Hello from Elder Thurber--who serves in the Philippines Manila Mission

Hello from Elder Thurber--who serves in the Philippines Manila Mission

Monday, July 22, 2013

Matthew's Emails from His First Week now in correct order

(Matthew’s mom here:  I have now put Matthew’s emails from his first week in the correct order in this post.)

“Travels, Tongans, "Tuuuuuurber," Trials, and Thankfulness”
Written July 11th, 2013, received July 19th
Dear Everyone,

I'm practically crying right now out of excitement! This week has been unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. I hope you enjoy reading about it, because I really enjoyed experiencing it!

My flights went pretty well. I was able to first meet a man named Calvin going to Spokane. I actually gave him a pass-along card! I felt like a missionary. The flights weren't too bad. I was able to read practically everything in my bag and eat all the snacks I brought along as well. What made the flight difficult was that every. single. seat. had an in-flight screen with up-to-date movies like Ironman III, or Life of Pi etc, etc. Since mission rules are that we’re not supposed to watch movies, I tried my best not to look, but basically everybody was watching movies. But I resisted!

I absolutely loved being in the Japan airport. The people are the most quaint people I've ever seen in my life. They seem to live a life of peace and tranquility. Every worker was smiling and very polite. All of the massage chairs were being used (and there were quite a few). The people.... ahhhhh.... it makes me want to live in Japan one day, or at least go on vacation when I'm rich and stuff.

Once I got to the Philippines, it was a different story. Bear in mind, I didn't sleep on the plane--I figured it would be better for dealing with jet lag. As soon as I got out of the plane I smelled the polluted Philippino air. Blech. People were everywhere. When I got to customs, there was a guy in his 40s who asked me what I was doing there. Turns out, he was a Baptist missionary. He said, "Let the true religion win." I just laughed. Bear in mind I was sleep deprived and nobody knew practically any English. Turns out he was going to be staying in the Manila Airport Hotel like me. Once I got outside, we took the same van to the airport. Ladies and Gentleman, the Manila Airport is the pinnacle of dense population and pollution! I had never seen so many people in my life cramped into such a small, small place. When I got to the hotel and unpacked, I went outside. All the rooms were in little huts, and the best part was this pet monkey who was leashed to a circular pole on top of all of the roofs.

Probably the most remarkable moment of my journey was the car ride the next morning over to the airport. That was BY FAR the craziest car ride of my life. If you know me, that's really saying something. Basically, every car was a foot from each other at all times. There were always motorcycles riding in between the lanes. I certainly prayed my heart out—for my life! The new civilized apartment buildings were at least 20 stories high, and right next to them were the slums. People were everywhere. I cannot exaggerate that enough! I'm really understanding Dan Brown’s new book and the overpopulation thing now. It was soooo weird. I'm just thankful I'm here. I'm so glad I'm not allowed to drive here in Manila b/c I'm pretty sure I would come back to America in two pieces.

And then... I saw the temple. In the midst of the chaos, serenity.

Sorry, if that was cheesy.I helped carry luggage and stuff for everybody. I quickly became friends with Elder Webb, who would later become a zone leader. He was from St George I think. I found out just yesterday that his mile was 4:15!!!! But he is so nice and everybody loves him. At first, people kinda organized themselves into groups based on race/nationality. There are 21 different countries represented in this MTC. 

image from lds.org

The mission president said that they don't have enough flags in the front of the MTC to represent all of the different countries. Most of us, however, found ourselves with companions of another nationalities.

My companion is Elder Langi. He's the man! He talks quietly like most Tongans do, but he has a great spirit, and teaching with him is so awesome. He knows English better than most other Tongans here, and he's always very polite (almost too polite). He's really into volleyball, and he loves to laugh at my dancing, which I did when I ran over to the computer to write this email :) He is super good at volleyball. He said at Tonga he would spend about 3 hours playing every day. On top of that, he lifts weights. He can bench 280. 

I became the District Leader for the "Mosiah District." It's rather ironic name, because we're mostly sisters, not the "Sons of Mosiah.”  In fact, we're the only elders in the entire district

So my computer is telling me I have three minutes to finish writing, but I know for a fact I have an hour. So I'm going to upload a few pictures on here now. Sorry it literally takes 15 minutes to upload 1 photo here. I don't know how this'll all work. I may be sending you two emails. Sorry about that. Yeah OK bye.

(Below is the email entitled “Continuation” which we received July 11th  )

July 11, 2013
Well, the responsibilities are pretty easy for district leaders--make sure everybody is on time to everything, everybody gets blessings if they're sick or homesick... etc etc. There are a lot of New Zealanders here. I LOVE NEW ZEALANDERS!! They're all so tall and conversationable and have a sweet accent. Plus they're awesome at basketball (there are a lot of ballhandlers here at the MTC). I didn't know the church was that strong there, but it is! They provide me a lot of inspiration.

Most Tongan girls here are really crazy. Bring three of them together in one place, and they will be laughing their head off in a matter of thirty seconds. It's incredible. They love trying to say my last name. I never knew my last name was hard to say. But, when they're being spiritual, they get REALLY spiritual. But, that only happens some of the time. We do most of our events in our district room, and it's hard to keep them reverent or "quiet dignity" as they put it. My challenge is they (and a lot of my district) don’t take the rule of keeping with their companions seriously. And the teachers ask me to look after them. But don't get me wrong, I love talking to them. 

I was able to go to the temple. I was actually an escort for this Filippino who didn't know any english. He was practically peeing his pants out of nervousness, but he got through it okay. When I opened the scriptures, I came upon the scripture Ether 12:27. Need I say more? I felt really happy then. 

The food is pretty good here. Rice is served for practically every meal. It's not too bad. I actually get to go over to the convenience store in just a little bit. I heard they have oreos. I can barely wait.

Philippines MTC image from lds.org

One more thing, me and my kasama (companion) are always the first ones to get up in the morning. Turns out, I only need 7 hours of sleep! We go to the gym early in the morning and exercise, on top of the 1 hour of exercise we get during gym, but there are too many people then and it's hard to do anything.

Philippines MTC image from lds.org

What do I miss most? Definitely being able to understand everybody.

The second day we started out with our first investigator, Gloria Talaman. She barely knew any english. We basically wrote down a bunch of phrases to tell her. Only later did we find out that she will be our next teacher next week. I figured, though. She looked like a teacher. Our current teacher is bro Rondilla, and he's like 5 feet tall and super adorable and super skinny.

My kasama Elder Langi and Brother Rondila

I've been learning the language okay, but I get frustrated with myself at times. I just want to get that part over with and start teaching for real!

Is there anybody I need to pray for in the ward? I pray so much that I run out of the things to say! Also, could you give me the email and physical addresses for my friends? 

There’s a lot of ruckus that happens here at the MTC, but I’m surviving and I still love the Lord.  Just send me as many emails as you can. I'd appreciate it!

I love you to death!


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