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.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Just a causal pic of me and Elder Kamalu lookin fly in front of the Provo Temple. I sat next to Elder Kamalu in my first hour of arriving at the MTC. If you remember that email he was laughing so I started laughing pretty soon we're both cracking up. 

Some weird stuff happens in the residencies of the MTC, like this odd going away ritual.  It involves the passing down of certain toys and candies to the new District Leaders in a weird version of Finding Nemo's "Ring of Fire." It was so strange, but they are going to Scandinavia, so it makes sense. 

This is Bro. Cobb; he's a 6'2” redhead from Minnesota and loves cracking jokes in Tagalog. He's getting us ready for the type of humor that Philippinos love.  Like when Elder Haycock asked him
"How do you say weird in Tagalog?"
"Doesn’t Ikaw mean "you"?" 
"Opo(yes)" then once the class actually understood what he had just said we all started cracking up. After 6 hours of class, getting clowned on by the teacher is worth a laughter break. 

Elder Schuab and Haycock got called as greeters for our Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. Elder Unice and I decided to join them. I started jokingly telling people "Oh, so glad to see that our speakers finally showed up!" I said to one guy, Elder Blakslee (sp), "Ahh  good to see you! President Smith told us that you would be our speaker today so you can just go right up and sit on the stand." A couple minutes later I looked over and President Smith is talking to Blasksee on the stand, asking him why he was sitting up there! Hahaha I went over and apologized but he thought it was funny too so we’re all good. 

Next is just my good friend Elder Elms looking very photogenic.

One day every week we are assigned to do service in another building, just like cleaning bathrooms and taking out trash etc. Elder Puefua and I went to the fourth floor where a bunch of people were leaving to someplace, and they had left a ton of boxes of candy and supplies and random stuff outside their rooms. So we got probably 20 pounds of candy in a box and brought it back to our rooms, instead of wasting it in the dumpster, it was all unopened. Anyways I found a fan that I stuck to the underside of Elder Unice's bed. The first morning after using it I was super tired, finally decided to get out of bed, and sat straight up. I smacked my forehead on the fan knocking it down, what a nice way to wake up huh?

If we bring our bags to lunch we're supposed to leave them on a wall of shelves, so as to not clutter the floor walking spaces. I got back to my class afterwards and realized I had grabbed the wrong Perfect Traveler bag! I hurried back to find the right one, luckily it was there. Finally when I made it back to my class building I told Brother Cobb (who was in a room with a group of newer missionaries) the story, or started to at least. He wants us to be an example for the newbeez so he had me SYL it (SYL is speak your language, the more we speak the better we will learn, it really does help). So I tell my story and one of the kids says "did it say ____ Mitton on it?!" hahaha I had grabbed his bag, what are the chances that he was one of the 10 missionaries in the one room in the whole MTC?

Sunday evening's devotional was the Nashville Tribute Band. They play original music talking about the restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith. They finished with a song called The Hardest Thing I Ever Loved To Do. If you want to know what being a missionary is like in a quick song, try to find it. Tbh (To be honest) I don’t know if they're on YouTube but I'm sure it is. It's definitely one to make a missionary miss their family. After the main singer sang it, he invited all of us to sing it with him again. The words were projected on the screen but only half the missionaries were able to finish it, between sniffling their noses and wiping tears from their eyes. Anyone who has or knows missionaries in the field know that they miss you SO much all the time, and can't wait to see you again..:)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 3

Hello Everyone!

I sent Greta a letter yesterday morning. Part of it was a series of videos we watched about 4 brothers who all went on missions and had a lot of interviews and what not. The youngest said he felt bad he hadn’t written his brother in Cambodia for 3 weeks, and that he would try to do a lot better; he didn’t want his brother to come back a new brother. But to still share stories and experiences and pictures so he still knows, and knows even better, his brother when he gets back. Maybe share that with Siany too. Know that I miss and love everyone so much, especially whenever I'm in the celestial room. We do temple sessions every p-day morning, and I always say a prayer for all of you individually. I love you lots <3

This week... I know things have happened but the weeks have already started to blend together. Elder Holmes, who left yesterday with the group who had completed their 6 weeks said "the weeks are like days and the days are like weeks." It's completely true. Class is ridiculous. Meal lines long and the quiet times at night are non-existent. This whole week we have been staying up way past lights out visiting with all the Elders who were going to be leaving on Wednesday. Elder Unice however, my companion, likes to be in bed by 10:15. If I'm not in the room he'll come around looking for me and tell me to go to bed. He's too much of a Mom.  As long as I wake up on time and do my part in lessons, it shouldn’t be too big of a problem. Aaanyways, The "3 weekers" or group that just left, seemed so experienced and older than my group, even though I'm the oldest Elder in our whole Philippines zone. We all shared emails so I can get a heads up on what the first 2 weeks of the real field will be like. I feel like I could struggle through communicating my thoughts and needs, but when it comes to listening and understanding the speed that Philippinos speak, I need a lot of work. But for my understanding of the language for only being here 3 weeks -- Wow! I never would have imagined what partial immersion in a language could be like. Definitely more knowledge than when I was just taking a class in school, even for 5 hours a day.

I'm trying to decide if I should send home my suit. I'm leaning towards it, since I don’t want it to just be hung up unused for 2 years.  I'll get one before I come back anyways, so I can look fly for homecoming ;) Constantly wearing short sleeves is nice, because now whenever I wanna dress up and look good I just put on the long sleeve shirt and I feel ready for some formal event. I'll ask my mission president if they allow the Turus, like lava-lavas -  just black sturdy fabric skirts. The Philippines may not be that small of an island, but it’s an island nonetheless, and I plan on treating it as such. Our teachers have told us that if you want the people to like you, BECOME Philippino, don’t hold back or be timid to try things because you're from America, because it will show, and they will see you as American. 

Teachers! We got a new teacher in addition to our other two. He is a 6'3" ginger, super energetic, and has high expectations. I lowkey don’t like how he came in and sort of took over our class from Brother Hill, but we will learn more under him I think. Every Tuesday we do TRCs, Teaching Resource Center, where we go and just visit and get to know members, then share a brief message. I got Elder Unice to agree to sing a song to our member, to bring the Spirit and set the tone for our message. Ha, get it, tone? Yeah, whatever. Our members said afterwards that singing songs during teaching appointments in the field is a really good idea. It gets everyone focused and attentive. I'll have to purchase a Philippino hymn book just for that purpose. 

Okay, food. It's good. Ha I mean I don’t know what everyone wants to know about it. I think since this Sunday the meals have started to repeat, besides burgers which we have once or twice a week, and subway Mondays and Pizza Fridays. Most of the meals are pretty good, some are not as much. I thought I'd escape Portland's traffic when I got here (although I miss driving a ton.) But I find myself waiting in lines for breakfast, lunch, dinner, choir, and Devotionals. This Sunday we had Elder Neil L. Anderson, everyone was hyped, and I barely knew who he was... but it was a good talk on missionary work and not letting your fire die at any point during the mission. Choir meets every Tuesday and Sunday for special numbers during devotionals. It’s alright, mostly just a time to hangout and hope you get on camera. Whenever the camera focuses on me, which happens more than expected, the guys next to me elbow or nudge me trying to make me laugh, which usually works. 

I'll try to take note of events as they happen, so I can have good stories for you all. 


I'm getting ready for all those new Philippino foods, starting with that beet you sent me. I just wish I would have taken a picture of the box full of candy then a random beet for more context on that one. 

Elder Pue'fua giving us an impromptu lesson on finding good wives. 

One of our trips to the temple, everyone is in what little shade is available.

My boys: Elder Symes, me and Elder Rennaker. Portland boys. And some random guys smiling at the table. 

Elders kamalu, Fenn, Wells, ??? haha, and Elder Beck. All great guys.

Elders Unice(got cut out of the picture oops,) McMullin, Schwab, Kamalu, Maners, Aguiar, and Bland, and that's me up front :)

Mahal ko yayo!! I love you all!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Our lessons with investigators are all in tagalog now.  We had to say goodbye to Kevin, our first investigator who was leaving and gonna start taking lessons from sister missionaries in Temple Square. It was sad to see him go, we'd become friends some how, through our horrible conversations in tagalog. The next day he shows up as our teacher, Brother Uhi, so that was a shock. He served in Baguio and Urdaneta missions, and actually knew and was friends with Sione Aisea (Sione also known as "Vaha" is a rugby teammate of Tiegue's. Vaha served in Baguio mission a couple of years ago)! He is a good teacher and it is weird hearing him speak in english, on the rare occasions that he does to make sure we understand him. 

Our new investigator, Abraham, is also played by Bro. Uhi. He is just role playing as investigators that he had while on his mission. Our lesson last night with Abraham was very more real, and difficult since Bro. Uhi demanded a higher bar of Tagalog. Unice (Tiegue's companion) wasn't able to input much since we didn't even get to our lesson; but since I actually know meaning behind memorized words I can put them together to speak my own sentences. It was all good; I didn't mind talking most of the time, It was nice seeing what I can piece together with like 3 english words thrown in. 

On our last lesson with Kevin, I told the story about the girl who wants a bike and works for the money by doing chores for her parents, but then her dad ends up buying it and just asks her to love him always. Then compared that to how we need to try our best to do the right thing, then The Savior makes everything possible and just asks us to follow him. Anyways, Ang munti babay naggusto dito bicycleta translates to "The little girl wanted this bike." I said the sentence and Kevin bursts out laughing, I start to laugh as well, though unsure what was funny. Ano, ano? what what? then Kevin starts imitating a monkey going "oo-oo-aa-aa" and waving his arms. I had said Ang munKi babay, a little monkey girl wanted a bike. It was hilarious and shows how big of a mistake you can make with just one wrong letter. This was our fifth lesson, we accepted Bro. Hill's challenge to not rely on notes. Although I did grab mine out of my bag to see why Kevin was laughing, I only used them for that one word, Munti.

Last Saturday night we planned to have a 3rd floor pillow fight. We started out with two pillows on each hand and basically boxing. Of course I ended up squaring up on Elder Peni, the biggest Samoan in the building because no one else would. Because of this I'd have to teach two discussions the next day with a fat bruised lip and bitten tongue. It was fine tho; I'm just glad none of the teachers or leaders asked about it. We eventually switched to one pillow each and just swinging them, no more boxing. Once we were tired of hitting each other we started moving around floors, going into people's rooms who we knew, turning off the lights and just going ham. Also there was a broken water pipe somewhere so an announcement came on over the PA system that the water to our building got shut off, it was oddly like a prison riot...

Sunday morning, after our Missionary conference that I dozed through, I got asked by Elder Birges to lead our discussion on the meeting I'd just slept through! It was my fault tho, I had just gotten through saying that I could do anything, including lead a discussion on anything. Right after that discussion, Unice and I had to teach/lead our priesthood class on baptism and Gift of the Holy Ghost. Unice started it off but I finished off the last 40 minutes, just calling on people, asking for insights, and just talking stalling for time. When it was over the Branch President who had sat in said how wonderful the lesson had been, and that he should have video taped it as an example on how to give an effective lesson. I was surprised but glad for the positive feedback. In the last couple days I've had multiple missionaries who were in the class come up to me and say thanks for the amazing lesson, that it was great, that they "didn't know two new elders could give such as good lesson", and that "it changed my life." I had no idea it would get that feedback but I guess we said somethings that needed to be heard.

This is Unice, Maners and Birges (left to right). I had to get a good picture of Maners to tell 2 of the funny things he's done. One time I'm in the bathroom brushing my teeth. Maners comes in about to shave. He sprays something into his hand and says, I don't think this is my shaving cream. He leaves right away and I smell something like superglue or chemicals. He had almost just sprayed shoe-waterproofing spray on his face instead of shaving cream. Everyone heard about it quickly and that's when I heard about the time he used sunscreen instead of body wash for an entire shower. Besides the bathroom, he does a lot of other goofy things. 

Also thanks for the package!!! You have no idea how well you perpetuate the stigma of "Keep Portland Weird." Unice had gotten a bunch of weird toys but nothing as random as a beet. The note cleared it up though. Thanks GRETA:) I've also heard from other people in the ward and family and have gotten a package. Nice!

I gotta run but I'll talk to you next week. maybe quickly tonight, we'll see.  Yes I finally have some pictures to send you.
My three roomies: E. Unice, E. Schuab, E. Haycock (front to back.)

Our classroom. Left to right is Unice, Yours Truly, Schuab, Elder McMullin, and Elder Clark. I could say so much about all of them, but don't know where to start, I'll mix in some stories eventually, hopefully.
The Provo temple is super cool, not as cool as PDx's tho obviously. It looks like a birthday cake, a spinning top, UFO, take your pick, we've said them all. We go on a walk to the temple each Sunday and get to go in and do temple work on our Pdays. The temple cafeteria is tha bomb! definitely worth getting their early to get the breakfast. This morning tho, E. Unice dropped a bite of pancake with boysenberry syrup all down his tie, so funny.

Sitting by the fountain is (left to right) Maners (so funny) Unice, Birges (our District leader,) Pue'fua, Holmes, and Sasine. I don't know the guy standing up. Hopefully the picture is in focus for you, its not while I'm looking at it, but I'll get better ones in the future. 

Our roomies again: Haycock, Schuab, Me, Unice. 

And last is an average PCL with Elder Unice (Personal, companionship, and language study session.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August 4th

So today has been my first P-day, we're only allowed to send emails on Thursdays for an hour so the computer lab I'm in is so loud with the keyboards being pounded frantically (we don't have spellcheck) with people trying to write an entire weeks worth of stories and respond to all their friends and family. 

My district, who I have classes with, consists of 4 Elder companionships and 1 sister companionship. Our teacher Brother Hill is a 21 year old returned missionary from one of the areas in the Philippines. He's white but teaches in 90% Tagalog, or Taglish as it's called. The people in the Philippines will often times use English words, with Tagalog verb conjugations, resulting in Taglish. Normally we're lost when Bro. Hill talks to us until he says that 1 English word and uses hand motions, then we'll understand. We started teaching an investigator, who only speaks (to us) in Tagalog on our second day here, it was ridiculous. Now, 9 days in we can make introductions, pray, testify, count, and tell time. We've been memorizing words, phrases and vocabulary but only learned how to conjugate verbs yesterday which seems like a pretty important part of learning to speak a language...We wake up at 6:30, and have about 8 hours of class/study time a day. We're not supposed to return to our residence for the night until 9;30 pm, quiet time at 10;15, and lights out at 10;30. I've been trying to write in the journal every night and usually that keeps me up longer than we're supposed to, oops. I wish I could just send you my nightly journal entry, that would be so simple and descriptive, but that's not how it works.

My district is fun, we all are going to the Philippines either Urdaneta or Baguio missions. We go on a walk to the Provo Temple grounds every Sunday to chillax and take pictures, I'll send one of my district and descriptions of some of them. My companion is Elder Unice, together we're probably the first or second best companionship at speaking tagolog, but our lessons don't always go smoothly. He's a cool guy, but I he never wants do do the same stuff as me at gym time. I'm always trying to go play volleyball and he just runs around the track (on the third floor of the gym). I barely got him to go to the field yesterday where I told a sister missionary I'd play sand volleyball at gym time. It was fun. Most of my district went and a lot of the 3-weekers (who are learning Tagalog also). At night before bed District Leader (DL) Elder Berges and I do a pushup/pullup circuit. At least my companion and I get along mostly. Out of the two of us, I got called to be the senior companion which I wasn't surprised about, because I'm the oldest one of my district and have been out with the missionaries the most too. But Elder Unice is a machine at memorizing things: vocab, paragraphs in Tagalog, remembering scripture references. I'm good at recognizing what to teach and reading the investigator and his needs. 

We're not really in the loop with MTC culture, with me being the only one of the family to serve a mission. There's some kids who receive a package of candy, little dart guns, shoes and other random stuff every 3 days. You have a pretty good idea of what I'd use/like to receive, and maybe 1 or two care packages would be nice. Maybe send me some Redvines, butterfingers, skittles, sour skittle, sour patch kids... All the 3 weekers just have drawers full from a steady stream of candy and food. but thats just because like 70% of the elder here are from Utah it seems.

 There is also a website called or something. It allows you to send me emails that then get printed out in the main office of the MTC and I can pick them up throughout the week, so that I can hear from you more than just on P-days. There's also options to send me donuts and stuff but I'd rather you not, I'd just end up giving them away to most of my district anyways.