Monday, December 26, 2016

Week 43 in the Philippines Laoag Mission: Christmas!!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!! Or that is
what all the carolers sing. I’m not sure what a ‘New Year’ here is but I’ll
let you know once I find out.  So first with the funny stories: This
actually happened last week but I forgot to say. We were walking home
from a FHE out in Palonglong- one of our further areas- and it was
dark, no trycees or anything in sight. We have a long walk home ahead
of us for sure. As we are walking I look down and see Cathy’s shoes.
The sole of her shoe had separated from the upper half and her toes
were poking out in the front and her heel was dangling out the back.
For sure, her shoes had randomly combusted and were no more. So I
cried out “Cathy! Your shoes have died!!” which makes sense in
English, but in Tagalog you don’t speak of inanimate objects as if
they have life so ‘namatay ang sapatos mo!’ is not a real sentence.
Sister Ganaden and Cathy both busted up at my grammar and my overall
misunderstanding of the Tagalog language in general. Regardless of my
grammar, the problem still stood. What were we going to do? There is
glass and other such nasty things on the road; Cathy cannot go
barefoot. But she refused to take my shoes or sister Ganaden’s shoes.
So Sis Ganaden removed one of her shoes as I removed one as well then
we tried to wrestle the dead shoes off Cathy’s feet. Eventually she
relented and we began walking again, all with mismatched shoes. At that
point a large white van pulled up out of nowhere and a guy stuck his
head out the window. “Where are you going?” We ignored him and kept
walking. “Are you going to centro?” Sister Ganaden stopped, I was
panicking (there is no way we can outrun a car, let alone in these
mismatched, dead shoes) but then the guy says ‘We can give you a ride
to centro we are going to the fair.” And then his wife pokes her head
out the window and waves and we hear their kids in the back laughing.
So peace is restored as we got a free ride home and got to meet their
American cousins who were visiting from Hawaii. It was kinda fun
swapping off from Tagalog to English between the American’s who
couldn’t speak Tagalog and the native Philippines who wanted to know
how the Americana learned her Tagalog. In that moment I was quite
fluent and could understand everything they were saying- when just an
hour before in the FHE I could barely get a sentence or even a word
    Another funny story must first begin with a bit of cultural
background. Filipinos are very blatant. If you’re fat they tell you.
If you’ve got acne they say ‘kawawa ang face mo.’ Or “your face is so
pitiful/sad.” So that always helps with the ego. But while we were on
splits working with some members sister Vera and I went to visit Nanay
Tina. She always has a lot to say so I was a little scared to go as
she speaks so quickly. The conversation went along these lines:
“Hey, Nanay! How are you?”
“How am i? how are you? What happened to your face?”
“What? Oh, it’s just acne.”
“Did you get cursed by a witch?”
“Witches are real; they’ll brew up a potion and curse you just by
saying your name. You’ve got a bad curse on your face.”
“Well, if this is a curse it's not so bad I guess.”
“Not so bad?!? Have you seen your face lately? It’s definitely a witch curse.”
So apparently I need to keep an eye out for pointy hats and avoid
them. Sister Ganaden said that I should make my acne my best friend,
so they will all go away. [She calls all cats she sees her ‘best
friend’ and they always run away too.] so I guess I’ll just have to
love having acne at the age of 21…
    This week was not only December 25th but it was also Christmas
Con, so all the missionaries of the Laoag Mission met up to play
games, sing and dance. Yes you read that right. Dance. My zone did the
Pandaggo ng Ilow or ‘the dance of lights’ we were supposed to learn
how to dance with the cups with lit candles inside them on our heads
but… that didn’t go down. A large portion of our zone are all Polys so
they weren’t too into the graceful flow-ie dance and mostly wanted to
do aerial jumps which doesn’t really work with that dance. We had a
great time at the con and I learned a lot about myself and from the
trainings given by President Andrada.
    I had the opportunity to skype with my family this week and they
asked me a question that really struck me: How have you changed on
your mission? I said ‘mostly cultural changes.’ But in all honestly I
think perhaps the biggest change I have undergone on my mission is
becoming patient. I think patience is both the best and worst
attribute to gain. It's rough getting it but the end results are
incredible. [sorry family for not saying that on skype, but that’s a
hard question!!] I’ve almost mastered my patience with others, but it
is the patience with myself that is the hardest. I’m still working on
it!! However I feel like the biggest trial I have experienced my whole
mission is simply learning the language, it is a constant patience
battle as I am not picking it up as quickly as I would like or as fast
as the other Americans. Ha, we actually have an elder here who arrived
on his mission two cycles ago (12 weeks) and he speaks more Tagalog
than I do! I like to tease him about it. But the thing with patience
it has to be coupled with understanding. My trial is the language, and
so it will take time, his trial will be something else. But the end
result will (hopefully) be the same for all missionaries- or any one
in general; we will become who God needs us to be.
    Another thing that happened this week was a new schedule.
Starting January 1, 2017 worldwide missionaries will have a different
schedule. Here in the Philippines we will still get up at 6:30am, but
we won’t leave the house until 10 due to studies. 10am-9pm will be up
to the companionship so long as it requires the rest of study time and
such. That means more flexibility in schedule to fit the
investigator’s needs and any other obstacles that may be unique to the
area or culture. It's just another example how the Lord is hastening
the pace. Speaking of hastening the pace, I was studying the
Millennium this week and realized something: all the earthquakes and
scary stuff that we are to expect before the ‘end of the world’ is a
social and physical terraforming of the Earth to prepare for the 2nd
coming of Jesus. Science! It’s for real, as is Science fiction… I’m
still waiting for my personal TARDIS but we will have to see about
    During one of the many Christmas Parties this week at the church
we had one that was geared specifically towards the Church’s theme
“Light the World” where certain investigators and less actives were
brought who were going through some financial difficulties. We played
games and ate and gave away presents donated from the members to the
families in need. Did I mention the whole thing was put together in 3
days, without any help from the missionaries? All we did was suggest
investigators or members we thought might need the help and showed up.
The ward is incredible.
    This week was also ‘transfer text week’ so… on December 24 sister
Ganaden and I were just about to go to bed at 10:29 thinking we had
passed the time where we would get the text when at 10:31 we got a
text” Ho ho ho, and pack your bags! Sister Ganaden, you are being
transferred!! So that will make 3 months for her here and 5 months for
me, and still counting!! It was a lousy Christmas present but it’s from
the Lord so we will have to come to terms eventually. I’ll get my new
companion next week- so a whole new batch of experiences and things to
learn from her!
From the sister with mismatched shoes
Sister Eldredge

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