Monday, May 26, 2014

Quezon City, Philippines

As of now I am emailing you from the PHILIPPINES!!! Whaaaaaaat!

Every 6 weeks the elders in this mission have their p-day is on Wednesday, and I just happened arrived here on that Wednesday... :) WHY do they have p-day on Wednesday every 6 weeks? Because on that Wednesday they get to go the TEMPLE!!!! I GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE TODAY!!!!!!!!!

Manila, Philippines Temple

If nothing else good happens in the Philippines, I'm utterly delighted I got to go to this mission for the soul fact that I got to go to the temple. You have no idea how excited I was as I was in the changing room getting ready to go in for an endowment! And my expectations were more than fulfilled. Feeling the Spirit like crazy during the session! And the new movie was awesome! Really really enjoyed it. The only lame thing was no one stayed in the Celestial room! As soon as the endowment was finished everyone just left to go and get changed! Other than me and my companion, the Celestial room was essentially empty. All I could think was "How can these people leave this place so quickly?! Don't they want to stay here all day long?? This is AWESOME!" 

My love for the temple was "meh" as a teenager, but I learned to love it a LOT more while under the pressures of college life, but on my mission I have gained a HUGE love and respect and appreciation for the house of the Lord. 

My new companion is Elder Consego. He is a native Filipino, and a really great guy. He speaks... not so great English, and the fact that I am getting used to Philippine accent doesn't help. But, although I can't understand half of what he says, I can tell from his big smile that he is a really kind soul! :) My batch mate Elder Mangum is also in my ward and apartment, with an American companion named Elder Lovelo. 

So far, I'd say the horror stories I've heard about the Philippines mission are false. This place seems grand! The missionaries actually seem more obedient than the missionaries in my mission, and I like the Filipino people. I'd say the city looks like a mix of a poor part of American, and a rich part of India. Some things I like more about this country than India, and then other times I wish I was back in my 2nd home (India)...

As I said before, I LOVE the fact that we have a temple near by.

Alas, Philippines seems to have just as many porn billboards as India... :P

People in Philippines dress very similar to Americans. As in, it's hot, so people like to wear... less clothing. I've never seen so many shirtless guys and short short wearing girls in my life!

I'm very excited that I get to serve in a functional ward! :D

I'm a little scared and excited to learn Tagalog.
The city is much cleaner than Indian cities!

The girls in Indian look like princess, and the girls here look like barbie dolls.
The traffic here is BLEH! I love Indian traffic because it is insane in a dangerous exciting way; Philippines traffic is insane just because it's constantly like bad traffic in America (stop and go all day). 

I had a real life beef McDonald's burger!! :D 

Also, something else really cool, we flew through the Hong Kong airport, so for a few hours I got to serve my mission in CHINA! My life dream for my mission = fulfilled. 

Well I'm only been conscious in this country for about a day so that's all I have to say for now. We have a ward activity AND a ward coordination meeting tonight, both of which I am ecstatic to be having! :D

several days later:

Wow, I have so many observations to share... I'll see what I have time for this week!

First off, I have been AMAZED at how well the church runs here! Wow. Elder Mangum and I continually give each other stares of utter amazement as we see the church run... the way it's supposed to! Haha I've been so used to living in less-experienced branches of the church for so long that I had forgotten the church really is the same everywhere you go! Well, ALMOST everywhere... ^_^ Don't get me wrong, the craziness with the church in India cracks me up, but it's nice to be in a functional ward for a little while! Examples of what I'm talking about. 

  • This morning our Ward Mission Leader just called us to see how we're doing. Not to ask us something. Not to tell us to do something. Just to check in on us. What?! 
  • Or yesterday in Elder's Quorum they arranged a list for people to come on exchange with the elders each week, ALL BY THEMSELVES! 
  • Instead of the missionaries herding people to their classes, and then teaching that same class, people willingly went to their classes in church and then were taught by MEMBERS! 
It's weird not being the backbone of the church anymore... it certainly takes quite a bit of pressure off, knowing the church won't fall apart if elders were taken out of the picture! 

I'm also in a GREAT area! My companion and I were essentially white washed (he had only been here for 2 weeks with elder Loveland before they split it to make room for me and Elder Mangum), and yet we are still doing grand! As we counted our weekly numbers last night Elder Consego said "Oh, not very good numbers this week...", and I was just like "Not compared to my last area... the numbers we got this weeks SMOKE anything I've gotten for months!" It's nice to get to teach people! 

I've been working on my Tagalog. When I first entered the Philippines I knew ZERO Tagalog words, and now I at least know some basic phrases! But, I've found I can communciate with people much better with my Indian English than with my Tagalog. And I can now understand my companion 80% of the time (when he is speaking English!) Good good! 

There is saying in the Philippines: It's more fun in the Philippines! haha so far I might agree with that.

On average, the Philippines is much more like America than India is, and people are quite a bit more wealthy here than India (India has stunning poverty, where as the Philippines just looks like a poor part of the USA).

The only down side to the Philippines is the apartments for missionaries are junk compared to India's... For the first time in my life I HAND washed my clothes! It took 3 hours... oh, the blessings of a washing machine! 

I really like my companion, Elder Consego. He is a great missionary, and a very nice guy. It's my pleasure to serve with him here in the Gwn T De Leon Ward!

Catching Up

From May 11:

Guess what?! This week I got to give NON-GOSPEL RELATED SERVICE! Woo woo! I NEVER get to do that! Similar to how Peter didn't want Jesus to wash his feet, no one seems to want us to serve them... :P But this week we were talking to a woman in our branch named Josephine, and she was telling me how her daughter's exams were coming up, and she was doing the best she could to help her daughter prepare, but she doesn't know sociology at all, so she was getting very frustrated trying to help her daughter in a subject she herself didn't really know... well, to her delight, I told her that I LOVE sociology, and I'm quite good at it! Right away she signed me up to help her daughter prepare for her exam, and on Saturday afternoon I spent 3 hours studying sociology with her! I loved getting a chance to do non-Gospel service, and I also loved getting to learn more about sociology as I studied with her. Hopefully she's at least a little more prepared now! 

This week I also got to teach Elder's quorum and youth Sunday school class. Elder's quorum I had 24 hours notice to prepare for it, and Sunday school class I had 90 seconds notice... haha but both lessons went great! I love getting to teach youth especially, and they must enjoy my teaching also because they want me to come teach them every week! :-)

This week we met a very random guy. His name is Sigh, he is a church member, and he came to Bangalore from Hyderabad in search of work. We had no idea who he was until one morning he called us, said he was a member that was moving to Bangalore, and that he was about to arrive by train to Bangalore. He asked us to meet him somewhere to help him figure out Bangalore, because other than they church he does not know a single soul in this big city. So an hour or 2 later met him at church and got to know him. Elder Pydimalla was very confused as to why he came from Hyderabad to here in search of work, because Hyderabad is already a big city that people move to in search on jobs! He simply told us that he had bad influences there, and wanted to get out. Well, he had no arrangements for where he was going to sleep/live, and he had not even begun to search for any jobs in Bangalore yet. So, we gave him the number of some different elders in Bangalore, and told him to go search for a place to live over in there area, because our area is very very expensive but they live in a cheaper area of B'lore. The last I saw of him he was about to get on a bus to meet the other elders. He had all of his stuff in just one backpack (including his Gospel Principles book, thankfully! He became a member just 8 months ago), and only $30 in his pocket.

I have no idea what that man is doing in his life. I just hope God is watching over him, because his life is clearly very lost right now.

From May 18:

Well, today I begin my journey to the Philippines! CRAZY! It's kind of a similar feeling to the day right before I left for college. I KNEW the next day I was leaving home for BYU, but still it didn't really seem real... Similarly, I know I'm getting on a plane in a matter of hours (about 20 hours), but it still seems unreal I won't be in India next week... I can only imagine how much more unreal it is for missionaries (like Tanner) that are about to take a plane home. Wow. Weird. 

This last year I officially hit my year mark! Huuzaw! One way that I commemorated the day was by making a list of all the ways my life/myself is better because I chose to go on a mission. A very selfish "what have Igained by doing this". My list got up to 47 points, and then I ran out of room on the page I was writing on, even though I still had many more things I was ready to write down. OVER 47! I knew my life was better because I chose to serve, but I didn't realize just how MUCH better it is! I'll be sure to share that list with you all some day. :)

This year I was saying good bye to many of my dear Bangalore friends. It was particularly hard to say good bye to my all time favorite Indian family, Vidya Sri, Manjula, Dinakeran, and their dad Raman. I've never been so tempted on my mission to hug a girl!! :P Giving a handshake farewell to my 2nd favorite 14 year old in the world (right behind you lil sis!) just wasn't sufficient to express how much I was gonna miss them!! Sigh... oh well. I'll shower them with hugs 100 years from now in the spirit world! :) 

I'll talk to you all next week from a completely different country!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mango Season

Mango season has started here in India. They are.... AMAZING!!!! So delicious. I've been living on mango drinks for the past weeks. One day I drank more than 2 liters of Mango juice... it's THAT good. 

Yummy, Mango Drink!  

It's fun getting to see people that I have done baptismal interviews for. It's weird, but even though they only met me for like 10 or 15 minutes, they will ALWAYS recognize me in the midst of other elders! I guess those interviews really do have a big impact on people. It's nice that I get to have such a great relationship with people, and all I had to do was spend a few minutes with them! :)

This last week we had a tree fall in our neighborhood. Sticks and branches were scattered all up and down the street, and I thought "Oh man, this is NEVER going to get cleaned up!" Indian government would take a loooong time to do anything about that, and there are seemingly no service organizations to be found in this nation... but, lo and behold, the next day there were people hauling all the sticks and branches away! Nice, huh? I was pleasantly surprised, until I realized where those sticks were going. Those sticks were going to people who have no stoves or ovens, so they were taking the sticks so that they could make little camp fires to cook their food... Sad, that there is so much poverty. :(

Good story from this week! This week we went and met a less active man named Mike. A year ago he was the most active man in the branch, but now... he never even comes to church at all. Very sad. As we started to talk to him, I learned that he had a great love for Captain Moroni. But, then when we actually got into teaching him we (sadly) got into a robotic "teach a less active" kind of missionary mode (i.e. whipping out a scripture on the sacrament, and how important it is for you to come and take it each week). It wasn't going all that well. But, then I felt impressed to share Alma 48 with him; the chapter that speaks of Moroni's manliness. That chapter was JUST what he needed! He even told us, "I'm feeling the Spirit right now", and we built on that how he can feel that way ALL the time if he keeps reading his scriptures, and comes back to church. He seemed as though he is really intent on changing. Hopefully his fire will return soon. :)

Captain Moroni