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Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 49: A new area and two typhoons

Email conversation between AJ and his dad through Sunday night at about midnight (about 2 p.m. Monday in the Philippines)

AJ: Hey, how's it going? We got hit by a couple of typhoons … and I have been transferred to a small farming town called Ramon outside of Santiago about 20 miles. How are you doing?
DAD: Hey AJ, good to see you are online and OK! Tell me about your new area and companion!

AJ: Well, My new comp is Elder Wooden. He is an American that has been out for 6 months or so. He has only been here in Ramon for 3 weeks and doesn't really know where anything is, so it kind of feels like opening a new area. The past missionaries haven't been very diligent (example: Elder Lim was just here 3 weeks ago). So we are pretty much starting from scratch as far as investigators. The ward seems really legitimate, though. And we have dinner appointments almost every night. We already have gotten a couple of referrals. Santiago is supposed to be the strongest, most developed stake in the mission, so I think we can get things going pretty quick. The typhoons have been pretty crazy this week. I have a couple of videos and I'll tell you the stories about them in the letter.
DAD: We heard Manila is still without power and they have pix online of some serious flooding and stuff. You were able to stay away from most of the trouble?
AJ: Yeah, in Aritao. Basically, the street in front and behind our house was a big river for a few hours, but it didn't get in the house. We got cut off from everybody for a few days though -- No cell phone coverage – and when we tried to go to Bambang, the river flooded over a bridge and was impassable for about a day. Then in my new area, a bunch of trees in our yard got knocked down. But we are fine. Nothing got us or damaged our houses. Oh yeah, Ramon is a former area of Elder Weaver. Could you ask him if he has anyone he wants us to visit or any past investigators we could look for?

DAD: I can have your mom write his mom. I'm not sure if he follows your blog or not.
AJ: Yeah, you can tell him we met one of his converts, a 20-something year old girl named Jennifer Ocna (not sure on the last name). She is cool and way active and she gave us a referral. So tell him good work, she is doing good and said lots of good things about Elder Weaver.
DAD: Where are you at in Ramon? I have it up on satellite map.
AJ: By the palengke (market). There aren't really any landmarks. It's just a ton of rice mills and stuff.
DAD: Looks like lots of rice farms everywhere. Are you north by the cemetery? There is an Iglesia ni Cristo on the map, but I'm not sure I see a palengke.
AJ: I am not sure. We are kind of close to the Iglesia ni Cristo, like 4 or 5 blocks. That's the general area though.
DAD: Holy SNAP! Just watched your movies. That is some serious water! Kinda freaky, huh?
AJ: Yeah, it was pretty intense. The one video with the street flooded, normally that is just rice fields and houses as far as the eye can see. We could even see the river before. And it just looked like ocean …
DAD: I guess now you know what real rain is like, not this wussy St. George stuff.
AJ: Oh yeah. Plus we don't have a car to get in when it rains. Just cheap crappy umbrellas. How's the hamstring? How did it go down when you hurt it?
DAD: Dude, the hammy injury was a freak thing. I blocked a bounce pass with my foot and the ball caught on my heel and rolled, making my left leg go out from under me. My right leg was planted, so I kinda did a twisting splits thing. I could feel it tear and the guy next to me said he could hear it tear. They carted me off the court and continued their game. I had to hop to my car and drive home left-footed.
AJ: Wow, that is freak accident. Where at? The church? Do you have to get surgery or anything?
DAD: It was at the SG rec center. If it doesn't start to heal on its own, I would have to get surgery. But I think it is starting to improve. It's been two weeks now.
AJ: What is the time table? Will it ever fully heal? What did they say -- 6 months?
DAD: No, no, four to six weeks.
AJ: Oh, that's it? I thought hammy was a season-ending injury. Oh wait, that's only if your name is Carlos Boozer.
DAD: Ha, funny. I wish someone would end Jake Heaps's season – kidding! Anyway, you be good. I am glad you are safe and somewhat dry. Hey, when do you guys get to see conference?

AJ: This Saturday and Sunday we will watch conference. I am super excited!DAD: As far as your new area is concerned, don't be discouraged. The field is white and ready to harvest. I'm sure you have a lot of work to do. Hey, you know how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That's an old proverb that says you can accomplish anything if you work at it and don't get overwhelmed.
Sweet! Well, we are going to go have some elephant steak! Love ya! Bye!

DAD: Nice. Elephant steak it is!!!!!!!!

Wow, what a week! I have been transferred to Santiago Zone and my new comp is Elder Wooden. He has been out for 6 months or so and is from Highland, Utah. He has only been here in Ramon for 3 weeks and we both don't really know where anything is. The ward seems really great though. We already have gotten a couple of referrals. Santiago is supposed to be the strongest stake in the mission, so I think we can get things going pretty quick. The typhoons have been pretty crazy this week. Here is the rundown of the week:

Monday: So we went up in the hills of Aritao with Bro. Iglesia, one of the new RM's in Aritao, and we found a sweet waterfall and mini rice terraces and stuff.

Tuesday: About the time we were going to head to district meeting, the typhoon hit and it rained super hard for like 4 hours and behind and in front of our house turned into a river, pretty much. We lost cell phone coverage in Aritao til Thursday. After things settled down, we tried to go to Bambang just to tell them we were all right and make sure they were OK and stuff, but we got about halfway there (in Almaguer) and found out the bridge was flooded over and this neighborhood just turned into like an ocean. But we were able to get coverage there and call the APs and tell them what was going on. We went back to Aritao and we were able to work the rest of the day (We are pretty high so the water just went away).

Wednesday: We still hadn't heard about tranfers yet. Finally we got coverage for a little bit. We were in an area more wide open. And we heard that I had been transferred. So we worked and I packed as well and said goodbye to few people.

Thursday: We got up at 4 a.m. to make the run to Cauayan. Well, when we got back into cell coverage, we found out that transfer day had been postponed until Friday and we got up for nothing. So we went back and we were bummed and way tired. But it actually turned out to be one of the coolest days of my mission and I am really glad I got another day in Aritao. We saw some great potential from some of our newer investigators and we set a baptismal date for the young mother (Jemah) that me and Elder Balaich found. She is the one that dreamed/prophesied of my transfer. She turned about to be exactly right. She said Isabella. The weird thing is, she didn't know we had transfers coming or that we even get transferred from time to time. Crazy eh? It was a really good day of work. I was super happy at the end of the day and was glad I got another day in Aritao.
Then on Friday we did the Cauayan 4 a.m. run all over again. The buses were jerks though. No one one wanted to stop and pick us up. Finally we got one at about 6 and ended up being 15 minutes late to transfer meeting. We tried at least, I guess …

So then I got Elder Wooden (by the way, he said John Wooden is his 2nd uncle, but he never met him) and our area is Ramon, Isabella – Close to Santiago. We are actually in Santiago right now. We had Macdos earlier. So yeah, it's been kind of tough. We are pretty much starting from scratch as far as investigators go, and we are both brand new in the area, but it's got a ton of potential and the ward looks really awesome.

I was kind of feeling a little overwhelmed about how and what to do with this area, but yesterday I read Alma 37. And even though I've read verses 6-7 like a million times, it was just so powerful again. We don't need to do anything heroic or superhuman, but we just need to do our best, be obedient and work our hardest and the
From Alma 37
promise is for sure (vs. 17-18). Like Alma says, we might think it foolishness, but the Lord works through small and simple things to bring about great purposes and bring about the salvation of men!

I love the Book of Mormon! Time and time again before my mission, and especially on my mission, I have read it with a problem or sadness or sorrow, or even happiness, and every time, without fail, it answers or lifts me up or motivates me or give me advice somehow. Mom and Dad and brothers and sisters, read it every day! It is amazing and comes from God! I testify of that!

So this week we will watch conference on Friday and Saturday and I am super excited! On Wednesday we are going to Cauayan (now only like 45minutes or an hour away) to get finger-printed by the Philippines government. That should be fun, maybe. Also on Wednesday, another big typhoon is supposed to hit, so that might be fun as well.

Gotta run love you!

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