Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Some of the local candies 
we enjoyed for Christmas.
President Carlos is more than I expected of him, and as you know, I had high expectations.

It was so great to talk to you all on Christmas. I admit to actually contemplating not calling you because I was afraid it was going to make me more homesick and just want to go home.  But after talking to you all and hearing all of your tired, early-morning voices, I sure was glad I called.  It was wonderful to hear your voices.

Missionaries out to lunch.
The next morning was excellent as well.  We all got to take hot showers! (I took mine in the General Authority's room) I'd forgotten just how good those feel.  Then we all just relaxed in the living room until noon.  We played card games, and guitar, and just talked to sister Carlos for an hour or so. She’s a Saint. President Carlos has been kind of sick but he pulled me aside to thank me for my patience and long suffering and told me he knew exactly how I felt.  He told me he’s been praying for me, then he gave me a big hug and headed off to bed. He’s like my temporary replacement father for the two years I’m out here.

President Carlos seems to have so much confidence in me.  If he and the Lord believe I can, then I can.

Maligayang Pasko, lahat mga tao.  I love you all very much.

Elder Allen

Monday, December 19, 2011

Visit to Banaue

Editor's Note:  The tragic flooding in the Philippines over the weekend took place in Mindanao, about 400 miles south of Eli.  Eli is safe.    Your prayers for the people of the Philippines are always appreciated.

First I would like to say that for the longest time, whenever I was asked where I wanted to go on my mission I would reply, "Jurassic Park," as would Noah. A few days ago as we were trudging through the huge, muddy, green forest, I realized I was in Jurassic Park.  When I get home I will tell people I learned Tagalog on my Mission in Jurassic Park.

There is a Karaoke bar right across the street from our house. And it seems like most Philippinos are tone deaf, at least the ones that go to this bar are.  It’s funny because in this tiny town of Aritao is a tiny little Karaoke bar that has the loudest speakers I have ever heard.  It’s right in the middle of a huge field.  It’s very funny to fall asleep to.

Water is not clean here.  The water here is deadly and infectious.  There are special water purification centers all around that will refill our big tubs of water. Each missionary house is supposed to have a water filter, but ours doesn't. 

I bathe with a ladel and very cold water.

Washing clothes by hand is a pain but actually surprisingly effective if done right.

'Tricycles' are these Motorcycles that have buggies attached to the side. I really want a motorcycle when I get home now.

Pisos to dollars: It’s about 43 pisos to an American dollar and you can get a pretty decent meal around here for mabye 50 pisos if you know where to go.

The fruit here is delicious.

Banaue is a World Heritage Site, the rice terraces
on the side of the mountain are 2,000 years old.
Because there is a lack of clean water, its almost easier to just get soda. Coke-Cola, Sprite, Royal: tru-orange (orange soda), and Sparkle (kinda like sprite but better). 

Wala milk sa pilipinas. (“No milk in the Philippines.”) There is only nasty imported stuff or really rare and expensive fresh creamy milk.

I am the youngest in my district, both in being here the shortest time, and being the only 19-year-old.  Everyone else is between 21 and 25.  I am the only white person in my district besides Elder Lien who is one of the Zone Leaders and doesn’t have time to spend with the district.

On Sunday I was handed a note. I am speaking on Christmas Day. I will not have even been in the Phillippines a month when I speak.  On our way home Elder Deriada laughed at me because he’s been there for 4 months and they haven’t asked him to speak.  Oh boy.

It’s tough, very tough.

I’m not learning Tagalog as fast as I would like to and it is getting very frustrating being unable to listen or speak. I need all the help I can get right now. On the bright side, I have learned how to keep my mouth shut ;)

I should also mention that I started a list called :”Things I have learned on my mission (that I had not previously figured out) thus far”
so far, it consists of:
1 Pray... a lot... don't think about it, just do it.
2 The Book of Mormon is Awesome. Everyone should read it, its why I'm out here.
3 No matter how much you love rain, sometimes its nice to have an umbrella.
I will add more and try to remember to tell you what they are.

A small group of missionaries and I went to Banaue today for P-day. A beautiful place. The best part though was sitting to the top of a jeepney for the three hour ride up, over, around, and through mountains and bukids (rice terraces) back to Salano. This truly is a one of a kind place. Also, everyone stares at the white person going by on top of the Jeepney.  Smile and wave and they'll laugh. It’s funny.

Well, all, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

I love you all very, very much and wish you good tidings of great joy.   (My fingers are frozen because no one here knows how to regulate air conditioning or as they all call it "the aircon.")

Ingot Kayo, magandang mga tao. until next week :)

Elder Allen

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jeepney Ettiquette

I had a long list of things I wanted to tell you about but certain circumstances leave me unable to retrieve that list at the moment.

First off, I love you all so very much and am feeling a little homesick. But it is okay. I can get through it.

I sent a letter home maybe Tuesday or Wednesday last week. Let me know when you receive it and if you receive it intact. I cant wait to see what you sent me for Christmas. I am eagerly awaiting it. Whatever it is, I will love it because it is from my family.

So, when you get on a Jeepney it costs a certain amount of money to go certain distances or certain places. I think the way we pay is interesting because in a crowded Jeepney you hold out your money and say, "Paki-abot po," which is to say, "Please pass sir/ma'am" and then some random person will reach out and pass your money up to the driver through everyone’s hands, and if you sent up a big bill, your change will be passed back to you. It makes me think how well that would work in America. The first person to touch it would probably pocket it. Its especially interesting considering how poor all the people in the Philippines are, and the thought of keeping that money doesn’t even seem to cross their mind.
Just a thought I had.

To answer some of your questions: We didn’t get a chance to visit the temple in Manila, just as we started walking over there, they stopped us and told us to grab our stuff because we were leaving for Cauayan.  It’s okay though. It was a very pretty temple.  The Mission home is very nice. Our house is not that nice. I didn’t get a chance to rest that first day.  It’s only about 89 degrees here, and I’m in the coolest part of the mission. Elder Deriada is always complaining about how hot it is. Yes, there is always a constant layer of water coating your body, whether from rain or sweat or just the humidity, it doesn’t really matter. I got some cheap handkerchiefs just for wiping down, thank you for thinking of it.  I haven’t done much shopping just yet, but its been kind of hectic. I’m sorry I don’t have an address for our house.   We try to teach 7-8 lessons a day, or we just go around talking to people. It’s difficult not understanding them.

I’m on splits right now with Elder Hayden Lein.  He’s one of our zone leaders and he ships back home to Boise, Idaho in 2.5 months. He doesn’t know whether to be excited or not.  Great kid.

I’m sorry I didn’t say too much to share with the world. I love you all. next week I'll try to get everything in I had planned to say. I Miss you all and love you all so very much. Good luck back home.

Mahal Kita, 
Elder Allen

(Pictures are borrowed from Sister Carlos' blog.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

The First 5 Days

Hello family and friends. :)
     It has been a good few days. I’m serving in Aritao, Nueva Viscaya.  The southern-most area in the Cauayan Mission. That means that after a long 11 hour bus ride up to the mission home in Cauayan (the very center of the mission) I got to drive another 2 1/2 - 3 hours back down. I timed my total time travelling, including time in airports, time at bus stations and so forth but not the time spent resting at the Manila MTC, or the time spent at the transfer meeting at the Mission Home, it was: about 46 hours. But it was fun.
      At The Manila MTC we hung out with all the Pilipino mga missiyonaro and met some Mongolian Missionaries too. Great Kids.
After only one full day in the field, I baptized Sister Monique Collado and my Kasama, Elder Deriada, baptized Brother Elmer. Neither Baptism was planned. It was such a great experience. Both of them were special cases as the night before at a special Zone Christmas Devotional, President Carlos had to interview both of them and they were both okayed for, literally, the next day. Brother Elmer lost his left leg in a Motorcycle Accident. He was a special case because he had killed someone before. Besides asking if he was in the military and getting the answer no, I decided not to ask any further into it, as much as I wanted to. He had been trying to be baptized for the last 2 years and had been doing everything he had to for just as long, but he finally got the okay to be Baptized.
     Sister Monique was a different special case. She is only 17 but she had some very serious family issues that I won’t go into farther except to say that I respect her that much more for being baptized and continuing to love her family and stick by them.
      I ate balut for the sort-of first and probably last time last night. The details of balut are these: a fertilized duck egg... imagine a boiled egg but a baby duck with everything else as well. I just stuck the whole thing in my mouth and chewed. Once you bite down on the skull, you have to ask yourself, "What did this duck do to deserve this?" tapos "What have I done to deserve this!?",  I then proceded to pull tiny, soft bones from my teeth and decided that’s all the balut I need for the rest of my life.
After going to teach a lesson to the Collado family (Monique’s family), well, after discovering that we could not teach them because her mom was too drunk, we were stuck at her family store because it was raining so hard. We watched a pig the size of a small horse, no, a medium horse, corraled over to a nearby house. A few minutes later it came bursting out and ten full grown men had to wrestle it to the ground and drag it back home. The pig reminded me of the hogs in Princess Mononoke. 
      I tried some stuff called 'chocolate meat' and really liked it. Turns out its just little bits of meat cooked in blood that makes it look like chocolate. Everyone was staring at me and was surprised that I liked it. It reminded me of the black pudding we had in Britain. Blood... yummy.
      I am very Slowly learning Tagalog. very slowly. But it’s okay. I’m studying my hardest. My trainer is a Philippino from the south. He speaks Cebuno, Ilikano, Viscaya, and Tagalog fluently, but he doesn’t speak much English.  Baptism by fire my friends.  We have a deal, I teach him English if he teaches me Tagalog. This makes me not only the only white person,but also the only English speaker, pero, I am at a disadvantage, I have discovered most philippinos understand English, they just don’t speak it. I can teach the gospel, But I can’t do the most important thing: listen to them.  And sometimes it is frustrating, but I know that with great power comes great responsibility... and the Lord provides a way, as long as I do what I am asked to do.
       Elder Deriada asked me a question that got me thinking:   If Jesus were standing in front of you, what would you ask him? I think any sensible person would ask for mercy and forgiveness. But how can we ask this of him if we do not do as he asks and we do not follow his example? In 3 Nephi, Jesus asks that we follow his example and follow him into the waters of baptism. Baptism by immersion in water first, and baptism by fire second, or receiving the Holy Ghost.
     Now the kids around me are reading my Email, so i guess I’ll end it with this:
     My first Sunday here happened to be a fast Sunday. I bore my testimony in Sacrament mtg, in ingles. I told the people that I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, if I didn't, I wouldn't be here in the philippiness to share it with everyone. I told them that I loved them, members, non-members, and haters alike. I told them I loved them all and I had come to serve them, the American had come to help all those around me who would accept it.  My compainoin thinks I’m weird because I ask people if I can help them if they look like they need help moving something or carrying something or anything.  My companion says why bother, they won’t accept the gospel. I say, it doesn’t matter. We help everyone and someone will listen. I'm here because the Lord knew that from here I would touch someone’s heart, someone’s heart that only  I could touch. I  guess I may  never know who it is, but I’ll try my hardest to make sure it happens.

I love you all so very very much.
I love you Noah
I love you Lexie
I love you Jonah
I love you Mommy
I love you Dad
I love you Kevin
I love you too, Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Grumps, Grandpa Fred, Grandma Judy, Maquel, Ryan, Jesse, James, Riley and anyone else who wants to be loved.

Until Next Week, Ingot Kayo.
Elder Allen