Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 75: You Don't Mess With Momma Cows, They Mess You UP!

*The following statement must be read with caution by the members of the arm of the Church of Jesus Christ  of Latter-Day Saints as symptoms may include finite trunkyness and desire to go home.*

(UWI is Tagalog for ‘going home’ pronounced oo-we) and if you haven’t noticed I am absolutely and COMPLETELY terrified. Its unreasonable for me to be this scared but it feels like I have a chunk of ice in my gut.  You would think that would help me stay cool in the Filipino heat but it's not doing me any favors. Its unreasonable to be so worried as I have plans and I have goals and everything so I'm not entirely sure where the feeling of foreboding is coming from but… *shrugs* ce la vie. (French for ‘thus is life’) or ganun siya (Tagalog for That’s how it is)

I take life by the horns… literally. Background; our investigators live behind a few houses where we had to walk between some alleyways to get to the house. No problem on the way in, the coast was clear. When we came out of the teaching appointment there, standing in the middle of the alleyway was…. Not a thief or a murderer, but a momma cow and her baby.

You don’t mess with momma cows, they mess you up.

Luckily it was tied so I got close-ish to it and insulted it and its baby so it charged at me, bringing itself to the end of its rope. Its head at a slight angle because the rope went through its nose, it tried swinging its horns at me so I did what any reasonable person does- grabbed it by the horns and made it so it could only see me. Sister Latu was able to squeeze past it without a problem as I stood there with its horns in my hands. Sister Pamugas, however was frozen in place and refused to move, By this time the momma cow freed her head from my grasp and saw that we had it surrounded. Big mistake. She started pawing at the ground and bellowing and flames came out of her nostrils (I’m kidding she just started pawing at the ground.) But by then there was NO way of getting sister Pamugas to go past the cow, Sister Latu pointed out that the neighboring wall was tall and that we could climb on the fence bit which is solid and had plenty of foot holes (see attached picture, it’s a bit lie that but the concrete part was higher and didn’t look that fancy) I'm all about finding my inner spider-man so I jumped up on the wall with the baby cow licking at my feet (he wasn’t tied up) and made it safely to the other side… with Sister Pamugas stuck on the wall. By this time our investigator noticed we were having a hard time and just walked right up to the cow and she moved out of his way. But at least I can say I fought a cow and turned into spider-missionary for one day!!

               Then this Sunday a few of the girls from Batac came to visit me, they came for the Sunday services and got to hear my farewell testimony!! Seriously made my day, my week, my mission. Im seriously going to miss this place. I cried when they left.

But that’s all I really have to say about this week besides how sad I am to leave this area.My companions Sister Latu and Sister Pamugas are incredible and not only are they dedicated to the work (which helps keep the trunky cloud from hanging over your head) they are outright hysterical! Since its rainy season it rains daily, and since I have holes in both of my shoes I’m wet once I step out the door. I like to thrust my umbrella towards sister Latu and cover her with the rain drops that have collected on top as she always makes the best faces. Then scraping ice out of the freezer to wake them up on time… it's been good times. I'm going to miss them and all the incredible members that I've met here and not to mention the 3 upcoming baptisms I'll miss. Shout out to Hery Joy who passed her Baptismal Interview last Saturday!!

From the soon to be RM
Sister Eldredge

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 74: It's All Your Choice

So because I didn’t email last week it's two emails in one day!

And the computer crashed so I have to type all of this all over again. 


I just want to focus on one experience I had. We have a lot of members in this area who have fallen behind in their attendance (we call them Less Actives or LA) and one LA stands out to me above the rest. He is about 80 and has been LA for several decades. Sitting next to him and discussing a simple gospel doctrine was humbling to me as I saw a man who could have been a spiritual giant in his area and be a strength to hundreds if not thousands but the cares of this world overcame him and he convinced himself out of the church due to ‘more interesting’ pursuits. If we sin we are damned, damned in the sense that our eternal progression is halted. Like flowing water you just remove the barrier and the water will flow again. We repent and the dam is removed, thus allowing us to progress. This is the same in nearly any context.  We can fall behind in talents and in relationships and it's not until we prioritize better that we will continue to progress. Otherwise you miss out on so many blessings. You miss out on helping others, but it's all your choice.

Funny story for the week: My new companion, sister Latu seems to have upset all the flora in the Philippines. If a leaf falls from a tree it hits her in the face, if there is a swinging branch it hits her in the face. If she doesn’t look where she is going, you guessed it, she gets hit in the face by a nearby bush. It's quite hysterical to count how many times this happens in a day.

From the sister who does not have a problem with running into plants,
Sister Eldredge

Week 73: The Walking Dead Gets Transfered

(This is my letter I would have sent on 7/24/17 but I wasn't able to email)

This last week was crazy both because it was busy but because I didn't even email last Monday! Yeah, I was transferred to a new area, Bacarra, and I was involved in the ‘farewell exercises’ of the missionaries going home in july.  Due to this fact I had no time to email.

That’s alright. The funny story of this week is also a kinda sad story. I was not feeling good one day but I assumed the upset stomach would go away as I figured it was due to stress. We got to our appointment which turned out to be a lunch appointment. I’ll just jump to the chase - I threw up - in the middle of the lesson. I jumped up to run to the restroom and I guess all the blood rushed to my head because my vision turned black and I got dizzy and nearly fell flat on my face but my companion and Brother Robert caught me and I did not spew all over them, just in the toilet, for which I was grateful. Then we sat down for a minute and then I insisted that we continued the lesson and I was feeling better and was certain it would not happen again. But it did. The exact same thing happened. And when I came out of the bathroom the second time my companion said ‘you look like the walking dead.’ To which I responded ‘I always knew I was going to be famous.’ She didn’t get it so I explained. ‘the walking dead... that is a tv show.’ She didn’t think I was funny.

After that Brother Robert had his employee take us home. When we returned a few days later he told us that after we had left he had cried because of the dedication that we showed to our work.

Only I would be able to help someone feel the spirit of God by vomiting…

Then later after we finished the lesson he cried again, but this time because he had prayed to know if our message about life after death and the purpose of life were true and wanted to be baptized.  He chose to be baptised on September 2, which is the day that my proselyting licence expires.

The rest of this week was a blur due to the fact that I was off and on sick and then got transferred and I am now in Bacarra.

From the sister who is not sick anymore,

Sister Eldredge

Monday, July 17, 2017

Week 72: ER, Teaching Jun Jun & Chicken Feet

Life has been… supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. That is the word for when you don’t have anything to say, isn’t it? Been bit of an emotional roller coaster this week with busy days, working as hard as we can and finding out people hate me. Its fine, I'm after quality not quantity in any case.

We did our best to start the week on a good note but ended up in the hospital. Yup, exactly a year after I was confined for 4 days in a hospital I spent the night in an ER… but I was on the floor… not in the sick bed. Honestly that was terrifying. My companion got sick- we are still not sure what it was- but we had to take her to the ER. So, the first time in about a year and a half that I stayed up past 10:30 and it was wild! I'm kidding, but now everything is all good.  

We also ate chicken feet this week which actually was incredibly tasty. Sister Hicks could not finish one foot but I ate 4 of them and would have eaten more if we had more, all I'm going to say about that is: it was sanitary, and it was tasty.

We spent a good portion of this week walking around trying to meet people, a few people running away, and some spiritual moments. Jun Jun and his girlfriend Girly are the ones who don’t run away. We have been teaching Girly for a few weeks (she was almost baptized when she lived in Manila a few years ago) and her boyfriend joined us this last lesson and boy did they have questions!! Jun Jun wanted to know about authority and priesthood and literally one of his questions was: “So let me get this straight, if I'm baptized then I could baptize our daughter when she gets old enough?” “How will I recognize if I get an answer from God if this is all true?” and “When does church start?” So we are hoping they will start to progress, Jun Jun just has to try and get work off Sundays but they have the desire, they have an understanding, and they feel the spirit. It was really fun, when Jun Jun asked about recognizing the spirit we showed him a few bible verses and a few from the Book of Mormon. After he read them he paused before saying, “That’s true.”

And you know what? It is.

From the sister trying her best,

Sister Eldredge

Chicken Feet (and Head) Before Being Cooked...

...and AFTER!  YUM!!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 71: Rolling With the Punches

Not much I really want to talk about this week, as I allowed myself to stress myself into being sick, but I’m all good now. Life is tough and sometimes we get a sucker as compensation and sometimes we get a sucker punch. Depends on how Life is feeling. I just didn’t dodge the punch. But Life has got a weak arm so I'm back on my feet and ready to place a few punches of my own. Funny story of the week:

We have a bowl outside for the cat (that is supposed to stay outside) and I went to put food in the bowl and its dark, you can't really see the contents of the bowl (an old ice cream tub) so when I picked it up I was not expecting something to jump out. I ‘quickly’ put the bowl down (ie I threw it) and went back inside to do my ‘very upset dance.’ Which is not attractive. I then went inside to tell my companion I will now be officially excused from give-the-cat-food duties, she couldn’t believe that within 4 weeks I had two encounters with a rat (for that is what I believed it to be) so she went outside and turned on the light. AND IT HAD RETURNED… but it was not a rat. It was a GIANT toad that apparently enjoyed bathing in food. So no it was not a rat, it was a toad. But it was a very big toad.

That is basically this week. The area is still small, but we are doing our best to focus on the moments. “Moments are the molecules that make up eternity.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf and I believe that is true. I WANT to be 100% busy going from appointment to appointment and really giving it my all and collapse from exhaustion after a good full day, but the Lord is teaching me to still have a full day even if it means not a jam packed schedule.

The work is progressing and that is truly what matters.
From the sister who is giving it her all,

Sister Eldredge

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 70: I’m here in the Philippines with no AC and all that comes with a 3rd world country because I know that people can have their minds cleared, their souls calmed and to feel the love of deity.

Preparing a Chicken for Dinner

I’m not going to beat around the bush, this week was hard. Hard emotionally, but mostly just in enthusiasm (no I’m not sick don’t send me vitamins haha.)  Starting with Monday, as we have a curfew here in Cagayan (so the witches don’t carry us away when they come out at 6pm) we have to be creative with our p-days and teach during the day, and we had an appointment to teach a group of college students but it fell through because of a schedule mix up because I am soooo good at planning... so when we got home at about 5ish with no lesson and all the people near our house busy I flopped on my bed and felt like turning into a plant because plants have no responsibilities and don’t have to schedule things and try to teach people when there are only like 100 houses in our area, and we have already knocked door to door to them all.
Tuesday was nothing as well. We went out and had plans and still only ended up finding as all our appointments fell through and finding is so hard here because it’s a small town so they already know us and about 80% of the people we found were previous investigators... so we are trying to be more creative with our time and how we find and teach to still have things to do no matter what happens. And it’s all fine and dandy for me to say ‘yeah missionary work! All my life has been a series of doors in my face!” (name that movie)
By Wednesday I lost nearly all enthusiasm for work so I did cleaning and reorganizing until my companion dragged me out of the house. That day was actually a good day and when we  met with our most recent convert Tatay Perpicto and his wife, who normally hides from us was very chatty and welcoming and even sat in on a portion of the lesson!
As the week progressed my enthusiasm for the work decreased and I was doing my best to just get out of the house and I want so bad to have the enthusiasm for the work but it's honestly just hard right now.  However I have noticed that I truly love fasting. I honestly do believe that out of all the commandments (besides the obvious Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity) that the ones people have the hardest time with is keeping the Sabbath day holy and giving a full fast. I can’t say I love fasting, but I love the blessings I see in my life and I know that if you give a generous fast offering (even if it's slightly painful to donate that much) that the Lord will not leave you and He will support you.
Our investigator, Robert, has now listened to the first lesson (the Restoration) about 3 times as he 1) just loves the spirit he feels as we quote Joseph Smith’s telling of the 1st vision, and 2) he always  has referrals for us who want to hear the lesson as well... soon we will have taught his whole company! We are excited for his progression and he can already recognise the spirit and last lesson with him he said: “wait, why is it that when you guys are here teaching me that my mind feels so clear and choices are so easy to make, but once you leave my mind clouds’s the spirit isn’t it?” and so then we got to tell him that he can have the ‘enlightenment’ he was talking about as he continues to read his scriptures daily, pray and regularly attend church so as to invite the spirit into his life always. It was a big moment for him and he just wanted to sit and think about it for a minute before saying. “This is why I have to be baptised. I always want this feeling.”  Stuff like that is what helps you remember what you are doing here. I’m here in the Philippines with no AC and all that comes with a 3rd world country because I know that people can have their minds cleared, their souls calmed and to feel the love of deity, if they just try.
As for funny stories we have a cat who eats the scraps (that we leave outside for her) and this morning about 6am she jumped on my bed and poked me in the face as if to say ‘where is my food?’ so she somehow found her way into the house!!  So now we have to find out how she did that so she won’t do it again but needless to say I’m no longer accustomed to cats waking me up so not only did I know that the cat was inside but the neighbours might have heard as well due to my scream of surprise.
From the girl on a mission

Sister Eldredge

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 69: Tatay Perfecto Agular's Baptism

Here in the Philippines we have decided ice cream trucks are too mainstream so we are going for the more useful fish trucks that sell freshly caught fish. Its an interesting way to wake up, before the alarm rings you hear “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNGGGGGGGGGUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSS, FREEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH BAAAAAANGUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSS!!! And right after him comes the guy yelling ‘bote’ (bow-tey means bottle) but it sounds a bit more like ‘wookie.’ So we have wookies chasing after the fish here. As both my companion, sister Abdul-haq, and myself are very close to going home we have come up with interesting ways to not get trunky. This includes face spas, setting up activities at the church and having a baptism.
Yup! Tatay Perfecto Agular got baptized this week! He’s been investigating the church for almost 2 years now and is now ready for baptism! While there were only a few members there at the baptism the spirit was strong! When Brother Perfecto got up to bear his testimony it was truly powerful. To have a strong testimony doesn’t mean you string words together in a poetic way, it means the words are true to you. He practically shouted hallelujah that he had been baptized which was awesome. There are still some kinks we are working out in the branch but the members are incredible and have the desire. We are actually working on what is required to create a group (in the church the biggest congregation is called a ward, then a branch or a group. A ward is 100+ and a group is anywhere from 3-30 people) in a far area. There are a rather large number of members in this area, it's just so far out that they cannot afford to go to church every week- 100+ one way sort of things (the average is 20 pesos per trip) so we will see how this turns out!!
We hope to be able to start teaching Tatay Perfecto’s son JR, but he works out in the rice fields and gets home super late and we have a curfew at 6ish so we will have to be creative about that I guess!! I was feeling really stressed my first week here as the area we are allowed to work in is so small but we are finishing little pockets of houses that have not seen the missionaries before and/ or had good relations with members and are interested. Its pretty much 50/50 with reactions from people here. Its either ‘don’t talk to me’ or ‘missionaries? I’ll listen to what you have to say.’
When I was at my most stressed I pulled out the scriptures and said allowed ‘please give me inspiration on what to do with this tiny area’ and then flipped open to D&C 54:7&9 “Wherefore go to now and flee the land, and take your journey… and after you have done journeying, behold, I say unto you, seek ye a living like unto man.” So the scriptures say I should go home and get a job. That’s comforting.
Honestly that is all I have to report on this week besides we did a mud mask as a way of distressing and we all tried to make each other laugh because when you laugh while wearing a bentonite clay mask (shout out to Grandma Awesome! Thanks so much!!) it crinkles and  makes you look like an old lady.  So we had fun looking like an idiot for a while.
From the tired but happy missionary

Sister Eldredge