October 7, 2013, Aborlan, Palawan
The subject of this blog post is a quote from Elder Hart today, while we were playing chess. We play every other day, and he is getting a lot better. I am always humbled by his humility and diligence, and I am learning a lot from him. It's nice to be able to teach in English! We love relating it back to the gospel. But frankly, that's what I've been thinking lately, too: I wish I had more experience! Yet I know I've come a long ways, not only with missionary work, but my work ethic and determination to get the job done, whatever the cost, rain or shine (literally).
Elder Hart is doing a great job as a district leader. This coming week is going to be a weird week for me personally. Right after email, we will be heading off to Narra for tomorrow's zone meeting and Mission President interviews. Then, I'll be staying in Narra for an exchange with Elder Delorino, who I have mentioned earlier I think. Thursday I'll be going with Elder Balonsong again on another exchange! It'll be a fun week to say the least! The only real normal day I'll have will be on Friday, and that's weekly planning, which is three whopping hours. And obviously, on Saturday and Sunday, we'll be going to conference. I have to say, in all probability, that I am the most excited person to see conference, especially since you guys have already seen it goshdarnit! So jealous.
This is the type deliciousness that Elder Balonsong often makes! I'm challenging myself to become a better cook before we part ways.
Elder Hart made a magnificent picture of the Manila Temple for our investigators! Among others, he gave a copy to a recent convert, Tatay Ayade. (*sidenote* whenever somebody is about maybe 30+ years older than you, you usually call them tatay (dad) or nanay (mom) regardless of whether or not it is true. Also, when you shake their hand, you bring their hand to your forehead as a sign of respect, and you use "po" very often in your sentences, which doesn't really mean anything other than just giving respect.)
ANYWAYS Tatay is extremely poor. He's probably 70 years old. When we came there at eight o'clock, he said he was sick. When we asked if he had read his scriptures, he said he hadn't, because he's always tired, and always looks super depressed. In his defense, he should have retired already, but doesn't have the means to do so. His family has gone left and right, which is quite rare for Filipino families, which usually stick together.
We quickly shared the plan of salvation with them (Tatay and Nanay Ayade). And then we gave them the picture Elder Hart drew of the Manila Temple. It was an interesting situation, because there was currently a black out (which is very common) and we were teaching them by candle light.
(*another sidenote* There's a huge whole debate thing going on here as to whether or not they should build a power plant, which would be right next to the market, or "palenke." [pa-Lenk-ay There! There's your Tagalog for the day.] The whole town is rather divided on the issue. While most people here don't know English, for some reason they have decided to make their posters in English, despite not really understanding the language.)
Right when we were showing him the picture of the temple, the power came back on! 'Twas awesome! Even better, he got excited! I could see it in his eyes! We committed him to prepare to enter the temple with his wife on July 23rd, 2014. Now, he has just a little bit more pep in his step. Mine too.
It rains all the time here. I use my umbrella more than my scriptures, it seems. Sometimes we walk for 45 minutes just to turn around and walk another 45 minutes back! These are all of our shoes. I need to clean them after everyday because they're always covered in mud, like my pants. I'm often walking through 2 inches of water, okay?
Case in point: This is a picture of a river that we have to cross every once in a while. (I don't want to know what's in it, but I have a few ideas….) Anyways, if it really rains, the river comes too high in the picture and then we can't jump cross it and get to our investigator, Jina Orkin.
Jina is distantly related to Tatay Ayade FYI. (I've found out that everybody is related to everybody here in Aborlan.) She’s living with a less-active member, Bini. He is R.I.P.P.E.D. Whenever we head down to their house, he always pulls down some coconuts for us to eat and drink, and guyabano which is another incredible fruit I have found out I love.
Speaking of miracles... the language! I'm super glad that I bought the Beginning Tagalog book, because it teaches sentence patterns, which can vary quite dramatically in my opinion. I can usually communicate quite well in Tagalog now, regardless of the situation.
My confidence has definitely increased as I consider Elder Alex Merill’s (our new elder) stage in the language learning process. He's from Bountiful Utah, and knows my old roommate, Davis Hyer distantly. When he talked to me and found out I'm a new missionary too, he said very seriously "Do you know the language? Are you fluent?" in a hurried, anxious tone. I laughed, and said that it's a gradual process. He's obviously very unsure of the language, as would be expected. I know I shouldn't, but it made me feel a lot more confident knowing that I’ve already passed that beginning level of language understanding! Obviously, there's work for me to do still, but, seeing as I've been here for three months last Friday, I've done a lot already.
I definitely saw that in a lesson with a less active man. His name is Hiljan, but people call him "Astig" which is just a slang term kind of like "cool." Anyways, the member present said that what I said was really powerful! But I know it's only through the spirit that I've been able to learn the language as fast as I have. It hasn't been easy. If it was, it wouldn't be worth it. I remember Elder Bednar saying that the witness of the Spirit only comes in the middle and after the trial. I take that to mean that the Spirit I have been feeling now lately has been been because of all of the difficulties I've faced in the past. And the witness of the Spirit is magnificent, beautiful, sublime, and totally worth the difficulties that I have faced.
PS If you want to send me a Christmas package, now is the latest time you can do it and have it get here before Christmas.