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Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 35: The power of coconut juice

Sunday conversation with AJ (via email at
AJ: Hey pops. hows the life?
DAD: Hi! How's it going?
AJ: Pretty darn good! How ya all doing there? Funny story. President Carlos texted us Friday and told us that Jimmer got drafted #10 and ended up in Sacramento in a three team trade. Our mission president is the MAN!
DAD: Did he just text you or the whole mission? That is pretty funny. My old mission Prez would not have done that, although he did buy tickets for the entire mission to see BYU play Temple U. at Veteran's Stadium in Philly
AJ: I am pretty sure it was just me, cuz he knows I love BYU. And every time I see him he just tells me about Jimmer stuff and wants to talk about BYU. He is pretty awesome.
DAD: Yeah, me and Katie and Holly watched the draft and booed really loud when Sacramento took Jimmer. We wanted the Jazz to take him. (Dallas and Bryce were at Grandma's).
AJ: That's too bad. That woulda been cool if he got on the Jazz. The Jazz shoulda manned up and took him at 3 – haha.
DAD: Some people were saying that who called my show, but there were a few really good players that they couldn't pass on, but it sure would be nice to be able to see his games. Colin Cowherd said, “Well that's goodbye to Jimmer, we'll never see him again now that he's in Sac'to.”
AJ: Didn't they just draft a white 7-footer last year. Sounds like another soft post like Mehmet Okur? I don't know though. I have been out of it for 8 months now.
DAD: This Kanter kid is supposed to be a stud. He throws down hard!
AJ: Did my letter to Bryce ever make it?
DAD: Nope, sorry, maybe in the mail tomorrow. He is right here though.
AJ: Oh well, happy birthday bro! I sent you something pretty sweet if it ever goes through the mail!
DAD: Bryce gives a half-hearted hooray … He has a hard time picturing it in his head. He is more excited about getting his learner's permit in the morn, I guess. He wants to put into practice what he's learned on Test Drive Unlimited ... heaven help us!!!!
AJ: Ya. You're probably gonna have to teach me how to drive again too. Yesterday this rich guy worked with us and we rode in his car. It was weird being in a real car. Oh, by the way, he said he used to always feed missionaries and then apparently Elder L. made him mad so he didn't feed us while Elder L. was here. He fed us last night though. And he is going to feed us always again. He was telling us about how full of himself and arrogant Elder L. was. Kind of funny. A lot of people here really dislike Elder L. It's too bad I missed out on an awesome dinner appointment every week because of him.
DAD: Yeah, what a bum! You cannot be a good missionary and be arrogant. Humility is a big part of miss. work, as you know. Unfortunately, there are a lot of arrogant elders.
AJ: Yeah. What comes around always goes around for guys like that though. It's cool with this guy in the ward. I think he is always gonna work with us and drive us wherever on Sundays now. Cars are so fast. I am used to riding in buses and Jeepneys that go like 30 miles an hour and stop every 2 minutes to pick someone up. They seriously drive me insane. It takes so long to get places.
DAD: I got pulled over Friday for going 86 in a 75 zone. He didn't give me a ticket. I think he just wanted to bust on a sweet red Mustang. I seriously thought I was only going 83, but he said otherwise. It was an unmarked car that I passed.
AJ: Wow Pops, you're lucky! Tickets blow. Elder Balaich is making me trunky. He is registering for classes at BYU (President told him too, haha). Mom should figure out how hard it will be for me to get into BYU.
DAD: Wo, wo, wo! Hold on there fella, you still got 16 months left!
BTW, how do you say Balaich? Buh-lake? Ball ache? Buh lashe? What?
AJ: Ball-liche. Philippinos sure aren't capable of saying it. Emphasize the “CH.”
DAD: like Ball leash? OK, that is a kind of funky name. What is it from, what country? Oh and Mom really wants you to say what you want in your box we are sending.
AJ: He is from Colorado. His name is from Croatia. The packages: Just send lots of Reeses and PB M&Ms and mixes of food again. Just chocolate and food mixes is really all. Oh and do you still have that shaving oil? Shaving cream is really expensive her. That would be nice.
DAD: That makes your mom happy to hear you requesting things. She ran out of ideas, but not room.
AJ: Yeah. Chocolate is always appreciated!
Craziest experience of the week. So on Wednesday, we had splits. I was with Elder Tangi (good friend of mine from Tug.) and we just got done teaching a family we tracted out (they seem to be pretty cool, by the way). We are going across this bridge and we see this Tatay (or dad) of this member family. He isn't a member, but he is always way nice to us and loves Americans. So he asks us if we want some Buko juice(coconut) and we're like... okay where? So says “Over here.” So we thought he had a friend or something, but he brings us to this grove of coconut trees and pulls out a ring of 6 straws tied together and starts climbing the 30 foot coconut tree. The man is like 70-years old! He gets a quarter of the way up and the straws break. So he comes back down and starts looking for something else to use. We are like “No, it's all right, it's all right. He eventually grabs a piece of cauayaun (bamboo) and a plastic bag and ties them all together and then climbs the tree and knocks down 4 coconuts. Then (maybe the most funny part of the story), he tells us in really bad English (he only know how to speak Ilakano and bad English) that we will be more manly if we drink the coconut drink. He is crazy and hilarious eh?

Hey family,

Well it's been raining for about week now, it seem like. It's pretty cool and pretty nice temperature most of the time. It even gets pretty cold at night. We usually get woken up and have to turn off the fan because it's too cold.

Pretty good week: we had a baptism, some funny experiences and we finally made the brownies you sent me back in the day. Elder Edwards (General Authority) came and we had a really cool spiritual meeting and training from him, and I found Sweet Baby Ray'ss bbq sauce for way cheap. I was shocked to see it! And on the way outta Santiago I was able to grab some Dr. Pepper!

So first the baptism. So this Nanay Fontiveros (nanay = mom, we call every one mom or dad or brother or sister) of a part member family that has been taught for over a year and could not kick the cigarettes was finally able to do it. When I got in Aritao, she still smoked 1 cigarette per day and then last cycle she got close. She went 3 weeks straight without a cigarette, but then she had one and she had to start over pretty much. But she finally made it a month and was baptized Saturday. I'll try to send pictures, but my card reader isn't working today. I think I need to buy a new one.

Elder Edwards was really awesome and talked about laying it all on the altar as missionaries and just being willing to work as hard as we can and give up our little problems with rules or whatever and fully committing to our missions. He is a really nice and intimidating at the same time. But I learned a ton. The best part was I didn't have to give a talk or get interviewed by him :-)

Now I'll answer Bryce's birthday edition of the Q & A:
  1. What's the craziest thing you've seen so far?
    Man, I don't know. Things just like seem normal to me now. All the time stuff happens and we are just like, “Yeah, we are in the Philippines. Lets see ... I've seen more drunk and gambling people than I think there are in Vegas. I rode a jeepney past a bus that just rolled, and saw people that were still climbing out. That 70-year old dude climbing a coconut tree was pretty crazy.
  2. What's the weirdest thing you've eaten?
    The dinugan was pretty bad. The other day these people gave us chicken toes. I didn't really eat it though. I couldn't do it. It looked like little baby hands.
  3. Dude, do they have like real toilets there?
    At the church is pretty much the only one. Most people have like little bowls that suck if you pour water down them.
  4. Do you have a problem with your budget? Do they give you enough money for everything? Yeah, it's all right. But if you ever want anything American-food wise, you pretty much have use personal money.
  5. Do you pay fast offerings and stuff? Ya, fast offerings, but nothing else.
  6. Have you worn a man-skirt? Does anyone wear those?
    No one wears those. Some Tongans have them that they wear sometimes just in the apartment. That's all I have seen.
  7. Dad is making me mexi food and cake for my B-day. Do you ever get stuff like that there?
    There is like no mexican food here. I miss it bad. I have had cake a few times here. It's expensive though.
  8. Does everyone stink there?
    Surprisingly, not really. They take lots of bucket showers.
  9. Any hot chicks in the Philippines? Be honest.
    Really, at least for me, almost none.
  10. How bad do you miss cheese and milk (scale of 1 to 10).
    Twelve! I miss it bad!
  11. Do they have hamburgers? Are they made of dog or something?
    Yea, they do. I don't know what they're made of, but it isn't dog. They're not very good. You have to go to Macdos to get a good hamburger. I have also seen some good meat at Save More. Also legit, bratwrust but I haven't bought any yet. They are like 5 dollars.
    Love ya!!! Gotta go!

    Have a great week.
    Elder AJ

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 34: Football and a new companion

AJ got a new companion and stayed in Aritao. He is so excited about both those facts. Or Sunday night conversation:

AJ: Hey Dad!
We just got done playing football in your honor! We had transfers and I couldn't have asked for a better companion!
DAD: Awesome. You have to teach some Filipinos how to play?
AJ: Only one. This is like the American District -- 7 Americans 2 Polynesians and 1 Pinoy.
DAD: So did you stay there and get a new comp? What's your comp's name?
AJ: Elder Balaich, from Colorado Springs. My first zone leader in my first area. We have been good buddies my whole mission. We were so stoked! This is his last cycle too. So I will be in Aritao for a while . AWESOME!
DAD: You're killing him off? Wow, that might make you a little trunky ... Is he a rock? Even rocks get a little antsy at the end ...
AJ: Yeah he seems ready for the duration. We have some sweet plans this cycle, though. We are gonna hit up some waterfalls, hit up Banaue (supposedly there is an even cooler part I haven't seen yet) and just work really hard. He is pretty awesome.
DAD: Sounds awesome! What did they do with Lim?
AJ: He is a Jr. again to a district leader. He is in Santiago. I don't really know anything about his comp or area. His comp is Filippino though. Our branch as it turns out really had a hard time with Lim, too. They keep talking to us about all the dumb stuff he did. It's kind of funny.
DAD: Well, hopefully you won't have too many other comps like Lim and you will look back and remember a few good things about him, probably.
DAD: Cool pix, you just took those? You literally played in a cow pasture, eh? No one got hurt?
AJ: Yeah, this was all there was. And luckily no one got hurt. We had some victims of cow pies though. There was also a cow that wasn't too happy we were there. But it was fun. I was thinking about you too!
DAD: Cool. I haven't played football in awhile, but have been to a few semipro games the past few weeks. Too bad real football doesn't start here for two more months.
AJ: Cool. How has Father's Day been? Breakfast in bed? Sorry I didn't send you anything. I realized last week and it takes like a month for anything to get sent. I haven't done anything yet. I feel bad. How was it, though?
DAD: Well, I had a 7 a.m. bishopric meeting, but then came home at 8:30 and Bryce had made me breakfast and they got me a few presents. Then I got a nap before church. Later, we went to G'ma's and had ribs and cheesy potatoes. It was pretty good. Been a good day.
AJ: That sounds like heaven Dad!!! YUMM!

AJ's mom going down the slide at girls camp.
DAD: Your Mom sure is hammered -- she is over there sleeping like a baby. Camp wore her out big time.
AJ: I bet. Especially with all the girls waking her up in the middle of the night and her sleeping on the ground.
DAD: Here are some pix of your mom at camp.
AJ: Thanks for the pics. Love ya dad! We are out of here!
DAD: K, love you be good!

Dear Family,
Well, transfer day was totally awesome. Until Thursday, Lim was driving me even more crazy than usual, but I was like “One more day...” Then finally I woke up Thursday morning and I was like “YES I DID IT!” We had a 4-hour bus ride and then had transfer meeting.
Elders Balaich and Griffin
On Tuesday President Carlos was in Solono and told me I would be getting a new companion. He said my new comp would be "one of the very best... the difference between night and day ... and someone about to finish their mission." So then we had it narrowed down to a few people and I was really hoping it would be Elder Balaich. I saw him right before transfer meeting and President said he was going to Aritao! So this is pretty awesome and we had some really good days working already.
So Nanay Fontervarious (the one with problems with cigarettes) is now at the longest she has been clean. She hasn't smoked for 3 weeks, and 6 weeks with only 1 cigarette). She passed the baptismal interview, so on Saturday she can be baptized. I read something that said that the 1st month clean is where the hardest temptations come, so I think she is in the clear and she has been coming to church for over a year, so that is really awesome. She is finally kicking it!
Sunday, like all our investigators didn't come to church for some reason. We had over 7 all last cycle each week and only 2 came yesterday. It was raining pretty good. Elder Balaich says that people just sometimes won't come if it's raining. Kind of frustrating. But its all right. We'll get em next week.

Things are great and I am excited to learn a lot from Elder Balaich and, yeah, things are good. We are going to Solono right now to grab some material so we can make pants and grab some McDonald's, too!

Tomorrow we have Zone Conference in Santiago (3 hours away) and Elder Keith R. Edwards of the 70 and president over the Philippines area will be there. Should be pretty cool, but I am a little scared. Everyone has to prepare talks on 3 different subjects and we might be called randomly. Supposedly he might interview random missionaries and other people said it's really scary getting interviewed by him.

Love ya all. Things are great here.

Q and A
1. Tell us all about your new companion.
Elder Balaich, from Colorado Springs -- my first zone leader in my first area. We have been good buddies my whole mission. We were so stoked! This is his last cycle too. So I will be in Aritao for a while. too. AWESOME! He is really obedient and really hard-working, so I am really happy. We can work hard together.

2. Shoes? We bought you some new shoes. How long do you think they will take to get there? Anything you'd like us to add to the box to send you. How are your shoes holding up?
The shoes I got repaired are really nice. There is this Ukay-Ukay (thrift store) in Bambang that supposedly has big shoes from America, so I am going to look for some there. Maybe hold off for 1 week. Let's see if we can find some. I feel bad cuz it costs a fortune to send anything.

3. I have had a half-dozen people comment on how much they enjoy reading your blog. Do you have any messages for your blog readers? Keep on keeping on!!! daw...
4- The weather maps show a really big storm in your area...did it hit? Or is it still coming? How has the weather been?
Really really rainy. We are just in the mountains so nothing really happens except lots and lots of rain. We are supposed to be really safe here. Tuguegarao was supposed to get the brunt of the storm. But I'm not there any more :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 33: Nachos and King Benjamin!


AJ: Hey Dad! How is it going on the other side of the world?
DAD: What's going on son? Everything ok there?
AJ: Survived the week. Transfers is on Thursday morning. We find out tomorrow if and where Lim is going. But it's almost done and a transfer is almost for sure...
DAD: What do mean "almost for sure"?
AJ: The ZL's told me that President Carlos is really ticked at my companion and they said he is pretty much for sure transferred. This week I got to go on splits in Bambang with Elder Pincock (the ZL) from Sandy. It was pretty awesome. He is really cool and we found some cool people tracting. We also had a baptism Saturday! Oh, by the way, Elders Daquioug and Weaver go home on Wednesday! Holy Cow!
DAD: Awesome! Sounds like you're doing all right. Hey the Dallas Mavs just won the NBA title! Won the last three games in a row after being down 2-1.
AJ: That's pretty cool. Lebron still couldn't win one with the super friends -- haha
DAD: Yeah it was sweet. Lebron was kinda lousy. Dwyane Wade kept them in it. But no doubt, Dirk Nowitzki is the mvp.  He was pretty awesome.
AJ: Yeah everyone here has been watching. I've seen little bits and pieces. I saw Dirk do some pretty sick stuff. He is pretty old now, isn't he?
DAD: He is in his early 30s. Jason Kidd is their point guard and he is 38. He's almost my age!!!  Hey, do u still think u might train next cycle?
AJ: I don't know. Hopefully. We found out the emergency transfer almost happened. That would have ended up me follow-up training a pretty new Filippino and my companion becoming Jr. to a missionary with only like 2 cycles left. But it didn't happen. Maybe I should of let it happen. Oh well. We'll see what happens. Whatever happens, I am happy with a transfer. I've more than had it with my companion. I wonder why he is even on a mission … 3 more days.
DAD: You can make it. Although I got stuck with Jones (name changed) an extra month when I was sure we were gonna split up. The dude was nuts. Pres. told me later that he thought I was the only one that could handle "Psycho" Jones. “Thanks a lot,” is what I told him. On the bright side, I had my best comp (Elder Bell) right after Jones, so I guess the Prez felt sorry for me.
MOM: Hey this is Mom. Dad's driving, I'm texting. Weird huh?  Worried lots bout you. How long has your comp been out?  Shoes yet?
AJ: None shoes yet. My comp has been out over a year. How was Grandma's house? I miss you all. And I really miss going to grandmas and eating tons of food.
MOM: What's up with shoes? Grandma's was great. BBQ and pie.  Miss having you with us, but so proud of you for enduring tough times. So you ok?  First time I've really been anxious over you.  Just want you to be happy.
AJ: Oops, I just used Tagalog grammar in English. I wrote wala pang sapatos or none shoes yet, literally, haha. That's ugly in English.  Don't worry about me. Despite how hard it's been, I've learned a ton and I am trying to be Christ-like by turning the other cheek every time he gets angry and still serving him and doing the dishes every time and making him food or whatever, even though he doesn't say thanks and is still a jerk to me. I am just trying to live Mosiah 2:17 (  I figure even if he doesn't appreciate it, I am still serving God. I've learned a ton of patience and a ton about serving others. It will be so much more easier to be selfless and serving to those that appreciate it too!
DAD: I can't tell you how good that makes us feel. It is not easy to serve selflessly knowing the person you are serving doesn't appreciate it. In fact it is probably one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. But we appreciate you.
AJ: Ya. I'm doing it for the investigators and the people here in Aritao. This is really an awesome area. I love the people and the mountains and just the attitude of things here. I wish i could see Elder Daquioug before he takes off. I may never see him again. I love that guy. He is a stud. At least I get to see Weaver tomorrow.
MOM: That will be cool. His parents are SO excited to see him!!! His Dad is counting down on Facebook.
AJ: So last week we had splits and I made the Nachos! It was absolutely awesome. And a plus, I actually made something good with a rice cooker – haha! And this was definitely the best tasting thing I have had in the Philippines! It was awesome!!!!!!
MOM: We just got home and I am on a real keyboard. Have I ever told you I HATE TEXTING!!!! This is SOOOO much better! We just got a peek at your pix and they are really nice. You are still the tallest, whitest, cutest guy around. Dad is going to be taking over the driver seat here in a minute … can't wait to read all about your week. The girls send big hugs and kisses your way. They are heading to bed.
AJ: I love them too!!! Sometimes the little girls here in the ward remind a ton of Holly and Katie. Oh, except they are smaller and browner and speak Tagalog – haha. But still it is cool.
DAD: Everyone's off to bed and all. Your Mom thinks and talks about girls camp all the time. I really believe she is more excited and will have more fun than any of the young women. As for me, it should be interesting going 4 days with no Shelly around. I will be one sad puppy by the time it is over. Plus she also has girl scout camp (3 days) and youth conference (3 days) this summer. I'm gonna be a lonely dude! Did you get the pix I sent?
AJ: I got some pictures of Jonny's wife and Marcus' babies. Yeah, I was reading your letters and all and you and Mom are so busy and I am so busy. I'll be home before any of us know it! Man, twice this week I went on splits (once with the ZL and once with a member) and the days went so fast. Days are just so fast when your just working hard. And when my companion is screwing around or trying to do stupid things the days just drag on FOREVER!
DAD: Just remember that your mission will fly by and you will have learned and grown so much and not even realized it and then it will all be over before you know it.
AJ: Yeah, I love being here in the Philippines and being a missionary, but I will be so excited to go home when it's time. I was talking to my old ZL in Tuguegarao (I saw him at Banaue) and he was totally a downer. Elder Andreason was like “Man, I don't want to go home. My life is gonna suck for the next five years and all this stuff.” I was like “Come on dude, you're going to the land of washing machines, unlimited milk and tall white girls. How can you be sad about that?!” Then I talked to my ZL here (2 months left) and Elder Weaver and they were like “It has been awesome here on the mission, but I am ready to go home – haha.
DAD: I remember getting feelings for awhile about not wanting to go home, but then I missed my fam so bad (and girls too). You will make some real friends there and a lot of life afterward seems superficial, like people getting upset about stupid little things. But then you start in on real life like school and dating and reconnecting with loved ones and it all comes crystal clear. Just remember that your current comp is just a tiny pimple on your butt compared to the rest of your life!
AJ: Yeah, that's totally true! Even if I have to get another 6 weeks with him, it will suck, but I'll get through it. He thinks he is really is getting transferred. He told all our investigators and a bunch of members he is. I was like dude, nothing is for sure. Don't tell anyone until it's a sure thing. But whatever. It's his life. Did you see my nachos? They were so awesome!!! Next week is Father's Day right?
DAD: Yeah, your nachos looked good. We don't eat those much anymore because they are so fattening! We prob haven't had those kind of nachos for 6 months. I am actually a little jealous.
AJ: Yeah they were awesome. Definitely send some again next time. They might have that kind of cheese at Save More, but definitely no Rotel, which really makes it great. Go buy some and eat some for me! They are soooooooo good! I miss Wal-mart. Save More is kind of like Wal-mart, but missing the best parts. We are heading out. Love ya, Miss ya a ton!

Hey Family,

Wow, another week down and this cycle is coming to an end. Transfer day is on Thursday, we will find out tomorrow if we will have changes.

Rainy season has arrived in the Philippines!
Things kind of settled down a little bit this week and we had a baptism and things are all right. On Thursday we had splits with the Zone Leaders and I worked in Bambang with Elder Pincock. It was pretty awesome. We got some good work done and we found some cool people tracting and everyone was like “Wow -- two Americans that speak Tagalog. Come on in, what are you doing here?!” People are so friendly here.

I don't know, I don't have a lot to say right now. Things are okay. Transfers are really close. Tomorrow we are going to Solono for district meeting and to find out if we have transfers. If we do, we will leave at 5 a.m. here to get to Cauayan on time (3 ½ to 5-hour ride, depending on traffic).

Got the conference issue of the Ensign on Thursday and finished it cover to cover by Sunday night. Some pretty awesome stuff in there. I think Uchtdorf still takes the cake as most powerful speaker of the conference after further review.

I started Jesus the Christ, I don't know how committed I am to continuing. I might be better off in the Book of Mormon, but it has some really cool stuff about his life and about the apostles and stuff.

Well I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth, and I know that if we want to be happy we just need to "seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you."

Life is hard sometimes and complicated and cloudy and whatever, but if we have our priority set on the gospel and we don't deviate, Things will work out. Every time!

Love ya Family!! AJ
Now some Q & A
AJ baptized 14-year old Karen (in white) Saturday.

1. How RAINY is rainy season?
Pretty rainy. It will be like all sunny and beautiful and then out of nowhere the rain jumps out and we get drenched.

2. Did you get your shoes today? How are they?
Well, they apparently can't make the shoes now. Supposedly the only person in the Philippines that knows how to make those shoes my size died... apparently!? I don't know if that is really true but at least they gave me my money back. They are still repairing my shoes I gave them and I should be able to get them on tomorrow.

4. Are any of the Filipinos good at basketball?
I am sure there are some. I haven't gotten to play with any yet, though ...

5. Tell us about baptisms and investigators.
Karen (14) just got baptized. Her whole family always listens to the lessons, but everyone else was hesitant to come to church. She has been coming for like a month and a half. Her baptism was really good, and she is super shy. So the last two weeks the older sister finally came to church and now we have been able to see some progress on her older brother. He is a really nice guy. The Mom doesn't really want to go to church and only listen occasionally. And the dad is pretty cool, but he is at work every Sunday, and about half the time when we teach. This one family has been members for maybe a year and they are great, but the mother hasn't been able to kick the cigarettes. Now we have her about 2 weeks since she had 1 cigarette., then 2 weeks before that she hadn't smoked either. So 1 cigarette in a month! If she can stay cigarette-free til the 25th of June, she can be baptized. We have another 14-year old girl whose family is a part-member family who can be baptized on the 25th if she continues. The area is so big and people don't really know who we missionaries are, so it makes for good tracting and finding.

6. Your clothes gonna survive and last with all that hand washing?
My clothes will be alright. As for my hands, that's a whole different story.

7. You making any progress on lazy bones, your comp, as far as the sleeping-in thing?
If anything he has regressed... sadly.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 32: Banaue Rice Terraces

Hey Family,

Well this has been an interesting crazy week. We actually just got back from Banuae Rice Terraces. We went on splits with Elders Farley (from Calif.) and Elder Shackleford (from NC) because no one else wanted to go. I have a ton of pictures but not much time to upload them now.
Ummm ... I don't know where to start as this week was kind of crazy. Banaue was really awesome, beautiful and had lots of cool trinkets for really cheap.

It was absolutely gorgeous and was just tons of mountains and really reminded me of home – kind of like Pine Valley – except for when we actually got to the rice terraces. It was really, really far away and it actually ended up being 3-4 hours each way. It was definitely cool and awesome, but I don't know if I would want to go again.
We stopped in Solano on the way back and tried to get my new shoes but they weren't finished yet. The lady had all kinds of excuses about how someone died and they had an accident or something with the shoes or something like that. It was kind of irritating, but hopefully tomorrow or next Monday I should be able to get them.
Maybe even more irritating has been Elder Lim this week. He has been really struggling with keeping missionary rules and even almost got sent home during the week because of it.
Then today we went on splits to go to Banaue. I went with the District Leader and Elder Shackleford. and we left our companions in Bambang. To make a long story short, Elder Lim got in some trouble while I was off with the other Elders. I'm not sure what's going to happen with him. Wish I knew more, but at this point I just don't know.

AJ's district at the "Mission Possible" activity.

There are some great things happening in Aritao. We should have a baptism on Saturday. Next Tuesday we will know who is transferred and where and then Thursday of next week we will actually do the transfers.
I am doing all right and have learned a lot patience and have gotten lots of language and personal study this week.
I'll just keep enduring and try to make something good happen this last week or so. I guess all I can say is that the Church is true, the gospel is a sure thing and if we follow it I know we will be happy. If we don't, we won't be happy. It's as simple as that, I guess.
Gotta run but I love you and pray for you everyday.
Love, Elder A.J. Griffin