Monday, January 24, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 13, From the Philippines! :-)


I am in the Philippines! I'm up here safe and sound in Kalibo. Oh wow, it's been an adventure. I'll start with the flights. Nothing too crazy happened, but I do have a good story about sharing the gospel with someone, and just my excitement and all that stuff. It'll be good :).

All right, SLC to San Francisco was pretty normal. I sat next to someone who was a doctor and we talked a bit. I thought about bringing up the gospel but it just didn't feel quite right, so I didn't. He was nice though and so it was cool.

From San Francisco to Hong Kong I was just so excited. I slept maybe the first four hours. Maybe. Probably less. Then after that I just kept watching the airplane on the monitor. That made time go by kinda slow but I was just so excited. I wanted to know where we were at all times. I would turn it off to make me stop watching it, then 10 minutes later I'd turn it back on. The poor man sitting next to me. He was trying to sleep. I also had a window seat and I looked out the window a lot. Mostly just ocean. But anyways, I kept turning the monitor on and off about ten hours into the flight because I was trying to wake up the two men sitting next to me. I was in the window, then one was middle and one was aisle. They were both sleeping, and I needed them to wake up so that I could get past them and use the rest room. There was no leg room. I'd have to crawl over them, which is of course forbidden as a missionary and in society in general. So, I kept flipping my monitor on and off and moving around. After awhile it worked and I immediately asked them to move. Haha. They did after about 5 min. They were pretty sleepy. So anyways, that all took place, and then we all came back. I reached down to get something in my bag and the man sitting next to me was getting ready to watch a movie. I suddenly had the distinct impression to open my mouth. I looked over at the man as he was about to put his headphones on, and he saw me watching him. He asked me if this was my first time out of the country. Well, I'm just going to make a really long story short. We talked for four hours, and after he told me about his job and his family, he asked me why I was heading to China. I said it was to catch a flight to the Philippines. He asked why. Well, that opened up a good gospel discussion :). I told him to teach people about Jesus Christ, and he just sort of nodded and wasn't really interested. Just sort of like any other Christian religion. Then I said, "And about the restoration of his gospel." I had his full attention. I told him about Christ's church when it was on the earth and how after the apostles died, the world went into an apostasy. Yes, good people tried to keep Christ's original church on the earth, but without that revelation how could they? Others formed their own churches. I then told him about Joseph Smith, and about his confusion about which church to join. I told him how Joseph Smith read James 1:5 and decided to act on James' promise. I recited to him the First Vision, and bore him my testimony. Throughout all this the man would stop me occasionally to ask a question, but he was very attentive and listened to me intently. At the end, he had a lot more questions. He told me why he's never believed in religion. He'd grown up in Taiwan where they worship their ancestors or something, or at least his parent's religion did. He said that never made sense to him. His wife is Muslim, which he respects. But to him religion is not logical. We talked a long time. He expressed concerns he has as a parent. Although I'm not a parent, I was able to help him because of my parents good example. I'm really cutting out a lot, but that's for time's sake. We just talked, and the last hour he slept, but I pulled out two pass along cards. I wanted one with the Book of Mormon on it, but didn't have one. So I pulled out one with the SLC Temple and another with Christ giving the sermon on the mount. On the back was the Holy Bible offering a free copy and another with information about

When he woke up, I said, "I know you're not religious, but I'd like to offer you these two cards and to learn more."

"I'll take those," he said.

He likes France's architecture so I told him that the SLC temple was designed after some buildings in France. Then I bore my testimony to him about how we also believe the Bible to be the word of God. I told him that he could also get a free copy of the Book of Mormon by calling that number. I said we know that this message is so true and we want everyone to have it so much that we give stuff out for free. I told him that I didn't just believe I KNOW that these things are true. That really struck him. He put the cards in his jacket pocket, then took them out again two minutes later. He looked at the picture of Christ for a long time. At the end of the flight he turned to me and said, "Thank you very much. Perhaps I will look into Mormonism. Best of luck to you in the Philippines." I smiled and thanked him, and thanked him for telling me so much about his job and his family and that I loved talking to him. It was a great start to the mission.

Hong Kong was boring. I'm sorry. It was boring. Foggy day. Or smoggy. Not sure. Couldn't see the mountains. Security so low key. No machine guns. Nothing. But hey, I was in China :).

Oh, I also saw Japan and Taiwan as I flew to China. That was pretty cool :).

Manila was insane. Not like Elder Waggoner's insane, but oh wow. We got in that Taxi and I thought I was going to die every five seconds. They drive soooooooooo crazy here!!!! Cutting each other off like nobody's business!!! And it was sweltering hot. The humidity was intense. The poor elders in their suit coats. Oh wow. And everyone stared at me in the airport. Everyone. It was really weird.

I got to Iloilo and was amazed at the beauty. Everything is run-down, but the vegetation is incredible. And the animals--I've never seen such funny looking creatures. Like white cranes or something but they're not cranes.

I was picked up by the office elders and taken to the office. Then they took me out for my first Filipino meal. I had pork and rice. It was delicious. I hate pork in America, but this stuff was good. I then had an orientation with them and that was nice.

I met President Pagaduan that night and was pretty out of it because of jetlag. He was like, "What kind of mission do you want to have?" and I replied with something like, "A good one." Oh geez. So out of it. But he's soooo nice and warm and friendly and completely understood. He shared a spiritual message with me and it was really wonderful. I love him already. I also love Sister Pagaduan. She's so great. Oh I love her. She spoke Tagalog to me. She told the office elders to stop it with the Ilonggo and that I couldn't understand them. We went to the mission home and had dinner and it was delicious. We had mangoes. I thought they tasted weird but everyone else liked them.

Then I spent the night in the Sisters apartment in Iloilo. Sister McDonald was there!!! Oh it was so great to see her again!!! I loved it! We caught up. I had my first cold shower. But hey, at least it was a spout. It wasn't so terrible. I'll tell you more about the kind of showers I take now in a minute.

I rode a jeepney, actually two, the next morning. That was fun. I was so happy. I was finally here!!

The zone leaders for Kalibo and I rode a bus up to Kalibo on Friday. I met Sister Sablan, my trainer, once I got there. She's really nice and patient with me as I adjust to everything. We have a really nice apartment. Sorry to disappoint :). No creepy crawly things and no rats!!! Americans would still think we're really poor, but compared to Filipinos we live really well. That night we went around and met the members and Sister Sablan showed me the area. We rode a trici-cab. That's our main form of transportation here. It's a motorcycle attached to this metal carriage like thing. Yeah, it doesn't looks safe, but it is. You'd be amazed how many people can fit into one of those things.

I'm in the city, but one area, Mobo, is very jungley. Oh it's sooooo beautiful!!! I don't even know what kind of trees they are. They're like palm trees, but they're not. More like giant tulips, bu you can't see the flower. We tracted there Saturday and I loved it. No one said no to us all day. Apparently we were really blessed. That doesn't happen every day Sister Sablan said. Oh, she's from Seattle, but is Filipino desent. She speaks very good Tagalog and Ilonggo.

So Saturday was good. We have four new investigators who may progress. We'll visit more people we found tomorrow.

So, I'm white. I get stared at everywhere I go. Filipinos up here are very honest and up front. Yeah, they can be pretty harsh. I'm struggling with the members, especially bishop. I gave my first talk in Tagalog yesterday, my first Sunday here, and well, I guess it didn't go over so well. People were imitating my accent all throughout sacrament meeting. And apparently Bishop loves English and was hoping I'd give it in English. He was pretty rude later. I was kind of taken aback. He called later and sincerely apologized though so I'm working on forgiving him. He really hurt my feelings. One lady though thanked me over and over again for giving the talk in Tagalog and told me how talented I was and how much she appreciated me trying. So I like her.

I'll be honest, adjusting is pretty difficult. I'm a minority, probably the only blonde person for miles. My apartment--we have running water, but if one faucet is on, none of the others will work. We do have pure water though. But yeah, that's really frustrating. My shower is a bucket. It's cold. It can feel good though, but that first dumping is ugh... just cold. It's very dirty here. The people don't really give me a chance to speak to them because I'm a white American. They call me "Kana." (Amerikana). The boy teenagers try to get my attention, one man blew me a kiss this morning, and I'm just learning to deal with it all. However, there are good things. The people basically live in tree houses. No joke. The houses are built up off of the ground in case of floods. So that's an adventure getting into their homes, but it's lots of fun. The kids are so great. And so smart. I speak Tagalog to them and they speak Tagalog back, even though the native tongue here is Aklanon. Oh they are so cute. And they love my white skin. I get so much attention. The adults want me to speak English, but the kids love my Tagalog and are just so adorable. I love them.

All right, I have to go. I hope I'm not forgetting anything to big. OH!!! I'm with Elder Waggoner right now!! We all went to lunch together. And I saw Elder Lowry this morning and Elder Light was at lunch too. Oh I love Elder Waggoner! And all his hillbilly sayings. "Up a creek" "That hurt my noggin" "Crampin' my style." Oh I've missed him. He and Elder Light told me about their first few weeks here as a white American and it helped me a lot. So wonderful!

Oh Iloilo Mission's scripture is Joshua 1:9. I don't think it's an accident that I was sent here :).

Have to go! Love you all!
Sister Danner