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.