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Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 14: Another AWESOME week!


I love you family! Another awesome week is already gone! It is flying by! And Next Saturday we have our first baptism. He is a 12 year old kid named Jofferson and he is really bright. They had just started teaching him when I got here and now he reads and prays and goes to seminary every day. His parents are inactive and they are kind of a pain. Sunday they wouldn't let him go to church for some reason but they generally support him. Just sometimes they do random stuff and I honestly think yesterday they wouldn't let him go. We almost had to postpone his baptism because of it but because of the situation the ZL's and stuff said it was alright.

Our ward is really crazy and kind of contentious when we have our correlation meeting...They were really creating a ruckus about him being baptized because he is a kid and his parents are inactive. It's a pain but we have it worked out with president. Oh well. There are also a ton of awesome members as well.

I am baptizing Jofferson on Saturday! I am really excited and proud of the progress he has made. This is really a bad place to grow up. There is so much bad stuff around them. Hopefully we can save him from a sad miserable life that he might have had if he got into drugs and all that stuff.

We also have another baptism in 2 weeks and we started teaching a mom that seems pretty golden so far! The work is great and the field is definitely ready to harvest. This week we had one of our best days ever, we taught 7 lessons in one day. And then the next day we only got 2 lessons as everyone was gone and busy and stuff. There has been a lot of success and lots of disappointments. It is pretty hard to get people to church. They don't even have good excuses either. We went around to our investigators before church(we always do, this week we just tried to go to more) and they always say they have laundry or they need to cook or something stupid like that. Oh well, we ll just keep praying and keep teaching them, hopefully they will get the big picture eventually.

So we have a very interesting new investigator(kind of?). I OYMed(Open your mouth and intro the message) him on tryke, and he was saying that the BOM can't be more scripture because of the end of Revelations. So I told him that was just for Revelations and then we gave him a BOM and got a return appointment. We then went to him and he is Iglacio ni Christo (or Church of Christ i think) and he kind of wanted to argue but we were able to mostly slow him down. Then we were talking about authority and stuff, and I showed him Amos 8:11-12 about the apostasy and he was pretty confounded. We used both the BOM and bible and he was actually shaking during the lesson(I think he was really stumped). Then at the end he wanted to meet again this week and he said he wants to bring someone(I am pretty sure he is bringing his pastor). And then it was funny he said you can't use the BOM cuz thats not fair. So we were like well is it not true then? He said no I don't mean to say that, it just isn't fair... Well we weren't gonna do that but we made him a deal. If he honestly and prayerfully read Moroni 10 and then prayed about it, if he still didn't want us to use it then we wouldn't use it. He looked like he honestly was going to do it and he honestly wanted to know if it was true. Besides we can still use D & C and the Pearl right? haha No we will use the BOM or just walk out. We also plan on bringing our favorite ward member. He is a former bishop and the current seminary teacher. He is definitely one of the good guys in the ward. He also isn't shy to tell things like they should be and use the fire and brimstone scriptures. Hopefully the brother just reads and prays about Moroni 10 sincerely. Either way it should be entertaining (is that bad?)

Elder Weaver at the waterfalls...

Tuguegarao zone at the Water falls for P-day!
Today we went out of the town a ways with the district and went to a waterfall and they cooked some food, most of us Americans cooked hot dogs and smores. (btw I am already sick of rice). It was pretty awesome. The Philippines really is beautiful. My vantage point so far hadn't been good because I have been in the town for the most part my whole time and the town is pretty yucky and dirty. But there are some beautiful country side and the rice and corn fields are really cool. Not much else to report on. I am having an awesome time here and I love it. I'll answer the questions and comments from the letters now.

1. Is transfers next week. What's the scuttlebutt? You staying together?
Ya transfers is on the 10th and we haven't heard a thing yet. I hope we don't get transferred yet. I don't want to leave this area or my comp yet. There is still stuff here I want to accomplish. I love the investigators even when they don't keep the commitments and I hope we can help them along. We were talking about the odds of what happens (33% I get transferred, 33 % Elder Weaver gets transferred, 33% nothing happens.) Elder weaver has been here 1 cycle almost 2, and I have been here almost a cycle now. It is not uncommon for either of us to get transferred at the amount of time we have been in our area. It's all up to the lord!

2. Anything you really miss bad from the USA (besides us, I mean food or whatever)?
By far and number one milk of course. Legit B-ball. We have been playing a few times in the morning at 6 but no one else is out. And we haven't played on p-day for 3 weeks, we have been doing other stuff so I haven't played a real game in a while). Watching Jimmer Fredette and football. Supposedly like no one watches the super bowl here. They don't really have a lot of really chocolate here and every one says no where in the Philippines is Dr. Pepper or Reese's of any kind.

3. How's your conversational Tagalog? Can you chat about the weather or whatever?
Uh not my strength to say the least. I am pretty good at talking to people and asking about their family and stuff and then introducing the gospel but I don't know a lot of stuff about that. Every where Ii go though people say one of three things. Hey Joe, Whats you name!? and Ano ang height mo?(whats your height) oh yeah and matingkad ka! (you're tall!)

4. How's the weather? We have been 65 and sunny in the afternoons lately -- perfect!
Its warming up. The afternoons aren't great and I usually get pretty sweaty but the evenings and mornings aren't bad. I usually sleep with a fan on me. (More to keep the mosquitoes off me than to keep me cool)

5. How many missionaries in your mission? How many zones? Is there one area everyone wants, and one area no one wants?
150 or so missionary's. And I think 6 zones. Nueva Viscaria has the banau rice terraces and Santigao is supposed to have really awesome ward help and members. Roxas or Alisha are supposed to be the lamest because there is just nothing cool there and it is far away from big towns with good food and stuff.

6. Tell me more about those breakfast breads and other bakery stuff there. You know I have a weakness for that.
Honestly the pandesal and these little cookies called Krinkles (they are like little chocolate cookies in powdered sugar) are the only thing I like. Pandasal is awesome though. It is dirt cheap too. Donuts are in a few places in town but they aren't that great and a pain to get to( far away and stuff).

7. You and your comp get along well. What kind of hobbies did he have BML (before mission life)?

He is awesome. Really generous and selfless. We have a great time and work hard and try to be as obedient as we can. He was a big time video gamer and skate boarder he said. And flash and other computer stuff.

8. "Saw the pictures of the donuts you guys had. Those looked yummy. Seems like the Carlos' are pretty good cooks. Do you get to go to the mission home every week? It's 2 hours right?"

We didn't have any donuts!! We weren't there! Ya sister Carlos actually is the author of a baking book or something... She showed it to us. That is pretty awesome. No, we don't go to the mission home very often. I went there on my first day and then for the trainer/trainee meeting so I've only been there twice. Both times they gave us awesome food though. The next time we would go there is maybe transfer meeting or on the 12th for zone conference. Our first zone conference the President came to Tueguaro.

9. "Marcus and Laura found out they are having TWINS!!!! I think they are due around your birthday. Super cool, eh?

That is awesome. Tell em – congrats and I am super excited for them!
10. "Do they do Valentines day there? Do they have candy hearts and all the usual stuff we have here?"

Ya they have it but it's not as big a deal here I am told. I haven't seen any valentines stuff at stores or anything.
11. So did you pass the room inspection?

We have never been inspected yet but we are both kind of messy so we kind of need to clean up....

12. I want to see pictures of your place. You'll have to figure out how to mail us some home or something.

Ok i was planning on getting some pictures onto a CD today but our activity took way too long so I got no time left after this

13. Well the weeks keep flying by. Are they for you too!?

Oh yea, i love it here!
14. I have really enjoyed reading your mission mama's blog. You even showed up in one of the photos!!!! You look like you are enjoying your time there. Are you getting to know all the other elders? Are you doing pretty well with the language now?

Ya the language is alright. I certainly have a long long way to go but I've got enough to work with and contribute I think. It really will be a minimum of 6 months before I am there.

Alrighty, Again i love you all and pray for you every day. Glad to hear everything is mighty fine back at home and that the Jimmer is sweeping the nation and that they beat SDSU! Have a great week talk at ya next week!


Elder A.J. Griffin

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 13: Week of Splits


It was kind of a weird week, we went on splits twice (2 full days) so it seems like I haven’t been in my area that much. The next few weeks when we go on splits I’ll be the one staying in the area so that’s cool. We are healthy and working hard. The people are still hard to motivate to church and other commitments but we have 2 solid investigators that we should be able to baptize near the end of the cycle. The language is still hard but I understand a decent portion of what they say and I'm working really hard on getting better at the lessons. I love the people and the work.

So here is the rundown for the week...

Monday night - Got punted from two of our lesson or more... I can’t remember but we just kept trying to teach people and they were all either busy or gone or drunk or whatever. (Btw that is a huge problem. There are so many drunk people’s terrible!)

Tuesday - After Zone meeting (it was cool, President Carlos came and he sent us to buy 500 pesos of pandesal. (which are little bread breakfast biscuits --  they are awesome, one of my favorite things here, the bakeries). 
That is a ton of Pan De Sal -- plenty enough for the whole zone. 

Hot Pan De Sal -  YUMMY!!!!

Then after meeting we went to McDonald’s and went on splits. I was splitting with Elder Cledera. He is pretty cool Philipino, hard worker. He is short so we really probably looked pretty funny.

Highlight of the day was this lady we taught in really bad English said to me "I would like to taste you this mandarin." Everyone thought that was pretty funny. Also that night we taught the Law of Chastity for the first time...
Wednesday - I returned to my area and we had a pretty good day of teaching. Found some cool new investigators (part member family) and the lessons worked out a lot better.

Thursday -  We split again, this time with the zone leaders. It went pretty well. They have a really cool investigator and they are baptizing her next week.  She actually went around with us for like 3 hours and taught parts of some of the lessons. That’s awesome and she isn’t even baptized yet. They said at first she wouldn’t even listen to the missionaries and now she plans on going on a mission 1 year after she is baptized.

That night we found a pretty sweet spider in the ZLs apartment. I'll try to get some pictures emailed next week. He was huge. The middle of the spider (the head or whatever its called) was the size of a half dollar about. And legs were huge too.

The next morning I had to go observe planning with the Zone leader. It was really really boring. Planning is already my least favorite part of the week. It’s that much worse watching someone else plan.

Later that day we taught one investigator then helped to do less active work. It really needs help there. I guess there are 600 members in our ward but the average attendance is around 120. That’s a lot of inactive. A lot of work to be done. The home teaching here is almost non-existent. It seems like the leaders are the only ones that do home teaching, but I guess it’s a lot the same in the states.

Saturday - was a lot the same.  We got in some good lessons and helped less active work.

Sunday -  we only had 1 investigator come to church. It’s hard but I know if we just keep working hard the success will come eventually. The other solid baptism had a decent excuse so we can probably let it slide if they come the next few weeks.

Sunday we went on splits with ward members.  It was kind of weird and the guy I split with didn’t speak much English at all but I actually had to show him how to get to the house. It is kind of cool I have been here almost a month. I don’t feel as helpless and dependent on Elder Weaver. I still have a long way to go though.

Every thing is fantastic and I love the work and the people and all the weird things here (for the most part ha-ha)

Most of all I love you family. I hope all is well, keep fighting the good fight!


Elder A.J. Griffin

Some questions:
1. Have you heard how your area compares to others as far as technology, etc. Are other areas really podunk, third world?

Well our area has people that are about mid-class and all the way down to really, really poor. Like literally a few people I have taught had almost nothing. A shack and a wooden bench for a bed and few flashlights. It’s really pretty humbling. If you head into Central (where MacDonald’s and stuff is) there are tons of little malls and stores and stuff and lots of computer places.  Most people have electricity and a small TV, it seems like. If they are well off they usually have a TV, a lousy computer and few wooden furniture items. But some days I am like jeez this is poor... just what you would picture as a third world country. There are some areas which are more poor than here but there is plenty poor, poor poverty in Linao/Annaufunan. (Oh btw we live in Annafunan West just off the highway, and our area includes the parts of town called Annafunan(east and west) and Linao (North, East, West)

2. Seems like the weather is a lot more pleasant than you thought. You said it is going to get really hot though, right? Sis. Watkins actually had her family send some sweaters and stuff cause she was cold.

Ya, everyone said Tueguaro kind of has the extremes. It was a little chilly the first week (still a lot warmer than St. George is now) at night but now I sleep with a fan because it is warming up. March is when it is supposed to get really unpleasant. I guess from March to October its down right miserable, especially as Tueguaro is said to be the hottest spot in the mission.

3. How much do you think your total $$ output. Could a non-missionary live there pretty cheaply?
Bro Pete (an American living here) says you could live really comfortably with good food, decent apartment, cable and all the essentials for about 300 bucks a month.
We get about 80 bucks every 2 weeks (we have pay utilities, travel and food with that) and we really can get whatever food we want. It would be a bit harder without dinner appointments but we live pretty easily on that.

4. Do you think you will have mostly native comps the rest of the way.  Has Elder Weaver had mostly natives? How is that?
I am Elder Weaver’s second American companion but he says that is odd. We guessed about 7/10 comps would normally be Philippinos... It has its pros and cons. A lot of people try to rip us off but either way it is cool. Just different. Seems like I get sick more with the Philippino comps because I have gone on splits a few times and they always want to eat at sketchy places... On the bright side Elder Weaver said they usually get as sick from that kind of stuff as he did.

5. Do you have an actual address and would you get something if we actually mailed it, or does it go to the mission home?
Everything goes to the mission home, but they disperse the mail as soon as either someone from our district comes to Cauayan or the President or APs come to our area they give them the mail for the area.

6. The Carlos sent us a letter. It was nice. They urged us to urge you to keep the rules. So keep the rules! What are the hardest ones to adhere to?
The rules aren’t too bad. The one I dislike is the rule that you have an 18 year old male present to teach females. Even older ladies. Or sometimes when there are like 10 people in the house it seems kind of unnecessary. But I can see how that rule would be important at the same time. It just forces us to miss a lot lessons.  We either have to track someone down or try to make a return appointment when we have a fellowshipper.

I saw Darren Walker and he said one night his son (Kyler) decided he wanted to change his life and go on a mission, so he is out in California somewhere serving the Lord.  Remember him?

Ya, I actually saw him my last week in the MTC and I was running to gym and I was like what? I did a double take and sure enough it was him. I talked to him for a bit. That’s cool though. That’s really awesome. I am glad he is out there on a mission.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 12: Life is Fantastic...continued.

Kamusta pamillya?

How is everything going?! I still love it here. Pretty good week but we think my comp got food poisoning and I ate the same food and miraculously escaped?? He is better now but he was in very miserable shape for about 2 days :(

So here's the rundown of the week:

Monday was cool we just played ball and wrote letters then bought groceries and taught about 3 lessons that night I think... then my comp Elder Weaver (from Magnolia, TX, just outside of Houston) is the district leader so we have to do splits every Tuesday. So far I really dislike splits, there are a lot of bum missionaries, its seems like.... I hope I am just getting a bad first impression.

But Tuesday wasn't bad we taught 4 lessons after district meeting then we traded comps back because we had trainee/trainer meeting in Cauayan.

Cauayan is 3 hours from Tueguagero, which is kind of lame but sweet because we get to sleep in the bus. Oh and go to SAV-MORE (closest thing to Walmart here). So we had 4 hours of meetings or so, it was actually pretty good and I saw and talked to Sis. Martinez. It was cool we were talking about the drastic culture shock we just experienced. She said she was struggling with the language but I am sure she will do fine, it just takes some time and she said her area is awesome -- lots of baptisms and a really awesome ward that helps them and everything. Oh, by the way, she said her parents read these letters. Anyhow she wanted me to say Hi for her to her family so "Hi!!" ha ha. Going to Cauayaun was cool though. President and Sister Carlos and the Breeses are awesome! There was lots of good American-esque food!

Sav More Grocery, Philippines

So on the way back from Cauayan we got permission to stop in Ilagan at the SAV-MORE and it is pretty awesome. We found real cheese (from Wisconsin, pretty hard to find here the others told me), cereal and milk that was like 50 % real and the best thing I found was Double Stuff Oreos!!! YEA!!

Thursday we had a good day teaching a lot of lessons and then went to our dinner appointment. (We have one every night of the week always now) but this one was pretty sketchy. They bring out the rice ( they eat rice with absolutely every single meal) and a weird gulay ulam vegetable topping - in this case it was some weird red leaves and then some baked or boiled chicken. And then this stuff that looks kind of like beef brisket. Well I knew it wasn't that.

When my comp started telling them it was my favorite food... I was like oh, crap what is it?


Nevertheless, I just shut my mouth and ate all the weird stuff. The beefy stuff was actually pretty good. Then after I was like, alright Elder, what was that? And it was Dinuguan. Which is basically all the stuff we don't eat in chicken cooked in its own blood. Ya, disgusting, eh? Well I ate it. And the next morning my comp deposited it back where it belonged, and I'll stop on details from there, but he was miserable all day Friday and most of Saturday, but we still taught 3 lessons Saturday night. I felt pretty sorry for the guy. He was in a bad shape. There is some irony in that he was telling them that crap was my favorite food and then HE got sick.

It was too bad because we had a lot of lessons lined up and we were really getting in a working rhythm and had a lot of lessons and stuff lined up. I got a lot of good studying and stuff done and I wrote my talk for Sunday. Giving it Sunday was pretty scary. I just wrote down the points in English and then talked about them in Tagalog. It was about how to spiritually prepare for Stake Conference, so I tied it to how we can receive personal revelations and then I gave them 3 things from the Scriptures/Preach My Gospel on how to invite the spirit into their lives. Read everyday, pray always and sincerely live what you learn by following the Savior. I used 2 Nephi 32 quite a bit.

Anyway it was pretty scary and quite possibly the fastest 12 minutes of my life, ha ha. The only other note is our ward is kind of crazy, and it's kind of hard to get them to help us and stuff. 

OK that is pretty much the rundown for the week. Now I'll answer the questions from the emails you sent me. Feel free to send more next week – it actually makes things a lot easier because it it hard to remember all that I want to say on Monday.

Tell us more about your area.
My area is one of the smallest in the mission. It's about 4 miles. It is called Linao and is mostly residential and is a pretty poor neighborhood. On the outskirts on one side is a cool river and rice fields pretty far (I have only been there once).  On another end is a few more fields and the city airport and then one edge just leads to downtown. We are about 2 miles away from downtown and there is a McDonalds, which is like the classiest restaurant in the Philippines and a bunch more fast food chains (mostly weird ones I never heard of). There are tons of street vendors selling almost anything you can imagine and just tons of stores. Whenever we go anywhere we take a Tricycke. Which is a motorcycle hooked to this weird carriage thing and it cost any where from 20 cents to a dollar American to get almost anywhere in town. They are kind of a pain for us to get in. Built for small people.

Tricycle...not really built for Guys 6'2" and 6'5"!!!!

Are the bugs a problem?
Not really yet. I usually try to wear deet but sometimes I forget and I haven't really been bugged. It seems like the only time I get bit is at night so I'm gonna try and remember to put it on before bed. Surprisingly I haven't seen any big scary bugs or really any at all in the apartment. I guess the city is probably better off then some of the other places.
How's the food?
It's alright. My comp and I have a no rice policy in the apartment so we only eat rice at dinner appt and stuff ha ha. I found peanut butter and jelly and Top Raman so I'm set. Neither of us are much at cooking so we eat peanut butter.

Are you sweating to death?
Not yet. Some days its actually chilly at night, but in afternoons tracting it gets pretty warm. Rumor is I need to get transferred before March because Tueguagero is much hotter than the other places in the mission (I heard 100 plus).

Is there anything you need? want? are missing from home and would like to get (that fits in a tiny box and can be shipped around the world?) -- (so you can't put me – mom!!!) Do you have a Frisbee? I couldn't remember if you ever got one. Do they have those there? Do you want one? There are absolutely no Frisbee or footballs in this country at least that I could find. I have the awesome football and that would be sweet if you sent me a Frisbee at some point. But seriously I don't want you to send packages. That's way too much. I am pretty set here. When you do send a package they said to us US postal services. The other ones try to sneak in hidden fees and junk. Seriously though. I would much rather receive real letters than a package.

1. Do you get to play sports/workout. Are there a lot of basketball hoops around?
Ya every P day we usually play ball with the district and if we get up at 6 we are allowed to go play ball till 7. We have been lacking motivation but we are gonna do it at least one day during the week. We were actually gonna go play ball the day that my comp woke up sick.

2. I have your city on Google maps, but don't know where you live. What's your address? Linao is the section of town. We are kind of close to the airport and part of our area is called Annafunan.
3. Tell us more about your comp. What part of Texas? Was he an athlete, etc.?
HE is pretty cool, from just outside of Houston. No he isn't an athlete, but he is tall 6'2”. We are pretty good friends and he was gamer before his mission so we talk about old video games sometimes ha ha. HE is awesome. He has 4 months left so he gets a little trunky every once in a while so I have to slap him around.

4. What do you eat on a daily basis (breakfast, lunch etc.)?
breakfast- usually some orange juice mix, and some lousy fake milk and cereal. or pb and J.
And then for lunch we have pb and J, top ramen, or some thing random. Sometimes we actually make rice, but that is pain and makes a big mess.
dinner- Every night at 8 we have a dinner appt at a member's house. It's usually pretty good. That Thurs night one that my comp got sick from (we think) is the most sketchiest.

5. Do you tract a lot or street greet or what?
When we don't have appts we either talk to people in the street or if we see them doing laundry or working or hanging out we talk to them and sometimes help them with what they're doing and see if they will let us teach them. Lately we have been looking for former investigators from the area book and seeing why they stopped investigating and if we can teach them again. We have picked up a few promising investigators that way.

6. How's your apartment? Do you have a bed that's big enough? Do you have to duck all the time?
Surprising the apartment and bed are long and high enough that I don't hit my head. We have a 2 story appt. with a fridge, real shower and toilet (no hot water though, ya it is miserable getting in there in the mornings.)

7. When's transfers? Every 6 weeks, the next comes the week of the 6th or 12th of February...I think . How long do they usually leave greenies with their trainers?I don't know, I've asked around and I've heard all kind of different answers. Anywhere from 1 to 3 transfers. From what you hear, how does your area compare with other areas? A lot smaller and mostly city unlike most others. Our area is actually rumored to be one of the tougher areas right now. Supposedly they used to have a bunch of stupid missionary's that screwed around a lot and the last 6 months or so President has been trying to fix it with new people that are harder workers. Do you guys walk everywhere or have bikes or cars or what? walk everywhere except when it is kind of far then we take a tryce. If we leave town, we take the bus.

8. Any chance you can get some pictures to us, either electronically or otherwise? Ya i can plug them right in to the computer but I am scared because everyone who has has gotten tons of viruses on their camera that can delete the pics and stuff. But supposedly I can take them to the photo place, get a CD made and try to take the pics from the CD to the email. Or just snail mail the CD but it would take a month at least.

9. Do those cold showers feel good or no? Not yet. During the hot season they will for sure. Now they just are miserable in the morning. Least favorite part of the day.

10. You good for money? Do they give you a mission credit card or what? Ya we are set for money, we have card and we just go to the ATM. The only time I use my money is when I want to buy cool stuff. I can get money out of the ATM from my card if I need to, its like a three dollar fee or 200 pesos.

11. Is the electricity funky there? Does your iPod work? The electricity is fine except that there are brown outs like 4 times a week. They haven't been very long though. And my iPod works great it is awesome to have music back after 2 months of drought in the MTC, ha ha. Of course, church music only!

12. Do you need us to send you anything? nope

13. Is there really no milk? What about goat's milk? No ice cream either? What about powdered milk? Why don't they have cows?
McDonald and fast food has ice cream, and the drug store has weird ice cream that is alright. They have milk that is imported from New Zealand that is like half real/half powdered. but it is expensive and pretty lousy. Same story with powdered. Expensive and lousy. I don't know why they have no cows. I have seen a few here but the cows are like all skin and emaciated and disgusting. They have caribous literally everywhere, even in the middle of town so I don't know why there are no cows.

Filipinos call this cow-like animal a carabao

14. Any other sports updates you want?
Na the only thing it sounds like I am missing out on is BYU basketball.

Well I gotta run,

I love the people and the country and the work
And most of all I love you family!
I pray for you every day, God be with you.


Elder A.J. Griffin

Week 12: Life is Fantastic! (a brief exchange between Dad and AJ)

Notice little Filipino guy in window!!! How cool is that?

Dad:  Hey dude, How's life?!

Elder Griffin: Fantastic!!!  We just went bowling with our district! The bowling alley is weird!  3 small balls about the size of a shot put per frame.  I got 2nd out of everyone and lost in double overtime!

I totally choked! I had one ball left in the first OT and all I had to do was hit one pin and I would win! But guttered!!! Total choke job!!

Dad:  Sounds fun! Was it cheap, cause bowling is pricy here at home!

Elder Griffin:  Bowling is super cheap. They give you a paper with 15 slots for 150 pesos (about 4 bucks) and you can play till its full (like 15 people or 8 people twice or whatever) they dont have machines. A little Philippino guy sets up the pins and rolls the balls back to you.
Sweet eh?

Dad:  OK, looking forward to your letter. Mom is right here reading over my shoulder. We sure miss you. NFL playoffs are going on and the boys watch but they aren't into it like you were. Oh well, you have the rest of your life to watch FB right? Yeah, we are very curious about your everyday life as it is so different from here, I'm sure. Especially since I am drinking a glass of milk right now ;-)

Elder Griffin: Oh you hoser, don't tell me about milk!  Ya, I miss football. The people are really into NBA but no one watchs or knows anything about football. So I don't even have members helping keep updated haha
So what time is it there? Sunday night??
That's wierd its like 1 in the afternoon monday here.

Dad:  It is 10 p.m. We just put all the kids to bed -- Dallas wanted me to tell you about his talk in church today. He did a great job. He wrote about 90 percent of it himself. Can you believe he gets his driver's license in 2 months? He's pretty psyched, but he needs to get a job and he doesn't want to.

Elder Griffin:   Thats awesome, I had to speak in church too :(    It was all tagalog. I doubt it was very good but I think they could understand me. And I was up there for 12 minutes or so. Tell Dallas jobs are sweet because then you get to spend your own money on cool stuff. When I am 6 months away from home or so I need to get some sweet stuff for you all. They will make custom jerserys with your name on it and shorts for about 10 bucks American. and Real pearl necklaces for 20 bucks American. The only cool thing I bought so far is a carabou belt though. about 10 bucks American, completely made with carabou horns. Thats pretty manly eh?
Good job on the talk Dallas!
A Filipino Carabao belt

Dad:  Wait, a belt made from caribou horns? Definitely manly. Can you wear it with your mission attire, or just for p-days, etc?  Do you get to play hoops at all?
I went and talked to Dallas and Bryce and interrupted their scripture study. Thank you SO much for getting them started on that.

Elder Griffin: Ya, There is this old retired American guy, he is actually in our ward, and cooks us American food every Sunday.  He goes to Manilla and gets them for missionarys. I would say half the missionarys in the mission wear them. They are sick.

Ya usually on P-days I play ball. I talk more about ball in the big letter.  That is awesome I am really happy to hear they are reading every night.

NOTE from Andy -- It seems to take around 5-6 minutes after I send an email for him to get it, which means our little exchange of 5 short emails each took most of his p-day hour on the computer. He was working on the "big" letter the whole while. But it is neat to chat like that, even if it is difficult. I got a real sense of him being with me for that hour. The hardest part is the waiting between emails. We aure are PROUD of our son!!!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Manila Temple

One leg of trip from MTC to Cauayan

Airplane food

Week 11: Celebrating the New Year in the Philippines!

Hey Everyone!

A great week here in the Philippines! Early this week we were having trouble finding people to teach but we have been working like crazy and we had an awesome weekend with tons of lessons taught.

Sunday was sad though. We had just had some awesome days teaching but only 1 investigator came to church :( And our solid investigator, Jefferson a 12 year kid who is awesome and has been keeping all the commitments and has a baptism date didn’t show up either so we have to move his date back. At least like 5 people or so committed to church and they all didn’t show.

Its hard, in the Philippines all missions have a standard for baptism of 4 consecutive weeks at church and obeying WofWisdom and LOC and one slip up with WofWisdom or a missed church and the month has to start over. So we are at least a month away from any baptisms now....

Oh the other hard rule is we can’t teach women or children unless an 18 year old male is present so that costs us a lot lessons of people inviting us to teach them but we couldn’t. Plus all the nanay (moms) that you could teach that are just doing laundry or taking care of the house or kids......All the men are at work during the day too.

We did have an awesome lesson Sunday night and then challenged baptism to this cool family -- the Rodriguez family (4 of which committed) but then we ended the night rough when we went to one of our new investigators and she said she didn’t want to hear any more about our church :( "ayaw nila" is what she said which directly translates to I dislike or hate them... talking about our church.

Oh well it’s hard when that kind of stuff happens but we have a lot of new investigators and we will continue to work hard. We truly have an awesome calling and privilege to be sharing the gospel and I love every minute of it even though its hard and crushing when people reject this message that I know is true.

So my comp is awesome. I really love him and think we could be good friends for a long time. Elder Weaver is a spiritual giant and really good at Tagalog plus its cool to talk about and look for stuff like food from America.

Today we played ball for like an hour with our district and then we taught them how to play touch football. It was really awesome. I couldn’t believe it but a few of the native missionaries had NEVER played football before!!! That’s crazy!! Things are so different here.

A fellow-shipper we were working with on Sunday, about 23, said he has never driven a car before. It is really humbling to be here and people are still so generous and kind even when they have literally nothing.

This week I have taught in huts and farms and in the street and all kinds of places...

Oh, my apartment is pretty nice it’s pretty plain... its a two story little house, we have a fridge, a toaster oven and a real toilet and shower, although only cold water, its quite the wake up call. Oh and we have to hand wash our laundry, although Tueguaro has a few Laundromats, where you pay about 3 buck American or 120 pesos and they do it and fold it and give it back to you the next day, so we do that sometimes but I need to learn better how to wash because most areas have no Laundromats.

The first week or so I was here it was really pleasant but all the natives and my comps were "cold" ha-ha it was like 70 degrees or so. It has been a lot hotter this week though and I get kinda sweaty, especially where my backpack covers.

I think I told you this last week but everyone here worships Lebron.  When I talk to them about basketball and ask what their favorite team is they always are like well it was Cleveland but now its MEE ami (Miami). The Philippinos also love The Eagles, Journey and about everything else 80's which is awesome and McDonalds ha-ha.

We have one of 3 McDonalds in the whole mission. Oh and I think their absolute favorite thing is karaoke...Its pretty bad.

There is a surprising amount of English, it seems like everyone at least knows a little bit of English and I guess the church is really pushing for the people to learn English, so they sing in English and about half of their talks are in English. Some only know itwas, illikano or another one I forgot the name or just Tagalog. We only talk to them in Tagalog though. Some words they just use English because there is no tagalong equivalent. I basically can only teach and (that’s limited) and have just a really simple conversation in Tagalog.

A lot of the time I know the words but they talk too fast and I can’t put it together to understand it but I know it will come. I am just going to focus on studying the lessons and words for the teaching first and when I get those down then I’ll try to get more everyday stuff down.

Everything is really cheap here but it kind of equates because we just basically have the amount we need for food and stuff in Philippine money. If we got the same amount missionaries have in the US and other places we would live like kings. But we still can get every thing we need pretty easily. We even found PB and J , and its not too terribly priced (more than other foods but still worth it). They have cereal here but NO real milk and NO real cheese, although my comp did find some real cheese because he had a meeting in Cauayaun. On Wednesday we are both heading to Cauayaun for trainer/trainee meeting and the store in Ilgan is supposed to have real cheese.

I have to give a talk in Sacrament meeting next week all Tagalog (or mostly anyways, you can use a little bit of English if you’re stumped) and this week we will work hard and hopefully we can have more success in getting people to Sacrament meeting.

By the way we saw at least 10 naked kids running around in the streets and heard "Hey Joe!" at least 50 times hahaha!

Well its really different here but I love it!!! I love you all and pray for you every day. I’m sorry to hear that grandpa got hurt and will pray for him too. Pray for our people to come to church!!


Elder A.J. Griffin

Monday, January 3, 2011

Week 10: Arrival to the Philippines!

Kumusta Pamilllya!!!!

I think I have literally travelled to another world.  The Philippines is sooo much different! It is awesome and I love it! This has been like the craziest week ever! I have no clear idea what time it is in Utah, but here it is 11 a.m. Monday morning (note: it was 8 p.m. Sunday night in Utah).

So here is the recap of this crazy week:

L.A. was pretty uneventful.  We just waited around forever to leave.  We finally got on our plane to Hong Kong for our quote "rather long flight" (said the flight attendant) of 15- and-a-half hours. It really wasn’t too bad. It was really, really long and I didn’t sleep very well.  I think about 6-8 hours on and off. 

Elder DeYoung and I talked to this American lady about the church and the plan of salvation. I don’t think she was very interested.  Afterward she put her headphones on for the next 10 hours left in the flight. So that confirmed my feeling ha-ha. We still gave her a pass-along card.

But Sister Watkins and Sis Martinez from my district talked to this Vietnamese lady and she was really interested. They gave a BOM and got her info to give to missionaries where she lives, so that is super awesome.

Anyway, we finally got to Hong Kong. The 28th also never happened. We completely skipped it somehow. Hong Kong was really classy and clean and everything and we met back up with our batch, so that was sweet!  Then we got on our last plane -- about an hour and half from Hong Kong to Manila. 

I was getting kind of nervous and stuff, but then this Filipino guy sat by us and I talked to him in Tagalog and he could understand me and I could understand a lot of what he was saying so I felt a lot better after that (he wasn’t interested in the church at all).

We got off the plane and instantly started sweating. We waited in customs and immigration for like a half hour and then got our luggage and got out of there. (by the way, I really don’t like Manila, it seems like kind of a dump).

After a little bit we found the guy the church sent to get us and apparently all the missionaries were supposed to go to him.  So we had to find the Naga missionaries who had another flight (they thought it was that same day, but it wasn’t until the next day) . We looked for them for a while but couldn’t find them so the guy just took us and I guess he called someone else to find them. I still don’t know if they ever made it to their mission.  The guy took us to the Philippine MTC where that evening we would leave with them to Cauayan that night.

Oh and drivers in the Philippines (in particular Manila) are absolutely insane. It was total chaos. No one obeys stop lights.  No one has any patience and every one tries to pass each other. It is like nothing I have every seen in my life. We should’ve been in like 8 wrecks from downtown to the MTC.  So at that point I learned that for the next two years I am going to be borderline freak status.

I have been here almost a week and I get asked like 10 times a day how tall I am ha-ha. They all were amazed at how white and tall I was. It is funny, like everyone stares at us. So anyway we had a few hours at the MTC so they let me, Sister Martinez and Elder Carpio (he went to another mission, he actually had to stay a night at the MTC) go to a little store a few places down and also take pictures at the Manila Temple. It was really cool and the people were really nice.  The native Philippine elders were all awesome as well.

So we're taken to this sketchy bus station, where like everyone was smoking and the buses would rearrange themselves every 10 minutes in a parking lot much too small. We had to wait there like 90 minutes or so till our bus came.  It was another 10 hours on that bus but I was wasted and slept most of it.

Manila is really crazy there are so many poor people and people living anyway they can live. When I had gotten off the plane I was utterly shocked.

So anyway we finally got to Cauayan and President and Sister Carlos made an awesome breakfast of rice and cinnamon rolls and we had a little meeting and interviews. Then at noon (I think, I had lost total concept of time at that point) we got our areas and comps.

My comp is American (I was shocked, I think it is like 75% native missionaries) and his name is Elder Weaver from Texas. He is awesome and was really excited that I brought a football. He has been out 18 months and is 6'2.  Needless to say, we attract a lot of attention, 2 tall white kids in white shirts and ties.

We are assigned to Tuegeagaro (pronounced TWO Gig -A - Rowe) and it is the biggest city in the mission. It has one of three McDonalds in the whole mission also. (By the way, here McDonalds is like grade A --  like it's like the classiest joint in town, they bus the tables at McDees!)  It’s pretty cool but it was a 3 and half hour more drive to Tuegargo...lame.

All the buses were full so we had to take a Jeepney with about 16 missionaries and a ton of luggage in it. We were so smashed in there. That was the longest ride I have taken. My legs were like falling asleep and stuff.

So I tallied it up, I traveled over 9000 miles this week from Provo to Tuegeagaro. (Aaboput 42 hours of travel time). CRAZY! 

So we had some meetings and stuff the 31st then we did some tracting and we had to be in by 6 because of New Years Eve. And New Years Eve is insane here. We got permission to go and stay with the zone leaders, who are pretty cool. So we were at their apartment waiting for them to come and I passed out and the next thing that happened was they woke me up and it was midnight, and we went on the roof and saw the fireworks.

By the way in the Philippines they start doing fireworks on like 29th and they still haven’t stopped now. And every one has the good fireworks that are very illegal in the states. So on the roof it was insane, Everywhere you look for miles people are shooting off fireworks everywhere and the fireworks go hundreds of feet in the air.  We are talking legit fireworks.  And everyone has them.  It was insane…it has sounded like a war zone here for the last 3 days. 

So the last couple of days we have just been getting into the normal missionary routine. We have one investigator with a baptismal date but no other very close. (The mission goal for the year is 1600 baptisms, or 2 per companionship per month)

The Philippines also has a standard from Elder Oakes because the retention hasn’t been good in the past. An investigator has to come to church 4 consecutive times and obey the word of wisdom/ chastity etc for a month with no relapses before we can baptize them.

We have had 3- 4 dinner appts and they are kind of scary. I have eaten everything they gave, even though some of it has been pretty sketchy ha-ha. I haven’t gotten sick yet. And I have learned how to use the bathroom like a Filipino...ha yep...

Church here is pretty insane as well. I bore my testimony... sacrament meeting is utter chaos. There is like a herd of children that run in and out and then this old guy sung his testimony in  Itwas (a dialect not very many people speak) and a Down Syndrome child was running around spitting on people and hitting them. It was nuts.
I love it here.  It’s so much different from America but the people are awesome and really nice and they all, like literally everyone, loves Lebron for some reason.  They love basketball and most are really poor but really generous.

Surprisingly enough they speak a lot of taglish/engligh. In sacrament meeting they spoke about half and half so it makes it a lot easier to understand. We always talk in tagalog though. It seems like everyone knows English. And they also use English numbers almost all the time. A few times they asked me how old I was and used tagalog numbers and it looked like they had to think about for a sec, so I think they really don’t use the tagalog numbers that much. I don’t think I have heard them use the Spanish numbers more than once or twice. I was under the impression that it was going to be 50/50 tagalog and Spanish numbers.

Well seriously this is a completely different world here but I love it and I love being a missionary. I know the church is true so don’t worry about me, the Lord will take care of us.  I love you all and hope all is well.


Elder A.J. Griffin