This Blog is about Elder Hennessey's two year mission, in the Philippines Baguio Mission, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Monday, December 26, 2016

We had a wonderful phone call from Elder Hennessey for Christmas last night – 2 hours! He had lots to share and looks great. Can’t wait to do it again for Mother’s Day!

This is tatay (father) Visitacion. He is probably high 60's low 70s. But he has had multiple strokes and debilitating illnesses. Sometimes we have the honor of helping him go to the eye doctor because he is also blind. This is me helping him into his wheelchair, he clings like a koala! He is probably under 60 pounds but you have to be super careful since he is fragile. 
This was the second time we helped him. The first time we went was when I had been here for 2 months. Later in the evening I was joking to Elain, who is 20 and lives with him, but I wasn’t sure of the relationship. I said "Me and your grandpa are best friends now, we had a fun trip to the doctors" she said "lolo..? Tatay ba?" (Grandpa? You mean my dad?) I'd been in the area for 2 months and didn’t know he was the father of this family. He looks like a great grandfather! That was a really embarrassing story, but it just made them laugh a ton. I was worried they would be offended because the Pinoys sometimes get offended really easily.

That coin in a ten piso coin, 12 pesos is worth a soda. It’s the size of a quarter, which means the bee is almost 2 inches long. I hit it with the electric flyswatter and zapped it real good, but after I took the picture it hopped up and flew out the door.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dang that’s Crazy! (Told him of the winter storm this week) I'm glad I've never really had to drive when there’s ice because it’s so dangerous and hard to control, but there’s no worry of that for the next two years cuz 1, there’s no driving unless I become AP (Assistant to the President), or become an Office Elder, also unlikely. And 2 the record low temp here was in 2013, it was 49 Degrees..... I miss those winter days in Portland where it takes forever to go anywhere cuz there’s just a little snow, but mostly I miss the cold. 


It’s so unlike Christmas in America, partly because I am a missionary, and not spending all my time with family. But here they have been decorating for 3 months, people actually go caroling for the 2 weeks before Christmas; so much so that people put signs on their gates that say come back on the 24th. I'm sorry I wasn’t able to write Emails to you all, but know that I wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope you have a blast spending time with your families.

The food is one of my favorites to make; I call it Tunay na rice. Which means real rice, but it is actually just a can of tuna opened onto some rice :) It’s delicious. (No picture)

Dang :/ ask bishop to contact members nearby so Dad can get a blessing (Tiegue’s dad has been sick), I’ve given so many blessings already. The church is so different here, even though all of the doctrine is the same. It’s like their faith is new/fresher, and it’s more constant through the week. Partly because they get lots of visits from the missionaries but more so because they feel they really need the blessings of the gospel.

The picture of me with the grandma and little ones is Sister D…. She is 73. She manages her entire household at the top of the mountain. Last week I went to her house and she wasn’t there. After looking, I saw her walking up the steep trail with a 40-50 pound Bundle of sticks on her shoulder. I rushed to relieve her of the load but she said "huwag na, oklang, huwag na!" which means “don’t now, it’s ok, don’t now." When I tried to just take it off her shoulder she said "No its easier for me to just carry it, I'm almost there."  Afterwards she told me how she was up late last night cooking, UNTIL 1 AM, Then she went to sleep. UNTIL 3 AM. When she started cooking again. SHE'S 73!

In the picture, the way she is clutching her Book of Mormon isn’t by chance. She really clings to it. She is the best example I have seen while I've been here. In America it was Grandma Terry and Brother Hall, but here, she blows them out of the water. When we go to visit her, she always bears her testimony so strongly that she tears up. She tells us all the time of times when she’s witnessed the hand of God in her life and in the lives of others. If she is dry eyed and we ask her to say the closing prayer, her conversation to her Father in Heaven is so sincere and compassionate she always gets choked up and has to wipe her eyes afterwards. I hope we all can learn from her example and try to grow closer to our Father in Heaven.

For Christmas we sent a 12 Days of Christmas package. On the First Day of Christmas we didn’t send a partridge in a pear tree but a tree for him to decorate with photos of family and friends and Christmas messages. 

Look at the size of this rat compared to Tiegue’s sandal (yes he gets to wear sandals!) and it was IN their house!

Monday, December 12, 2016

This week was super crazy, and seemed longer than ever since there were so many things to be done.

First of all on Tuesday I said goodbye to Elder Gamboa, and got a temporary Companion, Elder Centeno, He's been out 15 months, likes to go out late and sleep really early, but he’s a cool guy, and I learned from him on how to teach differently. Wednesday we went to San Fernando for training on how to train a newbie (San Fernando is about 27 miles away and travel time is an hour by bus). Thursday I worked with Elder Centeno again, but not in my area. Friday we went to San Fernando again to pick up our trainees. But I had to give Elder Salingay away because I had an extra meeting for leadership stuff. SO Saturday was the only day we actually worked in our area.

Elder Salingay is cool. He’s a little weird, but he loves being a missionary. He's got what we call MTC FIRE, a burning desire to share the gospel. It’s pretty nice because he pushes himself to talk to people, I kinda just walk next to him and help when he falters. His teaching skills need some work, but that’s fine, we've got 3 months to work on it. 

I gotta go but that weird tree is what we call maasim (sour).  It is such a weird tree cus the fruit just grows on the trunk. (He didn’t send this picture)

Love ya

I just wanna be home and run outside in a t-shirt and shorts. I miss the cold way more than I expected(Kelli told him about the winter storm we just had)



Monday, December 5, 2016

Dang, I miss some Eggnog right now. I haven’t had milk since I've been out in the field. That’s cute, if I was there I'd race you to the back door and not let you carry anything, you shouldn’t have to. That’s why you had kids right? lol jokelang! (just a joke) (Kelli wrote him that she thought of him whenever she brought wood in and when she drank eggnog JElder Lloyd says thank you and he loves you for sending a rugby ball haha, I showed him the unpumped ball here in the computer shop and he couldn’t wait to pump it up.

This picture is a glass drinking jar that they sell at Pandayan Bookstore. While Elder Gamboa was buying something, I rested my elbow on a shelf full of them. The shelf broke, and they all fell to the floor, exploding like fireworks around my feet. When I looked down there was a little part of my mind that thought the green, red and blue glass looked cool, but most of my mind was sinking fast. They each costed about 50 pesos, and there were 22, I had to pay for the broken goods, my total bill was 1115 pesos ($22 USD). One of them didn’t shatter, but just got a big ol crack in it, so I have a remembrance of my bull in a china shop experience sitting on my desk as a new pen holder. I hate it, haha.

The night before our Christmas conference Elder Beck and Villiamor spent the night so they wouldn’t have to travel so far to get to San Fernando early in the morning. Before going to sleep I washed my face as usual, turned to get my towel when Elder Beck's face lights up and he says "Woahahao!!" pointing to my chest. I looked down to see the biggest spider I've seen so far on my undershirt about 6 inches away from my face. As expected I frikkidy freaked out, screaming, jumping, running and flailing my arms all over. The 3 other elders saw the whole thing and thought I was overreacting. I was not, my actions were perfectly justified. 1584 (looks like a flammable liquid in picture) is how I put it to rest, it deserved it. I was SO terrified. 

The last 3 are of our combined baptism with the Sisters; the two men are their investigators, and the two girls are ours. The new convert can choose who they want to baptize them: any worthy priest or melchizedek priesthood holder from the missionaries, to branch president, to big brother. I was asked to baptize the older man, so I practiced the baptismal prayer in Tagalog for it to have more meaning to him. In our final lesson with each of our candidates, I quietly asked Elder Gamboa if they said who they wanted to baptize them, he said him, that he had asked while I was away on transfers. I didn’t really believe him but I didn’t ask them directly, I should have. I'm pretty sure he’s just "baptism thirsty" not really an attractive quality for elders. If I am asked awesome, but I'm content with them "just getting in the water". Afterwards we all went out for ice cream at Jollybee.

Ok, so this week is the last of my 12 week training, a program to help new missionaries learn how to serve under the supervision of a senior trainer companion. My trainer was Elder Gamboa. He trained me right after his own training by Elder Walsh and became District Leader too. That same thing is happening to me. This week I will have the responsibility of teaching a new missionary (hopefully a philippino) and be responsible for taking care of and watching over 4 other companionships. All of my batch is training, meaning that almost my whole district has little, or next to no experience as missionaries. I accepted the calling from the Assistant to the President, knowing that it would be rough, and probably a little more stress than I'd like to handle, I still struggle with the language sometimes! But I know that "Whom the Lord calls, he qualifies". Wish me luck!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Haha yeah I noticed that! It gave me a good laugh, especially when I saw Trent has it on backwards. (All the younger people put on Tiegue’s shirts and did a poor version of the Haka at Thanksgiving. The Haka, a tribal/posture dance, is performed by opposing teams before some Rugby games.) Torben looks good! And wow his hair is so loong!!! It probably looks weird without a hat on. He can have that shirt if he wants, it looks good on him, just call it a Christmas present. Speaking of, once I get the card working and some personal cash, I'll keep an eye out for gifts for you all, but not yet, and they wouldn’t even make it by Christmas. It'll be more of a surprise that way ;) 

Thats crazy!! Is there like a state of emergency or something?  (Told him a little about the demonstrations after the election in Portland)  I can’t believe I'm missing out on riots! I bet there are tons of videos though, sounds wild. Is it scary, like with Greta going to school In DT (downtown)?

My shoes were getting worn down pretty quick, since they were meant to be dress shoes and not walk 5 miles every day shoes, I got some of the rubber ones that Vaha was talking about, they look like dress shoes but are made entirely out of rubber so they last a long time.

This week I was blessed with companion exchanges. This is when you switch companions with someone in your district (usually the leader) in order to learn from their style, and to improve our effectiveness. The companion who I got was Elder Maners; He's from the same batch as me, meaning that we're both fairly new. This worried me because we were going to be working in my area, meaning that I would lead, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to understand and it would damage our success. But it turned out to be the best day this week! We had 8 lessons, and found 3 new investigators; I was able to learn from Elder Maners' strength in street contacting, and him from me in lessons. It is always suuuper refreshing to have a break from your companion, even if you get along, being together 24/7 gets to be a little tedious at times. 

We did a CSP Community Service Project, helping a family to cement a portion f their wood workshop. After digging out a foot of packed sawdust and wood scraps from years and years of working, we carried sand in 3 gallon buckets and dumped them into a pile, after mixing in the actual cement, they made a little crater in the pile and mixed it up. Before I took one of those cement pictures Elder Gamboa says "Wait! Lemme grab a shovel so it looks like I'm working"  The people here don’t have everything we do in America, but they make up for it with ingenuity. The owner didn’t trust the cement to be level, just flat and hard, so he sunk 2 tiles into the corner, on which he would place a table or chair to see if it was indeed even. It’s different, but they know what works for them.

Also I took a picture of the kid on the motorcycle after I saw him climb up there all on his own, and I thought it was a good representation of the difference from America. How if a kid was climbing, there probably would have been a parent right there, maybe even holding him, makin sure he didn’t fall down

I finally received the packages! All 8 of them (was there supposed to be nine?) and a letter from Brother Snider. It was like Christmas morning opening up all the boxes, and the whole time I kept saying "man, I totally love these people" Mostly it was candy from my family, but there was also from the young women in the ward: Thank you!! With all of the little toys and candy I will make little present packages for kids in the branch. I know it will mean so much to them because some of them have so little. Elder Bek asked a kid what his favorite Christmas present he ever received was, he answered 3 pairs of socks and a cupcake.

This week we have two 13 year old girls to be baptized. I want to describe one of their houses: they live behind a building through a passageway barely 3 feet wide. We have to teach her before 5:30 while there’s still sunlight, because they don’t have electricity. Their entire home is about 10 feet x18, and there is a grandma, grandpa, mom, and 4 kids, 13, 4, 3 and probably 3. One week they couldn’t come to church because they needed to use their tryke fare money to buy food (plain rice) for their kids. It’s heartbreaking sometimes to see how little they have, but so inspiring to see them so full of joy and laughter all the time, and so willing to share. 

Our Zone leader just said that for skype you guys need an account and I'll make an account to call you on. So to do that I need the skype account address that you'll be using, and we'll need to coordinate what time also. I'm not sure what day it will be yet but I'll let you know when I know.

That bug was about 5 inches long. Scary huh?!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hey Everyone!

That’s what they do to all the Carabau, I don’t know why, but there’s just a hole through the nostril and a knot on the other side. They don’t tug too hard because the carabau usually follow, they’ve just learned if they resist it'll hurt I guess.  I might try and get a close up picture up the nose of a carabau for ya if I remember. I'm sure it'll be maganda (beautiful)! (Kelli and Siany had asked how the rope worked because we didn’t see it coming out the other nostril!)

I went and exchanged what USD I had the other day, I had to write down every bill's serial number, and the exchange rate was about $1 - 49.2 pesos. So it’s not hard to come here with a small fortune and it will be sufficient for a looong time. Or if you have a little business with a decent income in America, and the income goes into an account, you can just withdraw here and live forever. 

That weather sounds soo nice (told him how it’s in the low 50s and rainy). It's been really hot here lately, and it’s still the cold season. I got sick on Monday night, but Sister Esplin gave me biogesic (basically Tylenol) to take every 4 hours. So I woke up in the middle of the night for it but I was healed the next day. I had a really bad fever though, talaga (really). We were walking outside in probably 85 degree weather and I was shivering. Then Elder Gamboa got sick Friday and Saturday so we didn’t work all of Friday and we attended a baptism on Saturday night and taught one lesson afterwards. It was hard for me to take Elder Gamboa's sakit (sickness/ailment) seriously because he's always complaining if he feels bad at all, and it’s kinda often. But when I took his temperature and it was 103.5 I went out and bought him meds and looked in our packet for what to do if there is a high fever. During those two days I ate through our 72 hour kits because we didn’t buy food on pday because Gamboa wanted to hangout instead. And we couldn’t go on Friday morning like he planned because he had a sakit. I don’t know if it was because a lack of food, or what, but the members told me on Sunday that I'm getting thin. I'll try to find a scale here somewhere to weigh myself. But congrats to all you Portlanders who told me I should put on weight before I go out, because you were right.

How about the Election, no news?? I heard there’s protests in Downtown Portland from Elder Labis.

Every time people ask what my hobbies or what my sport was in Portland, I tell them "gusto ko na magrugby" "I like to rugby". "Rugby" here is a rubber cement that poor people will sniff to get high, or little kids will sniff it to forget they’re hungry. That is widely known and so I have to specify that no, I don’t huff glue, I play the sport. It gets laughs and some weird faces every time. 

Hopefully I get a package tomorrow, but I didn’t receive any text from the mission. Sister Dennis said that if they received a package for you, they send a text telling you to be prepared to pay a fee of 100 pesos before we can take it home. Sana! (expression meaning hopefully)

We did a chubby bunny challenge (a contest to see who can fit the most marshmallows in their mouth and still say “Chubby Bunny”) at a FHE this week. (In most LDS homes, Family Home Evening happens once a week where the family will have a lesson/game about the gospel, play board games, visit someone or do an activity/outing.) I got like 17 marshmallows until I couldn’t say chubby bunny anymore. :)

Some of the missionaries' families here sent them stuffing and mashed potato flakes for a Thanksgiving dinner. Its way different here, the food they eat, their holidays, they don’t have a 4th of July but they go nuts with fireworks on New Years I hear. 

Sorry for the scrambled Email, but thanks for the emails and all the updates!!

Love ya fam!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The big news this week was that Trump won! We were about to be turned down from a house until the man saw that I was American, so he ushered us in as he said Trump was my new president. People here love to talk politics, and apparently there are a lot of relations/politics between Philippines and USA right now. But since we don’t watch the news, we (missionaries) don’t know anything except what we hear from other people. Everyone wants to know who I wanted to be president and what do I think of Trump, which is honestly not a lot. I usually just say I hope I can get back into my own country after two years, and that the flag is still Red White and Blue, not Orange White and Blue.

This last Thursday we did a service project in the area of Tubau, halfway up the mountain to Baguio. It was at the house/workshop of a woodworker. The Baguio mission ordered about 200 jump rope handles as a Christmas gift from the mission to every missionary. Our job was to write on the handles Philippines Baguio Mission all neat and spaced out, for the guy to etch later. He let us personalize a pair with our names and mission years on them! When we get them I'll take a pic for ya. Included is a picture of Captain Moroni and Joseph Smith. Some of the different carvings he does. 

The other pic is some more service, helping Sister Normal to spread her rice out for drying. It made me think of the joke that Tongans spread concrete with their feet, well this is how Philippinos do it. Reminded me of playing in the sand at the beach :) 

Do you have a cell phone? Ipad? A cell phone, and pen and paper. Basically everyone here has a phone.

If they (packages) get here on the 15th, tomorrow, I'll have to wait until next Tuesday to receive them, since the couple missionaries here pick up packages and bring them to our district meetings on Tuesdays. 9 Boxes?! Are they big? I'll have to carry them all from our church into a trike, and then to our house, I'll take a pic of the trike stacked with packages. One of the pictures included is of Elder Beck carrying his package from his parents. He's 6’3” And with the box he stood about 3 feet taller than all the Philippinos around him. Inside was 25 smaller gifts for Christmas, pictures, probably more things.

Showed this picture before but Hahaha and those dogs are just outside our house. Whenever they are chained up like that they jump straight against their ropes\chains and bark like crazy. One time the grey one actually got loose and ran into our apartment. Elder Gamboa jumped up onto our couch, after slipping around on our tile floor for a second, she found her way outside again. They seem scary but she was just happy to run free.

At our Christmas Conference there is a "My Four Words" campaign, where every missionary submits a picture accompanied by 4 words related to missionary work, or the Gospel. At the Conference they'll all be combined into a montage with music and distributed to all the missionaries as a remembrance. 


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Lol no bird, thankfully, it'd probably be super loud. (From last week’s kitchen photo, I thought they had a bird cage on the counter) But it’s dirty enough to be a bird cage. That’s the thing that had baby mosquitoes in the little water drainer thing, and ants living in the serving spoon. Hahaha you liked that picture (I told him I liked the picture of him looking out at the sea)? I'll have to take more candid photos like that, there’s some pics that all the missionaries imitate, like cheesy nametag pictures, or looking out onto landscapes like that. Moneys kinda tight right now because of the three week withdraw, and I’m not withdrawing today so that next month I can withdraw 8k ($165 US) instead of 4. This is to save 200 pesos from the cost of making a withdrawal. That’s one meal at a restaurant, or about 5 trips on a trike that I don’t have to walk :) Or more cookies and juice for the house! (This is money on a card he receives from his mission to purchase food, supplies and expenses.)

Last night I re-read the first couple of entries in my mission journal from the MTC, just to reminisce a little bit. The MTC was sooo nice, so cushy. I'm so thankful for my teachers, my fake investigators, and the half of my district that went to Erdineta mission. Reading my entries, I was able to see that the days really flew by. And here in the mission the days are flying by too. It's hard to realize that I'll be here for another 20 months, with probably 7 different companions, and 3-4 different areas. There is a sister here who goes home at the end of this transfer. Her leaving helps me to realize that my time here is short, so I should make the most of it.

One of my goals is to become fluent in Tagalog, and of course constantly improve, but I want to learn Ilikano. There are over 70 different dialects here in the Philippines, not just accents, completely different languages. Ilikano is the native language here in Baguio mission, so everyone knows that, most know Tagalog, and few know English. As an american missionary, people are impressed that I know a little bit of Tagalog, but If I know Ilikano, their native tongue, they are completely blown away, and way more receptive and open to you since you've completely accepted their culture. Unfortunately Ilikano is one of the most difficult to learn of all the dialects. And there’s no manual to learn it, everyone here says the easiest way to learn is just be asking members for words and phrases. That will probably be after my first 6 months, after I'm comfortable with Tagalog. 

This week was sister Dulce's birthday, she’s 73 and lives at the top of a mountain. She is an inspiration how she still attends church, even at her age.
My fighting spider eating another spider it just killed.
A giant grasshopper.
Elder Gamboa was astonished when we found this beetle. He said that in Bakolod, his city, they are super rare because of their horn. If he was take it to Bakolod, he could sell if for 1000 pesos to a breeder. That’s enough pesos for food for almost a month.

Is it really cold enough for jackets in Portland now? I can’t even remember what real cold feels like, just 16 degrees Celsius (60 F) because that’s the lowest setting of the AirCon units here.

Sorry I don’t have a lot from this week, I forgot to plan out stories last night to write in the email. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dang that’s so cool he's driving (Davis is driving/training for UPS). How about Torben? I don’t know if he would even see my email soon but I'll remind him to come over to the house if he has time. Yeah it'd probably be hard (getting another dog), I don’t even remember what dad's schedule was like when Rusty was a puppy, but someone was always there to hang out with him, usually you when we were at school and dad at work. Do you think you could look up my priesthood line of authority? I'm sure dad could help too. And what about the debit card? What did you think I should do for that? Also pictures ...? If you email them to me I can take them to a shop and get them printed for cheap. 

Okay, so we went on a super cool hike with our whole zone. It's pretty self explanatory in the pictures; just know that it was super fun.

About our typhoon two weeks ago, two days before it was supposed to hit it was upgraded to a super Typhoon, Level 5. They said it was bigger than Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, which killed over 2000 people. It was forecasted for a 3 in Agoo. The day before it hit we were all instructed to make sure we have supplies, food and water for 72 hour kits in case it was actually bad. Lots of families evacuated to the church building, probably 25 families, each one chose a classroom or a section of the gymnasium to call home for the night. It hit about 11 at night, so by the time we woke up it was over. In Agoo there wasn’t much damage, but I heard there was a couple of casualties. It’s really too bad. The people kept asking me about Oregon and how bad the typhoons are there. They have no idea how different other places are, just like Americans have no idea the culture here. 

Me and Elder Gamboa had our first big conflict. We met a family on their way to take their 5 year old to the hospital for a stomach problem. Elder Gamboa said we had to go with them, but I was hesitant, because we are not supposed to (do certain things as missionaries):  get involved in family issues besides offer service and priesthood blessings, pay for any families' food or bills no matter the circumstances, or travel outside of our assigned area without consent. We ended up going, and once they were safely there Elder Gamboa asked if I wanted to stay or go back to our area, although it was evident that he wanted to stay. I said if they are safe we should return. He said ok, but on our way out he accused me of not caring for the family; that "I just really care about the family, but if you want to work instead that’s fine". I stopped and made him discuss it, because that wasn’t fair at all. We tryked back to our area and once we were off the tyke he apologized and said when people are sick or need to go to the hospital he gets kinda panicky and has a short temper. It was all ok after that. Of course we want to help all of the people in our area but we have restrictions we are supposed to follow, and there is help from the branch president if the family would have asked them. (I was hesitant on including the story but for those of you who know Tiegue well, he's a mediator at heart and doesn't like to let disagreements go unresolved. Glad they could work things through!)

Other than that I had to veto a sleepover that was gonna happen at our apartment last night. Some of the missionaries here see it as a bad thing, snotty, or aspiring to follow the mission rules strictly. It’s almost as if they don’t understand the basic concept of missionary work. 

The keyboard I'm using has about half of the letters rubbed off from all of the past usage. 

This is our house. We sleep on the floor of the first floor because it is very hot upstairs and haunted. 
Our bathroom, with the recently cleaned toilet (it was all disgusting before, yellow and gross). The shower doesn't work, so the bucket and pail serve as our shower, and the little hole in the wall serves as our drain. The pail and bucket is also our toilet paper, it is true what they said about no toilet paper here. They have it but they only use it for runny noses and such, not for the CR (Comfort Room).

More pictures of our hike.
Elder Evans, one of our Zone leaders, on our zone hiking activity.