News from Agoo, 3rd Branch
Sooo for this week...
If I had to describe the Philippines in one sentence it would be like living in an apartment building: below you is a sauna for dogs that bark whenever you come or go and it’s always hot and humid, and above you is Giants that drive a hummer (Constant thunder and lightning.) Surprisingly it hasn't rained for 3 days, so it’s less humid, and feels less hot, but Sister Esplin predicts a Typhoon soon, and we are in the rainy season. Our apartment is going to have water running straight through it if there is a flood, and water up to my knees in the streets. Sister Esplin also said that they had to stay in their apartment for 5 days the last typhoon, and the water is so dirty you need big rubber boots or you'll get sick. One night we walked for probably a mile through steady rain, Elder Gamboa was shivering and said he was so cold. I had to laugh because that was the warmest rain I had ever felt, probably no less than 70 degrees, besides being soaked it felt nice. Turns out that is too cold for Filipinos because he had a fever the next morning.
I've been doing everything I can to stay healthy, being aware that my hands are as dirty as my shoes, drinking excessive amounts of water, and cleaning. Once while i was cleaning dishes I found that in our dishes cabinet (like a little plastic thing), there was Mosquito larvae in the stagnant water from drying dishes. GROSSSS! And 2 days after I was cleaning a serving spoon that we use almost every day, there was literally, no exaggeration, around 60 ants living in this serving spoon with like 20 eggs. So I'm going through and deep cleaning our house. I cringe to think how that even happens. Not to mention the mice that live upstairs. Haha that’s another thing, we sleep on our mattresses on the floor of our first floor because our upstairs is haunted. Elder Gamboa had a terrifying experience his first night, but once they fix our AC I'm gonna convince him its worth it. Haha so our house sounds awful, but its really not too bad. Elder Gamboa says its one of the nicest apartments in our zone, although I don’t believe that too firmly.
There are many things I've come to love about the Philippines. The rivers, the trails, rain forests, and rice fields can be beautiful too. I want to wait until there is a really stunning opportunity, so you can see the full potential. We have a new investigator family at the top of this mountain, which is nice because she’s actually wanting to learn, but we have to hike up a mountain to teach her, and its a long ways for her to get to church on Sundays. There’s so much nature but its all completely different from the Northwest. We were walking up a road, and I was getting tired and discouraged, but then I saw Pine trees! Man just that little thing was a sight for sore eyes. Elder Beck saw a butterfly in his area as big as his face, and he’s a big guy. The bugs here are ridiculous! After walking through a rain forest and sitting down in a lesson I see little things crawling on Elder Gamboa's back, and try not to think of what’s probably on me too.
One major difference here is the ants. The ants make our ants at home look lazy. There’s big ones and tiny ones, orange brown and black, and they’re everywhere. If there is any food left anywhere there will be ants covering it within minutes. At the Baguio Mission home before we left all of our bags were against a wall outside. One of the bags was covered in hundreds of ants because there was a tiny package of M&Ms. Speaking of M&Ms, I miss American candy and food in general. The rice is good here, like I was told by everyone, but tbh (to be honest) anything is good after a 13 hour day, even if there’s tiny rocks.
Last Saturday we had a Family Day. Once a year they have a week where all of the members in the area (probably 350) all meet for fun, games and food. Their version of Pinatas are clay pots that you hit with bamboo. There were two to be broken open, the first had just candy, the second had candy and baby powder so when it broke open and the kids rushed forward they got covered in white powder, such a sneaky prank! We also did Tug of War, the 5 American missionaries vs 5 Filipinos. We should have expected that once we started to win, a whole bunch more people jumped to their countries aid. In the final round they tied their end of the rope around a palm tree without us knowing, we pulled with all our might and got rope burns for naught. At the end of the activity we did a budol fight, where rice and different meats and toppings are laid out over palm leaves, and everyone "fights" to eat (people eat with their hands). I am so going to do this when I return, and even try cooking the local exotic foods, like chicken feet, chicken heads, balut, pigs blood, chicken intestines...Okay i wouldn’t even know where to get those things. But I have tried some and they aren’t too bad. The Zone Leaders want to feed me balut next Saturday for my birthday. I told myself before the mission that I would eat anything a Filipino would, so bring it on. (Balut is a fertilized egg, usually duck, that has been boiled or steamed. Mature enough to have partially developed bones but still soft enough to eat. Commonly sold as street food.)
In my lessons everyone says I'm Magaling, or skilled/talented at Tagalog, even if I think I still stink. It’s rough but getting easier each day. I'm looking forward when I can confidently speak to anyone and understand them without too much trouble. We teach people that there is someone who knows their every struggle, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can receive help and strength if we just ask, and seek diligently. Sometimes it’s hard to understand, and remember this, but through faith, an a solid testimony that there is a plan for us, we can make it through any struggle, and receive strength and guidance in any area of life: school, work, family issues, big life decisions, or just need to feel that there is someone who cares. Just humble yourself enough to get down and pray, and you will feel the comforting power of the Spirit.
Love you all, keep on keepin on :)
In the background, what looks like a path is actually a stream. Look at what Tiegue’s holding Annee…the umbrella you got him…definitely using it!
In this picture you can see the incline of the path as they move up the hill side.
Family Day. The clay piñata is hanging from the basketball hoop.
(Tiegue has not updated his address for sending letter mail. We will post when he does. If you’re interested in sending a package, Kelli knows of a Beaverton lady that does bulk boat shipments to the Philippines for $15 a package. Keep in mind that boat shipments take 30-60 to arrive.)