Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 51: Meeting an Apostle of the Lord

I live with an American. Yeah, she was born and raised in the Philippines but she is more American than me. Today in our groceries we bought root beer and vanilla ice-cream. We are sort of spoiled… but she buys a small root beer every day (or every week) and doesn’t eat rice in the morning like me. People always joke that we were swapped at birth and that she is actually an American and I’m actually a Filipino. If that is true then I’m one white Filipino… so much for my dreams of getting tan…
            So the reason I emailed on Tuesday is not because I’m pasaway (disobedient) but because when you are an STL and you have an all day meeting on Monday and you have to travel Sunday night and Monday night (3 hours both ways) … except we missed our stop so we accidentally ended up in Vigan at 9pm… with no transportation… but we caught a trycee that was willing to go back to Sto. Domingo. At first I was thinking “well we wanted to come to vigan for p-day anyways so I guess we will just stay at one of the sister’s apartments tonight…” It was a rather funny experience, and I’m just glad when I was riding on my own my first week here that I didn’t miss my stop! So that means we got to have our p-day on valentine's! Idk how your valentine's day went but for us sister Bustarde got a cold and passed out as soon as we had done our shopping and emailing. So vigan will just be next week I guess! Haha But we got to meet with our progressing investigators. (So my first week here- the 6th- I said we had like 5 baptisms coming up this week… no they just had not updated their four month calendar of who they had extended Baptismal Goal Date’s to… so yeah) The Gona family is amazing. The two older brothers remind me of characters out of the novel I was writing before my mission (and that I will resume when I get home) so that means they are a bit of jokesters. The ages go like this: Berny-lynn (18) Elunard (17) Eiyahn (15) and Enard (10) We know that the oldest and the youngest will be ready by the 25th of this month but the middle boys will need more time. That’s not a bad thing its just too bad they weren’t all ready at the same time. (Their parents are members but the father is Less Active).  
            I’m still trying to adjust to the new area;  I’m meeting people who I know their nicknames (sprite) but not their names (Espirita.) Luckily I can still pass off as new and I’m slowly making a branch pedigree chart by writing down everyone’s names and who is related to whom. But i'm slooooowly getting my bearings. Because i'm an STL that means I will be doing exchanges 3x a cycle. (a cycle is 6 weeks) an ‘exchange’ is when we basically just exchange companions for a day and we work in each other’s areas for a day. I will be traveling to Vigan and Sinait then in my 5th week of being here I will lead the area with sister corpus… yes I am the STL for my old STL!! She thinks that is just hysterical. However being in a leadership position means hearing about all the problems. I hope I can simply encourage and show how to be a successful missionary. So long as my Zone knows sister Bustarde and I care for them then they will take our advice to heart- hopefully!
            Another job of an STL is giving trainings in our Zone Training Meeting once a month. This month I talked about Christlike attributes and… personally I had a great time preparing and giving the training/ speech but I feel like the audience –my zone- was slightly comatose… I’ll see what I can do to be more interactive next time. They say “you tell me  and i'll forget, you teach me and I’ll remember, you show me and I’ll never forget.” So let's hope this works out.
            Now for David A Bednar: we traveled by about 7am and arrived about 11am in Laoag. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then ran to the chapel. We were told to be there by 12:30 but we are glad we showed up so early so we could get good seats. It wasn’t some long talk he had prepared like a mini General conference, it was “I gave you reading assignments, what did you learn?” “What did you learn that was not said?” it was incredible, because it was all just the spirit and all that we learned was from God! I want to incorporate that type of teaching in my missionary work, especially the agency on asking questions. He always would say ‘may I ask you a question?” and “If you don’t want to answer this that is ok.” He was very much about ‘you have agency and I will not force you to interact.’ Which is funny as before the conference a sister sat down in front of me and begged me that if she got called on that I would save her and speak up.  You know I have no problem talking. The  best part afterwards was when David Bednar shook my hand and thanked me for the comments and questions I posed during the conference, and then Elder Smoots (of the 70) and his wife wanted to know how to pronounce my name! My thing is though when Elder Bednar thanked me I totally froze and was speechless. I didn’t say ‘thank you’ back to him or accept the thanks he gave me! Dang it!!
            In closing we had 11 investigators show up to church today and 6 LA’s. One of our investigators Im not sure why he came but it may be because he thinks sister Bustarde and i are pretty but he participated well in the classes so I hope that i'm wrong. I did not get to mention that Kim Umawid, Natally Batulayan and Ethan Repolosa got baptized in Batac the last two weeks! I'm so proud of them and I wish I had pictured but I’ve got nothing… (speaking of nothing my old usb got a virus and i have lost all of my old pictures!! Everything. It sucks but now i'm sending all of my pictures home and that way i'll have a back up I guess.) Next week I’ll have pictures of Berny-lyyne’s and Enard’s baptism and coming soon is Eythan and Elunard!
From the sister who is 2 weeks behind in her journaling because she reads too many liahonas,
Sister Eldredge

Mom:  Did you find your name tag in time to meet Elder Bednar?

Mikella:  No i didn't, i got a rental for the face to  face  it's got someone else's name on it but with a sticker for my name. i'll have to give it back when my new one is made

That's Me Asking Elder Bednar a Question

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Week 50: I've Lost My Identity, But I Know Who I Am

Homes and Rice Fields

This week I went from thinking I know everything to thinking I know nothing and back up to being pretty confident with my knowledge, to add to the fact that my new Zone Leader (the guy that is helping me and my companion Sister Bustarde take care of the missionaries in our area) is Batman. I thought he was Bruce Wayne but no he is batman. Then I took a turn for the crazy and became an interpreter for the day… or two. Then I lost my identity and found out who I am. That about sums up this week.
        So… Let’s start with last Tuesday. The brgys (or communities) here all have very confusing names like “Quimmarayan” and “Lusoc” and I have no idea who lives where but once we get into the lessons that is when I know what is going on. It’s pretty incredible but I basically always know what is being said in the lessons… unless they go off in Ilocano, and if I don't know what is going on then I just defer them to sister Bustarde! Hahaha she hates that but she loves it too. We have also started speaking English on even days and Tagalog on odd days (not in lessons) and she is very sneaky about it. I will forget its English and she will just go off in Tagalog and i'll respond in Tagalog until a few minutes later I catch on. It’s nice to finally understand what is going on (for the most part.)
        Batman, or Elder Jones, in all honesty when I first saw him- I didn’t like him. He just looked disobedient and he didn’t bother speaking in Tagalog, just straight English. So at first I was a bit of a jerk to him, but then I actually listened to him and it turns out he is one of the most obedient missionaries, he just lets everyone think he is disobedient.
        I ran into another elder who gave me the whole run down on how the ZL is Batman and how the AP (assistant to the president), Elder Ernest, is Superman. It makes sense but I don’t think I can explain it. However something stood out to me yesterday as we attended a Missionary Leadership Council (MLC) and I looked around I realized something about leadership. There are the people who are simply born to lead, like yours truly (I'm kidding!!), and then there are people who are put into leadership positions not because they are good at it but because it will make them better. For example. I would never get up early and cook food unless I knew I needed to do it for someone else. There are a lot of things, good things that I would not do if not for someone else. I honestly don’t know if I'm in a leadership position because it’s just what I was born to do or if I need to shape myself up, but I know that I will learn from it. And that what it’s all about *clap clap*
        In church I ran into a deaf young girl who was having a hard time expressing herself to the members and the members who were speaking very loud and slowly to her (like that will magically help her hear.. but they were trying which is what  matters) so I translated for her, however. I know ASL, American Sign Language, and she knows TSL, Tagalog Sign Language, so we kept getting confused. Their word for Jesus is different than our sign for Jesus and so we really just ended up passing notes. So I was a slight translator. I also translated some Tagalog words to English for my Filipina companion which both weirded us out.
Sister Bustarde: “What is Partake in Tagalog?”
Me: “Tumangap”
Sis B: “…”
Me: “Why do I know that and not you?”

I also lost my name badge on my first day in my new area. I have packed all my things up and unpacked them and tried it again… but nothing. I borrowed sister Bustarde’s extra name badge for a while and that really confused the members and the people we were teaching so I taped some lined paper on with my name written down and that was tacky fun. Elder David A Bednar (one of the modern 12 apostles) is coming to meet with us on Saturday and I have a tacky name badge. Yay… But I was able to get my name printed out so now it kinda looks official instead of tacky it's just strange. I’ve already ordered a new one but I’ll get it in March.
I'm very excited as I might see some of the YSA from Batac at the face to face with David A Bednar, and I know it's gonna be awesome. There will be an official Church Magazine Photographer so we were all told to ‘dress spic and span and smile and participate’ if we wanted to end up in next month’s Liahona. So you know this beautiful face is gonna be in a magazine! Hahaha
From the sister who is lost  (I have no idea where I am) but is found (I know who I am)
Sister Eldredge

My Nephew Has Arrived!! Born February 6 at 1:27 am.He's 9 pounds 13 ounces, William Michael Eldredge. One week old now! If any of you are familiar with Ranger's Apprentice then you know where the 1st name comes from. i'm so proud of my nerdy brother.

We have the same pictures on our scripture cases!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 49: Transfered from Batac to Santa Domingo, and a New Companion Sister Bustarde

So I have gone there and almost back again this week. However that is the last story I want to share for this week.  First I would like to talk about how Batac will soon have three new members: Kim U, Natally B and Ethan R. Sadly they are all rather young but their testimonies are very matured Kim and Natally will be baptized on the 11th and Ethan on the 18th… the catch is I will not be there! I have officially left my home in Batac and am now currently in Santa Domingo. It was literally only yesterday where I was sitting in the Domingo’s home and now I’m in a town with their name! Crazy stuff. It was rather heartbreaking leaving Batac. Kim kept asking me if I would be able to return for her baptism and some members cried and I cried and then I had to travel Monday morning so I couldn’t meet with any of them to say goodbye! So I might as well tell you about the ‘there and back again’ hobbit reference.

I took a bus headed to Vigan- on my own gosh that was scary- and got dropped off on the side of the highway. At first I was a little panicked about where to go and what to do until I turned around and realized the bus had literally dropped me off AT the church. Then My new companion came and picked me up and… guesses what?!? They had been told I was coming tomorrow!!! I could have stayed in Batac an extra day and… the past is past. I only cried a little about that, but we are good. Then we got back on the bus and started heading back the way I just came!! I was so confused.  Sister Bustarde (my new companion) and Sister Duddly (her old companion) Hopped back on a bus and I knew Dudly was going home and I know that the mission home is in San Nick… which is past my old area Batac so for a moment I thought we were going all the way back to Batac and then to San Nick and I was both excited and my wallet was hurting a little at the thought. But we stopped after 30 min and picked up another missionary who will be staying with us until tomorrow so we will be a trysome for now I guess!!!

About Batac:
Ed is progressing incredibly and he accepted the baptismal goal date of April 8 and is excited as ever to attend church and even beats us there every week. The Ward is just stoked to have him and he is progressing with incredible speed as he reads the Book of Mormon on his own and has questions to ensure that he caught the gist or even good questions on specific points!

Nanay Salbation Espiritu passed away Saturday 5:30 pm just after some members came and visited her. She always told us she was 96, but we found out that she is actually 80+ she liked pulling our legs on that one! Hahaha The Espiritu’s are receiving incredible support from the ward and Edgar Sr is sloooowly progressing towards activity, and we are just thrilled that he is trying.

A young man, Giovanni, who was on and off less active has officially become fully active in church and even bore his testimony this last Sunday!  It was 100% Ilocano so I have no idea what he said but he did have a giant smile on his face and I felt the spirit.

I saw an Articuno this week. It was only a baby one though so it was only about the size of my face and a gorgeous sky blue. Yes pokemons exist and they are living wild and free in the Philippines. I tried to catch it on camera even if I forgot all my poke balls but it's so fast I only caught the memory of getting to see a legendary classic pokemon. In all actuality it was a wild bird that looks a hecka lot like an articuno but its fun to pretend.

About Santo Domingo:
We will have 1 baptism on the 11th, 3 on the 18th and I think one more the week after here. I'm going to do my best to get to know these people and the area and how to get around. This is a ‘group’ which is… ok so there are ‘groups’ (anywhere from 3-80 people) then ‘branch’ (80-100) and then there are wards (100+) This is still considered a group but has gotten up to the ward numbers, they just lack priesthood to enable them to make that step. So I guess my goal here is to help gather the priesthood! Activate less actives and find people who are ready to convert! Obviously I’m going to talk to everyone still.

About me:
I have said on and off about my emotions and how at times I even consider that I might have depression. I have been speaking to myself positively for several weeks and praying with only gratitude for my blessings and asking to bless my investigators. I’ve been trying to turn outward and not focus so much on myself. I also talked to my mission president about it and we had a great talk and honestly as soon as I stepped out of his office I feel like I have lost a thousand pounds.  I feel like I can take on ANYTHING. And I know that is cliché but that is exactly how I feel; which is a good thing as I have just become the STL of Santo Domingo! Sister Bustarde and I are the new STL’s and i'm glad i'm not going to be the only one doing this!  But you know even if it was just me with the assignment of STL I’ll always have the Lord.

To make my week even better my older brother and my sister in law just had their first baby. And i'm just giving a quick shout out to them and how much I love them and their new baby boy, William Michael .