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

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

Sunday, September 29, 2013


September 23, 2013
Aborlan, Palawan

Hello, lahat po kayo! (hello, all of you!)
After district meeting last Tuesday, Pres. Stucki arranged an immediate transfer. But thankfully, it was just in our apartment, and was not for reasons having to do with my companionship with Elder Balonsong. Elder Hart is now my trainer. I have an American companion!  I really miss being Elder Balonsong's companion, because Elder Hart hasn't had experience in OYMing, or tracting. That's all we're doing. But we're both growing so much from this that I know the transfer is the right idea and was revelation from Heavenly Father. 

Wait! I want to teach you all some tagalog before I continue. So... when it comes to showing some possession, you use aking after the item, or ko right after, if it is yours. They both mean the word "my." For example: "That is aking (my) father." Or you can say "That is my father ko (my)." Tagalog is all about switching around word orders, as witnessed in the use of ko, and it constantly boggles aking brain! So I'm going to use that in the rest of email ko
Aking life here now is quite different that what it was when I was with Elder Balonsong. He knew the language very well, and speaking to whoever wasn't a problem for him. Elder Hart hasn't had any experience in door-to-door tracting in his mission, even though he has been on a mission for nine months. So I am forced to actively participate in speaking Tagalog because he isn't completely sure about how to do it either. 

So every day, every hour, every minute is quite the adventure, and while I thought I was already out of my comfort zone, I'm traveling farther and farther away from it every day. Thinking that aking language isn't sufficient is no longer an option. 90% of people don't know any English, and if they do it is rather scarce.
But, ray ko of hope is the members! They've seen brand new missionaries like me come out to the field, and know aking language difficulties, and are always trying to help me overcome them. 

So I'm finally able to get on a good enough computer to send pictures, so here are a bunch! 

This is where we go to email. The backroom is where the computers are.  The weather is actually very nice here most of the time. Honestly, I'm sweating more right now at this computer more than I have the entire week, just because the lady hasn't pointed the fan in my direction yet.

This is a picture of Bro Deo. He is ridiculously funny, and he is typically the key to opening the door to people's houses for us to teach. He seems to know everybody, and teaches the Gospel Principles class and sometimes priesthood. His English isn't the best, but it sure is better than most. Aking next picture is of our ward council meeting. It's in our temporary meeting house. 

What you see in this picture is about half of the size of our church building. It's small, but last Sunday we had 121 attend church, and the week before we set a record in Aborlan of having 129 people there!  
It was raining so hard one time we were  there that water started to pour in. On the right of this picture is the one piano I have been able to play out here in the field. It's out of tune and clanky. 

Interesting side-note: one of the sisters in the ward asked me if I wanted to create a ward choir in Aborlan and be it's first conductor! I graciously accepted, obviously. But, just from hearing people in the congregation sing on Sunday, it will be a challenge. Since nobody knows how to read music here (there are a few that can jot out a melody but not read music), many songs in the hymnbook have been tampered with. So when I'm playing piano on Sunday, the congregation starts singing something in a different rhythm or melody.
Anyways, that's not super important.  
Want to hear a funny story? Ok, well we have this investigator (that was planning on getting baptized on Saturday, but unfortunately cannot because of "kape" or coffee). I asked her how her scripture reading was going, and she said she just finished 1 Nephi. I asked her if she read chapter eight, which is about the the prophet Lehi's Tree of Life vision. Earlier as we were preparing to teach her, I looked up the word for iron, so I could say iron rod in Tagalog. The dictionary said "plantse" so I used that while we talked it about it with her. And I kept on using it, and kept on using it, and kept on using it. Every time I used it it seemed like she was getting more confused. Turns out, I totally forgot that iron has two different meanings! The metal, and the thing we use to iron clothes. Guess which one I used? Once I figured that out, I couldn't stop laughing, and I couldn't explain it to anybody, and aking companion couldn't either.
This lizard lives in our apartment. It makes the funniest sound at random times, but is especially prone to doing so in the night time when we're sleeping. It sounds like: TUUUuukaaaeeeuuu! It's surprisingly clear, so much so that you would expect coming from something else. We want to keep it there because it helps get rid of the bugs that come in.

The next picture shows where exactly it lives. It doesn't move but just stays there, waiting for bugs. And that's my companion. He's right next to our desks, just like the lizard.

This is most ko common form of transportation; The glorious, magnificent, sanitation-less, bumpy trike. Usually 5 people fit into it, not including the driver. I often hit aking head on the top when we travel around, because the roads are super rocky all the time.

This is a picture of Elder Hart, my companion, and aking typical lunch at the diner right next to my house. To the left is "baboy" or pig. It costs 35 pesos, or 80 cents. The rice is 16, and the "royal" is about 20. BTW, Royal is the exact same thing as Fanta. I have no idea why it's called that. The next picture is all of the other food that I could have bought for around the same price as baboy. Filipino food has a lot of sodium!

The above picture is of all of the missionaries in aking zone! In the middle is Elder and Sister Gwilliams. They are so sweet and remind me so much of Bro and Sis Patterson that used to live in the Mechanicsville ward. They're my district, so we get to see them at district meetings. Many people are going to be leaving this next transfer, because they will be training missionaries. I just learned that we will be getting 17 new missionaries in Manila this transfer! 

And the next picture is of where Elder Saclot baptized Bro Paller. It's a beautiful place, and I hope I can baptize there in these next six weeks because I probably won't be able to baptize in a river again in my entire mission.

The Lord's work is truly coming forth in these latter days, and proceeding here in the Philippines, and I'm a part of it. Pretty cool, right?

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