Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30th, 2015: Getting Used to New Calling as Zone Leader

So, I actually don't have a lot of time to email today.  The latest update in the mission is that President Aquino has made our P-day 1` hour shorter so we can get more proselyting time in.  So, yeah. And I have to put together a training presentation for our zone training meeting tomorrow.  But, I'll answer your questions first.
Dad: how fast is the time going for you? The time goes ridiculously fast here.  Both long term and short term.  Sometimes I look at the time and then look at it again in 5 minutes and 30 minutes have past.  It's crazy. 
Brevin: have you been bitten by any strange animal or insect?  Actually I have strange bites all of the time.  I just don't know what they are from.  
Oliver: how bad are the pit stains on your clothes? Not too bad actually.  I have one shirt that I cannot get to turn white.  Just one shirt.  It just keeps getting browner and browner.  I might have to toss it soon :(
Mom: what have been some cool service projects you've worked on? This week we did a service project.  We have a member who is building a bigger bamboo house, so we helped take down her small one and transfer the reusable parts onto the big one.  Just to let you know, us 4 missionaries completely took down her house within an hour with just 2 hammers and a pliers haha.  
Bree: how hot does it get there and what does the flag look like?  Right now is the hot season here and it gets pretty hot.  I think its about 30 degrees Celsius.  I don't really know how hot that is though.  The flag here is blue red and white with a sun and three stars on it.  Maybe you can look up a picture?
Chloe: which place is prettier: Culasi or New Washington? Culasi, hands down. Culasi was unbelievable.  New Washington is also nice though.
Grandma: what do they do for Relief Society Activities  Acutally, I have no idea.  I've never heard of an organized relief society activity here. 
By the way, I did get the package this week!  Thank you all!  Thanks especially to the pictures from the primary.  I might try and get a picture there within the next couple months for them.  Thank you for all that.  We are enjoying all of the goodies here in New Washington. 
My week was pretty good. I did get kind of sick earlier this week, but I'm better now.  I just had a fever, headache, body chills, that sort of thing.  I still worked, so it wasn't that bad.  The worst part was that while I was sick we were traveling to Iloilo.  We had a two day meeting called missionary leadership council.  It was good.  I learned a lot.   I also got to see 3 of my batch mates. It's so crazy that we are all zone leaders.  It was a lot of fun though. 
Yesterday, we worked with a return missionary named Kit.  He also taught a year at the MTC here for a year, so I guess you could say he is a pretty good missionary.  He is so nice though and he is so good in the way he teaches.  I really like him, we actually kind of work with him a lot.  I'm not sure what his calling is but he is some sort of stake mission leader. 
We found a member while tracting this week too! I really love when that happens.  It's kind of like rescuing the "lost sheep".  He is a nice young man, about 23 years old.  He was baptized 15 years ago, we visited him again, and he is progressing pretty fast.  He already realizes how important the baptismal covenant he made.  I'm excited to work with him.  Anyways, I gotta go pretty soon, so halong till next week!
Elder Robertson

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 23rd- Getting Use to a New Area and the Case of the Stolen Identity

I have had another great week, but before I write about it, I'll answer your questions. 
Dad, I don't know if I have a favorite scripture.  What I've done to help me use the scriptures more effectively is in my first like month and half.  I read and marked the Book of Mormon.  I marked it in a way that I thought would best help me in using the Book of Mormon in prosyliting and also in learning more about missionary work.  I have all the scriptures that I think are effective in some way or another to share to investigators marked in Blue, so I carry that around with me.  If I can't  remember where a scripture is, it is a lot easier to find it.  We use the Book of Mormon in every lesson we have.  
Mom, the weirdest fish I've eaten is maybe that trigger fish I ate in Valderamma. I think I sent a picture to you.  I honestly didn't eat that much seafood in Culasi, but I'm already eating a lot more here in New Washington.  Roxas is the seafood capital of the Philippines and we are pretty close to that.  We did eat some squid this week.  Fresh squid. Like, I think they were still living when we bought them in the market.  
Chloe, the most common tree here, hands down, is the coconut tree. There are coconut trees everywhere.
Oliver, my favorite color is maybe green.  I don't know.  
Connor, what does that even mean?
So, my new area is pretty good.  I will say that I for sure liked Culasi better.  My area is pretty small and there have been missionaries here.  Tracting here is kind of challenging.  It is like tracting people that have never seen us before vs. people who have already been tracted 2 or 3 times.  People here are just a lot different than in Culasi. I would describe them as "more American like."  I have already had a bunch of people just straight up tell us no, which never happened to me once in Culasi.  I always said to myself in Culasi that I wish people would be frank with us if they didn't want to be taught, but now that it is happening, I liked it better back there haha.  Sometimes people will just walk away while we're talking to them.  It's so weird haha.  The members here are all super nice though.  And, no, I do not have any batchmates in my zone, its just me!
Our apartment is a million times better than in Culasi.  I don't have any pictures this week, but it's a big step up.  Like, we actually have a closed roof.  We have no wholes in the wall.  We have real windows.  It's a lot bigger.  And we have a shower! And it has decent water pressure! It's still cold, but it's a big step up. I'll send pictures next week. 
Oh, by the way, Happy BIRTHDAY!  I remembered when I was dating my journal yesterday haha.  The same exact thing happened on dad's birthday.  I hope you had a great day!  Thanks for all the support you give me on my mission!
I'll just write about one thing.  Elder Gan has been telling everybody that I am the actor in the Restoration video.... and people actually believe him.  I've been asked for autographs and pictures.  It's ridiculous. On my first day, we visited the Bishop's wife and Elder Gan told her that I was the actor and she flipped out.  I just went along with it, but after a while it got ridiculous.  She was asking me questions about the scene shooting and everything.  My first Sunday at church she came up to me asked me about my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith while I was shooting the film.   I just told her that we were just joking, and she got offended.  It was bad.  Our relationship is still a little shaky haha, but she is coming around.  She just got so excited and it's like I ripped her soul out haha.   It was bad haha. 

Since Stuart is living with three Filipinos that know how to cook, he's totally feasting, which he is thrilled about. He says they use the banana leaves as plates and just eat with their fingers. He says it's "legit".

Trying oysters

This little guy just walked right into Stuart's apartment.

He says this man is about 75 years old and has been making these wrappers for 50 years. Stuart says this is a crappy job because with working with the coals it gets so hot. This man works 12 hour days, early in the morning and then late at night so he can avoid the heat of the day. Stuart thinks this man deserves a medal!

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16th, 2015: Transferred to New Washington, Kalibo!

So, I did in fact get transferred.  My new area is...... drum roll please...... NEW WASHINGTON, KALIBO!!!  It is an area that is right outside of Kalibo city to  the east.  You will be able to see it on google maps if you look it up.  I just got here on wednesday, so I still don't know my area very well.  My companion is actually Elder Gan.  The same one who was companions with Elder Kellerstrass in Culasi.  It is kind of funny that I am with him again.  He only has 3 months left on his mission, so I will probably be with him until then.  We are actually the zone leaders of all the missionaries in Kalibo too.  So,  that should be interesting.  Three of my other batch mates are zone leaders too now.  Elder Orr, Elder Cuillard, and Elder Mudrow. Elder Kellerstrass got transferred to Roxas city, so I won't be seeing him anymore haha :(.  Elder Coronel is training a new missionary in Culasi.  Anyways, my new area should be pretty challenging.  The language here is Akeanon. If you remember in the Chicago temple, the temple greeter, the one that went to my same mission. He was saying that there was this language that was incredibly difficult.  You know you're doing right if your tongue doesn't hardly come off the bottom of your mouth. Yeah, that's the language they speak here. It sounds so weird haha.  I heard that they had a prince here a long time ago, and that he had a speach impediment where he couldn't make an "l" noise, so then they adopted the way he speaks.  It is pretty much impossible to learn especially because there are no resources on the dialect, so most missionaries that come here just learn Tagalog because almost everybody here speaks Tagalog.  So, that's what I'm trying to learn right now...Tagalog, which is almost completely different that Karay-a or Ilonggo, so right now, I can't hardly understand anyone or speak, so that's kind of frustrating haha, and I was just starting to get good at Karay-a too haha,but it's alright, its just a challenge.   We have a ward up here too.  It seems to me that the missionary work is a little slow, so we will see how much damage I can do.   
It's been an interesting week. A lot has happened.  Maybe the biggest highlight was the day after I got here in Kalibo, Elder Gan and I went with two Elders to Buruanga to open up the area for missionary work!  We picked them up from the bus and we slept in the couples, the Strengs, apartment in Kalibo, which was incredibly nice.  I took my first hot shower on my mission!!!  We got up early in the morning and piled into the Strengs truck and drove down to Buruanga, which is at the tip of the peninsula on the northwest corner of the island. It is so beautiful.  I knew that President Aquino was going to open up that area, so I really wanted to get transferred there and open up that area.  It just sounds so fun to open up an area.  Elder Gaco and Elder Lazaro are the Elders to open it up.  Elder Gaco was Elder Boligaos companion as the two APs.  President stuck two of the best missionaries there to open the area.  In fact, President Aquino extended Elder Gaco's mission without even asking him first in order to have him open up Buruanga.  Elder Gaco was supposed to go home this last transfer, but President extended him haha.  Btw, Elder Boligao went home this week, so won't be seeing him anymore. 
Anyways, we went the Buruanga Elders to help them set up their new apartment.  It was pretty cool.  I got to Boracay too!  The forbidden island!  The Strengs went there for a day date while we were in Buruanga and they brought us back some sand from the beaches there.  It is like white flour.  It is sooo nice. Then we could just see a bunch of hotels and stuff.   There were a bunch of fancy boats and stuff too and people para sailing and stuff.  
To answer your questions.  School hours. I'm still not really sure. I think school gets out for a month and a half here pretty quick. 
My companion is Elder Gan.  To be honest, he is a little bit trunky, but I'll whip him into shape haha. 
Chloe, people usually don't have any decoration at all. A lot of times though, if the house is concrete, they paint them really bright colors!  Most of the time though, people are very poor and have houses made out of bamboo.
Have a great week!

Saying farewell to Elder Coronel

Good byes to the Culasi Elders.  Elder Kellerstrass and Stuart have been together
since the MTC.  

"I have 3 house mates.  Elder Gan, Elder Palzario, and Elder Cruz and they are all crazy and way funny.  They are all Pinoy too.  They played a prank on me when I first got there.  I had all my luggage and stuff with me.  When we got of the jeepney, they told me that the apartment was a little ways into the woods on this dirt path, so we start going and we are just going everywhere.  There are houses around, but it was kind of in the middle of no where.  It took us like 20 minutes to get there.  I couldn't believe how out of the way our apartment was.  The next day going out for work, Elder Gan told me he was going to show me another way out that was a little bit longer.  We start walking and we walk around a little bend in the path and there is the road. That is when I realized that they made me haul around me luggage on that tiny dirt path when we could have just done it in 30 seconds haha.  These guys are a bunch of goons."

With his new companion, Elder Gan

Very different from the place in the last area where they went to church.  In Kalibo
they have a very nice Chapel.

Stuart found out the different between a hot dog and a hot dog
sandwich.  Hot dog sandwich has a bun and a hot dog
doesn't.  Haha.

What the locals wear for a fiesta.

If you look close you can see a big striped spider in the center of this photo.  Stuart
says the further north you get, the bigger the spiders.  He says he can't get over how big they are!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 9th, 2015- Possible Transfer out of Culasi and the Madjaas Festival

Hello family!
I'm glad you guys are finally getting some warmer weather.  I, on the other hand, am way sunburned from our trip to Malalison a while ago.  
So, transfers are this Thursday, but I will probably leave early on on Wednesday.  That is if I'm transferring.  I'm about 98% sure I'm transferring.  President Aquino has pretty much told me so and it is pretty rare for people to stay longer than 6 months in one area.  I will feel really bad if I'm not though.  I told some members that Elder Kellerstrass and I will probably be transferred this week and they just flipped out and told everyone and they organized a going away party for us.  Sooo yeah.  Next time I know not to tell people if I think I'm going to be transferred. The going away party was kind of awkward, but I still appreciated it. They sat Elder Kellerstrass and I in front and went around and all told us the things they are going to remember us for.  It was so uncomfortable. We had a good time playing games and stuff though. 
As far as who I think will be the new group leader?  I don't know.  Either Elder Egama or Elder Coronel probably.  We will just have to see. 
I got to do two baptismal interviews this week for two young women in Tibiao.  One is in a part-member family and one is the now the only member in her family.  We also went to their baptism the next day.   It was a lot of fun. 
We also had the Madjaas festival this week.  I don't know if there is any possible way for you to find this song, but there is a song about Madjaas that we have seriously heard maybe about 100 times this week.  And when I say 100, I'm not joking.  It is driving us nuts.  They just blast it all day in the Banwa. But the festival has been pretty cool. A cool cultural thing as well.  
Anyways, I'll have a ton to email you next week probably in my new area, new companion, etc.  We are heading out right now, so halong for now.  
Elder Robertson

Stuart's favortie twins in Culasi- :"Thug Life x 2"

He says they are just hilarious and he will miss them probably more than anyone.

Here is a picture they took of Stu.

Same "Cheeser" fae he made when he was a baby.

The twin grandpa that got baptized last week.

Enjoying a snack with some members from the group.

Some cute kids that a friend of a member who is investigating the church rounded up
for the missionaries to teach.

Headed out to the island of Malalison,

Click here for link to the catchy Madjaas Festival Theme Song

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Some Videos of Jeepney Rides and Trike Rides in the Philippines

March 2nd, 2015: Following the Promptings of the Spirit Helps Testimonies Grow

I have had a GREAT week.  We did have conference yesterday. Culasi will not becoming a branch yet though.  I think it might still be a while though.  I think the area presidency wants us to meet a higher number of full-tithe paying Melchezidek Priesthood holders even though we have met the minimum of becoming a branch. We did have 4 men receive the Melchezidek Priesthood at conference though. It was really cool.  We also had some great talks in conference.  We had a member of the quorum of the 70 there that presided.  He gave a really good talk about the conversion of his family.  His family was pure iglesia ni cristo (church known by missionaries as the church that likes to butt heads).  His mother met with the missionaries and within 15 minutes she believed everything and changed everything.  The father wouldn't go for it though.  For 6 months he tried to get his family to come back to ang iglesia ni cristo but he couldn't convince them.  Finally, he agreed to be being baptized.  He said he asked his father why he decided to change.  His father said, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. haha.  It was kind of cool though.  He was a good speaker though.  He had the attention of the entire hall. You could feel the Spirit too.  
Me and Elder Coronel have had some fun too.  We were walking to an appointment this week, and we decided to take a short cut through the rice fields.  We got to a point where the little walk way (maybe look up a picture to know what I'm talking about) was recently made, so it wasn't very stable and pretty muddy, but of course that doesn't hinder us... Anyways I just look back and Elder Coronel just goes in knee deep.  It took him 15 minutes to go maybe 30 yards to the road.  It was so funny.  I took a short video so I can send it too you.  I laughed so hard though.  I made it through with only going one time going in knee deep.  
We had one pretty cool experience this week.  In one of our daily planning sessions, we felt like we should visit this village that is way out in the mountains.  We have been there once, and it didn't go super great.  There is only one church out there, and literally everyone in that village is a member of that church But, the Spirit was telling us that we should go there, so we went there.  When we got there, we just walked around for a bit and then tagbalayed this house.  We start talking to this Nanay and we find out that their family had investigated the church for 5 months in Bacolod, but didn't get baptized because they moved here 15 years ago and there was no church or members here. They still had their Book of Mormon, read from it and have a testimony of it.  We asked them to baptized and they said yes.  They just couldn't believe we had found them way out there.  They then proceeded to introduce us to all of their neighborhood friends.  We now have 6 or 7 families to teach out there that are very interested.  They are all coming to church this week too. They were all saying stuff like, 'there is only one church here.  I wish there were more around here so people could choose for themselves which is true.  I just feel like there is missing in our church."  They were just saying stuff that is golden for missionaries to hear.  Anyways, the whole experience has helped my testimony grow of the Spirit.  Experiences where you listen to the promptings of the Spirit and a miracle happens is such a testimony builder.  It also shows that in missionary work, what the Lord says is way more useful than the reasoning of men.  If it was me, I would not have taken a whole day to go out there and teach people that don't really like us.
So, to answer your questions
Lacy: not a question but just letting you know I danced with Hawkins,
John: any weird alien dog sightings?
Chloe: do people eat pizza and if so what are the toppings?
Dad: what is the quality of razor blades?
Connor: has the chubby kid that moons elder Coronel been around?
Natalie: I'm writing you right now.
Oliver: do you get to sleep a lot?
Mom: what will you miss the most about Culasi?
Lacy, way to go
John, to be honest, all the time, but it just hardly even phases me anymore.  I can't think of any time specifically though haha.  The one with the pink mushroom growing out of it's butt I don't think will ever be topped. 
Chloe, actually eat pizza here everything is normal except that the sauce is banana based instead of tomato base.  It tastes a little weird
Dad, quality of razor blades.  We sometimes get just little razors at little chunggis.  Their pretty sharp, they work well.
Connor, to be honest, I've only seen that kid twice since then and he was pretty tame. One of the times we saw him, he was showering outside naked.  When he saw that we saw him, his reaction was so funny. 
Oliver, we only get 8 hours to sleep a day and a lot of days we have to wake up early for stuff, so no, we don't sleep a lot.  
Mom, I was thinking about it.  I think I'll just miss how beautiful it is and how nice the people are.  It's an area that a lot of missionaries want to go to.  Mostly, I'll just miss the people though. I'm excited to know where I'm going to get transferred though!
Sorry about the last couple of weeks! The internet has been a little frustrating lately.  We are in San Jose today so everything is well. 
Have a great week!

This spider was on Stuart's head when he woke up one morning.
He tells us it's the size of a CD and scared him half to death!

Mom said, "Please tell me you didn't cross that rickety bridge." and he replied,
"I think you know what happened." Yikes! 

Hanging on for dear life on the bus going to District Conference.

A favorite dessert- Halo-Halo. Cream, sugar, jello, sweet potato, corn, beans & fruit.
It sure is pretty and Stuart seems to really like it.

Sometimes it doesn't pay to take a short cut through the walkways in the rice patties.
Poor Elder Coronel.

Piling them on the jeepney and bus where ever they can including the roof.

This cute little boy came up to Elder Coronel and just stared at him.
He then took his Mt Dew, while still staring at him, and then chugged it
all gone. Stuart and Elder Coronel laughed and laughed.