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Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 51: Kuligligs and lightning!

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

Elders Wooden and Griffin on a kuliglig
AJ: Wazzup yo?!

DAD: Hey there my boy. How ya been?

AJ: Hey. Good. This internet is terrible, though. I just got it working again after what seems like a half an hour.

DAD: Oh sorry, New store? How's life? You happy and healthy?
AJ: Ya. We played football earlier. Its stinkin' hot here. Santiago Stake got split. Two dudes from the Quorom of the Seventy came on Sunday to Stake Conference. One was from Idaho and the other one was from New Zealand – he had an awesome accent! I think the American missionaries were the ones that really understood them, but they were pretty good. I guess the New Zealand dude spoke in General Conference 2 weeks ago. Elder Ian S. Aldern is his name.
DAD: Don't really remember him. Was it a big meeting, lots of people everywhere?
AJ: Yea, there was quite a few. It seemed like the Tuguegarao Stake center had a lot more people when they had Stake Conference, though. It was really nice in the air conditioned stake center. Sister Carlos gave us treats after. She is awesome. She always brings awesome American treats every time we see her. We see them again Wednesday. We have interviews with Pres. Carlos, so that will be good.
DAD: Yeah, maybe you'll get your envelope of stuff too. Football, eh? Anyone there know how to play? Are the little Filipinos fast?
AJ: Haha – No Filipinos came. Eight Americans came and played. It's funny, our district is almost all Americans except for the sisters and we don't hang out with the sisters on p-day anyway. By the way, I haven't told you about kuligligs They also call them hand tractors. They are the most ridiculous looking things ever. It's like a motor strapped to 2 small wheels hooked to a trailer, then they load it up with people and bags or rice. Anyway, they are super cool. We get free rides from them all the time, which is awesome.
DAD: Free rides are good! I like those pix you sent. Working the rice fields. They get really yellow when dried out. I'm not too sure I dig your do-rag. Guess it's better than a sunburn.

AJ: Oh, when in the Philippines, do as the Filipinos do, right?

DAD: Right! Looks like your pants are too big! You need to eat more!
AJ: All there is to eat is rice. But I am getting way better food here in Ramon. Members feed us every night and I live with an American, so we eat a lot different now. Me and Fantony ate rice 2 times a day and nights we would usually just open cans of tuna and pour it on rice. Yuck, eh?
DAD: I guess they don't do potatoes or noodles there, huh? Actually, I ate a lot of tuna on my mission, and ramen noodles. But not much rice, except in little Puerto Rico, and then it was spicy beans and rice.
AJ: They have potatoes, but they are super small and I am always too tired to peel and cook them. They have lots of noodles, too. They just usually put the noodles on top of rice though -- haha. I got sick of noodles like a month ago though and haven't been doing much lately. Peanut butter is the best, though. I remember how you used to say if we were still hungry to go eat pb and J. Now, seriously, that is the best thing. It's expensive though. It's all imported from America, so it is very pricey but I am so addicted to peanut butter.
DAD: Yeah, good old peanut butter. Your brothers hardly ever eat it. They like meat sandwiches or cans of ravioli or something from the freezer. I BBQed yesterday during the BYU game. Had a double-cheeseburger. So good! Plus BYU is playing better, too. Now if the Dallas Cowboys would shape up!
AJ: Yeah, tell them peanut butter is the bomb. And the jelly, especially the blackberry jam, wow! I would kill for that stuff. In Santiago they have a jar of grape Smuckers, but it's like seven dollars American – Too expensive!

DAD: So YOU'RE THE ONE who used to steal my blackberry jelly! Actually, Holly does it now. Just like her big bro. It's starting to cool down and feel like Autumn now. The nights are a perfect mid-50s.
AJ: Yeah I will admit to that one. I thought you knew? haha. That sounds exciting! I don't think it ever gets cool in Isabella. A couple weeks ago Pres. Carlos was talking about how this is a working man's mission. It's supposed to be the only mission in the Philippines that doesn't have ocean, beach, nice restaurants or big malls. He just said bukids lang (just a bunch of rice fields), which is true. It's cool though. I am glad to be here. I heard there is a 7/11 in the next city on the other side of where Aritao was (out of the mission boundaries). But here it is the working man's mission! That's good!
DAD: Mmm, Slurpee and a Bahama Mama hot dog would be nice though! We don't even have those!
AJ: I wouldn't know what to do with a 7/11. I would spend a lot of money and then Mom would probably get mad at me.
DAD: She's mellowed out a lot about money. We just need stuff to quit breaking (both cars and the dishwasher and the sprinklers).
AJ: I am pretty close to sending the package to you. Its gonna be so sweet. I am looking for a few more little things. I have stuff that you guys will love

DAD: Cool, we'll have to resist opening it til Christmas. You are not gonna believe how big your sisters are. Oh, and Dallas's mustache is actually starting to look like a real one, too.
AJ: Dude, I could grow a mustache in like 3 days now. It grows so fast. Its very irritating shaving every day.
DAD: I only did it every other day on my mission. I hated sweating into the freshly opened pores. OUCH! I got yelled at once or twice by Pres. You shave every day?
AJ: Yea, usually. Sometimes not on p-day, though. I don't know if President would care. We had a lightning bolt come out of nowhere last week and strike kind of close to us. It was crazy.

DAD: Dude, I almost got struck by lightning about halfway through my mission, too. I was on my bike and it struck about 150 feet away. Scared the crap out of me and Elder Bell!

AJ: Yeah – Ain't no doubting the power of Mother Nature. It was like the most intense thing ever. It wasn't even storming or anything yet. It was literally before any other thunder or lighting or rain drops. It was wild. Well, I better get off here now. Love ya!
DAD: K, love ya, be good!

Hey family!

Another good week here in the Philippines! We had 2 investigators at church! A big improvement over the first two weeks! So we had a really good week finding and teaching.

On Tuesday, we talked more about not binding our own tongues and talking to everyone the Lord puts in our path and we had an awesome week. We talked to more people about the gospel than I have in a single week and it was really cool and really rewarding. Elder Ballard talked about how we should talk to 10 people different from tracting and stuff. It's super hard, but it is way fun and we are gonna keep it up.

On Wednesdays we have been going to the brgy (town) called San Sebestian. It's about 3 miles into the fields, but the people are super nice and we usually can hitch a kuliglig or jeepney or truck or something for free. And this brgy is awesome. Everyone listens to us and we already have a few progressing and reading and praying about the message. They are so nice.

We went back there on Saturday and 3 houses gave us merienda (snack time, pretty much). They are so awesome. Saturday night was interesting, though. We were in San Sebestian, about 730-ish and we were about to head back to the city and get one more appointment then go home and it was getting a little overcast. Then out of nowhere, the brightest light I have ever seen just hits and a lightning bolt hits a transformer like 2 blocks away. Then the entire brgy and the city totally lost power instantly. It was like the brightest, most intense thing ever and then immediately pitch-black dark. It was crazy. The thunder was like instant, too. Someone said it was like 200 meters away or so. The transformer started on fire, too. Crazy eh? I probably shouldn't have told you … you're probably gonna worry now. But don't, OK?

Sunday, the Santiago Stake got split, so that's super cool. Elders Nelson and Arden of the Quorum of the 70 came and spoke and were very good. They talked about how the family is under attack and how that, especially here in the Philippines, people really buy lots of locks and big fences and dogs to protect their houses, which is great, but the bigger threat is on the family.

He said that:
Family Prayer; 2. Family Home Evening; 3. Gospel learning and instruction, and 4. Wholesome family activities, will protect and help our families get to the temple, mission and stuff. Then he called out the fathers and said they haven't really been doing that great of jobs as leaders of the house. He also used a quote that was something like "If you think you are being nice enough to your wife, think again." and to the effect that we need to really respect and love our wife or (future wife) and never be satisfied about doing nice things for them.

Also, one interesting note: Here in the Philippines, a ton of families have 1 or 2 parents working abroad in the middle east or other countries to get money for the family. Both speakers said that that leaves the family very vulnerable. He said something to the effect that no amount money can raise your children. And they said it's a lot better to struggle for money than to be without a dad. That echoed the famous quote, "No success can compensate for failure in the home."

I know the church and this gospel are true. I know that the family is the most important thing. And I am thankful to you mom and dad for living this commandment and struggling to raise a family the right way. I am eternally indebted to you! I love you!

Well I gotta run. I love sharing this gospel to the people that don't have this blessing yet and although we don't always have success and people don't always believe our words, I know this: It is true and every day it is awesome to think that we get to be a part of God's work another day!

Love you!

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