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Monday, March 28, 2011

Week 22: Transfers -- Elder Weaver heads South!

NOTE: This first part is an exchange AJ and his Dad had "live" by email that concluded at about 2 a.m. Monday morning (4 p.m. Monday in the Philippines):

AJ:   Hey its that time again! I didn't get transferred but I do have a new Filipino comp!
His name is Elder Daquioag. He is from Manila. He is a pure tagalog speaker (tagalog is his first language). He does seem to know english pretty well, but we only talk in tagalog. He is really hard working and just got stepped down from being a Zone Leader for 6 months. He goes home in June, so i might kill him off (be his last comp).
Dad: Hey man, good to hear from you! You think you'll get along well with the new guy. Must be a rock if he was ZL, huh?
Elder Daquioag

AJ:   He is a stud for sure. I really like him. He is really hard-working and obedient. He makes it easier to be obedient.  He is totally addicted to rice -- haha. Today I was getting out some Top Ramen for lunch. He started making rice. I was like, what the heck?  We don't even have any ulam (topping for rice)  We were really almost all out of food. He then said that Top Ramen goes on rice. Haha...
Dad:   Did you fill out your NCAA bracket I sent you?
AJ:   Hey Hey, you didn't think I would forget to fill a bracket out did ya?

I know the tourney is mostly over but I filled it out two weeks ago, and i had my new comp fill one out a few days ago, but he doesn't know anything about the tourney. So we are totally in the contest right?
Dad: Oh yeah, u r totally in the contest! But you would not believe how many upsets there are this year.
AJ:   Here is the pic of our brackets and of Jofferson's birthday! We bought him cake! Yum! And the last day with Elder Weaver :( 

Elder Griffin's  NCAA picks

Elder Daquioag's  NCAA picks
Dad:  How do you say your comp's name?  Oh, and sorry to say that neither one of you has a single team in the Final Four. But that's OK, neither does Grandma, Grandpa, Dallas, Bryce or Katie. Only Mom, Holly and I had UConn in the FF and the other three teams are ... ready for this ... Butler, Kentucky and Virginia Commonwealth.  Crazy year.

AJ:  BTW, your letter from last week never came until this week. I was bummed out last week. but it's cool. I got Dear Elders and a letter from Sis.Watkins but still no real letters from you. Did Dallas get his birthday letter from me?

Dad:  Yeah, I felt really bad that it didn't go through. I never want to let you down. That's why I sent earlier this week. I learned my lesson. Did you ever get the bunch of pix I sent? 
Yes, Dallas got your little package and he has been carrying his little change purse around (hooked to his belt) ever since. He loves his bro!! Speaking of Dallas, he got a job working 2-3 hours a day at Sam Stevens wood shop. You remember Sam Stevens, big Samoan guy who lives in Bennett's old house on our circle. So I guess Dallas will start that tomorrow and he will be made a Priest next week in church. Boy's growing up, I guess. Should get his driver's license tomorrow as well.

AJ:  Oh that's awesome. That sounds like a good job for him. He better keep out a trouble. It's alright about the letter. The Jimmer sound clips you sent me from your radio show were pretty awesome. When I got on today, the front page said that no No. 1 or 2 seeds were left in the touney so i was excited.  I thought BYU mighta made it. Oh well. sounds like they had a good run anyhow.

Dad: Yeah, it was a good year. The best in 30 years for BYU hoops. I have Jimmer's best two games on tivo if they make it that long to when you get home. Of course, he should be playing NBA by then.  Does your comp get on and email his fam like you do?

AJ:   He is on now emailing someone. He said the other day his family doesn't email him very often.  But he is emailing right now, and he gets the big letter from mission president and earlier he was reading stuff on  But I will need to be quicker with my email letter. I'll feel bad if he is just waiting.

Dad:  Are you at some cafe or laundromat or what? You definitely don't want to keep him waiting too much. I'm sure he understands though. You never told me how to say his name ...

AJ:   HA landromat. There are no laundromats in the Philippines. And it took me like three days to learn hot to say his name. Daww KEY wug. Like that.

Dad:  So how do you do your laundry?

AJ:   You get a big bucket, pour in soap and water. throw in clothes and then scrub them with your hands. It takes hours. It sucks. With Elder Weaver we would do about half and then take the other half into a place that will do it for you. Now i just do all of them though. We are in a little internet cafe, btw.

Weaver catches some ZZZs on the way to Cauayan for transfers.
Dad:  We are gong to send a small box for Easter. Any requests? And don't say milk!

AJ:  You could send me a washing machine -- haha. Washing clothes by hand really sucks. Actually, 
Reese's and Dr. Pepper or just Reese's if DP is too heavy. Also Elder Daq. says he wants some chocolate ...  and if they have a small mini-sized D and C. I don't know if that exists or not. Like the new mini pocket sized BOMs except D&C. Either way chocolate is always good.

Dad:   OK, we don't want to make it too heavy, but we will work on that stuff. You want any dark choc or just regular?

AJ: Either way. Chocolate is gold here!

Dad:  We will look for mini D & C. Chocolate is still gold here too ;-P

AJ:  I got shoes last week from an ukay ukay (thrift store), but I still like my old shoes more ha.  It sucks getting money out. It's a 200 peso fee to withdraw (almost 5 bucks).  Well, gotta go. I am sending the big letter. Love ya Dad!

Now the weekly letter:
Hey Hey,

I can’t believe another week is gone. We had transfers and Elder Weaver got transferred to Dupax, Nueva Viscya. The complete other end of the mission. He got an American comp. Nueva Viscya is supposed to be pretty cool, he should get to see Banaue before he leaves and its supposed to be somewhat cool or at least livable down there.

Nueva Vizcaya, Elder Weaver's new area.

As for me I am still here in Linao and I have a new comp. Philippino! His name is Elder Daquioag, from Manila. And he is a pure Tagalog speaker (Tagalog his first language). He does seem to know English pretty well, but we only talk in Tagalog. He is really hard working.

He is pretty awesome. He is really nice and super hardworking and obedient which is awesome. I am always worried about getting a comp that doesn’t want to work or is disobedient. It is really awesome, I feel like I have learned a lot more Tagalog just this week alone. Really now I speak Tagalog 24/7.

This week as far as the work has gone has been really hard and investigators really difficult, but with our extra time we decided to do some less active work.  And with the help of the ward we have helped three families come back to church That was really cool to see.

One family we really didn’t even do anything. We went there, asked if we could teach them, they said no because they had to go sell balut, so we invited them to church. Then the next day the whole family came, the nanay (mom) said during gospel principles how grateful she was for us missionaries and that we were the reason she came back to church and all this stuff. We really didn’t do anything except talk to her and invite her. The best part was she brought her daughter in law (I think) to church too, and we also taught her later that day. She said she almost got baptized in 2002 but decided to be a Methodist. But now she is interested again. The best part is that she already came to church (which is where we met her) and which is the hardest part about the work here.

Our recent converts are doing really good, Michael Rodriguez gave a talk yesterday.  It was very good. The rest of our investigators seem to have been particularly difficult this week, but they have testimonies, they just need to know what to do with their testimonies.

Jofferson enjoying some birthday cake!

I know the church is true and that we are so blessed by living the gospel. It’s definitely been a humbling experience for me living amongst and helping the people here in the Philippines.  There is so much poverty.

So now to the questions. I don’t have a ton of time but I’ll do my best.

Can you get cream cheese and M & M's and stuff there? Do they have regular candy bars?

I haven’t seen nor have a desire to buy cream cheese, but they have M&Ms, but only at a few stores in Centro, and they are expensive ... like a dollar which is relatively expensive compared to snacks from here. I haven’t seen Reese’s or DP here. ... lame!

Are you exercising in the a.m. or do you just walk a lot?Elder Weaver never liked to exercise so I would just do push ups or something, but E. Daq. likes basketball so already we played ball once. We do walk a ton, though.

Did you get any shoes? Are you thinking we need to send some for you?No I got some from an ukay ukay, and Bro Pete is supposed to be bringing me some from Manila. I like my old shoes more though.
1. Anything you wish you'd known before you left that you know now?Eh, not really
2. How's Tagalog. My Spanish is starting to come along.Its alright. I speak it all the time pretty much. I'm sure it's not the best of grammar, and I can't always say exactly what I want to say, or in the way I want to say it, but it's all right.

3. Any radiation news? I heard Japan has some radiated food.None, just in priesthood and sacrament meeting they say how wicked Japan is and the second counselor actually said yesterday from the pulpit, that every one better start repenting and be more grateful because "Personally, I don’t think we are ready!"  yea that was a great sac. meeting ....(sarcasm...)
4. Did you hear that a lot of Japanese missionaries went home early due to the troubles there. Basically all the guys going home in the next 2-3 months were sent home with honorable releases. Also, they are not sending any more Elders to Japan for a while.I didn’t. And that is pretty crazy.

5. Are you confident with the language enough to be on your own? Yeah it's all right.

6. Do you get any exercise in besides walking. Haven't heard you talk too much about hoops.Yeah hoops isn’t as fun here. They just play it different. I don’t know, but I should start playing more often in the morning because Elder Daq likes basketball.

7. Anyone there care about March Madness. It's pretty wild here. Everyone is into it.Only President Carlos and a few other American missionaries. They only care about NBA. They always tell me how great Blake Griffin is. Sometimes I tell them he is my older brother. Apparently there is a UFC fighter that is really amazing because they always say how amazing he is too.

8. Baptisms update ...Our goal for the cycle is 4, its definitely possible, but things are going to have to shake out right.

9. Anything we can do? Should we send a box or some snail mail letters?I’m good. Letters are always great.

10. Are you keeping a journal?Yeah but I am terrible at writing in it. I don’t write in it too often. um...yeah.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 21: Teaching and a trip to the caves

Hey hey,

Jimmer after Gonzaga win. AJ's a big fan
Another great week here in the Philippines! How was your week?! Glad to here the Jimmer is awesome! Hope he keeps it up!

So we had a baptism this week, a cool CSP (service project) where we harvested corn and rode caribaos and an awesome trip to (supposedly somewhat famous) Calleo Caves. And of course sharing the gospel with people everyday! Also, transfer day is on Thursday and word on the street is that one of us is getting transferred, although that is just the gossip. Most likely Elder Weaver will get transferred to his final area of his mission or perhaps I will get transferred and he dies (finishes his mission) in Linao. Or maybe nothing happens ...We will know by noon tomorrow who stays and who goes.

Monday was good last week. We just did normal p-day stuff and then did 2 FHEs -- 1 at Jofferson's and 1 at Leizel's (both recent converts, and young too). And then Tuesday we went on splits.  I stayed in the area and Elder Tangi from Australia came here and we had a really awesome day of work.

Then Weaver and the spilts came and slept at our house and we did a service project at the bukid (fields) starting at 5:30 a.m. (ouch).  We harvested corn and I got to ride a carabao!
Pretty awesome.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were really tough for lessons. Things were just not working out. But we still worked hard with little success. Sometimes ya just have to sigh and let it go. We did all we could. People were just not willing to listen or just gone. On Friday, however, we found a really awesome person.  We were tracting just on the outskirts of Annafunan just at the start of the bukid and met a lady that was sorting out corn to dry. She was really cool and had never met or known anything about missionaries or Mormons (which is actually kind of rare, usually here people at least know what missionaries are).

She was really cool and was taking care of a blind lady.  We will teach them this week before transfers.

Sunday things finally came together and work was good. There is this 14-year old girl, Abigail, that a member has been bringing to church and she has been really hard to get an appointment with, even though she always comes to church.  But after church we grabbed our best fellowshipper and shared Christ's earthly ministry, the apostasy, and The Restoration. That is absolutely my favorite lesson. The Spirit was so strong and it was the first time she had heard about Joseph Smith.

Elders Griffin and Weaver at the Tuguegarao Ward baptism last week.
Before my mission I always took the simple truths like that for granted.  I just have always known it true.  For sure thinking about it logically, there is no way to know. But the Spirit and the witness I have received here in the mission and before doesn't leave me with a doubt that it happened.  It's amazing to share this with someone who has never heard about it and even more amazing when they pray about it and tell you about their knowledge of the truth.

She is really smart and we could see her learning and feeling the spirit as she heard for the first time and then promised she would pray about it later. It's one the greatest feelings in the world.  I think she will be baptized in the next cycle.

I also have a testimony of how the Lord works in small and simple ways like it says in Alma 36. When I was in the MTC sometimes I would just be frustrated and I was sure I would never speak this language. But sure enough, here I am speaking it, although it hasn't come quickly and it hasn't been easy.

And I still have a long way to go, but it is coming! And the people understand and can feel the spirit of the things we teach. I can understand most of what they say, too. I know that through the small and simple things, great things truly come to pass!

Also about a month ago we challenged Jofferson to read the BOM (which is almost 800 pages in tagalog) and if he did we would buy him a cake. Well his birthday is the day before transfers and he is only about halfway there.  But he has read like crazy and has really been impressive and motivating.

So we are gonna get him a big cake for his birthday. He is so awesome and really an inspiration to me. He is only 12-years old, but he has such an amazingly strong testimony and motivation to do good things.  I am amazed at how fast he has read.  He also promised us he would continue to read the Book of Mormon.

I started at the same time as him in tagalog and he is at Alma 16, while I am only at 2 Nep., Ch 3.  He, although young, has been truly prepared by the Lord to receive the gospel.  He will be a great missionary someday (convert missionaries are usually the best ones, right?).

AJ receiving a vision (?) in Calleo Caves. (click any picture for a larger view)
 Today we went to the Calleo caves. As a zone we got a jeepney and went to Penablanca and up in the mountains a little ways.  It is really beautiful and awesome sight all the way there. Then we went in the big caves and there is a cool spot where the sun comes in really cool and a chapel type thingy in one of the chambers. Those caves were really cool and big open. Then we went in these other caves, probably more like Timpanogas, except not tourist-ee and quite a bit smaller but a lot longer. It was pretty cool and was really dark. It was a fun activity and our last time to hang out with our friend Elder Ferrer, who is completing his mission now. He has been ZL for my whole time here in the Philippines and now he returns home to southern Luzon.  We will miss him.

Well I love my time here in the Philippines and know that this church is true and was restored through Joseph Smith.  I know that God loves us and wants each one of us to be happy, so he sent his Son to make that possible for us.  And if we follow the gospel of Jesus Christ we will be happy and watched over and blessed. It is guaranteed.

I love you and miss you, but I know this is where I need to be and that there are lives that are ready to be changed here in the Philippines. I pray for you every day and hope all is well. Have a great week and keep the faith!

Love Elder A.J. Griffin

Here are some more of AJ's P-day pictures:

The Tuguegarao Zone at the service project. 
Last P-day with Elder Weaver, most likely.

Hi everyone!

The "Chapel" inside Calleo Caves.
International man of mystery
Cue the Mormon Tabernacle Choir music
Gee, which one is AJ? Oh yeah, the one a foot taller than everyone else!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week 20: No tsunami news is good tsunami news

Hey Everyone!

How is your side the world? I guess Japan isn't doing too great and from what I've heard we are all gonna get radiated? That wouldn't be very fun ...

Speaking of which, on Friday we were on splits when the ZL called us and we had to drop everything run to town and get supplies and then run back to our apartment and stay in the rest of the night.  Some Elders from Solana (about 30 mins away) also stayed with us.

We were supposedly on earthquake and tsunami warning. It was kind of intense ...  but then nothing happened. Not even a drop of rain fell or anything. So that's good. I think we are only about 1 mile from the Cagayan River, so if something real crazy happened we might have been in trouble. Our landlords left for higher ground right when this was happening. So that was comforting -- haha.

We had two Community Service Projects (CSP) this week in our area. We helped this guy in our ward dig a big pipeline so they can get good water (kind of, still city water, which still probably should be filtered) to his house and his neighbor's house. It was pretty cool and we were blessed with some pretty nice weather Tuesday.  The pipeline was 3 feet deep, a foot wide and 150 meters long.  It took most of that afternoon.

I definitely think the Lord prepared a way for this to be done because on Monday it was blazing hot and hadn't rained for weeks and the ground where we were going to dig was rock solid. Then it rained Monday night and cooled everything down and softened the ground so it was possible. I think that is tender mercy of the Lord because it would have been a lot lot harder if it had been hot and the ground still hard.
It was kind of a hard week for work as we had 2 CSPs and that day of lockdown. Plus almost all day Saturday we were at the other ward's baptisms (Elder Weaver interviewed all the candidates, so we had to go to all of them).

And then on Sunday we just kept getting punted like crazy. It should've been a great day, but we were only able to pull down 3 lessons.
AJ's pic of the Cagayan River

Saturday, like 5 mins before one of the baptisms they asked me to speak. President Carlos and the A.P.'s were there too, so that was kind of nerve-wracking.  Then that night we were about to go to bed early at 10, when the bishop texted and needed us to speak in church the next day. So we had to come up with talks instead. Oh well. It was alright. I talked about becoming a member-missionary and what things everyone could do -- yeah, I know,  referral advertising,  haha.

We got inpected on Wednesday. Our house was pretty clean (they told us an exact time and day a week before).  But we only got Terrestrial grade because our floor was kind of dirty. Oh well. We still got Snickers bars. Yea!

1. How hot is it now?
Depends on the day. Afternoons are pretty miserable but when the sun is down (at 6) it is pretty pleasant. It should really be heating up soon. Some days we feel it full fury, but some days it's pleasant.

2. Mom wants to know what happened that you took 50 bucks out of the bank. I told her it was for shoes, right?
Yeah, but I havent been able to find any yet though.  I bought some other stuff like a smaller bag and a real spatula, because we didn't have one.  Bro. Pete is going to Manila in a few weeks to look for some for me. I might need to get a bit more out depending on what he finds and how much they cost.

3. Tsunami news. Did it affect you at all? Not really -- See above.
4. Investigator updates -- Next week we will be baptizing 10-year old Leizel (she passed the interview Saturday). Our other investigators have had some problems so we had to reset some dates. We had four investigators at church Sunday , which is our best ever. They are all young people though (10, 14, 14 and 16).  It's hard we have lots of adult investigators but they just haven't been progressing. We are just trying to make sure they have good support and stuff so they don't go inactive. That's the hard part about child baptisms.  We honestly are trying to avoid teaching kids but in 2 of the families, the parents have gone to work or just plain disappeared to far off places.  But the kids still keep commitments and want to be baptized. I guess if they are the ones prepared then that's what we need to do. We just make sure they have good support, friends, hopefully family members in the church and help them gain strong testimoneys.

5. You look skinny in the photos. Are you eating good?
Yeah, it's all good!

6. Anyone here you want us to contact for you?
Not that I can think of now. Did Dee or Dustin ever get married -- haha?
And what is Taylor's email?

7. Who else is writing to you? Do you have time to answer them all?
This week I got letters from Marcus and Jonny (cousins).  That was awesome to hear from them. Also tell Marcus I got the tie right before I left the MTC and I also sent him a letter right before I left.  But I am not sure if the address was correct.

8. Have you been able to see the blog? Are you allowed? If so, go to
Um, I dont know if I am allowed, but I just did. It looks pretty sweet. Good work.

9. You are about 16 percent done with your mission. Has it gone fast for you?
Yes and no. For sure it has been fast but then again I can't hardly remember life before the mission anymore. I love it though. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

Alright next week -- Ulit!

Love ya all!
Dont get radiated!
A.J. Griffin

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Warning!

Hey Everyone,

Just to let you know the earthquake and tsunami in east Asia was very close to the Philippines. The whole country is under a tsunami warning as I type this. Pres. and Sis. Carlos hvae moved all the missionaries near the rivers and ocean to higher ground, though I am not sure if this affects AJ or not. His mission Pres. had a post about the tsunami warning. We will update you if we hear any more.

Also, the President and his wife came to visit Tugeugarao and included this photo of AJ, taken during a role-playing discussion at district meeting.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Week 19: Splits and Spiders

Hey Family!

Kind of a long week but good. I had to go splits on Wednesday while Elder Weaver went to Cauayan for leadership meetings. Pretty good week only highlights were:

Weds on splits -- tons of huge spiders at the apartment I was at and we taught quite a few lessons. The people all liked me and they were all confused about where this huge white giant that speaks Tagalog came from ;-)

Friday to now I have had a pretty bad cold. Some of our baptisms are getting postponed as the people aren't quite ready for one reason or another. Pretty boring week. Weaver had baptism interviews almost all day Saturday so I got extra study time. We've just been working hard and nothing spectacular has happened.

We followed up once on the family that had the kid die (motorcycle accident) but everyone was drunk. That seems to be the biggest problem. Everybody loves to play poker and drink, usually at the same time. This country is kind of ridiculous sometimes. Little kids can buy alcohol, cigarettes, whatever.

We also saw this really young kid driving a tryce and I was like: what the heck?! So I said, "Ilan taon ka na?"  -- How old are you?!  -- He said he was 12. Oh well.

Well that's about it, just working and trying to help people see what the gospel will do for them if they can change their lives.  Seriously so much of the poverty and broken families and drinking and all the problems would just disappear if people would follow this gospel.

I know it's true and I know that God loves each one of us and if we do what he says we will be the happiest here on earth. There is no substitute.

Alrighy here is comments and questions from the letter:

**** From Mom****

Filipino squid
AJ's baked potatoes
"Are you not supposed to eat the veggies like the health dept lady said? (not that it would bother you if you couldn't!!!)?" They say peel it, boil it or cook it and it's alright. I just eat what members give me and lately we have found that baked potatoes are really awesome.(I sent a picture).

Have you had problems with bugs biting.  That seems to be another issue.  Are you still using the toxic bug killer you took with you on your clothes and sheets?  Does it help? 
There are a lot of mosquitoes, but not really at our house. I have a bottle of bug spray in my backpack. If bugs start bothering me, I spray some on right there. I haven't put more permithern on my clothes but i use it in the house and we don't see very many bugs.

So are you doing just fine with the foods and they haven't gotten you sick or are you just not sharing with us that you've been sick?  I'm kind of thinking of you as IRON GUT AJ!"
No, I'm just careful and the Lord blesses his missionaries. I just eat at members houses or fast food or at home. I am gonna stay humble though. Weaver says he never got sick til his third cycle. I luckily avoided some squid this week . It was a close call. Ialmost had to eat some.  All our members except one dinner appt give pretty decent food except this one family. They have given us dinguan several times and this last week squid, but I was able to avoid it. On the bright side this week, I made Cowboys and Indians (bread and eggs) baked potatoes and brownies from this brownie powder pack i found at the store! Yea!

We've been having fun with the young women and are doing some real missionary work. This week we had 6 girls out for Wednesday activity.
That's awesome Mom. I know you felt really overwhelmed with the calling, but it sounds like you're doing a fantastic job and you will make a huge difference in their lives. One thing I definitely noticed is what a huge affect one good person can have on those around them. Good work, keep it up. By small and simple things, great things will come to pass!

The girls started soccer this week and Katie made the first goal of the year for her team!!!  They won 7-0.  Holly played goalie and no scores were made while she goalied.  After she was done a goal was made and the game ended tied.  After a kickoff her team lost.  But it was close and fun."
Go Katie and Holly! I've never made a goal in my life in a game so she is already better than me! And sounds like Holly is a professional goalie.

OH! and last week i loved the pictures from the girls. I checked them out , but forgot to write about them. Good job sisters! I really appreciate it!

Did you finally get you some new shoes?  (I noticed you took out some $ so I was hopeful you had!!!)I looked for shoes, but none even close to my size. I talked to Bro. Pete, (a retired American and member in my ward) and next time he goes to the temple in Manila he will grab some for me. Also he said if I try the ukay ukay (thrift store) they sometimes get stuff from America, and if they have my size i should be able to barter it really cheap.

Oh by the way I love bartering for stuff. Its pretty fun. Last week I bought some wood carved stuff and I bartered them to half the marked price! Yea. They probably still ripped me off but the bottom line is it only cost less than 2 bucks American.

****From Dad**********
Elders Griffin and Weaver with a Filipino family
1. I got my Rosetta Stone for Spanish and am working hard at learning it. Any advice on learning a new language? How's that coming for you?Thats cool, learning is really hard.. Just talking it to other people, no matter how little you know is the best way to solidify it. I feel a lot more comfortable with the language. And this week it seems like teaching has become a little easier and I can have simple conversations with anyone. Sometimes I get behind though. It's alright though. I feel alright with it. Now I am just learning more and more vocab and working on the conjugation (seems like the hardest part of tagalog). I don't know what the sentence structure and conj. is like in spanish but I do know quite a few of spanish words now.

2. You get those new shoes? We could probably send you some if you think that would be better.Not yet but hopefully should have some in a few weeks. If worse comes to worst, I'll have you send some, but I am O.K. for now and I think I should have some new ones soon.

3. You doing other stuff in the ward like teaching priesthood or anything?Sometimes we teach gospel principles class but that's about it. We probably should teach them how to home teach better. They did a FHE last week at this less active members house and their lesson was almost 2 hours long! That is not how to get someone back to church. It was pretty boring too....

4. How many gringos or Americans do you know there?One that I really know, Bro Pete. He is really awesome -- a retired army guy who has a Filipino wife. He serves in the stake high council and doesn't really know any tagalog. He goes to Manila to the temple all the time and then picks up stuff for missionaries (like shoes or carabao belts). We have met like 5 other Americans (maybe just visiting, but they were serious losers). I think the Philippines only takes in reject Americans (with a few exceptions like Bro Pete and I am sure a few others).

5. Do you have mountains there? I know there are some in the NE. Can you see them or go to them?
Rice terraces in the mountains of the Philippines

Ya there are mountains all around us off in the distance. Last Thurs on splits i worked in a city that was kind of up in the mountains. The mountains are kind of far off though. I would like to go hiking up there.

6. Any message for your brothers and sisters? They miss you very much.I miss them too and wish I could be there but I know that this is where i need to be. This place is really strange but fun. We are really lucky to have such awesome parents. A lot of people have really terrible parents here and have literally nothing. Do what's right and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have fun and enjoy life. Cheer on the Jimmer for me. And drink milk! Love you and I am praying for every day

7. How big is your district? Do you have District meetings or just zone meetings?Zone meeting is like once a cycle, zone conference (in cauayuan) is every other cycle and our district has 8 elders and 2 sisters. Everyone in our district works inside of the city.

8. Does Sis. Carlos cook for you guys every time there's a meeting? She seems like quite the mission mom.Yes, although I dont go to Cauayan very often. But food is usually awesome at the mission home

9. You ever have pizza out there?There is one pizza place called greenwichs. Its kind of expensive and not that great. McDonald's is better.

10. Anyone in your mission from Utah or more specifically southern Utah? Yeah, lots from Utah, and Elder Katoa is from St. George. He is training someone right now and he is a cousin to Isaac Katoa (from Pine View) I think. He is pretty cool. I have only talked to him like twice though. He was supposedly a stud at Dixie football a few years  ago..

I've learned so much on the mission so far and it is truly a life changing expericence. It is also something that is so rewarding ... I dont know how to tell dallas that but it is something he cannot miss.

Love ya!!!

Till next week
Elder A.J. Griffin