Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 30: Kevyn's Baptism, Frogs, Shadows, and Teaching The Word!

Kevyn was baptized!!  This was in my last area, but I'm so excited to see the progress continue!


Where to even begin with this week… I've got everything from Japanese tourists, vicious  umbrella cats, tripping over frogs, a trycee roller coaster ride to cake. This last Monday we spent the day with our bishop's wife, playing mission appropriate games, and just enjoying each other’s company. In order to get to her house we rode a trycee for about 15 or 20 minutes up and down the mountain side. I kept saying "put your hands up! It’s more fun this way!!" and waiving my arms above my head as much as i could within the confines of the side car. When we arrived we were greeted by the Bishop's wife as Bishop was still at the Palenke (market) Sister Carpio mentioned that she wanted to bake a banana cake later, so then I told her about how I used to decorate cakes back home. Instantly we were best buddies discussing the differences between cupcakes and cakes and frosting techniques. Of course i have no idea how to say any of that in Tagalog so it was a little difficult as I tried to mime out what i was trying to say and speak my very limited taglish. Together we made her first ever batch of cupcakes, which she seemed just tickled pink to make.
    Then this Tuesday I worked with Sister Arcayan (who has been out in the field about 3 months now) so this is her first cycle not being a trainee) It was super fun working with her. She and Sister Aquino (the STL) work mostly in centro, the actual city part of the city and we got to meet with soo many people because we weren’t having to walk a mile or two between appointments and we could almost always grab a trycee. It helped me realize something. I've been getting a little down because of my inability to live up to the standard of excellence (number of lessons and such set by the mission president) but I realized it’s because we, Sister Gabut and I work mostly in the boondocks of Batac. However, that is where our investigators are. We are mostly just trying to find in the few central brgys (communities) we have and then work with the investigators we have in the further areas. This being the last week of the cycle and transfer week looming over our heads it’s a little discouraging that we don’t really have any investigators that are progressing. But it’s not about numbers; it’s about the souls the numbers represent and all that. It would really just be nice if people would realize how much we care for them and how much this gospel means to us and how much it can mean to them. Anyways, I’m going to get off my soap box now.
    During my personal studies I found this hecka awesome talk by Bishop Gerald Causse called "Ye are No More Strangers." In it he talks about reaching out to others and being kind. I’ve also been studying Charity a lot so this really struck a chord with me. My favorite bit is an excerpt from the book Les Miserables. Jean Valjean, recently released from prison is starving and trying to find a place to stay for the night. All other establishments had kicked him out and he couldn’t even sleep in a dog house as the dog wasn’t willing to share. This is the exchanges between him and The Bishop of the local church:
“‘This is not my house; it is the house of Jesus Christ. This door does not demand of him who enters whether he has a name, but whether he has a grief. You suffer, you are hungry and thirsty; you are welcome. … What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me [your name], you had one which I knew.’
“[Valjean] opened his eyes in astonishment.
“‘Really? You knew what I was called?’
“‘Yes,’ replied the Bishop, ‘you are called my brother.’”

    Can I just scream how much I love this quote? I want to paint it in the entryway of my first home, its so amazing. This is charity. This is the pure love of Christ. We dont need to know or care about someone’s past sins, we are all going through our own trials and have our own mistakes. If we wish people would forget about our mistakes we must do the same for others. Augh, man I love this quote.

This last wednesday night I got a text from our District leader Elder Koy asking if I could give a mini training the next morning. It's 9pm. I’m already in my pjs, I’m way behind in my journaling, I need to finish my laundry and take a shower. So obviously I said yes.  It was a little stressful and I might have had a dream about giving the training to a group of fruit bats that were more interested in learning how to swim, but I did it. I felt a little proud of myself for being able to not only complete the training but to see the missionaries in our district instantly apply the things I had talked about in our practice teaching. It was really great! Speaking of the district meeting, Elder Pace -w ho is once again my zone leader- has dyed his hair black. It looks awful, but I’m not his mother … some of the members of the district and the stake that we both serve in are now asking if I will also dye my hair black.  So of course I told them I will only dye my hair if a pig stands on its hind legs and prophesies that I must, an even then I may doubt. So in other words, to quote Shakespeare sonnet 45 line 6: “No.”  

Then we got to meet Disuke, the Japanese tourist.  He couldn’t speak a lick of Taolag but could speak a little English. We ran into him on our way back to Batac after the district meeting.  We chatted about where he had been and what he had seen during his tour of the Philippines. (he was traveling by himself) and gave him a pamphlet. He seemed thrilled to find another person with whom he could speak to, and after helping him find the bus station to Manila we said our farewells. It was super fun meeting him.

But the best part of the week came later that day. Sister Gabut and I had just finished teaching out in Palongapong so it was very dark (there are no street lamps out in the boondocks) and we were traveling by foot using a tiny flashlight on our phone as both our flashlights had broke earlier this week.  I had just finished telling Sister Gabut about how I remember my brother Joe being too scare to take the trash out at night when he was  a kid and how I’m not scared of the dark when something wet and slimy dropped onto my foot. I probably jumped about a foot in the air screaming.  Apparently a frog decided he wanted to get acquainted with my shoe so he hopped right onto my foot… I may or may not have kicked him and sent him flying into the bushes when I jumped…  So then we were laughing at my bad luck when a back blur raced towards us, its path directing it right at our feet. This time I didn’t screech. I screamed and jumped, not up, but onto sister Gabut. What I thought was a vicious rat or a cat turned out to just be the shadow of my umbrella handle in the light of our flashlight. So I got scared. Twice. Right after saying how I’m not scared of the dark.  So I have officially lost my cool.

That basically sums up my week.  We have a stake baptism this upcoming Saturday where Sister Arcaya and Sister Aquino’s investigator will be baptized so that is super awesome. We hope to be able to have Gwynneth and her brother Jimuel ready for baptism by October 22 (just a day before my birthday) so we will see how that goes!!

From the sister who no longer cares for frogs or ‘umbrella cats’

Sister Eldredge

"Let's play the game 'Find the Forigner!'"    "HEYYYY...!"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 29 in the Philippines Laoag Mission: Kevin was baptized!! Messin' with the Greenies, and Feeling the Spirit!

 this sister sat in front of us at conference and she seemed to enjoy all of my sarcastic comments throughout the meeting (like when we started to talk about how you should wash your hands i was all. "Sister gabut can i borrow your pen? I got to write this down, who knew we were supposed to wash our hands?)  and she says it's destiny we will eventually be companions. she said i'm different from all the other americans because i smile and laugh so much. she says im basically a filipina which makes me happy!


This week has been some fun. Well, every week is fun but this one was... i don't know. it was just fun ok? Mostly because i've had several people tell me I should be a comedian, though the level of sarcasm and sass that comes along with my humor would probably make my mother faint. (Love you mom! haha) First was Zone conference. Man oh man do I love Zone Con. (Not as much as peanut butter, but it's a close second) Not only do we get to listen to inspiring talks and discuss how to become better missionaries, but free lunch! and Ice cream! so Zone Con is heaven. I met this greenie from Colorado, USA (someone who is new in the field, they are also called trainees) who this was his first cycle and when I first met him he asked where I was from. So of course I said I was from Manila.I wish I had pictures of his face. I explained how my grandparents are Americans but i'm a Filipino, and the reason i have an american accent is because of my parents talking in an american accent around me when I was a kid. he totally believed me too.. but no I told him the truth and he was all confused. haha. I've done a pretty good job of keeping up my English while only speaking in Tagalog (to the best of my ability) and I have to say that is mostly due to the fact that I write in my journal every night in 100% English. In part because i'm lazy and i know that my kids won't speak or understand Tagalog and i want them to understand what i'm talking about when i mention cow pies and vicious ducks. That does make the Tagalog come a little slower...

    This week despite our best efforts we have not been able to do as many lessons as we would have liked (such as an entire day without any lessons because all our appointments fell through or people said 'next time na lang' which means just try next time, we are busy now. But luckily we have gotten into the habit of always leaving with a prayer so we at least felt like we had shared the spirit with those we saw, even if there were no sit down lessons.)

    However, since coming to the city of Batac we have not had any investigators come to church. That is a little rough, as you work your darndest to get lessons and help people feel the spirit and then they decide for one reason or another to not come to the one place that simply radiates the spirit... but agency is good and i don't think i am physically capable of dragging them all to church and that wouldn't make them want to come anyways. But we had FOUR investigators come to church this week and they all LOVED it. I had to refrain myself from saying "I tOLD you it's awesome!!" I was all but bouncing in my seat when sacrament started, happy as a clam.

    Another awesome thing that happened this week was when we went to go visit Sister Florenita (whose husband isn't against us meeting with her but doesn't want her to go to church- she'd be baptized already if that wasn't the case, her testimony is sooo amazing) and her friend and neighbor Sarah was visiting when we arrived. At first we thought 'ah, sweet a new investigator!' but then Sarah's 3 year old daughter needed help with something so she left halfway through the lesson. So i was bummed, but then SHE CAME BACK. Usually moms are busy and babies and life and such so I was honestly sooo surprised when she came back. We had difficulty finding a scripture so while Sister Gabut was searching I asked Sarah how she felt about what she had heard. This is what she said: "It feels like Jesus is here. That is why I came back, I want to always feel like this." I have to say I had NO idea how to respond to that. What I wanted to do was get up and dance but that would have been counterproductive. Personally, the lesson felt like it was going well, but I didn't think that the spirit was exceptionally strong or anything, It felt like just another lesson. So either I need to work on recognizing the spirit or im just so awesome... hahaha I probably just need to work on recognizing the spirit a bit more. But this has happened before. In July when I went on Exchanges with Sister Owen (the most fun and obedient missionary EVER she is awesome) after we finished the lessons for the day she started skipping and singing 'the spirit was sooooo strong!' and I had felt like it was just like any other day. So hopefully I'm just that good, but probably not.

    Another amazing thing that happened this week was Kevin (from Sarrat) was scheduled for baptism this last Saturday!! I am not able to stay in communications with other missionaries or my past areas (no emails or written letters are allowed) and the only reason I know that this happened is because I ran into President Zabala last week and he told me about it. I also got to see sister Manglenlen from Sarrat this Sunday but I didn't get the chance to talk to her sadly. The work is really progressing and i'm simply stunned and loving every moment of it. Hopefully we will have some baptisms this upcoming October (We actually have a baptism scheduled for the day before my birthday so that is fun)

    From the sister who is exhausted but happy
Sister Eldredge

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week 28 in the Philippines Laoag Mission: PANTS! And other GREAT STUFF!

Pants make me SO HAPPY!!


So this week has been absolutely insane. Lets start at the middle and then jump around randomly so you lose all sense of direction and begin spinning in your chair with a headache. I'm kidding, well start with Monday then just go down the line to today. So last week I forgot to mention this but i tried the 'cheese ice cream' that i have heard so much about, and its way good. Cheese here is nothing like cheese in america, cheese here is sweet and creamy, its like... i have no idea what it is like, but its different. So cheese ice cream makes sense; its already sweet and creamy now its also cold. that's everything you look for in food here: sweet + creamy + cold = sarap! (delicious) another interesting thing i ate this week was cow brain soup. Its 'surprisingly ok.' i'm kidding it was actually really good, it was just strange thinking that I was eating some cows old thinking cap. I also tried this dish, i forgot what its called but its basically pig bbq sauteed in the pigs own blood. Sounds violent and cruel but it tastes good and once the pig is dead I don't think he cares much how he is eaten. But iv'e personally never been in that situation so I cant say so for certain.

    Anywhoos...My favorite scripture for this week is Psalms 150, the last psalm, as its the lyrics for a song my high school choir sang my senior year... or was it my junior year? I cant remember. Since I participated in the wards choir for their Stake conference I kept thinking of the psalm:

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

    For me this means dedication and obedience. God has given us a bunch of rules or 'commandments' and He expects us to not only follow them but to follow them with joy. Its like parenting. Parents don't let their kids play with fire because obviously it could hurt them or cause a situation. Yes fire is hecka fun, especially when you are a kid it is fascinating but we, as children, simply don't comprehend the destructive power and we are safer and happier when we follow the rules and guidelines. Something my mother said when I was a kid comes to mind: parents who love their children give more rules. This didn't make sense to me as a kid. rules suck, rules make it so i cant have ice cream for breakfast and stay up late on school nights, but rules also protect you from diabetes and help you develop healthy habits that will bless you later in life when there is no one to enforce the rules. Sorry if I seem to be blabbering but everything in the bible and the Book of Mormon, all the 'rules' that our church have are for the eternal happiness of all. They may seem restrictive but so is a harness when you go bungee jumping. Would you want a loose harness when you are going to drop hundreds of feet? of course not! It's just for your safety. O.K. i could go on for ages about this so i'm going to move on before i get more repetitive.

     So when Sister Aquino and Sister Arcayan got back from their meeting in Laoag they were wearing PANTS!! and they had some for Sister Gabut and myself too!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I may have been prancing about like a twitterpated Bambi and that is exactly the point. We only get to wear the pants during Denge season and we cant wear them on Sundays or when we go to meetings (which i understand the Sunday thing but meetings are always held in buildings with AC and i cant handle AC anymore so i become a little frozen Popsicle in a skirt and all the elders are sweating in their suits) anyways we have pants and all the ward members are having a fun old time about it because I wore a red shirt with the pants and that is the color of Jolibee (the #1 fast food restaurant in the Philippines, its bigger than MacDonald) So i still have some members coming up to me and pretending to order Jolibee. But its worth it because of pants.

    Also I am teaching Inigo Montoya, luckily I didn't kill his father so I will not prepare to die. I'm kidding, his name is Ruben, but he looks exactly like Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride. Its the best thing ever. I'll try to send a picture next time. We met with him and his wife Percibeth (for those who read Percy Jackson you understand why i love her name) and they were sooo active in the lesson and they had questions and insights, just like Ernesto and his wife, who we had met with earlier that day. After our lesson with them Sister Gabut told me that they had barely said a word in the previous lessons (it had been my first time meeting with them officially) and I am just amazed at the grown in their hearts, they had tried reading and praying about the Book of Mormon and had already began to feel the change in their lives, before we began the official lessons with them. This gospel is true guys, for real. If you just try it out, and be patient (which means being joyful as we wait for the lord to bless us) the blessings will come. No doubt about it.

    We go on splits a lot here; we have this one member who was baptized about 2 years ago now and she works with us almost every other day, and the ward has a handful of recent return missionaries (RM) so I have had to get really good at teaching all of a sudden. There is a definite difference between working with the members and working with the RM's and i love finding out how to work with all of them. I've heard that there are some missionaries who don't like working with RMs and I think its their loss as the RMs are just dying to get back out into the field. They are filled with the spirit of Elijah and who are we to deny them? We went on splits this last Thursday and I loved it. Sister Gabut found a less active family that asked if we could help them know how to regain activity in the church! it had been a few years since they have been active- to the point that some of the children have not been baptized, but the sincerity of the father just touched my heart.

    Then this Sunday after conference and a few lessons we went to visit one of our investigators in the hospital, as she had just given birth. Her baby, named Princess Kate, is only 7 days old and her head is so small it can fit in the palm of my hand! oh! I wanted to hold her but missionaries aren't allowed so i just kinda did a weird 'that baby is so freaking adorable' dance and talked with Joanna. Apparently the fellowshipper we had with us on my first week here has been visiting here every other day since she entered the hospital! (Fellowshipper is a member who works with the missionaries to help those who are investigating the church)

    All in all that has been my week, since i'm still considered 'new in the area' i'm trying to get accustomed to all the people staring at me all the time, but apparently its not rude to stare in Filipino culture so... ill just get used to it i guess. I'm the first white foreigner in the area (Batac A) in over a year, i believe. There was a sister from Idaho but she worked in Batac B so all the people in my areas haven't seen a white person in ages... so that is always fun.

    From the sister who still sticks out like a sore thumb, Sister Eldredge
Nothing Better Than Receiving Packages, Even If It's Just Stuff You Forgot When You Were Transfered!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 27 In the Philippines Laoag Mission: Comic Strips


My New Apartment (WITH SCREENS & NO BUGS OR WILD CATS) and my new companion.


Well, Howdy do?
    I'm slowly but surely running out of catchy ways to begin these letters, but here goes. This has been a week. obviously, as it has been 7 days since I last emailed but... ok. So the Rainy season is officially over but no one has told the sky that and I hope no one does as it is still hecka hot. We've officially entered the 'brr' months (septembrrrr) so its supposed to get cold but it really just gets cold when it rains or when its dark. Or when its dark and raining. There is a phrase here in the Philippines that made me laugh. In America its 'fun in the sun' and here its 'comfy in the rain.' because it is much MUCH more habitable when its raining. Speaking of rain we had a terrific storm  that tore branches off trees and I had a grand old time watching the storm while studying. It made me think of a question I got from Rochelle "What is the difference between a hurricane (or a typhoon) and a thunderstorm? I have to say thunderstorms are much more fun and typhoons have much more water. but that is besides the point.

    The point is I thought I knew peanut butter. "We were raised together, I saw peanut butter just last week, same old peanut butter not a care in the world." (see if you can name that quote- and replace peanut butter with Ian) But the peanut butter here is AMAZING. Ya'll know the peanut butter girl scout cookies? the peanut butter tastes like that. I swear i'm gonna get fat off of it, its so good. When Sister cope (my MTC teacher said she got in trouble at the airport because she was trying to bring peanut butter home i thought she was crazy. Now I'M crazy.  obviously i'm crazy, i just spent 7 sentences talking about peanut butter. I also apparently don't know how to spell peanut butter as the computer is putting little squiggly red lines under it so i can see how many times i wrote 'peanut butter.'

    Ok so onto the actual week. I have no time. ever. its exhausting and we are working our tails off to get this area to progress. *Any RMs with ideas to help investigators want to go to church that already have fellow shippers and like taking lessons will be greatly appreciated* But I am simply loving it. I am as tired as a dog by the end of the day and almost fell asleep in my spaghetti the other day but its the best. Its truly me giving my everything to the Lord. I also happened to meet another American this week. He is Filipino by decent so he was visiting his family and just walked right up to us like "Ya'll are the Mormons aren't you?' in English and i was so taken aback and I realized how I cant speak English on demand. Apparently I keep speaking rapid  English to my 3 Filipino housemates but i cant speak English to the actual fellow american. *face palm* He sadly wasn't interested he was just surprised to see an american and apparently his boss is american and his two sons have both served (one in the Philippines and one in Germany) Don't ask me why i found that relevant information to remember but i did. Its probably filed next to the name 'aglet' (the little plastic thing at the end of shoe laces) somewhere in my brain. But it was fun, for once, to be the one who knew what was actually going on in the conversation- afterward Sister Gabut asked me to translate what he had said.

    This week we also went on exchanges. When you live with the STL its a little fun as they just tell you over breakfast that you'll be working with them. We also go on splits a lot with the members here and I am beginning to realize how very much I need to step it up. I'm studying the language even harder and trying to not speak English. So now whenever I speak rapid English my housemates just do the Filipino 'please repeat that' facial expression (raised eyebrows and open mouth) so I then translate what I said in Tagalog. I know I can say it in Tagalog (sometimes) but English is still my 1st response. It doesn't help that most of the members here are actually quite fluent in English. But they are all being Super helpful with me learning and are patient as I struggle to remember words. If I had a super power it would be 1) the ability to eat as much as the mother wants me to so that she isn't offended when I get full so quickly and 2) be able to understand and speak all languages.

    We have this one Nanay in our ward who is an INCREDIBLE chef, and runs a sewing shop in town. Every time she invites us over we are waddling away as we eat sooo much. The food here is sooo good. But i'm not a fan of raw seaweed. It tastes like a California beach: dying fish, salt and decay. good stuff. Luckily I've only ever eaten that once and that was within my first few weeks in Sarrat. (I still eat it when its offered.) Our bishop also just so happens to look like my Uncle Denton. Maybe i'm crazy but he does.

   All in all i'm loving it. This has been a great week and I hope this upcoming week will be even better, and by even better I mean eating more peanut butter. hahaha I'm kidding. I'm also trying to teach myself how to tie a tie but so far whenever I do it turns out backwards. That is what I get from watching so many guys tie ties and not trying it myself. OH! I forgot to mention! My first Zone leader, Elder Pace is my Zone leader and in my district again so that's news i guess.

From the city slicker,
Sister Eldredge

p.s. Have you ever thought who is the most crazy about Christmas? The Philippines, that's who. Its September, people, not Christmas caroling time! ah well. Christmas! yay! (?)