Tuesday, April 10, 2012

March 19, 2012 - First email from the Philippines!

Manila International Airport
Oh my gosh the PHI is crazy!!! Let me start from when I got here. So once the plane landed and we went into the airport, I felt the warm embrace of the Philippines....XD the humidity!  Our driver then took us from the airport to the mission home where we unloaded our things and went inside.  It was a really nice house, down the street from the old house of The Castro (which was huge and had a golden gate).  Anyway that is not mahalaga (important) haha. The president greeted us along with the missionaries that are leaving and our trainers.  It was hot outside at 11 am. 

On our way to the mission home from the airport.
Anyway, so then what happened after was we had lunch together, got to know each other and then came orientation.  Everything was happening so fast!  Then we went through some orientation then the mission president interviewed me. He's a really nice guy, very welcoming. Then we finished orientation and were assigned trainers.  My companion/trainer/tatay (nickname for trainers) is a native, Elder Peralta from Bacolod City, Bacolod.  I feel extremely blessed though because he speaks a lot of good English even with his accent. I'm glad he's a native and he speaks English! (Details later)  Anyway, so our area is the Pasig City Zone, Pasig City 2nd Ward.  It's such a great area/ward too!  The people are very welcoming and nice; they always let us in if they're home.  I'm actually in an English speaking ward.  It makes it easier when I teach lessons so I can speak as much Tagalog as I know and then use English when I don’t know it. I bore my testimony this Sunday in mostly taglish but I was so nervous ha-ha.  They have the best of both worlds; they have a lot of rich people, and many poor people who attend church.  Our ward mission leader is a successful business man from Australia ha-ha.  I didn't think I’d find white people here much. 

Anyway, okay so back to the assignment of companions.  So once I got my companion and area I quickly went out into the field. They took my luggage and hauled me away.  Then I got to my apartment.  Oh my gosh... It is the hottest place on earth!  I want so much to go out into the field as much as possible because outside of our apartment is cooler than inside haha!!!  But we have electrical fans so that’s okay.  I just sleep with one at my feet pointing up to me all night and when I study.  It's a small little place, about the size of our loft, but in it are the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and our study area.  Then there are stairs that go to the 2nd floor where our beds are…2 rooms, 4 beds and 4 closets.  Oh, our apartment mates are an Australian, Elder Hilbert and another Bacolod Pinoy Elder Galingana who share the same apartment.  It's actually a lot better than I thought it would be.  For one, we have fans and second, the toilet flushes!!! XD I still have to use the “tabo” though.  Except for the first few days I have been cheating. I've been using tissue paper I bought from the bookstore ha-ha!  But I did try to use the tabo the last two days.  I spilled it on the back of my shirt at a member's house one time haha!  Oh gosh!  I still don't know how to do it properly… haha!  It'll take time like all things.  Oh and I finally got the rest of the toiletries that I needed today soap, shampoo, toothpaste.  I've been living off of sample sized stuff haha! 

That's my bed on the floor.  It's cooler than sleeping on the top bunk.
Okay, oh so now to the field work. It was about 5pm when we started getting out of the apartment and out to the field. But first an important thing... So apparently at orientation I learned that there are 650,000 members in the Philippines and only 150,000 active.  So the area presidency asked the Brethren if they could focus the missionary effort into reactivation rather than baptism.  So for 2012, our focus as missionaries is to reactivate the less active members to build the kingdom.  Because apparently the past missionaries have focused so much on baptism that they didn't build the faith of the people they were baptizing.  And once the Elders left so did the less activation occur.  So mainly we visit less active and part member families. But don't worry, just cause we're not tracting doesn't mean we don't get our own baptisms.  On Saturday I had my first baptism!!!! A 60 year old man who works in a member’s car repair shop. Brother Balariano Nagorda.  I didn't really have much to do with it haha.  Elder Peralta and his last companion did all of the work; I just plucked the fruit.  A member friend baptized him and I got to be in the pictures lol.  Pero it still counts!  You can add that to my board thingy lol!!!  First Baptism!!! ^_^  Probably when I’m more a part of the next one will I personally count it as my first baptism.  But for the record, I think it should count. 

My first baptism...Bro. Balariano Nagorda and my companion/trainer  Elder Peralta.
But man, I do feel that the field here in the PHI is white and ready to harvest.  I feel like so many people have been prepared for us when we enter into their houses (well, what counts as a house in the PHI); even the less actives. They may have fallen off the track but that's because no one has been there to resolve their concerns.  Many of their concerns are... transportation is hard (traffic and money), *sidenote* TRAFFIC IN THE PHILIPPINES IS THE WORST I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY WHOLE LIFE!!! I would rather take Utah drivers any day!!!! Forget all that you know of rules of the road.  There is one law and that is "survival of the fittest" which means...if you don't fit you don't survive haha!  *end digression :P* or they work on Sundays.  So that's been our main focus.  If there are any scriptures you know or stories to tell or ways to address these needs I would be most grateful. We have our ways but I know it's good to get other opinions.  And I want to involve you with my “real" investigators and less actives. 

Okay, so we start going out, and we suddenly jump into a jeepney in the middle of the street and I was scared for my life haha!  So many things are still confusing. But we went to a few less active's houses.  And since they already had been taught all 5 lessons we mainly talk to them to find needs and then address it with a spiritual thought and give them commitments to build their faith.  As we walked up to our first appointment at the Ardol's family house, I asked my companion ummm... what are we teaching them, and how are we going to do it? And he replied, "Well, we talk to them until we find a need, then we'll address it with a spiritual thought, sort of to build their faith...oh and you're leading the lesson."  Then I said WHAT!!! But this is my first appointment ever!!! Then he replied with his Key Phrase, "Do not worry Elder... The Lord will provide!" and he patted me on the back and kept going. 

And that is how the past almost a week has gone. Because I don't know the area he just leads me to where the appointment is and I start the lesson when it's okay. Cause you see, there is this new 12 week program they are doing for the new missionaries.  The Brethren believe that the new missionaries can do so much more than their senior companions believe they can at the beginning, so each week there is a focus for new missionaries such as, start each lesson the first week, then lead lesson 1 discussion and so on with 2 hours of companionship study.  Anyway, it's different for us since we focus mainly on less actives but it's still the same principle.  Anyway, on Saturday we had 7 appointments (that's a lot) and I began each one lol! It's really great for my Tagalog and teaching skills.  It's not that I’m shy during lessons, I just don't know how to make more than small talk in Tagalog. But what I do know how to do with he help of the spirit is talk about the gospel. Elder Peralta was surprised at how much I knew how to say and how much I could teach on my first day.  And since then, it's been getting only better.  He said he's glad I’m easy to train.  He didn't want a Utah kid haha!!! He’s only been out 8 months.  And all of the less actives and members are surprised by how well I can speak Tagalog (accent and all) when I tell them I’ve only been here 3, 4, 5 days and such XD. It's been helpful for building their faith and all so I do enjoy it. All because I spent a lot of my time at the MTC taking it seriously and studying hard. You'll know what I mean when you get there, Ryan. There's a lot of temptation to just sit around and talk or talk to other missionaries when it's study time.

So, that's how the last few days have been…busy and work filled. But don't think I’m too busy to miss you all. I miss and think about you all, all of the time. It's at its worst when we're at the apartment in the morning or night getting ready for bed. Actually on Saturday after lunch I went up to my room saying I was going to take a nap and I cried for half an hour because of all of the stress, of being in a new place, trying so hard with the language not knowing where I am or where I’m going when we leave the apartment and missing you all in general. I guess I’ve been trying to be strong these past 10 weeks and I held it all in trying not to cry. I remember trying not to look at you mom and dad when I was going to the MTC cause I didn't want you to see me cry. But I wish now I could have looked you in the eye one more time and told you that I love you cause I really do and I regret not being strong enough to look at you and say it again before I left. Anyway, so just thinking about that made me cry over and over again, cause I was being selfish and thinking about myself. So I prayed really hard to make sure that you were all safe and okay and I had to tell myself why I’m here in the Philippines. It’s to share the joy of the gospel with the people of the Philippines. You know Elder McCoy once told me that "Missionaries give up 2 years of their life so that others can be with their family for eternity." and so that gives me strength to press on.  Maybe a hand written letter or care package might make this first month easier. Also, remember that FAMILY stands for "Forget About Me, I Love You" ^_^ and I Do love you all so much and want you to know that. 

But don't worry!!!   I'm doing way better now. I'm getting used to the area and the ward has done so much to make me feel welcome. Actually, I feel so blessed here because we have a dinner appointment every night. The Arduo Family expects us to come when we don't have an appointment.  And there is rarely a day when we don't have a member with us going to less actives for fellowshipping.  I can feel that this area is ready to be harvested, as long as we do our best to save His children and Build his kingdom!  We already have 2 more baptismal dates, which I am helping a lot with, so don't worry about getting investigators; we get a lot of referrals. 

Summary: Everything here is crazy but I’m okay because the Lord will provide.  Getting used to everything will take time and I can speak Taglish when in doubt. The best way to become a better missionary is just like what Captain Spears said in Band of Brothers; "The moment you accept you're already dead is the moment you'll become a better soldier…" or something like that.  I've decided everything will be crazy so I’m a lot better for it. Nothing surprises me now. Not even going to the depths of the Filipino ghettos (way ghettoer than ours) and taking turns down the darkest alleyways and through the scariest tunnels to find the investigators and less-actives that need the help of God!  

^_^ I'm doing great, the work and church is true and I love you.  Can’t wait to hear back from you!!! Ingat!!! Please take care of yourselves... The adversary will do anything to make this mission harder for me than it already is.  So please be well. I pray for you all always! 

And yes I’ll take a lot of pictures (except I’m already hitting the memory full sign because it's only 2 GB…I need another!!!) 

Okay Mahal Kita!, CYA Later!!!

Doing you Proud,
Elder Froude ^_^ 

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