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Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 44: Birthdays and baguios (hurricanes)

It never rains in the Philippines ... it pours.

Conversation between AJ and his Dad through email early Monday morning (it was Monday afternoon for AJ)
AJ: Don't suppose you're still awake?
DAD: Believe it or not I am up. I just finished writing a 2,000 word feature for the mag! AJ: Ouch that means it is like 2 in the morning right? And you go to work at 6?
DAD: It's 10 after 1, but I got the story done! That's always a great feeling!
AJ: Yey!! I liked your letter earlier talking about the day I was born and when I was little. I miss you a ton. You wanna be my comp for a cycle or two?
DAD: That would be sweet to be your comp! We'd probably get on each other's nerves ;-)
AJ: Nah ... We would be fine ... it would be awesome! I miss Elder Balaich, too. I got a Dear Elder letter from him this week. He is a stud.
DAD: Gosh, I'd have to live without my Mustang and my XBox and my woman! I don't think I could make it without two of those three – HAHA!
AJ: HAHA! The Philippines is pretty entertaining. Life is a lot more fun with an American companion. You get to talk about all the unbelievably stupid things that happen every day. To Filipinos, it is just normal. Oh by the way, I took money out this week so I can send the package off pretty soon. I have no idea how much it will cost, though.
DAD: We'll never be able to wait until Christmas to open it!
AJ: It probably will take 3 months to get there anyway haha. Elder Balaich sent a package home 2 months before he went home and told them not to open it, haha.
DAD: Is your nanay (is that right?) starting to grow up and get it on his own? It can be kinda hard always being the one who leads out and makes all the decisions.
AJ: Nanay = Mom. Anak = child. Yeah, he is doing pretty good. I went on splits with the brand new American last week ... it was a lot harder, haha.
DAD: Tatay, nanay and Anak -- got it! I'm sure you'll have lots to discuss with Ben Brown and Bro. Miller when you get back. You can make fun of the Philippines for hours!
AJ: Wen Tay ... Oops thats Ilokano ... we don't even want to get started there, haha. I said “Yes, Dad.” But yeah, there are a lot of hilarious things that happen every day.
DAD: We didn't go to Grandma's tonight. We had meetings and home teaching and stuff. But Mom made Cafe Rio chicken -- was sooooooo good! Sam Stevens and Ryan Eves came by to home teach, they were 10 minutes early and I never did get to finish my dinner. Bryce and I had to go HT after that. Busy weekend after the Vegas trip and all.
AJ: That's a bummer. Cafe Rio is good. I wish people in the Philippines did home teaching.
DAD: When we lived in Texas, my dad would drive 150 miles round trip to do all his home teaching. He was a rock. All you need for Cafe Rio pork or chicken is a cup or two of salsa and a cup of brown sugar and then let cook for awhile.
AJ: Wow, I gotta do it. Yeah, here in the Philippines if it is raining the attendance goes from like 120 to 70.
DAD: Bogus on the attendance. I gotta tell ya, we haven't seen rain in a long time, like two months. It is dry as a bone and hot, hot, hot.
AJ: Man, Tuesday we got hurricaned and I forgot my umbrella that day. I got soaked and we only got 2 lessons all day. One was this pastor guy that was way nice the first time we met and taught him, so we decided to go back again. Man, he just wanted to debate and then at the end he told us Joesph Smith is false and an adulterer. That pastor was a jerk. Last Tuesday was one of the harder days of my whole mission.
DAD: Sorry to hear that. Some days are diamonds, some days are stones, right? I recall some days I was so frustrated out there that I just wanted to go back to the apartment and go to sleep. Rejection sucks! But usually something good happens right after that if we endure.
AJ: Yeah, this Sunday was really good. We had 5 investigators come to church a half hour early!. They beat everyone but President Orlanda. A total of eight of them went to church overall. If things work out right, we should have a baptism on Sept. 10 and then six more on Sept. 24!
DAD: Now that is awesome! Think you'll still be there then?
AJ: I am hoping. Sept. 7 or something is transfer day. I might miss all of them. I got transferred from Tuguegarao right before that family got baptized last time around. I guess it doesn't matter, though. It would be cool to be there... All right, I am out of here! Love ya!
DAD: Yep, headed to bed myself, love ya lots, happy day my great son!

Hey family!

How is it going?! Another week flew by here and things are going really well. My birthday yesterday was pretty much like any other day – haha. Not too many people knew it was my birthday and I told Elder Fantony not to tell anyone... so yeah. For lunch I boiled potatoes and had potatoes with the last can of chili and the last of the cheese dip! It was pretty awesome. I was able get Dr. Pepper last week in Santiago, so I had that, too! Yeah!

Sunday was cool. We had a really good week of work and were excited for this Sunday and all of the real serious investigators came to church and it was awesome! We have 7 investigators with a date and they all came to church. What was even cooler was that the rain was kind of hard, but five of them came early (like 8 o clock). They beat almost all the members there.

So our investigators, the really old ones, are doing really good, especially Tatay Calica (the Dad). He is deep into Mosiah and stayed for the first time all three hours and loved it! His wife and their friend, Beth, also came and said they had a great time in Relief Society. We also taught them Law of Chasity on Sunday, too,. which was hilarious.

So Nanay Neito, a referral, is doing great and will get interviewed this week and baptized on Sept. 10! On the 24th, the other 6 investigators will get baptized. The work is really great here and I am excited for all that is happening.

We have been getting rained on like crazy. I think we got hit by a baguio (hurricane) Tuesday and we definitely got hit by one on Saturday. Saturday was awesome though. All the people were just at home with there families, so we were able to teach a ton of people. I heard it was supposed to hit big in Tuguegarao and Isabella, but I think it must have turned or something. We had lots and lots of rain.

Also, Thursday we had a meeting in Santiago. President Carlos introduced a new program for trainers starting in September. I guess there is going to be a curriculum that the trainers have to teach the new Elders for the first 12 weeks and for the first 12 weeks there is supposed to be 2 hour companionship study every day. President also said that every companionship will get a DVD player in September so we can watch the “Preach My Gospel” DVDs. Kind of interesting.

Well, I wish I could type faster! Things are going good and I have met so many awesome people here in the Philippines and I am so happy to be on my mission.

I know the Church is true, that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration and that President Monson is prophet today! I love the Book of Mormon and it absolutely came from God. I also know that our redeemer lives.

Love you all!


Some Q & A

1. Do you guys do a lot on Sundays in the branch/ward, like teaching lessons, etc.?

Teach Gospel Principles every week. We usually take turns teaching. Sometimes we have to speak.

2. Bryce's present never came. What did you send him?
A fish thing that you can put change in. It definitely should have been there by now.

3. You going to do anything special for your birthday? Well this question is now outdated, but I had chili and potatoes and Dr. Pepper and peanut butter M&Ms, so it was pretty awesome!

4. Besides the duck that you tortured, what kind of birds are there? Anything really unusual?
I haven't seen anything too special.

5. Bryce said he heard of a monkey there called the tarsier? You ever heard or seen one?
No, I don't know what that is either. I have only seen like 4 or 5 monkeys that people had as pets.

6. Dallas wonders who you should keep on your fantasy team? He definitely has a better feel on that. I can't even remember who is on the team and even if I did, they probably aren't good anymore.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bonus pix post from the Philippines

Flooded rice fields in the Philippines.

Phillipine Beauty ...
 ... and the Beast. That's one ugly Filipino dog!

Week 43: BYU football and an ugly dog

AJ doing a little language study in the missionary apartment.
AJ: Hey pops, you still awake? (It's about 11 p.m.)
DAD: Yep, I'm up editing some stories. How's it going?
AJ: Pretty good. We climbed a mountain today. It was hard. Bummer about Pine View losing to East.
DAD: The PV game was really good even though they lost. They let East score late so they could get the ball back. It was 28-27 after a blocked extra point. I'll try to keep you updated on football. Here's a copy of my story: (I sent AJ the actual text of the Pine View story I wrote for the DesNews. Here's a link if you're interested)
AJ: Cool. It's weird to think it's football season now. I am probably the only person that owns a football for at least 100 miles. Sweet. Sounds like a sick game. Sounds also like Pine View doesn't have a kicker?
DAD: Kicker did OK. The last kick was blocked after a bad snap/hold. By the way, BYU starts in 13 days – against Ole Miss.
AJ: Oh, can you send me their schedule? The APs and President Carlos wanted to know my pick for their record this year, but I haven't seen the schedule yet. I think I told them 8-4, but I don't know if they got some tough ones or what?
Sent BYU schedule.
AJ: BYU can probably pull out 8-4 no problem with that schedule.
DAD: I think the very best we can hope for is 10-2, but 7-5 could also happen if they don't gel early. Ole Miss will be tough at their place and Central Florida is actually really good.
AJ: Oh, and that's mean, giving me all this temptation – hyperlinked texts to! haha
DAD: Sorry, tried to cut and paste like three other things, but none of them would work until that one. Not much to talk about yet anyway, with the season still two weeks away.
AJ sent pix
DAD: looks like some good eats! And it looks like you're wearing your poor trainee out. That's good!
AJ: Ha, yeah, I am worn out, too. I always go to bed as soon as possible after we are done work and planning. Usually before 10. Then we get up at 6:30. It's always a solid 8 hours, but I am always way tired. That's the good life i guess :)
DAD: Yeah, nothing like a good day's work. Go to bed tired, then get up ready to go!
AJ: About the pix, the cakes turned out awesome. We ate them on splits with Elder Fry (a red-headed American who is brand new – 2 or 3 weeks into his mission). Also some of the nachos. Later we had a huge thing of macaroni and more nachos with Elder Fantony. He didn't really like it. I guess it had too much flavor ...
DAD: How soon til transfers? Think they'll leave you one more cycle?
AJ: Sept. 8 is transfer day. I hope I have a bit longer left here in Aritao. It's a little hot here, but it's supposed to be downright miserable in Isabella and Cagayan Valley. Also, we are going to Santiago for some reason this Thursday. The zone leaders just said we have some meeting there, but I am not really sure why. I guess also in September there will be 2 transfer days (3 weeks apart), and then there won't be another transfer day for 9 weeks. Weird, eh? Somebody told me a reason and it didn't really make sense, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
DAD: Sounds like maybe you will stay for the 3 weeks and then get shipped out before the long one, eh? How far is Santiago? Isn't that where Sis. Martinez (MTC friend) is/was?
AJ: That's where she was. Now, she is like a block away from the mission home. Santiago is about a 3-hour bus ride away. Cauayan is a 4-hour ride. Either way, it's a long ways away.
DAD: Any leg room on those buses?
AJ: Not much. I hate them. They stop like every 5 minutes, too. It takes forever to get anywhere.
DAD: I imagine it's especially cramped there with no tall people around. Poor guy. I don't much like airplanes either because of the legroom problem.
AJ: Yeah. I will say the airplane is way more cramped than the bus. That 16-hours from LA to Hong Kong sucked. I don't want to come home now – haha. It was long and so cramped. The bus is way nicer than the airplane. By the way, I love our mission president. He was telling us how sometimes when he is working on the computer sometimes the viruses attack him and all the sudden gets opened. Or sometimes he said all the sudden his speakers say, "This is Greg Wrubel from Cougar Stadium.” -- haha.
DAD: I'm actually gonna miss some of their games because they play a few on Friday nights when I will be broadcasting high school. But we'll keep you posted.
AJ: OK, Dad, we're outta here. Love ya!
DAD: Hey wait! I got your letter, but you haven't answered our questions for the week. Gonna answer the questions?
AJ: Oh dang it, I forgot. We are outta here now. Next week I'll answer them. Sorry.
DAD: K, Love ya!!!

Hey family, time goes so fast. Yet another great week here in Aritao. We found 3 really cool families that seem receptive to us and the Gospel. And we found this family this week that had been former investigators in Pangaisanan and they didn't know that there was an LDS church here. On the first visit, they said they wanted to be baptized and we gave them a date. But they did disappear on Sunday, so that was a bummer.

I am just really happy right now. It seems like we are teaching more families than I have my whole mission. Hopefully they will all progress.
We are also trying to teach this old couple who are investigating the Church. They are like 75 or so. They are a referral and the husband is an ex capitan of the barangay (village). That's kind of like being mayor, but of that barangay only. Anyway, we have been teaching them for a long time now and it's kind of hard to reach them. They aren't real great at Tagalog (their native language is Ilakano) and the wife is really slow at picking stuff up. As an example, some neighbor of her's said that she heard that Joseph Smith is thought of as a god, so we had to explain to her like 5 times that Joseph Smith is a prophet, not a god. I think she is still confused.

At first, the husband always kinda wanted to argue and wouldn't accept the Book of Mormon. But now he has read the BOM almost halfway through Mosiah and says he knows it's true. He finally came to church and it took him awhile to accept a date. His first answer was, “We'll see,” then his answer was, “It's coming.” Yesterday his answer was, “Yes, it's coming.” Elder Fantony said that means 75% yes. The BOM is so powerful, though.

Tuesday we went on splits. Me and the District Leader traded Anaks (sons/trainees) for the day, so me and Elder Fry worked in Aritao. He is brand new, fresh from the USA. We got rained on and most of our appointments were no-shows but it was still good. We just mostly tracted, but we found some cool people that would listen to us. Then we had nachos and cake for dinner! Go America!

Speaking of America ... This guy in our branch that has a car worked with us all day on Sunday. It was so weird. We got in tons of lessons and we didn't even hardly break a sweat. I didn't really like getting out of the car with every one watching, especially all the newer investigators. They probably think we are rich now. But yeah, cars are awesome!

Well, I am running outta time, so I gotta say: Thank you Mom and Dad for all you do and for all your sacrifices for me and my brothers and sisters. I love you. I know the church is true and I am happy to be a part of it. I am especially happy to be a missionary of the true gospel.

Love you!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 42: Grabbing a duck and eating goat

Email conversation with AJ late Sunday night (Monday morning for AJ)
AJ: Hey, how's it going?

DAD: Good, how about you?
AJ: Good. We played football and basketball for a solid 2 hours this morning!
DAD: Dang, you are already too skinny boy! Does your comp know how to play football?
AJ: Earlier was his first time. He got a few touchdowns. He was better than I thought he would be.
DAD: Must be fast huh? How many guys did you have? Nobody plays around here anymore. Been playing lots of hoops though.
AJ: Uh, it was just 4 on 4 and half the people were Filipinos, so there wasn't really much defense going on – haha. But he is better than most Filipinos because he could actually catch the ball.
DAD: So hows life? You feeling strong and healthy?
AJ: Yeah, I haven't gotten sick in a long time (cross your fingers) and life is good! So we made the salsa. And it was really easy to find everything in the palengke. I don't know why they don't make it all the time. But we made it and it was really good. But then we put it in the fridge and came back and it was all really peppery (tasted like pepper), so maybe we put too much in or something. But it didn't taste good after that, so I don't know what we did.  Also this is the baptism of Erickson Mejia.. His dad baptized him and he is getting a calling and hopefully the Melchizedek Priesthood in a few months.
DAD: Not sure what happened with your salsa. Coulda been a bad pepper or something. Mom made a bunch of salsa yesterday. It is yummy! We saw Wendy and Eddie tonight. She is due in six weeks. I think they are going to name the kid Winston or Owen our something like that.
(AJ sends the duck picture)
DAD: What ru doing to that duck?
AJ: Ulamhan ko siya! (making him into ulam) Just kidding. I don't know. I just felt like grabbing a duck.
DAD: Sweet pix. Poor duck! Stay righteous and you will stay strong.
AJ: I put him back – haha.. But then Elder Fantony grabbed a duck, too – haha.
DAD: I can honestly say I have never felt like grabbing a duck. Probably couldn't catch one anyway …
AJ: Oh, but I did eat some goat this week. Tastes kind of like beef.
DAD: Goat huh? Didn't know people ate those. Remember Grandma's dumb goat? He might have been nicer if he knew we might eat him at any moment. You look good, glad your having a good time. By the way, you are supposed to wear the new shoes everywhere. That's what they're for.
AJ: Yeah, I will now. My old ones just fell apart to beyond repair, so I am using the new ones. Yeah, the Philippines is weird. I swear, I get asked at least once a week if eating blood is against the commandments. I always think, “No, but why in the heck would you want to eat blood?!” By the way, it was not allowed in the Old Testament, but I guess it's OK now since Christ fulfilled those old laws, I think. Either way, it's disgusting. Hey, can you find out which mission Stephen Anderson is serving in? I am pretty sure he is in the Philippines right now. I might send him a letter if he is in the Philippines.
DAD: OK, I will find out for you. Need anything else?
AJ: BBQ sandwich ... But you can't help me there. All right, I'm outta here. Love ya.
DAD: K love you
Hello family!

Wow, another week flew by. So this week we went to Cauayan for the trainers/trainee meeting. It was a pretty cool meeting and I learned a lot and it was very motivating. They talked about what effect a trainer can have on a trainee and about how a trainer needs to be a really Christ-like person to help the new missionary get off to good start. I have a long ways to go.

The food was awesome at the mission home and President Carlos told me about BYU and gave me a Dr. Pepper, so that was awesome! Also, I guess Elder Tyler Haws is AP of the Philippines Quezon City Mission. President said he called the other day and then he and president talked basketball – haha. President bleeds blue – haha.

Also Sister Carlos made spaghetti, mango rice crispies and gave us lots of ice cream. She also gave me a can of Stagg chili. It was like being in America for a day, with all the air conditioned buildings and good food and stuff.

We also had district conference and President and Sister Carlos came to Bambang, and they came to our baptism on Friday in Aritao, which was cool except people showed up really late so the baptism ended up starting almost an hour late. Oops. It was good, though.

We met lots of crazy people (as usual) tracting. There is this one lady that always claps and says "Praise the Lord" when we teach. And there is this inactive member dude that apparently got offended by some member back in the day and never came back. Seriously, we meet some weird people sometimes.

We did meet a cool family in Daripidup the other day and they were super nice. They understood pretty well and the best part is the dad seems like a really good guy. We go back tomorrow, so we will see. Still, my ultimate goal is to find a whole family and get them baptized. It's pretty hard.

Me and Elder Fantony are having a good time and I think he is enjoying his mission so far. We made some brownies last night before bed and we had smoothies a couple times this week. This is gonna be a good cycle and hopefully we can stay together in Aritao for a while. I love it here in Aritao.

Well, I love this gospel and know it is true. I know Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's representative and that Jesus Christ is our savior. I love reading the stories in the Book of Mormon and Bible and I know they are true as well. The scriptures are awesome. I know also that this church is true and every day I am grateful to be a missionary and if things ever get hard, I just sing the song "I Hope They Call Me On a Mission," in my head. Then I realize I am living the dream and I am here on the mission that I have been waiting all my childhood to go on. Even though it is hard sometimes, it is totally worth it.

I am so happy to be here in the Philippines experiencing all these adventures and teaching the only true gospel and meeting great people every day!

Love you!
A.J. Griffin

1. Do you use bottled water for sacrament or what?
Hopefully! I don't know if they do or not ... yeah ... hopefully.
2. Did you get Grandma's package?
Yes! The Reese's were awesome. And I was excited to get a package. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa!
3. How often does it rain this time of year?
Almost every day, at least for a little bit. Usually it rains like once really hard for 20 minutes ... just enough to soak us if we forgot our umbrellas.
4. What do you cook at home to eat?
Pretty lame usually. We usually at night just open a can of 50 cent tuna ulam (basically the word for anything you put on rice). This tuna is mixed with sauce and vegetables. Usually at lunch, we just eat at a canderia (word for anyplace that sells ulam and rice).
5. Any typhoons lately?
Not that I know of. We are usually the last to know unless it is a really big one. Nobody tells us if it's only level 1, 2 or 3, i think. We are pretty safe here in the mountains of Viscya though. It just rains if typhoons come.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week 41: Return Missionaries and the Philippine Bryce

A Philippine artist depicts Elders Balaci and Griffin battling evil.

AJ: Hey you old man, how's it going?
DAD: Pretty awesome. How bout u Mr. Tatay?
AJ: Pretty good pops. Just work, work, work ... its fun!
DAD: That's great man. We just left grandma and grandpa's. Ben/Laura and Eldon/Diane were there. Good eats, too.
AJ: Yummm rice ... wait what?
MOM: No rice. We had pork and cheesy potatoes and creme brulet cheesecake. Yummy. Wow … you really are integrating into your country … thinking rice!!!! Funny guy (I did have teriyaki rice at Winger's this week). Do you get that kind of rice? I really like that. Maybe we should send you that sauce.
AJ: Teriyaki sauce? We bought it once in Tuguegarao. It was good. I have only seen it at Save More. Maybe I'll get some next trip. Or a different kind of sauce. No, but I am really not a fan of rice all the time. It is super cheap. Usually when we eat at home our meal is like less then 60 cents American. But yeah, we eat rice 2 times a day. I draw the line at breakfast.
DAD: Don't blame you there. Guess you miss bread and stuff, eh?
Man there won't be anything I won't eat in the States. The Philippines is weird. They will eat anything. Even stuff in the States that I hate I would eat way before half the stuff they sell on the streets in the Philippines.
DAD: Dallas is trying to decide what to do for a double-date Saturday with Carlos and some girls. Any ideas. It'll be his first date. They want to do a day date.
AJ: By the way, Elder Fantony is bacially the Philippine Bryce. Not sure about the date. Don't want to get too sweaty. It's way hot over there right now isn't it?
DAD: Yep. 100 degrees.
AJ: Man that's hot! Its been pretty nice here up in the mountains. He better do a water fight or go to some waterfalls or something. By the way, I've decided Zion's is way better than Banuae.
DAD: Good ol' USA -- Zion, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Disneyland… So are you and Greenhorn getting along well?
AJ: Like Bryce, he is funny and kinda crazy sometimes, and he definitely knows how to push my buttons, but I love him and we get along well.DAD: Can you print? I was going to send you this talk I found that I really like, but I am sure u don't have time to read it now.
AJ: Yeah I can print. Go ahead and send it.
DAD: (Here's the link to the talk by James E. Faust. I sent AJ the actual text instead of the link) –
AJ: How hard is it to make salsa? Sister Carlos sent us a salsa recipe but maybe Mom has a better recipe?
DAD: Um, it is not too hard if you have a good recipe and the right ingredients. If you do fresh salsa (not cooked) it needs to be eaten right away. The cooked kind lasts longer.
You would need a blender or a food processor or a lot of hand chopping.
AJ: We have a blender. Oh yeah, we make fruit smoothies all the time. Especially when I was with Elder Balaich. Smoothies are awesome by the way.
DAD: So the salsa recipe:
10 tomatoes (approx) -- drop tomatoes in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes (carefully pull out and peels will fall off or you can pull them off -- discard the peels
1 large onion
garlic powder or a clove of fresh garlic
2 jalapenos
2 green chili peppers
tsp of cumin
salt, pepper and other seasonings
You can put a little cilantro in or for a different salsa, add lime and more garlic

Throw it all in a blender -- chill and serve!

AJ: Yeah, I think we can get all that stuff. Maybe we will give it a try.
DAD: This kind should last a couple weeks if you keep it refrigerated. Feel free to tinker with the recipe as long as you have that base of tomatoes and onions.
AJ: I miss everything Mexican food wise. They should have Mexican food here.
DAD: Oh yeah, refried beans and Spanish rice and burritos and eating seven or eight tacos … or nine!
AJ: No refried beans, no Spanish rice, no tortillas or tacos (I have seen tacos and tortillas at Save More). Just rice and whatever they throw on top of it. Boring.
DAD: Well, you can make salsa and you can get Doritos to dip with -- And I will make some Mexican food here in you honor ;-p
AJ: Oh all right, we might give it a try if I am feeling motivated.
DAD: DO IT!!! You leaving? It was good to chat with you son. Don't be homesick. We miss you but are so happy you are where you are!
AJ: OK, I'll try. Love ya!
DAD: LOVE YA TONS!!!!!!!!!!!!
AJ: Oh yeah!!! One of our investigators is this dude that's way good at painting/drawing. So we had him paint me and Elder Balaich. Here is the original (painting is above).
Hey family,
Hows life? Things are good here in the Philippines and this week just flew by. I was sad to hear about your tires ... that's expensive. So this was a good week with lots of work and we had a good time. Sunday was cool and sad at the same time.
The model for the above painting.
On Sunday 2 missionaries from Aritao returned from their missions in Guam. It is really awesome and they are way cool, but they and their Moms testified and ... I might've gotten a little homesick for a second.
But everyone was super happy and I am excited they both said they want to work a lot with us and it should help the work here a ton. The branch was stoked this week and the two RM's seem really cool. Their names are Elder Garcia and Elder Iglesia. They seem like they probably know English pretty good. I guess Guam is like the Philippines with all the languages, except in an even smaller area.
They said the island of Guam is about the size of Aritao to Bambang.  
Maybe like the size of Washington County or smaller, but has 7 languages including Tagalog, English, Ilakono and then some native languages of Guam. Sounds pretty crazy. I also felt bad for them in that they haven't even been released yet and everyone is coming up to them, saying, “You got 6 months to get married!”
Elder Fantony is great. He is obedient and loves to work too, he is not shy and a pretty good teacher. So it has been no problem. Things are going good with the investigators. We will have a baptism of 10-year old Erickson this Friday. He has been doing pretty good and passed his interview Saturday. We really have just been focusing on his parents. His dad is doing really good and is active and is getting a calling. He bore his testimony yesterday. As for his mom, well, not too great. She keeps disappearing to far away places. But hopefully we can get her active again, too.
The Book of Mormon is awesome and we have a few investigators that seem to really be falling in love with it. One investigator Elder Balaich and I found tracting, a young mother name Jemah, was having a really hard time understanding it. So one day we just read the first chapter with her and she was getting way confused and we were a little discouraged. But we came back 2 days later and she was already on chapter 15 and said she loved the stories and stuff.
Then there is this old grandpa and grandma we have been teaching. They were referred by a member. Their name is Calica. Anyway, the man had been always kind of hard to teach and didn't want us to use the Book of Mormon and stuff and I guess he used to be a Jehovah's Witness. Well, we finally got him to start reading the Book of Mormon last month and now he just finished 2 Nephi and loves it and knows it's true! He even came to church (and his house is pretty far away). It's really true -- doctrine understood changes behavior faster than anything else. The Book of Mormon is awesome and can convert on its own. I love the Book of Mormon.
I know the Church is true and that the Priesthood is real. It is the same Priesthood and authority that Jesus gave his apostles. And I know that Our Savior lives!

Love ya,

1- Are you able to print out our emails to read later or do you just have 1 hour to look at everything?
I can print, But I usually just read them on the computer cuz it's kind of expensive to print.
2 - Tell us about where Fantony is from. Would he be considered well-off there by Philippine standards?
He says he is poor, but they have internet and cable and a car at their house, which is better off than about 75% of people here.
3 - Has anyone else been writing you regularly that we need to thank?
Dee writes me every once in a while and Grandma and Grandpa always write me.
4. Any message for Riley Lewis. He is coming home in less than 2 weeks.
Good work Elder Lewis. Go find a wife. I am sure he was an awesome missionary.
5. Are you loving your new shoes? How about the Velveeta? You have a nacho party?
Yeah. I kind of don't like to take the new shoes tracting though. They are too nice. I haven't done the Velveeta yet. I need to buy some real Doritos so we can do it right. We did make some brownies yesterday after fasting, which was especially good because we were super hungry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Week 40: A.J. is a Daddy (Tatay)!

AJ and is son (trainee or greenie), Elder Fontany (far left)

AJ: Hey! I regret to inform you that I now have a kid in the Philippines. Yes, he is a Filippino, haha …
DAD: Wow, congrats AJ, you studmuffin!
AJ: Ha, thanks. I do miss Elder Balaich though. How's life going on your side of the globe?
DAD: It's nice. We are still in New Harmony (at Grandma's). I am sending from my phone. It is about 70 degrees and cloudy here. We don't want to go home to the heat.
AJ: Oh, and the I got the package on Thursday... I am trying to decide what the best use of the chili would be. The shoes fit just right and the shaving stuff is way better than using only water ... haha. I made macaroni once too!
DAD: Did you get the Velveeta too, or did we forget to include it. I am so glad the shoes fit! That was pretty quick for the package.
AJ: Ya, the Velveeta is what I am most excited about! I'll probably put one chili in the cheese dip. And then I'm not sure ... Baked potato, frito pie, cincinatti spagetti... What do ya think? By the way, my Anak (son or trainee in this instance) is Elder Fantony from Laguna (southern Luzon). He is pretty cool. He works hard and is obedient. He is a little tiny bit strange, but that's okay. And earlier today was funny because it was the first time he has washed clothes by hand. I guess that a servant person at their house always does it for them. That made me laugh.
DAD: Dallas is having fun working your old job.AJ: Who does Dallas work with?
DAD: He said the guy's name is Jason, also a little bit with Delwin.
AJ: Oh yeah, I know Jason. He is cool. Dallas needs to convert him though. I gave him a Book of Mormon back in the day. Have Dallas tell him that I said he needs to get baptized … haha.
MOM: Glen had surgery on his shoulder or elbow, so he has been not working for awhile. We are driving home now. Glad u got your box. Shoot, we just got a flat tire.
AJ: No way!? That is not good.
MOM: Dads changing tire in the dark.
AJ: Ah man, that blows.. literally.
MOM: K, tire changed.
AJ: That was pretty quick. Go NASCAR.
DALLAS (he has the phone now): We had kahlua pork and had fun at grandma's and me and dad played paper football -- Dad kicked butt. Dude, it's awesome that ur already training. What's so weird about ur new comp?
AJ: Haha, ya I was seriously shocked when he said he never hand-washed clothes before. I said it was like he was American. Haha
DAD: Does ur comp speak English very well or do u speak Tagalog with him?
AJ: All my Filippino comps I have had just spoke Tagalog. He doesn't seem to know that much English. He uses a lot of Tagalog words that I don't know yet. I guess in Laguna they are pure Tagalog speakers, so they have a lot more deeper words. Here in region 2 (Cauayan Mission), Tagalog is almost always their 2nd or 3rd language. So it is just kind of more simpler words, I guess.
DAD: How far away is his home? What mission did he live in?
AJ: San Pablo Mission. The mission of Sister Watkins and Elder DeYoung (MTC friends). Supposed to be an hour outside of Manila. He was asking if we had SM Malls and other really great restaurants and stores in our mission, but we don't have any really. He was telling me by his house they have almost every American fast food and Wal-marts and 7/11s and stuff. Needless to say, I was sad. I guess Cauayan Mission is like the least developed because it's mostly inland farming area, so tourists don't really want to come here.
DAD: Well it sounds like u have got a lot of work to do with this young elder. Train him up right so he will be a great missionary … ohh and what's the word for Dad in Tagalog?
AJ: Tatay
DAD: We are home now, we did do a quick change on the tire. Dallas and Bryce really helped a lot. Dallas and Mom have been typing from my phone while IO dictated, but now I am on the computer.
AJ: Oh cool. Yeah, I am pretty much done though. Work to do!!! Alright, I am out of here. Love ya! A.J.
DAD: K, love ya, good luck with greenie!

AJ (far left) enjoying "American" popsicles
Hey family,

Well I am tired … but happy and excited to be emailing you and be a missionary here in the Philippines.
Well I got a new companion and he is brand new from the Manila Missionary Training Center. His name is Elder Fantony. (I wrote about him in the Q & A). But things are going really good and I am happy. We just have been working hard and trying to catch up since we hadn't been able to work in the area lately.

We couldn't do much Monday (p-day, so at night only), half of Tuesday (packing and district meeting in Solono), Wednesday (on splits in Bambang) or Thursday (traveling). So Friday, Saturday and Sunday we had tons of appointments and it was cool to see some investigators that had read and progressed even though we hadn't taught them. But it was also sad to see a few others pretty much digress. But Church was good and for gospel principles class we taught about faith and used mustard seeds and had every one plant plants.

Yeah, I don't have a whole lot else to say. I love you all though. I know this church is true and that the gospel is really on the earth today and that Christ is the Savior of the world and that his invitation for us is really there. So let's follow him. I know it's the only way to true happiness.

Love you!
A. J.
Some Q & A with AJ
1. Was it a sad scene when Balaich left?
Kind of, except I was too tired to really notice. They left at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. I was happy for him though. He hasn't been home in a long, long time. We did have an awesome cycle though. And found lots cool people and had tons of fun.

2. Tell us all about your new comp.
He is 19-years old from Laguna (southern Luzon). He is youngest of 3 kids and is hard-working and obedient. He is also pretty tall for a Filippino (about 5-foot-11) and really excited to work and be a missionary. He is kind of quiet, but isn't afraid to OYM (street greet) or teach and he is a pretty good teacher. I am excited for this cycle. It should be a good one.

3. Is it still fairly cool there? You

 looked hot on the bridge.
It gets hot in the afternoon, but it still has been raining quite a bit and even when it is kind of hot, it isn't too bad. It was like four times hotter in Cauayan on Thursday and probably like 8 times as hot in Tuguegarao. So I am very grateful to be in Nueva Viscya this summer.

4. What do you do on a typical p-day, besides laundry and e-mail us?
Buy fruit and whatever from the palengke and groceries. Maybe play basketball or football if we can. If there is time, I like to take a nap on p-day. All last cycle we just kept doing awesome things (waterfalls, banaue, going to Save More, etc.) on p-day, so all our p-days were really packed last cycle. Later today we will probably play basketball.

5. Take us through your trip to Cauayan (rides, time, activity, etc.)
So going to Cauayan is exhausting.
Philippine mass transit
On Tuesday night we went to the ZL's house and that morning Elders Balaich and Pincock left. Then we worked that day ... or tried. We got hit by a baguio (typhoon) level 2, so it rained pretty much all day, but we were still able to teach some lessons. Then the Dupax elders came and slept at the house to be a little closer to Cauayan. Then that next morning we got up at 4:15, got ready and waited for a bus. Finally got one about 5:15, then we got to Cauayan about 9 a.m. Then we went to the 2 hour meeting and I got an anak. We ate food at Chowking (kind of like a lame Panda Express) and then went back to the mission home. Right before we were about to leave, Sister Carlos called us to to eat American food (peanut butter and popsicles!). Then we took Elder Fantony's stuff and waited for a bus again. We got one about 2. Then rolled into Aritao about 6. Did Cycle goals and then taught one lesson. It's pretty lame that it takes so long to get places. Cauayaun is only like 100 kilometers (55 miles) away, but it takes like 4 hours each way because the stupid buses stop every 10 mins. But yeah, I hate traveling in the Philippines.