Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 8: Adventures in the Philippines!

Kamusta everyone!

     So in the Manila MTC you are allotted 30 minutes to email but in actuality it was more like five minutes. I barely had enough time to email my mother and let her know that I had survived the flight! So the gist was, we flew from Salt Lake to LAX, and there we had a 6-hour layover. Elder Fifitta's family met us at the airport, and as we couldn't leave the airport, brought a bunch of food and it was soooooo goood! After 6 weeks of Provo MTC food any food tasted good, in all honesty... They let us borrow their cell phones to call home. It was loud and hard to hear at first but I was so grateful for the opportunity to call and not have to use my calling card, which was annoying. Eventually we had to go through security and then I called using the calling card. 

     So the 15-hour flight... I don't recommend it, especially if you have two screaming twins that are only a few months old on either side of you. That was not very fun... But thanks to some pm Advil and a sleeping mask I got so much sleep on the plane! And the food that they served, especially the cup of noodles was good, It was rather fun to teach Sister Banham and Sister Rosser how to use chopsticks. Sister Rosser kept at it but eventually gave up and just drank it like soup! It was great. What was not great however was the people around us watching rated R movies and us trying to read scriptures with that all around. 

     The Manila MTC was eventful. Me and my two kasamas shared the room with Sisters Boobu (boh-b) and Tewaia (tie-way-yah) who are both from Kiribati. And like everyone from Kiribati they are loud and fun! Sister Boobu got up at 3 am one time to shower! That was fine in and of itself, but then she started singing and turning on all the lights and talking to Sister Tewaia! I had fun teasing her about that the rest of the time in the Manila MTC. 

     This week has been an eventful week. I was reassigned to my field companion and had to say goodbye to my MTC companions. My new Kasama, Sister Bagalay, is amazing and I honestly don't know what I'd do without her. We 'hit the ground running' even though we only had four days before we were to report our week we did our best to get all the lessons we could!

      Despite the obvious language barrier I think that I've done a good job of connecting with the people. During this week, sadly, I got heat exhaustion and that really sucked. After informing Sister Andrada of the situation and receiving her instructions (she's a trained nurse) I was trying to fall asleep and my mind was overwhelmed with all the things I was missing back home. It really sucked, but then I had this dream that Sister Bagalay and I were inside this large building. It was about three stories tall and simply filled with people. As we walked through the building people would come up to us and greet us, thanking us for teaching them. They were all the people we taught! There were families, students, children, everybody. It was so great- It was just what I needed to overcome that homesickness. 

     The adversary has been working hard on me to get me to give up, but I will not give up and I will not go home until my mission is over. My Trainer, Sister Bagalay, has been an incredible help and comfort to me as I adjust to mission life, learn the language and improve my teaching skills. She lets me know how it is, without making me feel inadequate. We truly are a perfect match! 

      So when you look up the weather here in the Philippines you can see the temperature, the humidity and all that, but it doesn't really sum it up. Think of it as the same weather as Houston, but everyone without power. We only have oscillating fans and fridges to keep us cold. So when I had heat exhaustion, I took a quick shower and then went to bed with two fans pointing at me.

     As can be expected the culture is very different. I wake up at 6:;00-6:15 every day due to all the dogs, chickens and people. I can see why people would eat dog- although I will not- if the dogs keep waking me up like this.... joke-lang. Pero, It wont be hard to eat chickens as they get into arguments at 3 am. Its like how in America there will be two dogs barking at each other for no reason? Its the same here, but there will be two roosters crowing at each other from down the street and next door. Its quite fun, and I'm buying earplugs. Its defiantly an adjustment but I am enjoying it. 

     The showers here are not so much showers as a bucket of water and a bowl. You just pour the water over yourself to rinse. So no more standing under the water and contemplating my place in the universe!! HA HA Not to mention the shower is also the Comfort room (bathroom) so there really isn't that much room. 

     So in the Philippines its very common to see chickens, children and fruit trees everywhere. Being white everyone just staaaares. Yesterday a sister that Sister Bagalay and I were teaching said that my whiteness what indescribable. Its so strange as everyone here wants to be white, and i'm hoping I'll tan! But with my area being the hottest and it being the hottest time of the year it's not safe, and I don't want heat exhaustion again!! So maybe I'll tan during typhoon season, that sounds fun! (For all you worry warts they have ditches along their roads that are up to my waist, they are so deep. So the water should drain off well.)

     It's easy enough to find people, they are already staring so you just start talking! We found some really amazing people who were very receptive to the gospel, Benidicto- or JayR (JR)- accepted the commitment to baptism the first lesson! The people here are so humble and willing to learn. Most of them are also very devotedly Catholic so sometimes it's hard to teach them. We have one investigator, Nanay Maria (nanay means grandmother nah-nay) who's grand daughter was baptized last month into our church. She wants to take the lessons and wants to quit smoking, but does not wan to give up her religion. 

     Sadly the members are not as receptive, and many are less active. This last Sunday they only had about 50 people show up! Please pray for the members and investigators of my area that they may be inspired to continue perusing the gospel!

That's all for now. 
Ingat po!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Week 7: Arrived in the Philippines Safe & Sound

April 23, 2016

Dear Brother and Sister Eldredge,
Good day! Hope everything is doing great with you and your family.
Sister Andrada and I are very blessed to have your daughter as one of our missionaries here in Philippines Laoag Mission. We received her last April 20, 2016.  She is a very fine young woman - a well prepared missionary.  You prepared her well in this very sacred work.
One attribute that I like with her is she has a positive outlook with her purpose as a missionary.  We truly love her as our missionary.
Please find attached some of our pictures with her when she arrived here in Philippines Laoag Mission.
Best regards,
President Robert M. Andrada

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 6 MTC Shenanigans


Why hello everybody! I bet y'all didn't expect to hear from me so soon!! Since we are flying out this Wednesday (the 13th) I get to email again!

     It's only been a few days since I last emailed but already so much has happened. I don't know If I mentioned it but in the MTC there are three different kinds of name tags. Black: your standard missionary, white: teachers and staff, and GOLD: actual investigators who are wandering about the MTC grounds waiting to be taught. Why on earth I didn't learn about this my first week is beyond me. But my mga kasama and a few other Sister's from our Zone were studying outside and since we were trying to finish he BOM before we leave Sister Rosser was reading where Jesus visits the Americas. Only 4 to 5 generations later the people turn from God and become wicked again. Sister Rosser sat back in her chair and just began to expound on how she wasn't anywhere as good as Jesus in teaching and how these people were taught by Him and turned away in the end. Just as she was feeling that she could not do it a gold-badge walked by. I called out to her "Hope you have a good day!" since she was headed towards the exit, and she stopped and talked  with us. We bore our testimony on the power of prayer and how, as she was receiving lessons from two elders already, she could come to know Christ for herself though continually seeking after it. She said she was going to go home and try praying for the first time! When she left we all just freaked out. Sister Rosser cried. That gold-tag sister was exactly what we needed to boost our confidence in our ability to teach this gospel. We just need to get the language down. 
   Speaking of language apparently there are two languages in the Philippines; the national language and the village language. The village language changes from village to village but basically 'ilokano' is what the village language is with some changes in slang. So I'll have a fun time learning that as well in the field! 

     So Sister Brown and I are absolute twins. She is going to the Bagio mission so we will, at most, be able to high five over the boarder.

 While we were on break we were messing around with the flowering trees, shaking the limbs to make the petals fall and all that. Soon we had a flower petal fight and I believe I won as I got a whole handful of flower petals  down the back of Sister Brown's dress. For the rest of the day she was dropping petals like a flower girl.  It was rather funny.

     Funny language mishaps, last email I told you about puso and pusa (heart and cat) well right after I told y'all not to get them mixed up I bore my testimony in class about how important it is to listen to the prophet with an open cat. Not exactly what I was going for there... But it was rather funny!!

      So, In our Zone Elder Kainga (kay-n-ga) is not only the shortest, but somehow he was designated to be all of the Elder's father. 

     So Elder Solis (on the left) picked up Elder Kainga and ran to Elder Pitt (on the right) yelling "Elder Pitt!! Your Dad needs you!!" So they swapped Elder Kainga off and Elder Pitt took off running to the class room saying "I got you dad!" It was quite hysterical. 

     One day we were all rather tired so our teacher, Sister Cope, introduced us to the Philippino fruit game. You all pick a fruit, I picked pakwan, (Pak-wan meaning watermelon) and then you cover your teeth with your lips. The point of the game is to not show your teeth. So Lets say it was my turn and I wanted to pass to Elder Fifita who was Sagging (sah-ging meaning banana) so I would say "Pakwan, pakwan, gusto ko ang sagging." So in English that would be "Watermellon watermellon, I like/ want bananas." It was a hysterical game and even better because I won! Haha.

     So even with all the fun we are having we are truly feeling the spirit and following rules with exactness. When we went snipe hunting last week we were in bed by 10:30 and it was a great exercise in growing closer to one another. Same with the mattress surfing, all in our rooms at quiet time and in bed on time. By following the rules so closely we have been truly blessed. On the day's we don't get to bed on time you can instantly feel the lack of spirit, motivation, and ability to retain and learn the language. 

     I love you all, next time you hear from me it'll be from the Philippines!! Remember that with the time difference that If you send me your emails on Sunday I'll get them Monday, on my p-day! So just to be safe just email me Saturday or as soon as you see my email!! Mahal ko tayo!

Fun Tagalog words:
-pananampalataya: meaning faith (pah-na-nam-paul-la-tie-ya)
-kalusugan: (ka-loo-soon-gan) meaning health

Fun Kiribati words and phrases:
-Nanaro (na-na-row) childish
-I orea ubum (ee oh-ray-ah oh-boom) meaning 'punch you in the face'

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Week 5 Get-It-Done-Eldredge

     This week has been a blast... I have to say that this week has been my absolute favorite so far. With me falling out of my chair during a lesson, mattress surfing in the residence hall, and snipe hunting- its been a full week. Of course there is also all the amazing religious experiences with a temple across the street and general conference weekend.

       First things first, "The Chair Story." (As it is referred to by my entire zone.) So first off you need to understand TRC. I have no idea what it stands for, sadly, but its when we teach members in Tagalog. The first few weeks we taught members live here at the MTC- that's how I got to meet with Phil Atoigue- and last week we got to Skype with members in the Philippines and teach them a lesson all in Tagalog. Since we already had a lesson plan for the Atonement we decided to do that. We all had our portions set and our words and vocabulary down and we were ready. Nervous, but ready. 

     So as soon as the Skype lesson started I could tell that I had no idea what we were talking about. I scrambled over my notes trying to recognize what we were talking about and then it was my turn. Sister Rosser and Banham had been talking about the Atonement and how through baptism we can be made clean- no matter our past. So now it was my turn to talk about how the sacrament acts as a renewal of the baptismal covenants and, when taken right, can lead to a fresh clean slate at the beginning of each week. Kyle, our Skype buddie, said that he could not see all of us- I think he was skying from his phone- so I do my best to scoot in and Sister Rosser pulls me in. 

     Something happened. I honestly could not tell you what. But the chair slipped and I was down. I can only imagine how that must have looked on the screen to Kyle! So I pull myself up from off the ground and I simply cannot remember a single word in English. It actually took us several minutes to recompose ourselves because we were all laughing soooo hard! Our teacher, Sister Cope is doing her best to stay in her own chair because she is laughing so hard as well! And all the Tagalog left me! It all left me! I had no idea what anything was. What's Hindi? I don't know! (it means 'no' and pronounced hin-dee) And Kyle was doing his best to keep a straight face and I just look over to Sister Banham for help- I literally could not think of any words, English or Tagalog- and she just looked at my chair that was lying there on the floor and we all just lost it again. I don't think I have laughed so hard in my life. 

     Next on the marvelous world of wonder is General Conference!! So, for those of you that you don't know, at the MTC we listen to devotionals Tuesday and Sunday nights in the gym on the collapsible risers/ stands. So for General Conference we were going to do the same thing!  Sit for six hours in the gym, go eat lunch, sit go eat dinner and sit... We could only hope that we would not: 
1) loose feeling in our feet from being cramed into these tiny risers 
2) fall asleep due to the inability to stand and miss out on the blessings 
3) or wet your pants from the inability to get to a bathroom from being crouded in those stands. So the night before- friday night- I talked with my branch President, President  Howard, if we could simply pull the conference up in our language class and watch it there. He was all for it, because we would be more likely to get stuff out of it if we were 
1) comfortable and not in pain from being crammed into the risers and 
2) able to stand if we got sleepy! 
     So For general Conference we (Sister Banham, Rosser, and I) brought all the food we had hoarded in the last four weeks to the class room and shared with the Elders in our district. We ate and had the most amazing conference experience we could ever have hoped for. Durring breaks we would clean up the classroom, and discuss what we had learned from that session. 
     If you have not watched General Conference just youtube "General Conference April 2016" and it should come up on the Mormon Chanel.

     My favorite talk was the very first talk of the Saturday Morning Session. I wish I had thought to bring my notes and then I could tell you all about it. Too bad you'll have to go and experience it for yourself!! Seriously though, I received personal revelation for myself, for my investigators, for my district, and for my Zone through General Conference. And remember, after watching it, apply it. Think of it like this: If you were a turkey and you went to a meeting about how one turkey had learned to fly, and you learn all these amazing things that can not only impact, but save your life at that meeting; and then at the end of that meeting you walk home? What was the point? Why bother even attending? You've got to apply this stuff to your life! I for one will work on being of a more gentle nature. 

     This comes from the fact that I instill fear into the hearts of men. I'm kidding- though, all the Elders in the newest district are terrified of me. I haven't the foggiest why, but they are. Well, I do. I talked with a few and it's because I am so quick and demanding when we are trying to do our opening exercises. (Opening Exercises is where we have a prayer, sing a hymn, and read a section from the White Missionary Handbook then we close and go to our personal study.) I like to start on time, and I have a lot- and I mean a lot- of studying to do. So I am a little brusque with them in the mornings about starting and I guess the Elders assumed I was like that all the time! So I have been working on being nicer in the morning and throughout the day.

     For our Sunday Devotional we had Vocal Point come and sing and it was the absolute best! After we had the oprotunity to either go and listen to some prerecorded talks or watch a church movie called The Testiments. We, as a Zone chose The Testaments, and when it started it started in Korean!! We all sat there for a bit and wondered if we should try going to a different recording- perhaps Characters of Christ by Bednar- but I got up and went into the sound box to find it empty! I called in a Brother who worked there and explained that it was in the wrong language. (Every week they play this movie in Koran but had changed it up to English that day) He didn't even realize! Once it was fixed we went back into the main room an everyone applauded me because they thought I had fixed it! I have to admit I did give a little bow. Now, because I made it possible for us as a Zone to watch General Conference in our respective class rooms AND I fixed the movie they call me Get It Done Eldredge. Well.. They did for that weekend but I still call myself that when I'm struggling with a language concept...

     This week I was also sick. It was rough and all I wanted to do was sleep and cry and be sick- and it wasnt even that bad! I just had a bad headache and a stomach ache. But I pushed through- I prayed and told God that I could not do it alone, but through and with Him all things can be done. The lesson we had that day with our investigator Lani was litterally the best. Because we, as a companionship, relied on the spirit so much we not only could speak the language but we could also understand her needs and what she was saying. The Lord will provide a way.

     I also got to meet -again- the Elder that Joe went on exchanges with in NZ! His name is Elder McCarthy and he is serving in Kiribati!! What a small world.

     So today we went to the temple across the street and did sealings, though only children sealings to their parents, and I brought names that Grammy gave me and I had the COOLEST experience. So beforehand I thought we were doing endowment sessions so I had brought a huge load of names for everyone and while we were eating in the Temple Cafeteria (ISN'T THAT SO COOL THAT THEY HAVE A CAFETERIA?!?!?! Their waffles are the friggin best) everyone talked about how they wanted to either do initiatories or to do sealings. So I shuffled through my names and found 9 males that needed to be sealed to their parents so I thought heck yeah! But only 6 Elders were going to go so I was going to leave the other three names in the locker room but I had the impression I should bring them. So I stuck them in my dress pocket and we all went to the sealing room. The guy who was leading the session first asked if there were any of us for whom this would be their first time and everyone but me and one other elder raised their hand. He then gave us this really cool introduction about the history of the ordinance and the meanings behind the things that he would say. Really cool. So then he said that we were all going to do 2 names each. Instantly my pocket began to burn. I all but leaped out of my seat and handed the extra three names over as fast as I could. I got to stamp the date that they were completed on the card after he put them into the computer. 
     After that we all went to the Celestial room and it was seriously the most amazing experience I have had to date in the temple. One of the older sisters that had sat as proxy for the moms came up to me and thanked me for the great spirit that the Elders and Sisters of my zone had brought to the session. What an amazing experience.

     So after General Conference on Saturday we went back to the residence and mattress surfed. INSERT PICTURE OF ROSSER BIFFING IT its not as bad as it looks, as the mattress stopped sliding half way down the stairs and Sister Rosser decided to army crawl the rest of the way down! We were all dying it was soooo funny. And only last night we went snipe hunting with all the Kiribati sisters, who had never even heard of it. Sister Brown and I went and hid in the bushes and jumped out and scared the girls. It was the absolute best. They were a little upset but now they all think it was hysterical. 

     I have grown so close to these missionaries, Sisters and Elders. It will be hard to leave them but since we are on the Lord's mission it will all end well! I love you all!!

                                Sister Eldredge

Fun Tagalog words!!

     Dalas- (da-lass) meaning 'often'
     Kaligayahan (cali-guy-ah-han) meaning 'Joy'
Lori, that one is for you.
     Pusa (poo-sa) meaning cat
     Puso (poo-so) meaning heart. Dont mix them up!! You dont feel the Holy Ghost in your cat!!