Monday, January 30, 2012

Work, Serve, Work

Kumusta and how is everybody doing today?
My new scriptures,
custom bound locally.

A few weeks ago we had the area Presidency talk to us about church statistics in the Philippines.  There are about 659,729 members of the church in the Philippines, but only about 114,443 (17%) are active. The good news is that 58% of the members that go to the temple remain active.  So we will change how things are done and shake things up.  We will get more people to the temple.  We are out to do some good.

The school in Bambang where we did service Monday.

We had 15 lessons just yesterday after church to less actives and investigators.  It was a good day.  

Last Monday we did a service project for a school in Bambang.   I got my first sunburn in the Philippines working in the school yard.

Take care of yourselves.  I love you all and I miss you all still.  I can’t wait to get your letters.

Sorry there's not much to talk about again this week.

Mahal kita,
Elder Allen
My first Filipino sunburn.
(Yes, I have sunscreen,
why do you ask?)

My machete is the utensil of choice
for most household tasks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Work in Aritao

Kumusta!  It’s very interesting to see how the missionary work improves and becomes so much more .... entertaining with a new companion who is fun to work with.  Elder Averion is a great companion.  Since we started about 2 weeks ago, it has felt like I just arrived in Aritao for the first time.  Before that, I was spending as much time in Bambang and Solano as Aritao.  Now we are focused.

Angry Birds is huge in the Philippines, Elder Abitona
and me don't play, but we have awesome pillows!
Anyway, Aritao is an awesome place.  We have gained some new investigators, and are using the ward mission leader, a 21-year-old kid who is preparing his own mission papers right now, to guide us around.   It turns out that Aritao is one of the biggest areas in the mission. It would take a whole day to walk from one side to the other. And then we have to walk back.  I know, because we've done it.  We still haven’t explored all of the area.  We plan on going down to Santa Fe this week which is about a 30 minute jeepney ride south and it is still well within our boundaries.  The other missionaries in our district are frightened by our area’s sheer size. It’s awesome!

I’m coming up on 4 months away from home now but it doesn’t feel like it. Yes, its been long, but it doesn’t feel like 4 months long.  Then again, 4 months isn’t really very long di-ba?

The work is good. The fields are white and ready for harvest. The weather is... hot.  And the people are loving.

I had a rough start but I guess it was good to start at the bottom, from there the only way to go is up!

To answer some of your excellent questions:
How do we get around? Our area is huge. Walking takes forever but it’s cheaper than jeepneys and we don’t have unlimited money. We usually just walk.

How is my health? My health is okay. I had a bit of intestinal drama for a few days, but I’m all good now.

How are the Filipino people? Filipinos smile a lot.  I’ve had many good experiences with them. We just had dinner last night with Brother Caucayan, president of the Elders Quorum.  His business is medical supplies and drugs. He calls himself a 'druglord'.  We ate fish with him last night.  I still don’t like fish but I’m really good at pretending otherwise.

Where is Elder Averion From?  Elder Averion is from Laguna.  He’s been out 8 months.

How do you get mail, if everything goes to the mission home, and it’ almost 3 hours away?   Honestly, it gets to the mission home and there’s no promise that I’ll get it before the next time I go to the mission home. But usually somebody has to go up there for some reason or someone has to come down.  So I would say it will usually get to me within a week after arriving to the mission home. Yep. Mail’s slow.

Hey! I love you people! Do some good in the world today!

Me and a Kuliglig
Elder Allen

To explain the pictures:
Few things are more famous in the Philipines than Angry Birds. Elder Abitona is with me.
My locally made machete, stand back!
That Vehicle is called a Kuliglig. yep.
no one will be happier than Jonah to know I have a Machete. woot woot. stand back.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Companion!

Me and my new Kasama, Elder Averion
Kumusta!   I spoke yesterday in church after being told on Saturday night at about 9 o’clock.  So I prepared a talk about Jesus Christ as our Chosen Savior and Redeemer.  It might have been okay.

Transfers were last Thursday.  My new companion is Elder Averion.  He is a great guy and I’m learning a lot of new stuff. Elder Lien has been transferred up as a Zone Leader in Cauayan to die (finish his mission).

Elder Averion and me are working hard to try and build up Aritao now. It’s like opening a new a area. I saw all of my batch mates at the Transfer Meeting, which was a nice surprise.

The area seventy (regional church leader) gave a message to all of the Philippines on Saturday night about the statistics around members of the Church in the Philippines. I don’t have those numbers with me now, but next week I’ll share with you some of the news, both exciting and discouraging about the growth of the Gospel in the Philippines.
Church members from the Aritao branch

Hey, mom or dad, will you email me a picture of my first baptism.  Better yet, if you send a letter send that picture in a letter for me.   That would be awesome. Sister Monique, the girl I baptized, wants a copy of that picture and I promised her one before I’m gone. That would be so great.

I’ve thought of some stuff I could use in a package, I don’t expect a package anytime soon though, I know how expensive it is and how long it takes anyway. But for the next package you do send I could use: More Skittles and M&Ms, contacts and contact fluid, and maybe a small towel to carry in my backpack.  Those are just suggestions, nothing I can’t live without.
One of the Internet shops
I use to stay in touch

I love you all so much…

Elder Allen

Monday, January 9, 2012

Quiet Week

This where I do my
laundry every Monday.
Kumusta!  I got a package from the Hills yesterday for the twelve days of Christmas.  It was awesome.  I opened it and read them all and everything and then put it all back and am going to try and save it for next year. Christmas trees are highly prized among the missionaries.  I also got a Christmas letter from Sister Petereit and from Sister Pratt (Sister Pratt also sent me fifty bucks!  That’s a lot of money.)

 Transfers are this week. Tomorrow I will learn if I am staying in Aritao and getting a new companion or moving somewhere else. 

Jeepney driver cash register.
This morning we had breakfast at McDo (McDonalds) in Salono with Sister and President Carlos and the APs. They were a great to be around, as usual. 

Nothing really interesting has happened in the past few days, sorry. 

I love you all and still miss you terribly.  This is a great work, and I am anxiously engaged!

Elder Allen 

Elder Deriada on a Jeepney.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

My kasama (companion) Elder Deriada
on our way to an appointment

There is nothing like a Filipino New Years.  It’s like a war. The streets are packed with people and fireworks, which are more like bombs here, they just throw them.  All over the place.  There are explosions and screaming all around.  Every car that has a horn, leans on it.  The air quickly fills with smoke, and kids run in the streets holding great big fireworks and throwing them at each other.  And drunk people run around with machetes screaming.  No wonder our curfew was 6.  The whole place just escalates in chaos until midnight and then fades into the next morning.  There was a brown out (black out, I don’t know why they call it a brown out) at about 12:05am. All electrical light went out, but the city seemed to still be fully lit by all the fireworks and other lights going on. That was fun.  All seen from the window of our flat. 

Sunrise over the rice fields.
Happy new Year!
Sorry it was a short one today. I’m a slow typer  and I’m short on time.

I love each of you so very much. Take care.


Elder Allen

Rice paddies everywhere