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.