Monday, 23 March 2015

First Transfer!

Week 17
23rd March 2015

Zone conference was the bomb! I was able to catch up with a tonne of missionaries that I hadn't seen for a while. The workshops given by the AP's, President and Sister Mangum, and the senior missionaries were all very important and helpful. To conclude the Zone Conference, we all watched "Meet The Mormons". Even though I was able to watch it in the MTC, it was good to watch it again.

The night before zone conference was cool too. Our whole zone had sleepovers in San Pablo with different missionaries assigned throughout the San Pablo zone. Pakil and Paete were to sleep at San Pablo 4. We all travelled together to San Pablo, and ate at the SM, before Elder Fa'asavalu and I went off to San Pablo 2, so that I could get a haircut from my MTC companion, Elder Faka'i. 

While there, we were able to catch up with Elder Tuivaiti as well. So... I didn't end up getting any stylish haircut... I shaved it all off! The funniest thing was that the power went out half-way through my haircut, so at 6am the next day,  Elder Santos and I had to go back to the San Pablo 2 apartment, so Elder Faka'i could finish up with my hair.

After zone conference, some of us went to the SM and we all had a big feed at MacDonalds.

On Saturday and Sunday we had the Siniloan District Conference. President and Sister Mangum were invited out there, so they were out in Siniloan with all of us Elders from the Siniloan zone.

The big news though, came on Sunday afternoon. I was studying Lehi's dream on my bed, lying down, with my eyes closed, when Elder Santos nudged me and said that someone was calling for me. I answered the phone, and it was the AP's. The news that they bore to me was that I was being transferred to MINDORO! 

Mindoro zone is an island zone, not part of mainland San Pablo Mission. So of course, I texted around the mission during that night to see if anything else came up. And what do you know. My District Leader, Elder Fa'asavalu, will be travelling with me all the way to Mindoro, because he is stepping up to become my Zone Leader out in Mindoro!

I leave to Mindoro at 8AM Thursday morning. The trip will take about 8-9 hours via jeepneys, buses and boat. I am excited for the journey, no matter how long it is. This week I will spend packing, and saying goodbye to the members of the Pakil branch.

Just in case you were wondering... delicacy I tried this week was pigs ears!

This was my shower for the last 3 months - a hose and only cold water!

View near where I am currently serving.

Had a member carve me a wooden name tag.

Just chilling in one of our areas.

Elder Faka'i and Elder Crichton - happy to see each other again!

Elder Crichton and Elder Tuivaiti who goes home on Wednesday

Zone Conference

Elder Aisa from Cairns and Elder Crichton

Introducing my new zone leader in Mindoro, Elder Fa'asavalu!

Big feed at Maccas - MacDonalds in the Philippines!

Another group photo.

The long jeep ride home from San Pablo to Siniloan. Plenty of time for selfies.

After Saturday night session of District Conference at Jollibee.

Zone Conference

Monday, 16 March 2015

Lots of News!

Week 16
16th March 2015

This week was a good one. I was able to re-focus a bit more as I moved forward from last week. Everything is okay now. I was able to go on companionship exchanges with Elder Raymundo who was in my entrance batch.

On Wednesday we had our Zone Meeting, and we were introduced to a new "training plan" by President Magnum about how to apply attending church more fully to ourselves, our investigators, and less-actives. I came to the conclusion that the sacrament is so much more than just a representation of the body of Jesus Christ. We have made covenants, and we need to remember those covenants, and repent for our shortcomings from the past week. It was really eye opening to me, this training plan.

On Sunday we had 4 investigators attend church with us. Our gospel principles class was full! We had our investigators and their fellowshippers, the other missionaries, their investigators and fellowshippers, some recent converts and our teacher. There was maybe 20 of us in class this week. 

On Saturday we had basketball again. Same old, same old.

The big news about Sunday is that I gave a talk in sacrament meeting. I got a call on Thursday night that I was to speak. I wrote my talk in English first as soon as I could, and then on Saturday I was able to translate it into Tagalog! I translated it all myself, and only got my companion to check it to make sure everything was okay, and it turns out it made perfect sense. Of course, being a missionary, I spoke on missionary work. I spoke mostly in Tagalog as well. The only things not in Tagalog were scriptures and quotes.

Uh, have decided the cooking thing was a one time thing!! We usually eat out, except on Sundays. When we have lunch on Sundays, I go to sleep and let the other elders cook for me, and then they wake me up to eat. Smart eh? We don't go to marketplaces, because there are none. We go to the Supermart up the road from our house. Nah - haven't learnt any more dishes!  I'll still probably get my companion to cook them for me, or the other Elders. I'm usually the one who pays for most of the food. Sometimes I pay for it all, because I know I have more money. I always tell my companions to go hard on food, because money will not be an issue while we are companions. In turn they cook for me - works well for me!

So, it turns out that in the Philippines, winter is in December-January. It's really starting to heat up. Every night when I come home, my collars on my white shirts are nearly black with sweat. It's disgusting!  I have to soak them every night... I know how to hand wash! lol.

My companion is from the Olongapo mission, where Elder Fa is serving. He has a big family, he's the oldest of 5 and is a second generation member. He is great with helping me with the language. 

So I've eaten chicken blood too. It's cooked into a solid.  It looks a bit like meat. You can get it on the street. Its delicious!

March 26 is transfers.   I would like to be transferred, but I also would like to stay...... I guess I want to start exploring different parts of the San Pablo mission already. Will find out next week.

This the chapel I attend at Pakil

Just out doing some night work

Exchanges with Elder Raymundo!

Siniloan Zone - March 2015

Friday, 13 March 2015

Tough Week!

Week 15
9th March 2015

Had a tough week this past week - spiritually and mentally draining.  Had a good chat with President Magnum and feeling much better about things now.

Saturday we attended another child of record baptism.  After the baptism, I played basketball with the some of the ward members, and then later against other people that turned up to the chapel to play. Lots of people are turning up to play basketball at the chapel now, and one of the members told me it was because word is getting out about me? I'm not being cocky here, I don't even think I'm good, but that's what the brother told me. Everyone wants to have a go against me..... Weird.

Sunday, we went to church. We had another baptism at 3PM that day. It was the baptism of the Paete Elder's investigator, and his name is Brother Nikki. He wanted it to be a surprise for his wife, so that's exactly what happened! His wife had no idea he was getting baptised until she saw him enter the water with Elder Fa'asavalu. It was great to be a part of the special day.

Not too much happening today -  I have exchanges with Elder Raymundo, who is serving in Paete. We are part of the same batch that came into the field on December 30.

There's a lot of families that look after me.... telling me to call them if I want to be fed that night etc. Everyone is great!  We eat out at a local place as well about 1 minute away because they do nice food.

Remember that pond we were cleaning? They ended up hiring workers to clean the rest of it out. We don't really have that sort of time to clean out that sort of pond.

I started reading the Book of Mormon in Tagalog too, I'm only in 1 Nephi Chapter 11, but already I'm starting to be able to read lots of verses without using the English version to translate.

Baptism we attended on Sunday.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Finally Cooking!

Week 14
02nd March 2015

This week was a challenging one.. we only taught six lessons this whole week! It was starting to get to me, but as my Zone Leader Elder Caballa says, the work is done - there is nothing more we can do than turn up ready for the appointment.. even if it is cancelled. We did however, do tonnes of OYM's. (Open Your Mouth) The mission standard for one week is only 50, but this week we got to 152. So while there's nothing big happening with the work out here at the moment we just keep it moving along and do everything we can. At the end of the day, free agency is a gift for all!

This week though, I've started noticing big advancements in my language, not big steps, but little ones to the point that I can hold a decent conversation with other missionaries and those I talk to. Hopefully this coming week is a better week for lessons. I am learning more of the "missionary" vocabulary in Tagalog too.

On Saturday we played basketball like we always do at our chapel, and there was heaps of people! The Relief Society and Young Women in our branch were doing zumba inside, some people were playing table tennis, and the rest were outside playing and watching basketball. All the people sitting on the side kept telling me to dunk it every time I got the ball in the game, and when I finally did - it wasn't clean at all - they all went crazy hahaha. It was weird!

The Zone Leaders came out our ways this week because the other missionaries assigned to the branch have a baptism scheduled for next Saturday with one of their investigators. The interview went well, and everything is well on the way. 

Sunday though, was a good day. We had 4 investigators come to church, so our Gospel Principles class was pretty full of investigators and fellowshippers, instead of just us missionaries. We did some work, then went to the Paete Elders apartment, which is where we stayed last night so we could all come do our e-mails together.

It's hot every day here.... when I get home and change my white collar is brown every night! Lucky I have plenty of shirts.... about to head off and do some more washing!
This week we will be focusing on contacting referrals, contacting those we OYM'd, and we will continue working with those investigators who we are teaching already. We also have Zone Conference and Zone Meetings scheduled for this coming week.

My companion is great. We usually eat out but this month we're going to try and budget our money by cooking more because it's gotta last 31 days - including a trip to San Pablo, and the possibility of being transferred. 

I cooked for us all after our District meeting last Wednesday, rice and corn beef lol....Corn beef, onions and sprite all mixed together adds extra buzz to the cornbeef lol. The ZL's told me to add sprite to add some buzz.

We had a less-active member come to basketball two weeks ago, and he attended church the next day. He did the same this past weekend, and as it was testimony meeting, he bore his testimony, saying that he never wants to go less-active again and wants to invite everyone he knows to come to church and read the Book of Mormon. He asked us to start teaching his partner, which we will start doing this Wednesday. 

Lots of love x

Elder Finau, Elder Tuivaiti, Elder Crichton, Elder Faka'i, Elder MacMillan