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Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 50: Hoops and Rice Fields

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 are on now.
DAD: Hey man! You got on in the nick of time. I am working on three hours of sleep and was about to sack out. I'm so glad you are on!!!
AJ: Ah man, you need to sleep. I feel bad for keeping ya up. Sleep is important!
DAD: Are you kidding? I love to chat with you. How's life? Do anything fun today?
AJ: Yeah, we harvested rice the other day. It kinda seems a lot like harvesting wheat. At least I imagine. General Conference was awesome too. President Monson has such awesome stories every time. Holland's was the best talk of the conference. He was amazing.
DAD: Yeah, Holland is good. Which team are you going to start for? Today I met a kid named Something (?) Cooper – can't remember his first name. He is leaving soon on a mission to Missouri. He said he knew you from choir. Kind of a cool story: He is a convert and all his extended family is in St. Louis and he is determined to go back and share the gospel with them.
AJ: Cool. Yeah definitely time to get inside the lines and suit up on the Lord's team.
I don't really remember the Cooper kid too much. Maybe if i saw his face or something. Played basketball this morning -- First time in like a month (Elder Fantony didn't like playing). It was super fun. I've missed it.
AJ: I haven't played for three weeks.
DAD: I am jealous! I am going to try to play Wednesday morning. At least I will shoot around a little. Mom has off tomorrow for Columbus Day, then the kids have deer hunt vacation Thursday and Friday. So the house is going to be busy this week. Our dishwasher broke. Gotta get it fixed or get a new one, dang it. It happened right after we paid to get my car fixed. Money just keeps flying out the door.
AJ: Dang, that's too bad. What did you all do this week?
DAD: You know, the usual. Busy, busy this time of year with sports and all. You making a dent in the work there (you know, the elephant)?
AJ: Yeah. We had 2 really good days where we just kept meeting and teaching all these cool people. We got return appointments to all of them. We do have a pretty awesome message to share!
DAD: Yeah, great message, as long as you young Elders don't screw it up -- HA HA!
As I was waiting in the stake president's office talking to these young Elders, it really brought back a lot of memories from my mission. I was telling the Cooper kid about my first baptism and how it was an African-American lady and how cool that was. You truly are making lifelong memories that you will always treasure!
AJ: Yeah, this has been the best year of my life! I do miss you terribly, though. But it has been an awesome year! Yeah, I don't know if I will ever get to baptize an African-American person ... and I won't get to baptize a white person till I have kids of my own, probably.
DAD: Or a tall person -- HA! We have been talking a lot to Dallas about what it means to find happiness. I told him that you were incredibly happy, even though you missed home. I hope he knows that.
AJ: This is a cool new area, but I do miss Aritao terribly, too. It is hot and polluted and dirty here. Aritao was absolutely beautiful.
AJ: I was reading Mom's letter earlier, I wasn't paying close attention when she told the story about the kid named Dallas in Katie's class who had a meltdown. I thought the story was about our Dallas. I did a double-take and had to read it again. Haha
DAD: No, Dallas would never freak out at school. You must be forgetting English!
AJ: Ha-ha, yeah, it didn't make sense, but yeah, I am probably forgetting English. Even with President Carlos or other Americans we always speak Taglish. Oh, last week at district meeting Sister Carlos came to our district meeting and I was asked to give the opening prayer. So I had to do it in English. It was one of the hardest things ever. No joke. Like, we talk quite a bit in English, but I never pray out loud anymore in English. It was really hard.
DAD: Wait till your homecoming talk and all the stuff they will have you do when you first get home. Right after my mission, me and Melvin and an RM sister missionary gave a fireside. They both had gone foreign and gave really short talks because they were uncomfortable speaking in English. So I had to fill like 45 minutes. I just started telling stories and went a whole hour. I even spoke a little Philly jive for them.
AJ: Yeah, it's gonna be hard. I would be terrified to contact people in English. In Tagalog, it's like it doesn't even seem real or something. I don't know. Like it would be super hard to teach the law of chastity in English, but it's super easy in Tagalog and super easy to talk to strangers in Tagalog. I don't know.
DAD: There is a certain anonymity at being in a different place, with a name tag on and in your case, speaking a different language. Makes you braver, that's for sure.
AJ: Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's a gift of the Spirit. Basta – it's coming from God. I don't know what the equivalent of basta is in English. It basically means like “end of story.” I don't know, just basta. It's a sweet word.
DAD: Almost sounds like an English swear word …
AJ: Yeah, basta is a sweet Tagalog word. There are tons of words like that, that I am gonna miss using in America. I gotta find some Filipinos. I don't want to forget Tagalog.
DAD: Grace next door is from the Philippines, but I don't know any others. Probably be better to find return missionaries who went to Philippines, eh?
AJ: Yeah, maybe an American girl RM that went to the Philippines – haha.
DAD: I know you gotta go. We miss you tons and are so proud of the fine man you have become! Gambater (That means “take it easy” in Japanese -- Eldon taught me that one).
I'm off to bed, almost midnight! Tell us more about your comp if you can. We would love to hear it. Good night and I love you! By the way, fantasy football results – Grandpa won, 2-3; Bryce lost, 1-4; Dallas won, 3-2, and I lost, 2-3. Pretty mediocre, just like BYU!
AJ: Ingat Tatay! Mahal na Mahal Kita. Nananalangin ko para sa iyo araw-araw! napakamessya ako. Huwag nyo magalaala sa amin. Nagbabantay ng panginoon sa amin. Totoo ang simbahan na ito at totoo and ebanghelyio ni JesuCristo. Sige! (NOTE: AJ did not translate this so we went to Google Translator and roughly speaking, AJ said “Careful Dad. I love you and pray for you every day. Don't worry about us. The Lord will keep us safe. The Church is true! Go!”)


Hey Family,

How is everything?! Life is good here in the Philippines. It's super hot here in Ramon and all the fields are yellow and ready to harvest! The rice fields are all being harvested. And the people are ready to be harvested, too!

Everyone is at the bukid (fields) nowadays, including us last Friday! One of our investigators told us that we didn't work hard because we just walk around and preach. So we told her we would show her we can work hard in the bukids and we did it. It was fun. It's actually super easy. Just lots of bending down. You just grab a bundle of rice plant cut off the rice piece parts. And then stack 'em up and throw them into a machine and then you have palay. I don't know what that is called in English. It just means rice with the shell still on it. It's way easier than pulling weeds like at my job at the city, by the way.
So work is really happy here in Ramon. The ward is super nice and we have dinner appointments almost every night. The food is pretty awesome, too. I missed dinner appointments. I didn't really appreciate them in my first area (probably because I was new and didn't like having to eat whatever they put in front of me). But I missed them in Aritao and I am really grateful to have them back. Tastes a lot better than tuna on rice! Haha.

We have been finding like crazy and I am also really grateful to be in the Philippines. People are so nice. And even if they aren't too interested, we can usually at least change their attitude by the end of the lesson. At least they understand more about the church and the seed is planted. Last night, though, we found some really cool people. We found this really nice young couple that we were able to teach the first lesson to.

And then we met these old ladies that were really cool as well. There was this old grandpa with them who didn't seem interested at all, but he just chilled there so we were able to teach them all. We taught the old ladies lesson 2 and talked about how we need to be baptized while we are here so we can be clean to enter into the presence of God. Third Nephi 27:19-20 has been super awesome lately and they always seem to understand it. Anyway, then we said “If you know our message is true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized?” And the one lady said she already knows it's true! And for sure she wants to follow Jesus Christ. It was pretty awesome. We got a return appointment Tuesday to teach them with their husbands. It was super cool!

Conference was awesome. MVP definitely goes to President Monson. He still has awesome stories every time! And the facial expressions and stuff just makes it. He could give Bill Cosby a run for his money. I think Elder Holland gave the single greatest and most powerful talk of the conference with his call to act. I love the sports analogies. The best talk not given by an apostle was Matt Richardson and teaching by the Spirit with a close second to Elder Cornish on prayer -- both in the Sunday afternoon session.

Conference is so awesome. It was also cool: Saturday night we taught part of the first lesson to this guy we tracted into and he asked us if there is a living prophet what does he say to us. And we both had lots of stuff to share with him because we had just come from conference. What a privilege!

Alrighty! Thanks for everything! Things are great here and the mission is awesome. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the entire world. Like someone said, “All the money in the world won't buy a loaf of bread in heaven!

Love you!

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