Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August 31st, 2015: New Area: TIOLAS!!


So, I might as well start with the biggest news.  Yes, I did get transferred, and my new area is.... drum roll please.... . ... .. ...  Tiolas!!!  Whoo!! So, we have a branch with 4 missionaries.  The Branch is called Tiolas, but the area is really San Joaquin.  I guess when the church first started here, it started in a little barangay called Tiolas, but when they got a building, it was in San Joaquin.  Anyways, I guess it's been a branch for about 20 years now but averages about 40-50 attendance every week.  The missionary work is really struggling right now here, so all that means is we've got a lot of work to do.  I was super excited to transfer this week, but I had no idea where.  In transfer meeting, my name got read off in Tiolas, and I had no idea where that was because I had never really heard of it, I think mostly because the missionary work here is so slow.  My companion is Elder Gomez.  I had met him before once, briefly.  I actually thought he was from America or something because he is so good at English.  He even has an American accent, but apparently he's from Manila. They just spoke English in their house back home.  He's a funny guy though.  When we first got to the apartment he sat down and interviewed me about my philosophies on obedience.  I think that he was just so sick of having disobedient companions or something, but we've started out great.  He's a great guy and really wants to work hard and do things the right way.  
The day before I transferred though, I got sick with something.  I don't really now what's wrong with me, I think I have the flu or something, but that was just terrible timing, because I was all ready to get my new area and I was preparing myself to give a great first impression to my companion and to the branch, and then I got sick, but I've been able to work through it.  It just hasn't been very fun haha.  I'm feeling a little bit better today though.  
Elder Gomez was telling me about how in our area, in the closer areas, it's almost impossible to tract. So, I said ok, let's try it out, and wow, he was so right.  I don't know what has happened or if the people have been put off by the missionaries or something but wow, they do not want to talk to us haha.  I thought New Washington was bad haha.  Our area is really big so we can go tracting out in further areas where the people don't know the missionaries in the meantime, while we are really trying our best to help this branch become more missionary oriented.  
Oh and as far as the language goes here, it's a dialect of Karay-a but almost everybody speaks Ilonggo as well.  But most people will speak Karay-a, but the thing is.  I just realized this week that I really have forgot everything in Karay-a, so it's like starting from zero again, but it's ok. I can understand everyone fine and if all else fails, I can speak Tagalog, the universal language.  
Sorry about the pictures last week too, the computer wasn't working.  I'll try and send some today. 
The weather here is still blazing hot but it rains at least once a day, but not all day. We still haven't got any major typhoons either.  

That's all I got for today.  I'll try and send some pictures 

Love you all!

Elder Robertson

A massive bread fruit!

Bamboo Soup

The bathroom in his new apartment in Tiolas.

August 24th, 2015: Service Projects that Make Fingers Bleed

I'm great and have had another great week.  

This week was our stake conference.  I enjoyed it a lot actually.  On Saturday though, we had to go to the stake center early to get some flu injection.  One of the Sister missionaries gave the shots, which was the scariest part haha, but we had kind of a cool experience while that was happening.  So, Brother Sonny, the man who I interviewed in Ibajay who had killed someone, had an interview with President Aquino and he had come early, which was great except for the problem that when he doesn't eat, he gets seizures from his epilepsy, and he apparently didn't eat breakfast or lunch.  When we arrived he was outside having a seizure with a couple men.  Brother Sonny had grabbed one of their shirts and they couldn't get him to let go because with his seizures, he doesn't have spasms or go unconscious, but he kind of has a panic attack where he just locks up.  We eventually had a bunch of people helping massage his body so he would relax.  We eventually brought him back and he seemed like he was good.  We were able to get him some food and water.  He didn't remember anything that happened though during the seizure.  It was kind of funny.  We went in then and were doing shots while a couple of young men were watching him.  After like 10 minutes though he went back into a seizure and the second one was a lot worse.  He looked like he was in a lot of pain, so we gave him a blessing and right after that he came back and was fine the rest of the day.  It was just another blessing from a priesthood blessing.  
Overall though, conference was very good, except for the priesthood session.  The priesthood session had a lot of "branchy moments" haha if you get what I'm saying.  There weren't a lot of people that showed up and then there were just a couple moments that were a little uncomfortable haha.  For both the opening and closing prayers no body got up to say the prayer while we were sitting there waiting for the prayer and so the conducting counselor had to just call on someone haha. And then for the talks, they were projector presentations and kind of a discussion format.  In one of the trainings on priesthood keys, the speaker had thrown out the question, which callings hold priesthood keys, after a couple people that had answered some of the obvious ones, it went quiet, and then one of the bishops yelled out that the relief society president holds priesthood keys haha. Stuff like that haha. Half way through the program, we split up into smaller groups and Elder Beticon and I went with the ward mission leaders on request to give them a training.  We trained them on how to coordinate better with members and the full-time missionaries.  It went pretty well and I think they all understood what we were asking from them. 
For our service project this week, we stacked hollow blocks.  We have a member who is building a new house and had ordered a bunch of hollow blocks ,but the deliverers had placed them over the property line so we had to stack them onto her property.  It was a little interesting because it was pouring with rain and then there were vines that had grown all over the top of these blocks.  Anyways, after the project my fingers were bleeding and they were all really bruised.  I wish I would have taken it a picture because it looked pretty nasty haha.  It looked worse than it actually was but the thing was we didn't have any hand protection and the blocks were pretty heavy then combined with rough surface.  Then sometimes I would lift one up thinking that it was clear of the vines and then the vines would rip it down when I was half way picking it up.  That's what made my fingers bleed.  Man, it was terrible haha.
We had an interesting lesson last night. So we are teaching a 14 year old boy that is staying with some members, but we taught him last night with his legal guardians who are devoted Catholic and very strict parents.  The father was some police chief but retired just this year.  This man is like the stereotypical military guy that does not tolerate any funny business.  Actually at one point he had said something funny on accident and we started laughing thinking that he told a joke, but he let us no that he does not make any jokes, so we had to choke our laughter.  It was like that haha. But we had 5 youth with us, thinking that we were going to be able to fellowship this boy, but then the parents request that we have kind of a lesson where we work out all of the problems.  And they are not a fan of the church and are very frank people, which I appreciate, but they said a lot of things that were inappropriate in front of all those youth.  Anyways, these youth that were with were so nervous because the Father told us that he wanted each of them to go around and tell him why they are a member of the Mormon church.  He was so observant too.  If they said anything questionable he stopped them and fried them.  Haha.  It was terrible.  Anyways, Elder Beticon and I did a good job of keeping it professional and being bold with them.  We gave them a challenge to read the Book of Mormon, which was really all we could do because you don't want to argue with person like that and he will definitely respond to a challenge if you actually challenge him.  We actually have a return appointment with that family after the whole thing which is kind of funny, but I actually think they have a lot of potential. It's kind of exciting!
To answer your questions:  Stephanie, they have a break but I think it's only a month, but I think the total hours they go is the same as America.  Their breaks are just more spread out.  Mom, I am 99% percent sure that I am transferring this week, but I have no idea where I am going. Dad, my favorite scripture maybe this week is maybe Alma 48:11-13, 17 which are the verses where Mormon is describing the character of Captain Moroni.  President Aquino shared this in his talk at conference.  So I think Captain Moroni is only 25 years old at that time and to get that kind of description is really impressive and to think about what kind of attitude and character he had even at that young age.  He's kind of like a super hero haha. I've thought about that scripture a little bit this week.  
Anyways, that's all I got for this week.  I'm really excited this week to get a new area because I feel like I'm reaching a level where I really know how to be a great missionary and to have a new area to get started on working on is pretty exciting.  
Elder Robertson

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 17th, 2015: Visit from Brother Waggoner and Service Project

Hello everyone!  

So first, I'll just answer your questions 

Dad: is the church emphasizing keeping the Sabbath Day Holy?  I would say so.  That was the topic this last Sunday.  I would say that for the most part, members are good at keeping the Sabbath Day holy as well.  Maybe the biggest emphasis is put on paying tithing.  It's something that members overall struggle with here.  As group leader back in Culasi, President Aquino asked that I was teaching it or at least emphasizing it every Sunday.   
Brooklyn: are board games popular there?  For the most part, no.  But, if they have board games, sometimes they play it. 
Mom: have you thought about what you want to do as a career?  I do think about it, but I'm really still pretty up in the air about it.  
Seth: how many lessons do you teach a week? And how do you get investigators? Members, tracking, media?  As a zone leader, we don't get as many lessons as I used to because a lot of the time, we spend time out of our area, but maybe an average right now is 30 lessons or so.  A good week is 40.  And investigators generally are really easy to find.  It's just a matter of getting quality investigators where you can teach them at members' houses and have fellow shippers.  We don't really use media at all though.  We used to have Facebook, but missionaries abused it, so there is no more of that. 
Stephanie: what was something that has made you laugh this week?  So, Elder Tracy's birthday was yesterday and tonight, we are having a ward activity that is kind of for his birthday.  He is buying all of the food, so the thing is he is expected right now to replace one of the other zone leaders who will be transferring early to the office for training, which would mean Elder Tracy would have to transfer early too.  We don't know anything for sure though, it's just gossip, but yesterday after church, they missed a call from the APs, which we all started freaking out because we thought it was because Elder Tracy was transferring.  It would have been perfect timing.  Anyways, he was panicking because it could mean that he would transfer right before his party that he has already put some money into for food. And all of the members are planning on attending.  Anyways, it was so funny because he was panicking.  Eventually the AP called back again and told Elder Tracy that he had something to tell him.  At that point Elder Tracy was about to give up hope, and then all it was was a birthday call because they apparently had the same birthday.  It was pretty funny because it was such good timing and we all thought that he was transferring. 

Bree and Chloe: how talk are the trees there?  They are normal height I guess.  Most of the trees though are coconut trees. 
Hey, so about the paper, the other paper he gave me was already three hole punched. i have a hole puncher here, but it's kind of cheap plastic, but it works.  It's just one that I got at the MTC.  If you could get three hole punched paper or just punch it there, I think that would be best.  As far as hygiene products, maybe the only thing that would be nice is deodorant.  You can buy good deodorant here, but its so expensive, like 7 dollars a stick-expensive.  Other than that, I'm good!  Thanks a bunch!   

That's a bummer about stake conference though.  That's a good meeting.  And that's so crazy that Madison Jones is already home.  That's so fast haha. 
So about school, I'm going to apply to BYU and I probably will need your help on that.  I don't really know when's the best time to go in though.  I was thinking fall just because I don't really see any reason why to wait, but it seems like you want me to go in for winter semester.  I'm fine with whatever.  I'm not really worried about adjusting at all, but it would be nice to work a little bit before.  I just don't know where I would work.  

I had a pretty cool experience this week.  I came home one night and Elder Tracy told me he wanted to show me a picture of someone he had met that day, so he showed me the picture and it was Brother Waggoner!  He was one of my teachers in the MTC!  Apparently he was in Kalibo and knew that Elder Tracy and I were in New Washington and came over, found some members and then called Elder Tracy (he taught Elder Tracy too)  and they had dinner together at the member's house.  I was pretty bummed because we had forgot a phone and they had tried to contact us, but it was ok because the next morning we met up with him and his dad and had breakfast together. It was kind of cool because we got to catch up and then we had a pretty lengthy conversation about looking back, how the MTC experience could have been better and then we talked also about teaching less-active members.  It was really good.  I actually learned a lot of stuff that I wish I would have known a long time ago.  In Culasi, there were no less-actives, so I had never had any experience teaching them and then I got to New Washington with hundreds of less-active members and my initial reaction was to turn to PMG and that actually has basically nothing about how to work with these members that have been offended, or became members for the wrong reason.  I really appreciated our conversation with Brother Waggoner because he is a really passionate person who really cares about the work and even though he was on vacation to visit all of his old converts and stuff, he was also getting feedback on how he can better do his job in the MTC.  He's a good guy.  Anyways, I was pretty excited over all of that.  

Anyways, that's all I have time for today just because I got a lot of stuff that I am working on right now, but I really liked all of the pictures you guys sent.  You all are goons haha. 

Ingat kayo 
Elder Robertson

The School Bus

Brother Waggoner

August 10th, 2015: Working with Investigators

Karter:  I do! I still have it! It's pretty much exactly like you said.  I use it walking through the jungle at night.  It works well. 
Seth:  haha.  It was kind of bad in Culasi just because I was one of the first white men they've ever seen, but here, the members are pretty used to having American missionaries.  
Dad:  To be honest, Filipino people don't read at all unless they have to.  
Brevin:  The hottest it's got here in about 105 degrees with 100 percent humidity which is basically the definition of hot.  
I've had a great week again.  It has rained a lot here this week though.  We had a storm go through, but it was far from us.  We just got a lot of rain.  It's kind of funny though because when it comes to rain, Filipinos are such wimps. They can't get wet.  I'm fine with getting wet, as long as my scriptures don't get wet. haha. 
So, this week, I did a bit of traveling.  We had MLC in Iloilo again and then I did a couple days of splits, so I didn't spend a lot of time in New Washington this week.  I was pretty exhausted too because most of the days I woke up early to get traveling.  MLC was great again.  Learned some great lessons.  Elder Beticon and I were asked to give a training again for the second time in a row, we trained together though this time on stress, our assigned topic. It was kind of fun.  It was the first time I gave a training with my companion.  
I spent a day in Ibajay this week to do a baptismal interview.  It was a lot of fun to walk around in the mountains and get wet in the rain again.  The interview was a little interesting though. I interviewed a 35 year old man and I noticed there was a something a little off about him and he told me that he had epilepsy, but he was still completely capable, but he actually ended up telling me that he had killed someone before, which was a little unexpected.  It kind of took me off guard.  I had to ask the question three times because I was a little taken off guard.  Anyways, it was a while back and somebody had drugged his drink and he ended up killing somebody, but I was really impressed with his faith in Christ and his understanding of the gospel.  We had to write a letter to the first presidency to see what we should do, but I think that they will allow him to recieve the ordinance of baptism.
Oh this is kind of for John and Connor and Dad, but last night in a lesson the song rhinestone cowboy came on in one of the next door houses.  It was a crazy moment in my head because I had totally forgotten that song and then I heard it and so many memories just came back from youth dances and listening to it in the choir room haha. It's such an epic song.  I kind of started grinning in the lesson and everybody was looking at me weird haha.  #LikeaRhinestonecowboy
We were supposed to have a baptism this last Saturday, but unfortunately our investigator got kicked out of her house because she was listening to us, so she went to Manila.  Her family is way nice to us when we are there, but apparently when they aren't there they say a lot of bad stuff about the church and really don't want their daughter to join the church just because it looks bad for their family if she becomes Mormon, but she said she doesn't care what other people think, but anyways she called us this week from Manila telling us that her parents made her go to Manila.  We were kind of bummed to here that, but it really doesn't matter where she gets baptized.  It's the same gospel and same church.  We are just happy that she was able to overcome her persecutions.  
We have kind of been losing a lot of our work because of persecution, but at the same time, the Lord has been blessing us by putting a couple people of families in our path that have of been prepared this week.  
And I don't really have any requests for the package. You guys have made some great judgement calls until now.  Thanks!
A big hello to Hannah and Karter and their family as well!
Elder Robertson

August 3, 2015: The Magsico Family is an Inspiration

Natalie: what's the best advise your mission president has given you? And what do people think of Obama?  haha.  I like these questions today..   So maybe the best advise that my mission president has given me is that I should have a goal of how many people I want to baptize and then write it down.  When he told us this it really kind of just made me realize that I really didn't have any expectations for what I wanted to accomplish for my mission.  But a lot of the advice he gives us makes me just laugh.  Like he tells us that if we don't honor our covenants that God might strike us with lightning, like literal lightning and he tells us that if we work hard on our missions and use our time wisely that the Lord will for sure bless us with gwapa wifes haha.  He tells us that one all of the time.  And most people know who Obama is but they don't really have any opinions of him.  
Lacy: what is a popular toy kids play with? Kids have a lot of cool things that they play with.  They make this thing by wrapping plastic a sertain way around a coin and play a kind of hacky-sack game.  then kids always take used tricycle tires and race them by hitting it with a stick.   People play badminton a lot too in the streets (with no net)  I don't know.  Kind of make-shift stuff like that.  
Chloe: are the schools nice? Do they have to wear uniforms?  The schools are ok.  They aren't nice, but yes, everybody wears uniforms, even college.  
Mom: can you get descent basketball shoes there?-  You can buy real basketball shoes but they are the same price as America, around 100 dollars, otherwise its fake ones, which are actually ok.  They just seem to fade really fast on the bottom from playing on concrete. I could probably make a pair last for 5-6 months.  It would cost around $15.
Oliver: how tall is the tallest Filipino you've seen? Maybe around  6-6. We one time played one of the college basketball teams and they  had like a 6-6 center and I was guarding him.  He was good and dunked on me a couple of times.  
Dad: what's the political/electoral scene like there? Do they advertise? Knock on doors? Politics over all are very sketchy.  Elections aren't very often though.  People advertise but it's not nearly as much as America.  I've never seen knocking on doors either.  It's so corrupt though here.  There is an election coming up here next year and so what happens is that the current mayor and stuff just start becoming passive on everything.  They don't enforce any laws just so they can get votes to be put in again.  It's bad. 

Don't worry about the package!  I'm fine, I just didn't want you to feel bad that I got it and didn't say anything!   If I can request one thing it's the journal paper from Papa.  What's happened is that a lot of missionaries here have been converted to the papa style of journaling that he showed me before I left and people are requesting some of that paper that he gave me.  I'm running out. Maybe like 400-500 pieces of paper would be good.   Thanks! 

So, this week was a lot of fun and I have had some inspiring experiences as well. 

We did a service project this week on our yard of our apartment because we were going to have an apartment check and our yard was like a jungle of weeds, so we called over some of the members  to help us out.  It's really not that big of a yard, but it took forever to finish because again we were using machetes to cut down the weeds.  So ending result for me was so nasty blisters, a sore back from hunching over and hacking with the machete, and some pretty nasty ant bites.  We still have those fire ants in the back of our house.  They hurt other people when they get bit, but I have kind of a bad reaction to them.  They swell up so big.  I had one on the back of my elbow that seriously swole up like a small egg.  

The Magsico family, our last baptism, are going through some pretty crazy trials right now.  Their house owner, who is actually the father's sister, is giving them a pretty hard time because they joined the church.  I'll make a long story short, she just told them that if they keep going to church that she's going to kick them out of the house, but there are actually a lot of people right now that are not being nice to them and telling them a bunch of stuff about the church, but I'm still just so impressed with their family because they have defended the church through all of this.  They don't have any other family in the church or close friends because they are new in New Washington and have only even been going to church for 6 weeks but have defended it through all of this.  They didn't complain at all to us except for that they felt bad because it seemed like they were the only ones who knew God.  They just told us how they had been comforted so much through their prayers and through the Book of Mormon.  This family really has inspired me.  It's only been 6 weeks and they have more faith than I do.  It's kind of like the quote you sent me. It's pretty major stuff that we do as missionaries, and to have a convert like this family brings a lot of inner happiness and peace.  It's kind of hard to describe, but it feels really really good.  

That's about all I've got for this week.  Halong!

Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27th, 2015: Combined Zone Conference and the USS Mercy

I enjoyed looking at all of the pictures from Utah.  I'm just a little jealous... haha.  Actually I really wish I could have been there!  The pictures looked fun!  I also really wish I could have been at the cabin sacrament meeting.  That just sounds awesome...man.    If possible too, if the kids are going to Nauvoo this week, if you guys could take some pictures of that too, that would be awesome!
And yes, Gary and I did get to go to the SLC temple, which I'm really glad we did before I went in.  It's like every Filipino member's goal to go to that temple someday haha, and then I can tell them how awesome it is.  
I had a action packed week this week.  One Wednesday, we had a combined zone conference with Roxas in Roxas city.  It was great except for the fact that we had to get up at 2:30 am and do a bunch of traveling.  I was dead for a whole 3 days after.  We rented two vans for our zone.  We planned to leave the terminal at 4:30, but the thing is, as soon as we got to the vans I was crashed and next thing I know, we were already on the road.   We got to Roxas 1 and a half hours early, which President Aquino was thrilled about (He really hates when meetings start late) but I wasn't so thrilled because that meant I could have slept for an extra hour and a half haha.  But, a couple minutes before the meeting started one of our companionships walked in and my stomach kind of dropped because I knew that we had left them in Kalibo.  I felt pretty bad, but I was just so tired, that I couldn't think when we were leaving and they said they were like 30 minutes late.  Anyways, they were there before the meeting started.  
We had a guest speaker at conference who is in the American military.  He is the head of worship (from what I understand his job is to make sure that everyone who works on the boat can worship in whatever religion they are on Sunday) on a boat called the USS Mercy.  The USS Mercy is a big white boat that goes around the world and gives free hospital services to countries where people aren't really given services like that.  Anyways, its really cool.  He was a good speaker too though.  He had a cool conversion story too. At first he was really against the church and didn't believe in God, but because he really liked a Mormon girl, he investigated the church and got baptized.  He spoke to us on obedience, but usually in this mission, if missionaries know that the topic is obedience they will just plug their ears, but he did it really well.  I learned a lot. and the other missionaries liked it a lot.   
I just worked with Elder Lafaele, from New Zealand, in his area Buruanga.   Buruanga is a brand new area, but it is so beautiful.  I loved it. 
Just to let you know, Christmas has officially started here.  We sang Christmas hymns in sacrament meeting.  hahah.  It's July.  
Other funnies... I just found out today that Elder Tracy has been taking bucket showers ever since he got here.  He never knew that both the shower heads worked.  He just assumed that they were broken.  Until now, he still can't get over the fact that he has been taking bucket showers for over 3 months for nothing.  LOL. I'm still giggling from that.  
Yesterday at church, our lesson was about Personal responsibility or something like that and we got on the topic of male vs female roles in the home.  It was so bad, but so funny because all of the men here are just saying that a woman's responsibility is to just clean the house and cook food and the women were saying it's not like that.  Basta, Elder Tracy and I were laughing so hard because some of the members just don't know when to cap it.  Nobody was seriously offended thankfully, but I did have a good laugh.  
I also got a good laugh in priesthood meeting too.  Elder Beticon was walking in a little bit late because he was talking to someone in the hall way and right as he was walking in, a little six-year old boy was running out, who is not the best-behaved.  As the kid was running out he just jumps up and punches Elder Beticon right in the mouth.  Elder Beticon didn't see the kid run out, so he was just so shocked.  The look on Elder Beticon's face was just so much shock and pain.  Oh man, I laughed so hard.  Only me and another guy saw it and we were both dying with laughter.  Yesterday up until now, I just keep getting the giggles replaying it in my head.  
Sadly, yes, I chewed my nails off again :(.  We were playing a card game on P-day, and it got intense and next thing I know, I had chewed them off haha.   I'm going at it again though! 
Well, that's about all I got today.  Have a great week!