn't with three suitcases; just 2 :) I found a way to store the little one inside of the big one, and still make everything fit. So that was fun. Oh! And my new companion is Elder Fresnoza, bu the way. I guess that's probably something else you wanted to know :) He's from Bicol, and I'm his follow up trainer. Still haven't really gotten a good feel of him, but he's cool from what I've seen :)
Also! Our entire district is in a single apartment because it's only two companionships. The other comapamionship is Elder Tejada and Elder Silva, which is awesome, because Elder Tejada was my second District Leader in my first area, and Elder Silva was in my last District in Camiling! We moved from a district to one house! He's from Sri Langka, but lived in Virgina for schooling so he's pretty American as well, but he classifies himself as a Sri Langkan. Cool stuff.

So about what will happen with Kate, Ivy, and Joseph isn't really clear, but they don't seem to have dedicated themselves as much as they need to for baptism :/ It's hard, but we have to accept and respect other's angency. However, we did have a baptism on Saturday! Considering that I'm new here, I still don't really know her, but she definitely seemed ready. Her name is Felomina Otero Andres Manuel. I was asked to speak at her baptism, so that's what I talked about: baptism. She was smiles the whole time. It was cool :)

Anyway, love you all!

Elder Syphus

Talavera City at night

Elder Fresnoza and Siser Manuel. I didn't teach her, so I stayed away :)

Farewell dinner party thing from Pindangan. Lots of fun :) Kid on the left is the AJ Pichay, 1st counselor's son in the Branch Presidency. On my right in the black and then the white in front of her are Hazel and Leslie Ann Domingo. They're sisters but about 7 years apart. I thought they were twins at first. In the blue is Angelica Pichay, Aj's older sister. Then Gladys Banabatac- 2nd Counselors sister. Then Melvin Labisa. 14 years old, and the son of the lady in the middle, Sister Labisa. I've never met the little kid next to Sister Labisa :P

Kennette Banabatac. He was photographer till I took the camera away and snapped a few of him :P

Baby snake that we found in a puddle and took home. We found it dead, don't worry :P I just shaped him so he looked alive.

These are everywhere. I think they might be the giant versions of the wolfspiders in our basement.

Love you again!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week 52 (July 13, 2015 Camiling, Philippines)

Hahahaha!!! That is awesome!!!! Woohoo! *self high-five* Now I have SIX Nephews!! And Katelyn is GORGEOUS!!!!! I pulled up the picture and my companion saw it and he was just like "whoa...." Sorry, Elder Ortega, she's TAKEN! Haha!

Woo. Got some of the excitement out of me now. That's uber kagilagilalas though. You should all start using that word.

Hello Mom!
So, if you've already been sending my letters to people that's cool too. We just got an hour cut off our email time, so that would be super helpful if you could keep doing that for me. Sorry! Love you so much though!

So, about this week: we didn't end up getting any baptisms.
Kate started her job at this Supermarket, and isn't allowed weekends off, so we told her baptism wasn't going to be continued if she wasn't going to be able to keep the Sabbath Day holy. We basically told her straight up to quit, but in a way that was more polite and respectful. She said she'd pray about it. Still no updates :/
Ivy's old RM American Ex-Com boyfriend showed up to her house on Wednesday, along with his new wife. Apparently Ivy still didn't think their separation was official, even though she told us it was. After that, things all went down hill for her. She's sort of depressed and asked to move her baptism. She saked that we just pray for her as well, so that's all we're doing. That's all we CAN do. For either of them... uggh.
Joseph wasn't necessarily set for baptism this week, because he has this nasty addiction he can't seem to cut loose. He's a heavy gambler, and sort of refuses to even attempt to quit. He says he's not ready for baptism because of his gambling, but he said as soon as he got a job, he would be able to stop. Now he has a job, and still gambles. And they were all so promising!!! We haven't completely dropped any of them yet, just because they've all had so much progression, but it's hard to focus on them when they're either at work, in depression, or gambling, which seems to take up their whole day. Just keep them in your prayers :/

But on the flip side of things, we have met some cool people.
One morning, while we were on our way to Ivy's, I saw this random guy standing outside of this super old, run-down home. I glanced at him, but kept walking, but then felt the strongest impression that I needed to talk to him. I stopped for a second, fighting with myself a little, then turned around and walked towards him. When he saw us, I greeted him, and then he mumbled something and rushed inside. I stopped walking and looked at my companion, and then greeted the home. He poked his head outside the door, and gestured for us to come in. We went in (even more run down and old from the inside), and started talking to him for a bit. Turns out that he's a member! His name is Ely Agustin, and he was baptized in the 80s but has gone inactive since then. He could be a very promising Returning Member, if we can just keep with him.
We also met some new investigators that seem sort of cool. We were just doing our testifying contact thing to these two guys that were walking in the opposite direction from where we were going, and we offered to share, one of them immediately said "Ya, I want to listen." THAT was super cool, because that almost never happens. We usually have to push and nudge and make them feel a little uncomfortable before they're ready to listen, but this guy was supr eager. His name is Arvin Tolloc, and he should be pretty promising as well.

In other news:
Remember that river I mentioned? It's now raised about another 25 feet, and has about 5 feet to go before it overflows. And this is just the beginning of the rainy season. Apparently floods are actually like a super real thing here. Sort of exciting, sort of terrifying. 72 hour kits are being stressed like crazy right now.

Well times about up. Love you! Thank you!

Elder Syphus

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 51 (July 6, 2015 Camiling, Philippines)

Dear Family and Friends,
I've decided to start writing my letters a little differently, because I've realized that a lot of you are missionaires that probably don't have access to the blog the mat Mom updates (r at least I think she updates it). A few of you have also told me that you are "no longer" receiving my froup emails... I don't really know what that means because I've never sent a group email before this one one, which adds to the doubt that my Mom may not be 100% consistent on updating my blog. So, I'll start trying to do this to make things hopefully a lot easier on her, as well as on you. Also- if you don't want an email from me every week, just let me know and I'll take your name off the list.
Anyhoo, for those of you who don't know (and I'm assuming most of you do), I' m currently serving as a Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Region 3 of the Philippine Islands. And in the Philippines, it rains. Which brings us to what I would first like to talk about. Rainy Season
Rainy Season is upon us here in the tropics, and these last 48 hours of non-stop raining attests to the fact. Generally, it hasn't been very strong, but it's been going on forever. The river behind our house has risen about 3-4 feet, but don't worry, it still has about another 20 before it reaches us, and the river gets wider at the top, so it will fill slower. I hope. On the plus side, the rain has brought down the temperatures quite a bit, to the point that you now see people walking around in sweaters and shorts, rather than just shirtless and shorts. Yup, big changes.
Next (following no particular order of chronology), because my companion is sort of/semi American, we actually celebrated Independence Day! We splurged a little during our shopping on Monday and went all out with Angus Beef patties, Doritos, Soda Pop, and even some mediocre gourmet Ice Cream (gourmet in the Philippines is mediocre in any country that has real dairy products). It was pretty pricey, but also a ton of fun. We ended the day with our very own (probably) mission-legal fireworks! By which I mean we burnt one of my White Shirts for my one year mark. It was actually really sad. TOO FAST!!
We also had exchanges this week for two of our Investigators to be interviewed. Ivy and Kate are both really progressing investigators, and it's super exciting to see how everything works out. They both passed their interviews, and are now in preparation to be baptized this coming Saturday, on the 11th. However, some stuff may have come up, so I guess we'll see what happens. Things should work out though, and we're hoping that their baptism will help out another one of our investigators, Joseph, in his preparation. He's been receiving the lessons and going to church for about 2 months now, but there's just a few more little kinks that we need to help him smooth out. Hopefully he'll be able to attend the baptism and be touched by the Spirit. He has so much potential, but is just afraid to commit to anything.
So ya, being a missionary is incredible. It can definitely be discouraging and stressful at times, but then I imagine what it'll be like after it's all over and it just makes me feel sick. I'm hoping to make the most of this last year, so wish me luck!

Love you all!
Elder Syphus

Picture overload: it's been a while

Scenery is nice

So are homemade oreo desserts... Super nice.

Caught in a rain storm. Super soaked.

Anyone hungry?

Silly companion, hot oil is NOT for plastic sieves. But I still love him.

Blurry picture = better picture. Plus, flaming sihrt.

More scenery...

Raymond, Romeo, and R-jour. Romeo looks like Ethan Bennett


I cooked :D

4th of July Celebrations. Yes, my companion bought cheese flavored ice cream. Told you, he's only sort of American

Aftermath of the rain storm