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.

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.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Transfers are every seven weeks, Elder Gamboa wanted to be transferred just because he's been in Agoo in the same house for 4 months now, but didnt get selected to. I'm not worried, I'm not super attached or anything. Whatever happens happens :) I go with the flow, you know that. If I got transferred that'd be cool, just to see a new area, meet new people, new companion, but that's not happening. President Bengal has said that all new missionaries will train after their training so that means another 3 months here in Agoo after my first 3. Whatever happens happens :)

I did get a MSF card, Missionary Support Fund card. I get 8000 pesos ($165) a month, and it is sufficient. We can use it for anything for the mission, haircuts, food, hygiene, transportation fare, bills, etc. But anything personal is supposed to be bought using personal funds, this would include any items that you take home at the end of the mission: clothes, accessories, cameras, souvenirs, speakers, etc. Some missionaries are really bad about this and save money to take home after the mission, or to buy personal stuff. One Elder I heard took home 15,000 pesos, which is pretty impressive that he was able to save that much, but I'm gonna try to be strict about it cuz thems the rules. Elder Gamboa told me a story of a youth leader he had back in Bakolod city who was super rich and would take them out to eat. Elder Gamboa asked him how he got so rich, and he replied that he paid a full tithe. Not that there is a direct relationship there, but we shouldnt steal other people's tithes, the lords tithes, Consecrated funds as President Boone calls it. 

I'm trying to send pictures but the Internet cafe has a super slow upload speed, probably because half of the computers are being used by DOTA players, or League of Legends in America, it’s so big here, they love it. It’s so different here, how the kids grow up. Once they’re big enough to walk they toddle around the street, or have an older sibling who watches them. One of our areas is on top of a mountain, and one of the older kid’s job is to make sure his little brother doesn’t walk too close to the edge and fall down the mountain side. It’s really different here! They can’t work till 18 here so they either excel in school or start playing Dota or Basketball. If the young adults are unemployed they will just live with family or extended family, which is easy because usually a whole neighborhood will consist of about 4 different family names.

One of those family names is A…, Johnathan A…. He was already taking lessons when I came here to Agoo, and his baptism was last Saturday night. We'd been looking forward to it for about 2 months, but thought the worst when he didn’t show up 30 minutes after the initial start time; His phone and his girlfriend’s phone were dead so we had no idea what to expect. Finally he rolls up in a trike (I'll get a picture of a trike next week maybe) and then service started. Elder Gamboa had suggested that I baptize him, and Johnathan agreed. It surprised me that he would pass off his prior investigator to me, especially since he has a bit of pride in him. But later he explained that before his mission he'd already baptized 5 people and wanted me to be able to have my first. It was a good experience, I don’t really remember my own baptism but I'll remember every one of them here on the mission. 

I don’t have time to send more, but I already have stories for next week. The typhoon, our zone hike earlier, and more, Next week na lang!

Our house is that middle section of the building, I'll send more pics and descriptions next week. 

Love you!

Here’s one of Tiegue’s Baptism Day! (Tiegue, Taylor Maxwell, Justin Laney)

Friday, October 21, 2016

For those of you who have already read Elder Hennessey's last blog, I made a mistake on my addition of the conversion of 300 pesos to USD which he pays for his laundry. It is only $6...not $15. I had not specified Philippine pesos; it's much less than Mexico's! I have made the correction in his blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 17, 2017

Typhoon Karen: We heard on Friday that a Level 3 (or 4) typhoon would hit the Baguio/Agoo area either on Saturday or Sunday, and that we should prepare our 72 hour kits and emergency lanterns so as to be ready. But we have no lantern, and we didn’t have money to buy one at that time; and we don’t have 72 hour kits, so we'd have to survive off the food in our house which was sufficient. The Typhoon actually hit at 5:30 am on Sunday, and peaked around 8. I hadn’t known what to expect, just that Sister Esplin said that last time there was a typhoon she had to stay in her house for 5 days. Luckily we just had Sunday to be locked indoors, but even then at 4 o’clock in the afternoon we went out to "check on the sisters" who live nearby, basically just to hangout :). There was a lot of wind and rain, so much that it was blowing in through our windows. A powerline went out, and some signs were brought down, but there wasn’t too much damage. I have a feeling this was a really tame 3, or we were not in the direct path. Probably the worst part about it was church got canceled so our investigators (we would have had 4) couldn’t attend. 

Answers to questions:
The Kalamafoni's sent their daughter a washboard, her name is Luhama and her companion is Sister Abrigo, serving in Philippines but idk which mission.  How do you do your laundry?  We have a member who we pay to do our laundry, its kind of expensive though, 300 pesos a week ($6). I have her do my wash every two weeks and just do a little handwash if I don’t have any clothes clean enough to wear.

What made you laugh this week? What made me laugh this week was remembering from the MTC when we were doing ”Wife readings”, similar in thought to patriarchal blessings, but not sacrilegious. Where Elder Schwab would predict your future spouse, her looks, her personality, your first date, and sometimes even relationship problems you'd have to work on.

Who is your favorite person you've met so far?  Favorite person, probably our MCM (Missionary coordination meeting) Leader, Brother Oliver, he's an RM (Return Missionary), probably 24, feeds us 2 times a week, and drives us around on his trike free of charge! I'll get a picture of him for next week.

What do you do with garbage? I heard they don't have garbage service???  Every quarter mile or so, depending on how densely populated the area is, there are garbage collection points. You just take your trash there in bags and it gets picked up regularly by city workers.

We had a zone conference on Tuesday, at which I was able to meet the other Elder Hennessey! I had heard of him and that I HAD to meet him before he went home. I was able to, it was almost like a blind date, with much anticipation. As we introduced and met each other we realized that we were probably related! Our families moved from (we think) Missouri to California during the Great Depression, his then to Utah, and my relatives up to Oregon. His parents are both converts as are mine. He leaves the mission in about 5 days, but is going to do family history to see if we actually are cousins that met while in the Philippines. Small World.  

I forgot to bring his contact info to the internet cafe but I'll give it to you next week and maybe you can talk to his parents for genealogy? Maybe Grandma Terry would love to search all that.

I'll try to remember more for next weeks email.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Probably the most memorable event this week happened with Spiders. Before coming to the mission, I was terrified of spiders, my little sisters can attest to it. But here in the Philippines there is only one type of spider that is poisonous, the Black Tarantula. All the rest of them can still bite, but rarely do. A common hobby here is to fight spiders, and to keep them, not as pets, more like little playthings. At a dinner at our Branch Presidents house for his Birthday, Elder Gamboa scared me by letting a spider crawl out of his open fist. I screamed, jumped, and ran to the other side of the room. 

But I had to conquer my fear, because there are many spiders here, all around. So, cringing, I let him tip the spider into my hand. And while disgusting, it wasn’t so bad. 

A few days later we stopped at a store to get a drink, there was a boy with some matchboxes and I asked if there were spiders inside, he nods. Elder Gamboa asked to fight them; the kid popped two spiders out of their compartments in the matchbox and put them on a stick. And sure enough, one became the victor. This kid was probably 12 and had 22 spiders!!! They do things different here. 

At our next teaching appointment we told Brother Johnathan, about the fighting spider, and he asked if I wanted one. I said no but he persisted. "What color? Green orange yellow red?" like I was picking out a color for a car. He works in the rice fields and said when they harvest, there are many spiders all around, and he would catch one for me and bring it to church next week. Sooo next week, I might have my very own Green and Red Philippino Fighting Spider.

Speaking of harvesting rice, they’re doing it now. They wack the rice plant on the ground or rack to get the sheathed rice out, then they dry it. The picture attached is how they dry it. Usually on nets, always on the road, but sometimes just on the road. And people walk on it, trikes drive over it, that’s why we have to wash our rice thoroughly before we eat it.

Some questions for Tiegue:
How cold does it get there?
The coldest its been here is probably 65 at night. They say it gets up to 116 Fahrenheit here in the lowlands. Sister Esplin passed out on a fast Sunday last year, crazy.

How is your messenger bag (His strap broke will at the MTC. It’s a bag he uses everyday)?
My bag is good, the waist strap is a lifesaver. Sometimes its a bit heavy, but that’s just because I bring my BOM (Book of Mormon) and bible, pamphlets and tagalog BOM to give away.

What happened with the suitcase and the airline (His suitcase had broken open on flight to Manila and came out on the baggage carousel in a big plastic bag)?

My suitcase, they took it and just redid the zipper. So same suitcase, new zipper, it works. 

Last night we taught an inactive family, after the lesson we usually chat, or rather Elder Gamboa does and I sit there quietly. But last night one of the daughters, probably 19 asked for help on her English homework. I was glad to help her, it is so nice whenever I get a chance to talk or teach in English, although even if they would understand, I usually try to struggle through Tagalog in order to learn. But through helping her understand, I realized that American English is really complicated! There are a lot of special rules, and specific ways to say things. Like future present progressive... it took a while even for me to understand it. That was a really nice way to end the day though. If I am asked to help teach English I'll jump at the offer.

Last week the sister missionaries in our branch asked us to bless a family who had been ill. The sisters told us that at their last lesson the little girl had been throwing up constantly, and they'd all been sick for 2 weeks. We finally found their house and gave them blessings, after anointing their heads with consecrated healing oil. They thanked us and we left shortly. I didn’t think too much about it but two days later the sister missionaries reported that the family was healed by the end of the day, and all of the neighbors asked how they got better so fast. The mother testified to all of them about the power of priesthood, and priesthood blessings. 

As members of the church, sometimes we have difficult struggles, big decisions, or need extra comfort. We sometimes forget that there are worthy priesthood members more than willing to visit our homes, and be the mouthpiece of our Heavenly Father as they give us blessings of healing or comfort. Like that mother, I can testify of the priesthood, and that there is real power in priesthood blessings. Never be shy or afraid to ask for a blessing, the Priesthood members are understanding and want to help. Non-members also, if you need help, guidance, or have a sick loved one, find a member, and ask them to contact the bishop who will set up a member of the ward to come visit. If you have faith that there is a power that can heal us, it will be a miracle and a building block of faith to your testimony.

As always, I love you all. Thank you for your prayers, for me and all the missionaries of the world.   

Monday, October 3, 2016

This week was full of new foods. Or at least I thought so. Every Thursday we have MCM (Missionary coordination meeting) where we discuss our work and investigators and how we could use help from the members in the ward. Afterwards Brother Oliver always cooks us dinner, he is a great cook, and a really cool guy. I don’t have a picture but I will try to have one next week. He is super funny whenever he speaks in English because his accent is so thick, I love to visit because I'm always cracking up. For dinner we ate this brown thing, that looked like a strange cut of meat I’ve never seen before, A pit formed in my stomach when they told me it was dog. But hey I was hungry. All throughout the meal his dogs (he has probably 5 outside in cages) were howling and crying the whole time. Br Oliver told me afterwards that it was not dog, and that he heard that one of his neighbors ate dog, and died 3 hours later. So he doesn’t eat it; but I have a feeling I will be served dog before my mission is over. 

For my birthday Elder Gamboa fried Milkfish. It was boneless and easy to eat, but when he told me the head and tail was the best part I didn’t believe him. I knew they ate some weird things but the tail? Really? I conceded and it was actually kinda good, like a fried chip, with bones that poke your tongue. 

For Dinner we had a balut party at Sister Bautista's home with the sister missionaries. To eat it you crack the egg, drink the subau, or soup, then peel the rest of the shell and down the egg and partially formed duck embryo. It looks way worse than it tastes. I had 3. Sister Dennis couldn’t bring herself to eat is so I had her Chick too. 

There are two traditions in the Philippines about birthdays. The first is that you wear red on your birthday, and if you wear red, people on the street who have never seen you before might say happy birthday to you. I died laughing when I heard that. Also the person whose birthday it is, is responsible for making sure everyone has a good time. They have to cook, clean, invite everyone to the party, and if someone is upset, it’s their fault. Kind of more like a curse than a gift. 

The gigantic statue of a Bald Eagle, yeah its pretty sweet! I was glad to see such a patriotic symbol in the heart of the Philippines. When I asked Elder Gamboa why it was there he said it was their National Bird too, or at least the eagle is. At the very least it's cool. I don’t know if there’s a bird that big in all of America. 

Part of the reason I didn’t want to eat dog was because they have different ideas of animals Yeah some are pets, but they don’t have the same relationship. There are many animals that just wander around in the streets and eat garbage. I think I remember a verse when I was finishing the Book of Mormon saying that all of the creations have spirits, and if they do then there must be a spirit world for them.

I miss you all very much. It was really nice to receive a package from Torben in the MTC, even if the chile mangos were gross haha. I'm gonna learn to cook while I'm here and cook dishes for yall when I get back, and teach you to eat with your hands like we do. 

That reminds me, I need ideas for stuff to cook. I'm gonna ask Gamboa to teach me, Sister Esplin told me he is a good cook. I have a frying pan, that is it. Is there a frying pan cookie recipe somewhere? After our meetings on Tuesday we get 1 homemade cookie from Sis and President Boone, it is literally one of the highlights of my week, I crave homemade cookies. If I find an apartment with an oven I'm gonna cook a ton of chocolate chip and oatmeal and snickerdoodles ahhh. 

Do you have to pay or buy something at the internet Café when you email us?
Yeah I have to pay 20 pesos for an hour and 20 minutes.

How will you listen to or see Conference?

We’ll listen to it this Saturday and Sunday at Idk (I don’t know) where.

Elder Gamboa playing ball.

My worst fear! Why only 6 legs?