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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

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