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

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

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Small and Simple Things in Aborlan on the Island of Palawan

Mon 9/9/2013 4:48 AM
Hello, everybody!
This picture is just of the main area in Aborlan.  It’s not a very interesting picture, but that's because there's not a lot of specific or unique things to take pictures of.  I’ll try to do better next week.

I've realized in the past that I have done a terrible job in talking about the "Small and Simple" things that I promised I would do in my emails, and instead just about things that happen in my life that aren't that... well... unique to my mission. So here are a few observations:

1 Trikes are the way of travel to specific neighborhoods. Usually they cost about 20 pesos (50 cents) per person for maybe one or two miles. We often ride with people we don't know, and it's often very crowded. If we need to go a farther distance, then we take a Jeepney or a UV. Jeepneys are pretty crummy, but UVs are excellent. Depending on the distance it can be from 20-40 pesos per person. If we're going a really long distance, we go in a bus. But missionaries don't like it cuz there's often extremely inappropriate (and out of date) music playing.

2 Brown outs are extremely common. Everybody has candles ready for them.

3 I've gotten used to seeing frogs and lizards around my house. And I hear pigs all the time getting slaughtered. Interesting fact: they sound EXACTLY like zombies.

4 I love the fruits they have here, but all of them are a little bit different. Like, the bananas are usually a third of the size of regular bananas in America. Also, I've come to love their green oranges, jackfruit, mangos, and guavas

5 Filipinos have no idea of food storage. You buy everything you need for your day, and just anticipate you'll do the same tomorrow. So, it's very common to buy things like mints or small pieces of candy (i.e. "fun size") individually.

6 80% of the time, people accept us into their house to hear our message, and they're very nice. But, on the opposite end, sometimes when they see us coming they literally run away. Like, we see them run away. Tumawa kami! (We laugh)

7 People often ask about America. The most common question is "Does it rain in America?" I think it's funny, but I try to be nice.

8 They don't have traditional medicine. Like, they have never heard of Pepto Bismol, and if you want to buy Tylenol, you have to buy them individually, which stinks.

9 I've gotten used to going over rickety bridges. Filipinos seem to just prance over them, but I fear for my life. But it's getting better.

10 Houses don't have individual addresses, but are just on the street. So to find a specific house on a street you have to ask the neighbors, which naturally opens up a conversation about who we are and our church, which is wonderful.

11 Filipino brands are always super duper cheap, but American brands are the same price. Exclusion: soda.

12 Filipinos are very conservative. For example, if you want a soda, the person behind the counter opens up the bottle and pours it into a plastic bag and gives you a straw, and then recycles the bottle.

13 That goes for money, as well. In other words, they never have correct change for their customers, which is really unfortunate for us because missionaries get only 1000 peso bills, and most purchases are only about 50 pesos or so.

14 The houses are far off of the ground, so that rain can run underneath the house, not through it. I think that is found only in Palawan, though, and not Manila.

15 Sometimes, the language here is very tedious. Sometimes there are three times as many syllables in Tagalog to give the equivalent in English. But, other times, it's quite the opposite. For example, words like "ganon" means something like “that.” Or "daw" means “So they say.”

16 People have no concept of safety. I'm ashamed to admit this seems normal to me now, too.  Everybody walks carefree while trikes and jeepneys are passing right by. It's not uncommon for a car to pass you going at 50 mph and you're only 5 feet away from it.

17 Palawan is beautiful. I especially love the nights, cuz there's not a lot of pollution, and I'm surrounded by palm trees and natural wildlife, that has been, up to this point, friendly.  :D

18 Out of all the animals Filipinos are fond of, what would you think it would be? Well, it's the squirrel. It's a big deal when you find a squirrel. Yeah, I can't believe it.

So there's just a few things about Life in the Philippines!

My week has gone really well, and I've made a lot of progress in the language. I find that reading the Book of Mormon is my most helpful language study. I really enjoy reading it in Tagalog, cuz I can feel the Spirit and learn the language at the same time. People here are telling me one missionary was able to become fluent in the language by two months cuz he read the BoM in Tagalog, so I'm convinced.

My companion and I bonded quite well.  But I am very sorry to say that my companion/trainer, who I looked so much up to in this time, decided to leave his mission today, and is gone. It's a very sad day today.  Your prayers for him would be nice.  So now I'm in a threesome companionship with the other two missionaries here. It's not certain when I'll be getting my next trainer, or if I will get one at all, or just continue in this threesome companionship.
But you should know that I'm pushing through! I'm in love with the work I'm doing. Really, the trials are here to make me grow. Many of the missionaries who are having the hardest time here on the mission seem to be struggling because they constantly think about their life back home. I've found that if I just continue to focus on the job at hand, and not heed the devil on my left shoulder, life becomes easier. So really, besides the heartbreaking event that happened today, my week has been the best week of my life because I wanted it to be. There is so much more of me that I have given that I did not know I had.
With love,

Elder Thurber

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