(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”
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.
images from http://elderconnorschroedermission.blogspot.com/2013/06/manila-mtc-first-week.html and Manila Airport Hotel web page
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.
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.
President and Sister Beck (Picture from http://www.mormonnewsroom.ph/article/new-mormon-missionary-training-center-president-arrives-in-manila)
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.
Philippines MTC image from lds.org
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.
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!
My kasama Elder Langi and Brother Rondila
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!