Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week 13 in the Phillipines Laoag Mission

So where to begin...

First with the funny stuff!! So I like to imitate sounds (which comes in really handy as I try to learn this language) but usually I replicate animal sounds. So Sister Bagalay and I were walking to an appointment and there was a goat tied to a rock. It was bleating and making a lot of noise so I responded with my own goat noise and the goat stopped bleating and turned and stared at me with its mouth hanging open. It looked so shocked to hear me respond! It was really funny because maybe the goat was saying "I'm lonely where is everyone?" in goat language and i accidentally offended it by saying something in goat language about its mother or something. Hahahah

This week has been a complete and total roller-coaster. This was my last week with Sister Bagalay, as she is going home, and it's been rather emotional. I know I have not talked much about her in my previous updates but I honestly feel like I've know her my whole life and its hard to see her go. 
     Sadly we did not have the baptism or the marriage of Brother Franklee this week as we had hoped. Our Branch President (who I love working with) was called out of town for work and the Branch President of Pasukin who was going to perform the marriage was also called out for work and we had to postpone the wedding. When we first heard about it Sister Bagalay an I were in a District Meeting so we asked our District Leader and Zone leaders (that is all who we have in our district, the DL and the ZL, their companions, and us) and we were all stumped. So after a LOT of praying and pleading to the Lord we went over to tell Franklee and Rica. They were super understanding and were real troopers. I know Franklee was really upset, his face looked like when we had to move his baptism. He was absolutely devastated, but he knows how much we care for him and he knows that this is the right path for him and his family. He is truly amazing. 

     Sister Rica is currently having second thoughts about the marriage. She loves Brother Franklee but is scared by the statistics of divorce. We have been praying for her that she may be comforted. 

     Sadly I am an extremely forgetful person So i am currently looking for my camera. I'm 99% sure I left it at the Mission Office as we had a "trainer and trainee reunion" this week so I'll send pictures later. Sorry....

     The "Trainer and Trainee Reunion" was awesome. I got to see my MTC companions Sister Rosser and Sister Banham and they have been learning and growing and staying strong. We all struggle and there is always something to learn from your trials. That applies to everyone. God doesn't give busy work, every person we meet, every trial or experience we gain is for our betterment. I would not be who I am today if life was just an easy thing. Trials make you stronger if you let them. Otherwise they can destroy you. Be as strong as God knows you are and you can overcome anything.

    We had the blessing of receiving a referral from the branch and Sister Bagalay and I went to teach this Tatay (respectful name for an older male) who had stopped investigating the church. It's been five years and he has never stopped praying and reading from the Book of Mormon. He knows it is true and he loves the gospel, but he had some bad experiences in the past with members. We extended to him a baptismal date and he accepted. He is positively golden, we just need to help him see that while the gospel and this church is perfect it is run by imperfect people.  Sometimes people reach out and are trying to help but they may say something wrong and it may offend. But, isn't that how normal life is? I can say "Wow! your hair!" and depending on the way I say it (the inflections of my voice) it can either mean that I think that person's hair looks amazing or that it looks awful. I may mean to say 'wow i really like your hair!' but it comes out wrong and someone is offended. So here is my advice to you: don't be offended. Nobody is perfect, so if you are offended by something someone says- especially concerning religion- know that they probably don't mean to offend. In this brother's case the member was trying to encourage him towards baptism but the message was taken the wrong way. Just be Christlike in all you say and do.

     Also, miracles of miracles. The Tatay that received a blessing for health last week (was that last week? It was after the funeral service that Sister Bagalay and I participated in) Sister Bagalay and I were present for has started to take the lessons! He is married to a member and his oldest son has served a mission her in the Philippines. His family is partially active and they are the absolute best. When Sister Bagalay extended the baptismal invitation to him he asked if we could move the baptism sooner! He was hospitalized because his liver was giving up due to his drinking but after the blessing he has been healed and he has absolutely no desire to drink! The Lord has truly done a miracle here and I an so blessed to be a part of it.

 That basically sums up the whole week, really. I don't think I have ever been so stressed in my life. Satan's presence is real and he is doing EVERYTHING he can to stop the progress here in Sarrat. Pero, (but) where there is great opposition there is even greater potential. I want to be able to see Sarrat turn into a ward, and I know we can. This week Sister Bagalay and I have officially reactivated two brothers worthy of the Melchezedic Priesthood and a young man who will prepare himself to receive the Aaronic priesthood as he is 12. We will be getting Franklee and eventually Lorenzo will also be able to be baptized within these next few weeks and I know that the Spirit is strong here in Sarrat. I know we can and have done miracles.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week 12 in the Philippines Laoag Mission

May 23, 2016  

This week was... something. It feels like there was something going on every day this week! Last Monday was P-day and paying for the electric bill. Tuesday we did our best to find people in brgy #6 but everybody was "busy busy" so we mostly did member training. Then our Investigators Franklee and Rica asked us to accompany them to the political office of Sarrat to help them process their marriage papers! That was a very fun experience, and they are just waiting for the papers to process and that should finish this upcoming week! 

   We then had the opportunity to serve at a funeral service.  Sister Bagalay gave a talk on the Plan of Salvation and I was asked to sing.  After the service we went with the Zone Leaders who gave a blessing to a brother in our branch who was at the hospital sick.  

      Wednesday was pretty hectic and terrifying. We had exchanges with the STLs (Sister Training Leaders) and I was in charge of the area of Sarrat- which means that I was the one telling Sister Gabut where we were going, who we were going to see and how to get there. It was terrifying. 

     We luckily, only got lost for one hour and it was raining the whole time. That in and of itself is a funny story. Poor Sister Gabut was very patient with me while I dragged her all around Sarrat, and then it turned out I was right at my first guess. We were literally just wandering in circles and I think I know Sarrat a bit better from that experience.

Sister Gabut & Me

     By the time we finally found the investigators house it turns out he had left for Laoag to find work and so instead of teaching JayR, his sister and his father (who only speaks Ilocono) we just taught Benelyne (JayR's sister) but that lesson was wonderful. We also taught a lesson to our Recent Convert Mary Rose, but she was too shy to get anything out of the lesson as she didn't know sister Gabut. Then we went to teach our 18 year old investigator Brother Lorenzo, who originally had a baptismal date for next week. (Please continue to pray for him that he may be able to quit smoking.) We usually teach him and his friends but his friends were too shy and so we just taught him.We then taught a really powerful lesosn with our Investigator Sister Maan, we were also planning on having dinner at a member's home but received a text to come by the next day.

     It was a little frustrating because Sarrat has a reputation for being a hard area and I wanted to show sister Gabut that Sarrat really is amazing and that we have amazing investigators and a few supportive member families. I'm very grateful for the lessons we were able to teach and the powerful spirit that was there. I know Sister Gabut felt it too.

     On Thursday we had an incredible member training with the Ver family where we did Role Playing on how to fellowship the less actives, recent Converts, and Investigators. I honestly almost cried when I saw how enthusiastic they were about building trust with these people and making them feel loved.

    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday went by in a blur with some amazing lessons and the opportunity to participate in the All Woman's Broadcast, and Stake conference. This week has been hard as Sister Bagaly and myself have been on and off again sick. We are on the mend and are feeling fine now, so no worries! We have been blessed that even if we are not feeling well to be able to go out and serve the Lord and have the strength to do so. Saturday after the conference Presidant Andrada, my mission president, approached me and told me that he loved reading my weekly letter every week as I always make him laugh. That made me very happy. He said that he loves to read my letter first so he can get a good laugh out of it.

     So funny story for the week: we were out teaching and since one of our investigators was busy we decided to do some finding. We were in the middle of a lesson when lightning struck. It was really really loud and rather close to where we were. We all jumped up right out of our seats! It was funny because we all reacted the exact same way.

     Another funny story is here in the Philippines it doesn't rain cats and dogs. It rains mangoes! Sister Bagaly and I were walking down the street and a mango fell right on top of my umbrella! Scared me so bad, it was really funny!

    Every time I am invited to introduce myself I always turn into Incarnacio from the movie, "Nacho Libre":

     "My favorite color is light tan. My favorite animal is puppies, playing volleyball... I like serving the lord." 

As soon as I figure out how to say that in Tagalog I'm going to say that every time. 

    Fun culture fact: spaghetti. Spaghetti is the prime ribs of the Philippines. If it's a special occasion its spaghetti, which you can also get at McDonald and basically any fast-food restaurant. Its strange.

"Pinakamakapangyarihang" (don't ask me how to pronounce it I can't, yet.) it means Almighty.
"ing-ing" means the sound of a violin.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 11 in the Laoag Phillipines Mission

May 16, 2016 

 I have decided that the Philippines would be Eden if it had AC. Fruits and flowers grow spontaneously!! This week has gone by in a blur! Next week is exchanges (where I swap out with a Sister Training Leader and she evaluates me on how I'm doing in the area) which means that I will be leading the area for a day. I really hope we don't get lost!! If we do get lost thought, we can always just grab a tricy and head back to the apartment and start from there... I guess...

The view when we are in a Tricy

Us in the Tricy.  I barely fit.  

     Here in the Philippines instead of little girls wearing pink and lace and boys wear blue and bugs its either Ben 10 or Frozen. Its everywhere. There are even wall murals of it on buildings and homes. Talking about crazy, the Philipinnoes really know how to party! they just finished the two week long 'fiesta' celebrating the founding of their town. It was long and crazy and loud the whole two weeks but now that its over the town seems so quiet... They still have some stalls set up selling stuff but the parties and shows have finished. 

     Last week my dad told me that this week would be the hardest for me as I got to skype home. It has been the hardest, but not in the way I think he meant. We taught at least 11 lessons each day the first three days and we finished this week with nearly 50 lessons. (we were two short) Our goal next week is to teach 50 lessons total, and to find more people to teach as well as be able to meet with the members and help them know how to help us in the missionary work. I hope all who read this blog at least give one referral to the missionaries in their area. Ask for your local missionaries to come over and have a training session! They'll help you know how to extend the invitation for your friend to meet with them so its not so strange or awkward for you. Its a challenge I know you are all up to, and I cant wait to hear of your success!

     I think the hardest thing this week was Thursdayay night our electricity shut off. This isn't unusual, but it was out until 3 am. And how would I know that you ask? Because its frigin hot and you can't sleep when all the dogs in the town are having a pow-pow down the street. The following day was hard but we were still able to get 12 high quality lessons! 

     This Sunday we were blessed with 7 Investigators attending church- That's nearly all of them!! Many of them came without their friends and asawas (spouse) and that just testified of their dedication and conversion. 

    Two of our investigators are currently looking for a job, it would mean so much if you could include time in your prayers that they will find jobs that will allow them to not work on Sunday. JayR and Franklee will be so blessed.

Love, Sister Eldredge

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 10 in the Laoag Philippines Mission, I Forgot My Shoes!!

May 8, 2016

Wow this week went by really fast! With two days where we were out of commission for various reasons and a mission tour with the Area 70 Elder Ardurn we were hard pressed to try to keep up to our goals in finding and teaching. 

What I learned this week was patience. I've only been out in the field a few weeks and I am still learning the language. Its hard for me as I want so desperately to be able to communicate in and outside of lessons with those that we are teaching. I want them to know how much I care and to truly get to know them. But I cant- yet. I learned this week to be appreciative of the Tagalog that I do know and work from there up. I may not be able to understand what people are saying and half the time they can't understand me- but that's ok because we can all understand the spirit. 

Our investigators are amazing, 
while Nanay Modesta and Nanay Maria (age 81 and 87) have a hard time coming to church due to their age, they do their best and pray for strength to be able to come. 

Our progressing investigator Franklee and his partner Rica are absolutely stunning. Despite being out of town all week and only getting back late last night Fanklee was still able to attend church with Rica and their son Kaizer. They are very excited about their upcoming wedding and marriage this 27th. 

Lorenzo, our other progressing investigator, is amazing. This week he brought four of his friends, one of whom is less active, with him to church! We had so many investigators it almost felt like the branch was half member half investigator and less active! 

Sister Maan, our most recent progressing investigator, was able to come the last hour for sacrament meeting and she was just beaming. She could not find someone to take care of her son so she brought him as well! He's an adorable two year old. The spirit is really strong with Sister Maan. She is unsure if she wants to marry her partner but truly has a desire to be baptized and become clean. Her sacrifice to walk to church with her son amazes me.

Brother JayR came to church! We first met him my first week out in the field and he accepted the invitation to be baptized, then did not come to church. When we went to his house his father said he was not home, but Sister Bagalay and I believe he was hiding from us. That was really hard. But we went back again and they accepted us and let us teach them and then Brother JayR came to church! His faith is growing and his desire to learn.
They all amaze me. 

This week has been somewhat hectic and very busy. At times I kept forgetting things! I forgot my name badge one day and had to go back to the apartment for it. Luckily we were only just down the street. Then later in the afternoon, after we had returned to our apartment for our noon time studies and had left to proselyte again. We were teaching some young men that we had met at the home of our progressing investigator, Franklee and Rica. In the middle of me bearing my testimony Sister Bagalay started busting out laughing! She just laughed and laughed, and nearly fell out of her chair. I freaked- I thought I must have messed up in the language so I quickly closed out my testimony and apologized, explaining that I am still learning Tagalog. Then Sister Bagalay pointed out that I HAD FORGOTTEN MY SHOES! and was still wearing my house slippers! We all laughed at that for some time.

I'm sorry this week's letter is so short- but I was able to spend quite some time skyping with my family and now do not have much time to write! 

I love you all and I want to thank you for all the prayers you send my way. I truly feel your love.

Sister Eldredge

The Elders teaching a lesson.

A normal meal at our apartment.  We buy whole fish at the market and cook them at home.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 9 in the Laoag Philippines Mission

Hello Hello!! 

     So this week went by super fast! I found out that my MTC teacher Brother Warnick served in my Companion's home area!! So that's crazy fun, and its such a small world. Here in the Philippines you high five everyone you meet (the Tagalog word for high five is 'appear' pronounced 'up here') and instead of slipping on banana peels you slip on mangoes. I nearly fell flat on my back because I did not see a very ripe mango right in front of me and slipped like crazy, but luckily I didn't fall down. My companion, Sister Bagalay (bag-ah-lie) said I looked like someone form the Matrix. 

     So while we were out tracking we found these two brothers who had been initially contacted in 1991 and 1999! They still had the original Book of Mormon that the Elders had given to them way back then. The scriptures were really cool as the book looked like any other book and instead of verses it was in paragraph form! It was really cool, sadly we had to defer him to the Elders to teach. 

     We started out this week with only 3 people who were willing to let us teach them, and one of them being a child who's parents will not let her progress beyond the lessons. Now we have 24 new investigators, 10 of which have a baptismal date, and 5 of which came to church this last Sunday! Sarrat, my area, is considered one of the hardest areas in the mission. When I first got here the members would say "welcome to the hardest area" and there would be about 40 of so members attending church out of the 100 members in the area. 

     But there is no such thing as a hard area. People don't hold a council and agree that all the people who would be willing to listen to the Mormon missionaries live in one town and all the people who don't want to listen to them live in another. They are all spread out and so long as we depend fully upon the Lord we can do anything. It's funny, as I honestly can't remember what scripture I put on my plaque back home so I keep telling everyone my favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strenghteneth me." It's a nice all-inclusive scripture that applies to members, no members and less actives. If there is anything you are struggling with you can be healed through Christ.

     So, fun language mishaps... When introducing myself I said that I had 5 children instead of 5 siblings! Whoops! That was really funny!! The group that we were teaching (1 investigator named Lorenzo and two less active boys named Christian-Dave and Kenneth) just kinda stared at me until Sister Bagaly interpreted for me. That's basically how most lessons go. I speak in broken Taglish, she interprets and teaches. It's rather funny, I'll stumble over the pronunciation of a word and who ever we are teaching will fill it in for me! The people here are so sweet.

     Our schedule is a bit different from the standard mission schedule. 
6:30 am we get up 
8:00 am we are out the door and out finding
12:00 pm we return home for lunch and studies. 
     We do Personal, Companion, and Language study, along with 12-Week Training.
5:00 pm We then head out and teach lessons that we prepared for during companionship study
8:00 pm return home
10:30 lights out

     It's a blessing to have this schedule. If we eat lunch quickly we can get a quick nap, which I think is absolutely vital to us being awake and enthusiastic during our lessons! It's like in the scriptures where King Lamoni is being taught by Ammon; he has an incredible spiritual experience and then he passes out. We do that same thing here!

     During our study time the craziest thing happened. In the Philippines the weather is the same as Houston, but without AC so everyone has their windows and doors open all the time. We were kneeling down to close out our study time when a chicken walked into the apartment and started running around like it had just gotten its head chopped off!! We quickly cornered it and put it back outside where its mamma was having a hissy fit. It was really really funny!!

     That's all for now. I love you all and I want to thank each and everyone of you for your prayers and support.

Mahal Kita! (Love you!)
Food Prep.  Notice the bowl of fish on the counter.

Pumping for Water