Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Week of Miracles!

Week 22
27th April 2015

This week was a pretty good week, in fact it was a week of miracles!

On Friday we had the Zone Leaders come out to our area and work with us. Of course coming from the biggest city on this island, they were shocked to see like nothing out here. But, we had a good days work with them, and I learned a lot from them.

Saturday came and went, and that was just a normal day. We taught a few lessons, talked to a few people and yeah just the normal day of missionary work I guess.

Yesterday, was amazing. We went to church, and for the first time since I have been in this area, we had a Priesthood class in the third hour! It was a great lesson too, as we spoke about "It is not a sin to be weak". 

After church, we even had a Branch Council meeting, and even though there aren't many people in the Branch Council, it was great just to have a meeting in the area. Later that day we went to do some missionary work, and some of our appointments were postponed.. so we ended up going to watch an inter-Barangay basketball game. 

These little community games are crazy intense! There is always a big crowd watching, and hecklers and everything! Of course, being missionaries, we talked to people as we watched the game, and shared the gospel where we could. Some people even asked me if I wanted to play for a Barangay as an import, even though I haven't even played basketball in this town yet. And no, I didn't talk myself up like I have game hahahaha.

Right now we are in week 5 of the transfer, and next Sunday we find out the transfers. There is such a possibility that I could be transferred after only one cycle here on the island.

This week we have our interviews with President Mangum, our mission president. I am looking forward to speaking with him, and seeing what I can do to improve myself as a missionary.

It's pretty hot here..  but like it's nothing really. Compared to my time in the mini-mission, when we were all tracting in like 40+ degree heat, this is easy....

Our teaching pool in this area is slowly growing, things are starting to work out...... Need to keep working hard though.

I still don't even have a pillow hahaha. I sleep on what is supposed to be my pillow cover! I will buy a pillow next time we go to Calapan at the mall there.

Our flats are pretty nice... Of course, bucket showers and no toilet paper, but our landlady is the bomb! She lets us use her washing machine, but the washing machines here are not like the ones at home. Still...better than hand washing.

Elder Ackroyd and Elder Crichton

Feed at McDonalds Calapan for Elder Wooden's Birthday

You can't really tell, but I'm on top of a tricycle....

Late night feeds with the boys at the flat

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Fun in Naujan

Week 21
20 April 2015

So this week was a better week as we served in our area, with all the normal things that happen in a week. 

On Friday we had exchanges, and so my companion went with our District Leader to serve in  Victoria, and I stayed in Pola with Elder Herrin. Our exchanges went well.

We actually ended up playing basketball for a couple of hours before going out, where we had a fairly successful day.

We went to church on Sunday, of course, and we had a meeting with the Branch President. He expressed to us the concerns he has, and he actually doesn't have much idea on what else he can do as a Branch President. So we counselled with him, and I told him that if he needs any help with anything, to ask us, and we will try our best to help him.

Anyway, so last night we went to Naujan so that we could start preparing for Zone P-day. We're  staying in Naujan tonight..... back to Pola tomorrow.

We had a big feed today, and part of the process of preparing for this feed was killing and cooking a pig. So all of the Elders were up all night preparing the umu and then cooking the pig.   I helped with the gutting of the pig and preparing the fire for the cooking.

Today we had a solid day...we played sport, ate, and the whole Zone just had a great time. It was good to be with the whole Zone, because everyone here just makes everything fun.

President Magnum comes to visit with us on Mindoro Island on the 30th and we get to meet with him on the 1st May.

The computers are playing up and I did switch computers so I can try send photos.. but no luck.  Will try again next week.

Prepping dinner!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Mindoro - Island Life!

Week 20
13 April 2015

General Conference was great! All Saturday and all Sunday I was at Victoria District Center watching it. Us, the Naujan Elders and the Baco Elders were all kicking it together all weekend. 

My favourite talk was the talk about The Music of the Gospel by Elder Wilford W. Anderson. It was about feeling the music and enjoying the dance more...  The music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost.  

I won't even lie...I did catch up on some sleep during General Conference. I guess some things never change!

On Wednesday we had our Zone Training Meeting in Victoria, and we were setting goals as a zone because every companionship in the whole zone has a new missionary, except Victoria, because both of them are new. We also were talking about an Easter initiative, even though it's past, and how we can apply the Atonement in every aspect of our missionary work here in Mindoro. "Because He Lives."

This week we've just eaten out a lot at a local eatery for like 30 pesos, which is pretty cheap price. I'm eating lots, so maybe I'm sustaining a constant weight. I'm not feeling any lighter, or any heavier. But, it's hard to put weight on in an area like mine where there is like jack-all food and you walk in the sun, up and down hills all day.  

Here is a lot different to Australia. There is almost no shops here and all that is sold is in tin cans, and everything in my area closes before 7pm. I survive off bakeries and eateries. We try and get out of Pola whenever we can, so we can eat a proper meal.

Our Branch is doing okay, it's not quite as organised as at home but I'm not going to complain about it. We read Jacob 5 in our Zone Meeting on Wednesday, and it changed how I see areas that are very hard to work in. 

The families in this area are good, though we haven't met too many of the members here and we haven't had any dinner appointments either.

We tried to do visits this week but people weren't home.  We are in a very poor area... some houses have no power so they use candles at night.  Most don't even have doors to knock on!  We usually just yell out that we're there and they answer.

Today we just stayed in Calapan and played basketball in the morning. Today is also our Zone Leader, Elder Wooden's 20th birthday, so we went to Calapan to play basketball, then we had another big MacDonald's feed to celebrate his birthday. We then went to the mall, and had a little look around, nothing too flash.

Tomorrow we head back to our area - Pola ... will take us about 2.5 hours to get there.

Hey, no photos this week, I can't get hold of a card reader..... I will try and get one for next week.

Sunday, 5 April 2015


Week 19
06 April 2015

Happy Easter to you all!

I totally forgot it was Easter around this time of the year, but I was painfully reminded on Good Friday! Here in my area, there were a tonne of men who were making themselves bleed to re-enact something like the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  They stood around hitting themselves with these sticks that had small, sharp ends to make them bleed. They did it like all day! 

Then they had a march, and then somewhere in the town they re-enacted the crucifixion. It was kinda gross haha, almost threw up at how sickening it was. My mind was tortured too, to think that these people believed that they had to re-enact these sorts of things, when the Saviour went through all this so we didn't have to go through it.

The storm didn't come anywhere Mindoro this time around. I was too busy sweating like a pig out in my area, slogging away in a white shirt and long pants, I'm grateful it didn't come this time around, but I won't be surprised if I do get stuck in one sometime in my mission. Part of being a missionary in the Philippines I guess, like the saying goes around here, "It's more fun in the Philippines."

The week was good, we visited some investigators and some less-actives. We have one investigator working towards her baptismal date of May 9. She is only young but she reads the Book of Mormon every day, and when we teach, we ask a lot of questions to make sure she understands, and she answers well, and understands everything we teach her.

Mindoro is great... My area is called Pola. The area is really an island area. We have no commercial shops, and no take-out places. There is an abundance of banana trees, and coconut trees too, and farm animals running around everywhere. I can only assume that this is what the villages in Samoa look like! We also have the ocean right there, which is so tempting! Every day we walk up this big as hill and we can see the crystal clear ocean from the top.

My Tagalog is getting much better, I speak lots more Tagalog now than I do English.

We came to Pinamalayan to have P-Day with the Elders from Socorro.  I found myself talking Tagalog to Elder Nikau... then we had a good laugh when we remembered we could speak English to each other!!

Our branch is very small, maybe 50 members at church each week.  We don't have a chapel - just a small meeting house.

This week we have a Zone Training Meeting, and then General Conference videos on Saturday and Sunday. This will be my first time in my life going to all 4 sessions, as well as the other sessions they do. It is my first videos on the mission, and I am excited to hear what the General Authority have to say. 

Enjoying the sea breeze!


BBQ Chicken Intestines!

Same district as my MTC roommate Elder Nikau, Jollibee for breakfast in his area.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Long trip to Mindoro!!

Week 18
30 March 2015

The transfer day was good. I spent tonnes of time on jeepney's, buses and a boat, and we didn't get to Mindoro until about 5PM. But it was a cool journey. 

The first trip we made was from Paete to Santa Cruz, because we stayed over the night before transfer day. After there, we traveled to San Pablo, where we picked up Elder Hapi, who was on the way to Mindoro with us. 

From there, we caught a bus to Santo Tomas, where we had to catch another jeepney to the highway, to get on a bus to go to Batangas City. Keep in mind, there was 6 of us, all with luggage. After the 2 hour bus ride to Batangas Port, we got off and caught the boat across to Calapan Port, which is on Mindoro Island.

We caught the fast boat which takes only 45 minutes, but had we caught the slow one, which is cheaper, it would have taken 3 hours. Forget it!

We finally got to Calapan, and we were met by all of our new companions. My new companion is Elder Erickson, from Idaho. I was happy to also find out that I was going to be in the same district as one of my MTC roommates, Elder Nikau. 

My new zone seems like it will be a fun zone, with everyone being excited to meet their new companions, and to push the work on the island of Mindoro. And something interesting, is that I met Elder Ackroyd from Sydney. His older brother served in the Australia Brisbane Mission a couple of years ago. His first area was Logan Ward.

We also have a missionary senior couple assigned to the island, the Cranston's. They invited all of us missionaries to go over for some pancakes to spend the first night as a zone. It was great!

We slept at the Zone Leaders apartment on the first night, because our area is so far away. We are like 2 and a half hours away from Calapan. A lot of us Elders hit up Mang-inasal for dinner, which is a place that does meat and rice, and has the option of unlimited rice.

On Friday, we headed off to our area, Pola. After a 2 hour van ride to Socorro, and a 30 minute tricycle ride to Pola, we were finally home. Our apartment is pretty small, and no hose this time... the shower is a straight bucket!! Our water also turns off at about 9PM, so we have to come back earlier to have our showers. 

After settling into the apartment, we went straight off to go visit some members, so I could get to know the branch.

On Saturday we went to work, and we taught a couple of lessons. Our Tagalog isn't really that good, so we had a hard time teaching some parts of the lesson, but all the Tagalog that I had in my constantly growing vocabulary came out in the lessons. I'm grateful eternally for the gift of tongues.

Sunday was church, and our the branch doesn't have a chapel. We meet in a small meeting house, and the branch only has about 50 people. The Cranston's came out to Pola for church, as the District President of Mindoro District came out to welcome home a return missionary in the branch who came home the same day I got onto Mindoro. 

After church, we had a meeting with the District President, the Branch President, and the Branch Mission Leader. The branch doesn't function very well on Sundays, and there was no Branch Mission Plan in place for the branch, and also for us the full-time missionaries. After the meeting, we correlated with the BML, and we set goals for the next quarter.

This morning we played basketball at the Calapan chapel. We came out to Calapan last night so I could get some things that I left at the Zone Leaders apartment.

Can you believe, out of all the little things I would usually forget, I brought them all with me! But...I forgot my pillow! Insane huh, but it's okay, I just sleep on some of my clothes folded up.

This area presents a lot of challenges to my companion and I, especially as we are not too good in Tagalog. I have the pronunciation down, it's just being confident in myself and my ability to speak. I know I have been making a lot of improvements though, as now I am praying and speaking in Tagalog before I remember I can speak English with my companion. The secret is to just talk to the people, and ask for meanings for words that you don't understand.

Apparently from what the other Elder's have said, most of the branches in the Zone have low attendance numbers, and some haven't had convert baptisms in a long time. But, I know if I work hard, the fruits of my labour will show.

Nothing much else to say, but I am happy to be out here in MINDORO.