Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3.11.14 Preparing for Zone Conference

Mine Epistle to the World,

WHAT IS UP! Sorry you're getting my email on a Monday evening and not on the normal Sunday evening. Because of Zone Conference that's on Wednesday, President is allowing us to have our P-Day in Bacolod on Tuesday. So we're heading there right after we're done emailing. We're going to have our Zone Conference in the mission home, FINALLY! I haven't had my zone conference there in so long. We're staying the night tonight in Bacolod and then it'll be tomorrow morning from 7am-3pm. So I'm sure there will be some pictures for you mom maybe tomorrow on Facebook ;) haha. I'm glad we get to go to Bacolod because that means I get to eat some good food! I think we've planned on eating Pizza Hut... you can tell how deprived I am here because we actually plan, to eat, fast food. Yeah... it's special to us missionaries for sure! Needless to say coming home to America, is going to be like walking into the Celestial Kingdom... just not as white and there's still a lot of wickedness. However, we're still excited. We played basketball this morning too, at 8am, since we're doing our studies tonight in Bacolod. Rocked it! Love our zone here, it's way fun. There's a lot of good players, so the competition is way good. My 3 was off last week, but this morning it was golden, but my floater is dead on, calling in the Derek Rose right now.

Last Monday I had a great p-day! One of the best in a long time. We emailed and then played basketball right after. Elder Wilstead was there, Elder Pulsipher, all the other missionaries, Elder Gibbons, just a ton of basketball players and so it just makes it so much more fun when there's good competition. Love it! I know basketball isn't that important to you, or maybe you wonder why I put it in my email all the time, but I'll explain. It's a good stress outlet for sure! And 2, when you just want to play basketball everyday, but can't, basketball on Monday becomes it's weight in Gold. Super great. Then we went and ate at a place call Charlie One. It's what they call a restobar, but there's nobody ever there, just us and it's super good food and pretty cheap. So we all ate there afterwards! Grocery shopping is a lot better here than it is in Escalante, but nothing compared to what it was in San Carlos. We have a grocery store that has more stuff than most places, so I won't complain. I can still get all the good stuff that i want to cook. And lately I've fallen in love with a type of meat (pig), but it's called Tocino. It's super good and it's sweet! I started cooking it in San Carlos and now I'm like the bomb at cooking it. We just bought propane last week for our apartment, so we can now cook finally. Before that we were cooking everything in the Rice Cooker, which is cook for some things, but uses a lot of electricity and we don't have that much money. We actually get the least amount of all the missions here in the Philippines... hooray. Totally sucks, but it's whatever. It's like scraping by on a budget. Literally. But we still manage to live. We ate at our Branch President's house and they were oddly surprised that I eat fish. I guess all the Americans that have been assigned here in the past were just bums or something, but they all shocked that I eat fish and rice, with my hands... (that's normal here don't freak out), yes, by my hands. My Branch President is way cool. He's an RM and his wife is an RM too, so it's always nice when they are RM's. The work seems to go a little bit better, but you can also see how the mission taught them to run a branch and things. I can really tell that Pres. Lopez is preparing the Filipino missionaries to be leaders when they return home. Too many RM's here just get home and that's the end of helping us or helping the church there. They think they've done there part and that's it. They don't need to do anymore. But here in this mission, it's training us to be way way way diligent in work and in leading the branches that we're working in. All in all, it was a good Monday

Tuesday there was no district meeting like there usually is because of Zone Training on Wednesday since it's the beginning of the month. So I haven't had to teach a district meeting so far! So we worked instead. There's so many less actives, I know you won't learn all their names and things, but I'll put them in here for future reference for myself when I re read these in the years to come. Brother Davao: he's 91 years old. He's a less active member that is super strong and such a work horse. He's the only person at his house right now because his wife is sick, we don't know with what, and currently in IloIlo, so the island that's across from this one. I can see it from my area! ;) He said that if his wife gets well and comes back to San Enrique that he'll come back to church, but I looked in his window while he wasn't looking and i saw a bottle of liquor, smokes, and yeah... so there's obviously other things. But this guy is so old and still so strong. No problems! Totally weird for Filipino because these people usually die at age like 70... so he's doing great. Sister Cariedo is recent convert, I'm not sure if she's less active as well. She hasn't been at church since I've been here, so that's 3 weeks now, but we've been to her house every week and are still teaching her. Her sister is less active, I think, so it's just a huge mess. Her dad just found a different wife and left his current family, nothing new for this place. So the mom is still active and moved to a different house, she was at church last week, but not this week. The daughter is Sister Cariedo, who we're still trying to get to come to church, but we're thinking the problem is money to come to church. We've found a huge new less active family; the Ombao family. They've been less active for over 10 years if my numbers are right. Her sister is from Manila is visiting her here in San Enrique. When we walked by she said, Elders come over here. Turns out her sister is still way active in church and sealed and is the relief society president or something in Manila where she's from. So we got introduced to this family of 5 that are all members. Although they don't seem that interested, that's not the point... we found them. I wonder if her Sister goes back to Manila if they'll let us in their house again. haha. However, the mom of the family came to church on Sunday with her Sister. I think she made her though, so we'll see what happens I guess. I've really started to like this family, the Magbanwa family. They all live in like this 3 house compound, and they're all members except one of the Dad's. I didn't know that till Sunday, so now I have a new goal! ;) Yeah Buddy! Tuesday was a busy, lots of lessons to less actives. Finding is still killing us though. 

Wednesday was great! We had a good zone training meeting lead from our great Zone Leaders; Elder Reyes and Elder Pulsipher. They trained on different types of fishing and about how to fish; Net Fishing, Fly Fishing, Dynamite Fishing, Cyonide Fishing. I was like, I'm all about the Dynamite fishing, then they pointed out that it kills the investigators. So i guess I've been doing my "fishing" here all wrong. haha. Fly Fishing is the worst because it's so much work and you only get one little fish. I explained that it's the art of fly fishing, not the fish, but it wasn't that funny... apparently NET FISHING, is the correct answer in finding investigators. Who knew?! So I'm not sure how I can use a net to get investigators, but apparently it's about our faith and doing everything that President has taught us to do, whether or not it work right at first, keep doing it because it's what's been asked of us. It's a principle of obedience and not a principle of finding necessarily. Afterwards we ate lunch then came back home and just got right to work. We went to teach Sister Joanah Comporaso. She's the 9 year old part member. Parents haven't returned to church yet. The mom has come for 2 Sunday's in a row now, but it must be 4 consecutive to be counted as a return, so it starts back over because she didn't come this Sunday. Joanah was supposed to have her interview this Sunday, but since Mom didn't come to church, she didn't either. So no baptism coming up this Saturday, we were supposed to have one. Super bummer. Just another trial, not surprised. haha. I've started just laughing at it rather than being angry at all the things that happen here, just kind of go with the flow. Now is the time my yellow personality is really kicking in, not in my work ethic but in my attitude I guess towards all the ridiculous things that happen here. Who knew being a yellow ended up being a good thing. We've also been working with 2 less active sisters, the Metusa Siters. One is Myra and the other Iyra. They are 2 years apart, one in high school and then other in college. Both speak Cebuano and the lived in Mindanao for some years, so they understand if I speak Cebuano super great because I miss speaking it and I'm afraid it's going to be gone in 6 months because I'll have had to learn Ilanggo all over again... Palagpat. Okay, so the parents of the branch president's wife are non members. So she told us that we should go stop by and work on getting them to listen to us. We stopped by and talked to the mom and grabe ba. So funny! She started talking about how faith and prayer were going to save her and I was like sister, if only you knew anything. Super funny lesson just because of the things coming out of her mouth, but in the end, she ended up saying that she didn't know how to pray... I was like, "Sister, you said that you pray all the time earlier, now you don't know how?" She was like... "Well... like... I don't know." So we taught her the proper way to pray, not just the crazy things that people say here and have no heart in it. So, she said the closing prayer. I've started laughing when people ask for Grace when they pray, without a doubt, even members always ask for grace in a prayer and it's just funny to me I guess. I've never prayed and said, Father, give me grace. It's like Seinfeld, you either have grace, or you don't. You can't have some grace. You either have grace or none at all. (Dad, that's for you)

Let's keep going! Thursday, pretty rough day, not too many lessons. We have these investigators Sister Febe and Sister Arevalo. Both of them are in live in situations, Sister Arevalo is a live in with a member, and Sister Febe is not. Sister Arevalo has 1 kid and Sister Febe doesn't have any, but still live it. So both of them love the missionaries, love the church, read, pray, follow all the commandments, we're just waiting for marriage and things to get going, but that will take some time I guess. But still, they're way cool. We also went to a less active families house and saw them inside, then when we asked "tag balay" meaning, like, come to the door kinda thing, you don't knock here, they all acted as if there was nobody there. Sort of like that Home Teachers scene where he's like, "Sister, I can see your arm" That's really how it was. Such a joke. So we won't go back there. They are offended I guess at something that happened at the church. I don't know, it's the same ole same ole here about people getting offended. Usually not because of something that happened to them, but to someone they knew or heard about... soooo dumb!

Friday we had a super productive weekly planning session. It really depends on the week how that goes. Sometimes we're just waisted and it's super pointless and we just want to get it over, so we do it fast, other times we do it the right way, so we're trying our best. This week was a good one. Then we had a huge day! 7 Less active lessons, 2 recent convert lessons, 4 lessons to investigators, and 2 new investigators. That's pretty big given that we walk everywhere... So every Friday night my companion and I have a tradition that I guess has been going on in this area forever and it's BBQ night. We buy 144 pesos worth of BBQ and cook tons of rice and go for it! Not that cool, but totally awesome to me! ;) 

Saturday was probably the dumbest day ever in the world. So the branch plans something called a 1 day mission. It's an opportunity for members to come with us split and then we visit less actives and try to get them to be friends with the members and get them back to church. This was planned by the branch, not by us. The given time was 1pm1pm we show up at the church, gate is locked. Call the Branch Pres. Pres. where is everyone. He says he's going to be late, maybe we'll start around 2 or something. We didn't have time to waste so we didn't even work with the members in this one day mission thing. We just went to work. Nobody even texts us to ask us where we were or if we were coming. The branch here is very different when it comes to visiting people and less actives. The missionaries and the branch are supposed to work as one right?... That's what the whole work of salvation thing was last year... I guess oh well? Not really sure. So we just did our own work and it was good. We went back to the Comporaso family and taught Joanah, she was there and we did all the Baptismal Interview questions for her and she knew them all, except for the fact that she didn't come to church, so pointless. I guess next week. We were supposed to have a bunch of people at the church that night as well, just people playing basketball and other activities. Elder and I were just going to wander around and talk to non members and teach them about the church, but nothing happened yet again, church closed, didn't happen. Bummer of a day. 

Sunday... worse. So we were supposed to have a lot of investigators at church and ended up only having 2, I guess it's better than zero though, so that's a plus. A few less actives were there as well. We didn't have to speak, bless, or pass, so that was good. We let the zone leaders know not to come since Joanah wasn't at church, so they didn't need to interview, dang, I was looking forward to it. Also, Elder Gibbons had to cancel his interview as well, I was supposed to interview a family in his area since I"m his district leader, and that didn't end up happening, super sad. There was no power all day, rumor is there is a circulating thing of taking turns because of the shortage of power and it relates to Typhoon Yolanda somehow... not sure, but Sunday was San Enrique's turn to not have power... bummer. We worked though, so no like it makes a huge difference. But we talked to our branch president about all the problems we're seeing just so we're all on the same page and at least he knows. Rumor has it that they want to add a pair of sisters in my branch...I'll keep silent how I feel about this. I think President wants to boost the missionaries to boost the work in this area. So maybe it'll work out better in the end, I don't know. Not a huge fan, but we'll see what happens. If they make us move out of our apartment and find a different one and gives ours to the sisters, I'll be pretty upset. Our apartment is nice. But it depends on President I guess and our branch president is totally all game for it. 

Yesterday Monday was such a weird day. It felt like it should be p day but it wasn't p day... so it was like a dragish kind of day. We worked a lot though and taught a bunch of less actives as usual. We found a new investigator at the Inario family. He's their son, but was never baptized. So, I guess that's a plus. We've found some good people the past few days, I'm rather excited in an odd way. 
Sister Amor & her daughter

Sorry we're going to Bacolod now and so time is a bit short. I hope all is well with you back home and I love you so much and I hope you're all doing great. Congrats to Ash and Sam on the work promotions and school things, that's awesome. Syd, keep up the gymnastics. Mom and Dad, I guess just keep doing what you do best. haha. I love you so much! I guess I'll be hitting my 6 months to go mark next week. Pretty exciting ;) haha. No, I'm not trunky! Love you guys!

Elder Ellis

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