Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 69: Tatay Perfecto Agular's Baptism

Here in the Philippines we have decided ice cream trucks are too mainstream so we are going for the more useful fish trucks that sell freshly caught fish. Its an interesting way to wake up, before the alarm rings you hear “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNGGGGGGGGGUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSS, FREEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH BAAAAAANGUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSS!!! And right after him comes the guy yelling ‘bote’ (bow-tey means bottle) but it sounds a bit more like ‘wookie.’ So we have wookies chasing after the fish here. As both my companion, sister Abdul-haq, and myself are very close to going home we have come up with interesting ways to not get trunky. This includes face spas, setting up activities at the church and having a baptism.
Yup! Tatay Perfecto Agular got baptized this week! He’s been investigating the church for almost 2 years now and is now ready for baptism! While there were only a few members there at the baptism the spirit was strong! When Brother Perfecto got up to bear his testimony it was truly powerful. To have a strong testimony doesn’t mean you string words together in a poetic way, it means the words are true to you. He practically shouted hallelujah that he had been baptized which was awesome. There are still some kinks we are working out in the branch but the members are incredible and have the desire. We are actually working on what is required to create a group (in the church the biggest congregation is called a ward, then a branch or a group. A ward is 100+ and a group is anywhere from 3-30 people) in a far area. There are a rather large number of members in this area, it's just so far out that they cannot afford to go to church every week- 100+ one way sort of things (the average is 20 pesos per trip) so we will see how this turns out!!
We hope to be able to start teaching Tatay Perfecto’s son JR, but he works out in the rice fields and gets home super late and we have a curfew at 6ish so we will have to be creative about that I guess!! I was feeling really stressed my first week here as the area we are allowed to work in is so small but we are finishing little pockets of houses that have not seen the missionaries before and/ or had good relations with members and are interested. Its pretty much 50/50 with reactions from people here. Its either ‘don’t talk to me’ or ‘missionaries? I’ll listen to what you have to say.’
When I was at my most stressed I pulled out the scriptures and said allowed ‘please give me inspiration on what to do with this tiny area’ and then flipped open to D&C 54:7&9 “Wherefore go to now and flee the land, and take your journey… and after you have done journeying, behold, I say unto you, seek ye a living like unto man.” So the scriptures say I should go home and get a job. That’s comforting.
Honestly that is all I have to report on this week besides we did a mud mask as a way of distressing and we all tried to make each other laugh because when you laugh while wearing a bentonite clay mask (shout out to Grandma Awesome! Thanks so much!!) it crinkles and  makes you look like an old lady.  So we had fun looking like an idiot for a while.
From the tired but happy missionary

Sister Eldredge

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 68: Transferred, to Magapit, Peeping Toms and Scary Rodents

Sis. Abdul Haq (new companion) and Me Traveling in the Bus

The Elders Are Sitting on the Roof of the Bus as We Travel

This week took forever. So last Monday I was in Vigan, then traveled up to Laoag and stayed the night there, then traveled from there to the bus stop where I met everyone who would be traveling with me: Elder Anderson the new ZL, sister Hicks who will be living with me but will be Sister Ganaden’s companion (they will be opening a new area) and elder Wineberg from Vigan district, and his trainee Elder Saplan. We rode a hecka long bus ride that I'm sure could have been much longer but they played the same dumb Jurassic park rip off movie at least 3 times before they realized and swapped to a Marvel movie and a Korean movie. I wrote in my journal basically the whole drive and patted sister Hicks on the head because she gets car sick and the road was going up and down the tiny canyon road like no one’s business.
Magapit, my new area, is actually just one road out of a whole town and this road has more rocks than people. I keep reminding myself that this is really cool that we get to see the work progress here because there are two (almost three) church buildings in this one town (Lalo) but I have about 20 people who live in my area and they have already met with the missionaries. So we are going to teach English as a second language here so that will be fun as three of the four of us are foreigners (two Americans and one Pakistani, and one Filipina)  as a way to meet new people.
I have two funny stories for this week. Our new apartment is incredible. I swear every time I move it's to a better apartment and this one is huge and easy to clean and has sooooo many windows. The funny parts of my week however have to do with the apartment so just realize that I’m not complaining about the apartment.
I was doing my laundry as after transfers you always have a crazy amount of laundry left over and I’m sitting next to this open drain thinking about how I had just told Sister Banham- my previous companion who is now training- how rats can swim through piping and even come up through the toilet and how she didn’t believe me, when, I kid you not, a giant rat crawls out of the open drain next to my foot. I jump up and run to the door to escape inside the house (laundry room is outside) only to find that my companion Sister Abdul-haq had locked me out of the house!!! So I’m banging on the door freaking out and she finally comes and lets me in and she is laughing so hard at me and I can't remember any Tagalog so I throw my flip flop at her but she just dodges it and keeps laughing at me. So then I go back to finish my laundry BECAUSE I DON’T SCARE EASILY and so I sit down to finish and sister Abdul-haq starts screaming and pointing to the ground behind me and so I jump up again only to see it’s a sock so I chase her around the house with the other flip flop I hadn’t thrown at her yet. I locked her in the bathroom so I could finish my laundry in peace.
Then the other story was just last night. Here in Cagayan we have to return to the apartment before the sun goes down so we do all of our studies at night. So we had finished our studies and were chatting in the other sisters room (all in our pj’s) when we hear rustling outside our window. I panic and tell everyone in a laughing fun voice in old English that there was someone standing outside the window and we needed to leave the room and go to my room because I have curtains. Im speaking like “Forsooth doth yonder window break a perv doth entrench there.” So only the other American understood me because I’m speaking nonsense English so if the guy outside the window hears me he thinks I don’t know he is there but I know he is there. Eventually everyone caught my drift and we all dragged their mattresses into our room and had a slightly scary sleepover where we called out leaders and asked what to do. They basically told us to do what we had already done and to text if anything changed. Oh by the way the power was out and had been out for two hours. So we are sitting in our locked room with all the curtains down and windows closed dying of heat when we hear “Sisters.” Out our window. I'm all primed to taze someone  but I peek out the window and it's just our District leader who came all the way over to check on us because his phone didn’t have any calls or texts so he walked around the border of the house (I handed him my taser first) and didn’t find anything. So we all went to bed… kinda. But this morning I went outside to check if I could see footprints- because I took a forensics class so that must mean I’m a genius- but I found a huge depression in the grass (our house is next to an open field) and cow droppings. So we were all so scared because of a freaking cow. It was so dumb but looking back on it I was speaking Shakespeare so a cow wouldn’t understand my English. That is ridiculous.
Anyways this has been the weekly funny story with Missionary Mormon Mikella
Till next time!

Sister Eldredge

Our Peeping Tom

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 67: I Flooded the Font

This week went by very quickly… isn’t that what I said last week? My brain is just in a scramble right now, but it's all good. I got to start my week out with what turns out to be my last MLC- as usual it started about 5am as the sisters in the mission office apartment always insist on getting up early to shower… but being noisy about it. I got to see one of my utmost favorite people in the world, Sister Bernards who is working in the office. The meeting itself was incredible and I am going to really miss going to MLC, but I will not miss going on exchanges with all the sisters in the Zone! I love them but I have a happy place in my area- that I am now leaving. I’m pretty excited for my new area as Sister Banham served there in the past so she keeps telling me about all the things she loved there. I kinda felt this coming actually. The thought that I would be sent to Cagayan kept running through my mind all week so I know this transfer is revelation from God.

We worked with some incredible members this week and even extended 10 Baptismal Goal Dates this week which was NUTS. The members we worked with (Ritzmay, Daniel one day and sister Rabang and brother Florentine on a different day) were very in-tune with the spirit and honestly they were the best part of the lessons!

We went to visit a 2-year investigator family of 6 who have been wanting and trying to join the church ever since they first heard it but due to some restrains have as of yet been unable to and were starting to loose hope. This week we got to meet with the whole family-which is rare as basically everyone but the youngest works- and in the lesson we talked about the story of Samuel the Lamanite and how despite how it was hard and sometimes scary he followed the commandments of God (see Helaman 13 in the Book of Mormon).  But that wasn’t even the best part. The best part was how the members talked about how when they were baptized into the church all the things they had to overcome and were still going through but the strength they gained through the Holy Ghost, which they received after their baptism, and it was like a light switch went off. Where this beautiful family had been enshrouded in darkness of hopelessness they were filled with the hope and light of Christ and the best part was I had nothing to do with it. It was the members’ love for them, and it was God’s love for them. That is the coolest.

We also had a baptism this week- but not for us! It was for the elders who are also serving in the same branch as us. But we showed up early only to find the font empty!! So we started filling it and then went out to greet people. The baptism started and we had some incredible talks that were all in Ilocano so I have no idea what was said but I felt good about it. Then as we all went to the font for the actual dunking part we noticed a problem… I had forgotten to turn off the pipe!! The baptismal water was flowing in a river down the steps and into the hallway!!! So we had an impromptu team building experience as we scooped up the water with dust pans and paper towels after I shut off the water. After the baptism our investigator Michaella got interviewed for her baptism next week and it was great! We met with her before the interview to  make sure she wouldn’t get scared of the District Leader- who is a very nice Elder. And she passed!!

This Sunday we had so many investigators come to church and I’m pretty sure all of them will get baptized, the question is when. We Know Michaella will be baptized (she does a dance when she thinks about it) and Cherymay (who we found this week due to a referral from a returning Less Active) is waking up in the middle of the night to read and her husband is too, she was sick and the baby was sick but they came to church and she felt 100% better and her baby’s cold went away. She told us the church has power- and although we watched a broadcast in English she said she felt all warm inside like when we teach her and she wants to feel that all the time. So she’ll be getting baptized!! Ahaha Then Edita came her third time and was just as amazing and participated in the classes! Then two out of the 6 of the potential Abang family came and they were greeted soooo warmly by the members- brother Florentine about jumped out of his chair to greet them!

Life is good and it's sad to think I won't be here to see them all be baptized.

Ta ta for now!

Sister Eldredge

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Week 66: Intoxication 101

Good morning Neverland!

So because of MLC my letters are always late the first week of the month. So no I’m not breaking rules by emailing on a Tuesday. Anyways. This month went by really fast. I personally have never believed when people say ‘time goes faster than you think’ as if time is passing quickly it's due to you not paying attention or remembering the moments. Yet, I remember the moments and I am paying attention- though my companion thinks that I have alzheimer's as I can remember the name of the dog but not the investigator. But I was always like that; remembering useless information and forgetting the crucial things. Like giraffes have the same amount of vertebrae as humans, but I can't remember how to get home. Anyways, the best things that happened this week was having 11 people in church this Sunday. We only reported 10 because 1 we had never met before and she came to assist her boss, so not technically an investigator. Also this seems to be the week of the drunks.
We were walking to an appointment when Elderberto Javier- mr.i-don’t-want-to-listen-to-you-anymore-because-the-dating-daan-prophet-says-so guy I talked about last week. He comes running up to us and this is the conversation:
Javier: Sisters!!!
Us: hey! What are you doing?
Javier: I was just weeding my garden. Don’t you guys want to teach me?
Us: You said you weren’t sure if you wanted to listen to us.
Javier: oh that *laughs* I was disillusioned! I wish I didn’t like you two but I can’t sleep because of what you said and I want to listen now.
Us: are you drunk?
Javier: *swaying slightly* you drink wine to open your mind! You should write that down.
He insisted we talk so we sat down on some lawn chairs in his front yard and gave him a very brief overview of the Plan of Salvation, during which he sobered up a bit. He actually had a lot of questions and insisted he would come to church and not work the whole day of Sunday. He didn’t actually end up coming but besides the fact that he was slightly drunk the spirit was in the lesson and he has been reading from the Book of Mormon.
Another drunk story:
We were teaching one of our potential investigators about the Book of Mormon and one of the drunks from her neighbor’s graduation party came over and joined in the lesson. He was seriously drunk, and could not remember 1 +1 sort of thing. I did get a little scared when he stood up from where he had been sitting on the ground but he was almost completely unaware of his surroundings. If he had not been shouting “I love Jesus” and “That’s like Catholic!” and “The dog told me that!” I would have thought he was completely out of it. Then as we were walking home from that lesson we ran into a Less Active who was wandering the street seriously drunk.
Brother B: Sisters! I am sorry. I am already drunk.
Us: then go home and don’t drink anymore.
B: ok just one more
Us: no you are done. Go home.
B: *pouts*
It's sad to see grown up people reducing themselves to nothing like this, but it is funny to see full grown up people acting like children.

Also! Our investigator Edita came back to church! This is two times in a row now and so we are hoping she will be ready by the end of this month for baptism. She even paid her tithing without us ever teaching her about it! They just talked about it in church last week so she paid it this week! She is amazing.

That’s all from my neck of the woods!

From the Taser-carrying Sister,

Sister Eldredge