Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27th,2015: New Companion, Elder Beticon and Learning Hard Lessons in Exact Obedience

Transfers were this week and Elder Gan got transferred, so I have a new companion.  His name is Elder Beticon, and I am super excited because he is awesome.  He is such a like-able guy.  All of the members already love him.  Its kind of funny though because Elder Gan is companions again with Elder Kellerstrass.  They are opening a new area together.  Funny huh?
Our new companionship is going really well so far though.  Elder Beticon is so good in lessons.  He is so in tune with the Spirit.  I'm so excited for the next couple of months!  haha.  We had an experience last night with a old couple who was baptized about 4 years ago I think, but they have been less active for a long time now.   We started teaching them and we asked them if they have enjoyed their experience as members so far.  Of course they said yes and then we asked them why they decided to become members of the church.  They started saying how they loved the missionaries and they were so polite and funny and kind.  The Nanay also said that she was Catholic before and she didn't notice any differences between Catholicism and Mormonism and they liked the members more in our church then the people in their Catholic church so they decided to switch over.   She said that she still prays to Mary!  I couldn't believe it.  It wasn't because she didn't actually believe, but because she didn't know better. Elder Beticon leaned over to me and said that he is so mad at the missionaries who baptized this lady because it was clear that they had taken advantage over them in order to get a baptism.  This lady was not converted.  She thought that Catholics and Mormons were pretty much the same thing. It was really sad.  I'm really excited to continue working with this family though.  I know that we can help them become converted.  
So, our mission kind of had an experience this week that opened our eyes of why we need to be exactly obedient.  This week we had MLC again in Iloilo for all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders.  It is a two day conference, so after the first night, we all went to nearby apartments to sleep.  Usually the office Elders use the mission vehicles to all take us to our apartments, but President Aquino changed his mind and told us that we should all just use public transportation to go home, but one the Assistants decided to take two Elders and some of the Sisters just to be a nice guy I guess, but I guess three minutes later, they had hit a motorcyclist and now that man has either past away already or he is still in critical condition.  It's really sad that that has happened, but it is obvious to see that if they would have been obedient, it would have never happened.  President probably had a feeling from the Holy Ghost that we should all take public transportation.  I guess that this experience has helped me recommit to be diligently obedient, even if doing something else makes more sense. 
What else.. oh we had Jaime leave for his mission this week in Laoag.  He slept in our apartment the night before he left because he was set apart.  He is such a good kid and I know he is going to work hard on his mission. 
By the way, I am sorry I don't have as many crazy stories as I did in Culasi.  New Washington is so much more tame.  It's a lot more higher class than Culasi.  We only have about 4 villages or mga barangay that we work in.  No mountians, no rice fields.  I think it might have a lot to do with the fact that I've been here a long time too.  I probably look over a lot of stuff now that would have been crazy to me 6 months ago. haha. 
I did have one experience this week that was so funny to me.  There is this little girl, maybe 2 years old, at one of our investigators house that has always been SO shy from me, but this week I totally got her to open up to me.  I had like a 10 minute conversation with her just by making a noise by moving your tongue in and out of your mouth.  It was soo funny.  It was like a full on conversation for 10 minutes just by making that noise. I took a video of it but it is too long for me to send it too you. You guys will have to watch it when I get home haha.  It makes me laugh every time I watch it though.. too funny. She is my best friend now too.  No longer shy.  

Stuart was very excited about this picture.  This is the baptism of some of his investigators in Culasi that he taught.  it's nice for him to see the fruits of his labors.

"This week was the first time in my life that I have used an umbrella because of the sun. It is so hot right now here.  We all bought these gigantic umbrellas though haha"

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 20th, 2015: The Baptism of Carla and Fighting Spiders

I've had another great week.  First though, I'll answer your questions.  I like those, because it gives me ideas of what to write about haha.  Sometimes I just sit down, and don't know what to write about.
Dad: how hard is it to find an address?
Connor: are there any missionaries in your mission that are afraid if spiders/bugs and have a hard time?
Oliver: what is you favorite fruit in the Philippines that isn't in America?
Chloe: do you ever miss watching TV?
So, there is pretty much no thing as addresses here.  Especially in New Washington.  It seems like here there are a lot of areas where there are just groups of houses it fields or woods with winding, small dirt paths that link each one.  Pretty much what you get is the village or barangay they live in and maybe some landmarks.  Then when you know you are getting close you just ask people where their house is.  It's actually pretty easy.  
For Connor.  To be honest.  I might be the missionary that is the most afraid of spiders and stuff and I'm not even that bad. haha. Elder Coronel was pretty bad though with cockroaches.  He hated them. The Filipinos have no problems though.  In fact, a kind of popular thing in the mission and in the Philippines is spider fighting.  Their are these big spiders that fight each other.  They kind of look like those wolf spiders in the breezeway.  Anyways, you put them on two ends of a stick and then they just go at it.  haha.  
Oliver, there is a seasonal fruit called talaba or something that kind of grows like grapes except it has a tan shell on it.  They are pretty good!
Chloe, sometimes I guess I miss TV.  Mostly just sports though.  NBA.  People talk about NBA a lot here, especially because I think playoffs are pretty close, right?  
About the skype.  I'm pretty sure we get to skype, but I haven't heard anybody talking about it.  And, transfer day is this week, and I'm almost positive Elder Gan will be transferred out, so I will probably have a new companion this week.  
Elder Coronel sounds like he is doing good.  My area in Culasi had three baptisms right after I left.  People, that I had taught, so I was pretty excited to hear about that.  He is training a Filipino right now.  
Elder Chapman emails me every week, so I kind of get updates on his mission. He is in an area outside of Iloilo city that has just recently been opened.  He sounds like he's doing alright though.  
By the way, sorry that I only have a couple of pictures to send this week. I actually had lost my camera for 5 days, but I got it back.  I left it at the computer shop last week, but a member somehow got it, so it's all good now. I guess I have to be more careful 
One of the highlights of my week was the baptism of Sister Carla!  It was pretty exciting.  I'll send you guys some pictures from Elder Gan.  
We also had the funeral of a sister in the ward.  Funerals  here are kind of interesting. I thought there was only going to be one service, but there turned out to be 3. I don't know why.  We had two services for the members and then one was the burial.  There were quite a few people there.  I sang in a choir though for it.  The funeral tradition here though is a little different.  When someone is going to be buried. They have the deceased in the hearse and then they have like a parade of people that walk behind it and they go all over the town, blasting music.  The most popular one is You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban haha. Then, they have the service, and then they have another parade all over the place and they end up at the cemetery.  They don't actually bury anybody here.  They put them in cement boxes above the ground.  And in the cemetery, there is no organization at all. Just where ever there is room for another box, that's where they will build haha.  I ought to send you a picture of a cemetery here. It is interesting.  In Culasi, they actually had organization, but here, nothing.  
In my zone right now, there is another Elder Robertson.  I don't know if I have told you this before, but we were talking a while ago and right before he went into the MTC, he met the one sister missionary that was in our Branch when I left.  He was visiting Adam-ondi-ahman (no clue on spelling) and they ran into each other.  She said that she had an Elder Robertson in a unit she served in that was going to the Iloilo mission in the Philippines and then he couldn't believe it because he was Elder Robertson and was going to the same mission.  Crazy stuff.  


The Bishop of New Washington.  Stuart really likes him and says he's a lot of fun.

The baptism of Carla with a family that has fellowshipped her

Stuart made jambalaya for his Zone.  He said it didn't taste exactly like home but it was still really good and he got lots of compliments.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13th. 2015: Put in a Three-Some Again and Praying for his Investigators

Hello Family!
Thanks for the email. I especially enjoyed the Branchy moments haha.  I love hearing how every thing is doing at home.
 I'm doing great and I've had a great week.  On Monday night, Elder Cruz got the call that he was being emergency transferred, so he took off on Tuesday morning.  He got transferred to the office to be mission recorder.  He will be taking over for Elder Seeds.  Anyways, that puts Elder Palzario, Elder Gan, and I in a tripanionship until the transfer day on April 22. It's kind of funny because this is my second time in a tripanionship with Elder Gan. The first one was in Culasi when Elder Boligao left me to be AP.  We are having a lot of fun though.  
I really enjoyed General Conference this weekend.  It seemed to me that a lot of talks on Saturday were about families and then on Sunday it was a lot about the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement.  Sunday felt a lot more like Easter to me than actual Easter did, which I appreciated. It helped me reflect on the Atonement and the Resurrection a lot more.  We have also had a death in the ward here this last week and later tonight is her funeral and I will be speaking at it I guess, so I will use a lot of what I took in this weekend in my talk.  Elder Gan will also have the opportunity to dedicate the grave which is kind of neat for him to get to have that experience.  
Our investigators are all doing well and it looks to me that we will for sure be having some baptisms in the up coming months.  We are teaching one father who is the father of a part-member family and working with him has been one of my favorite investigators. He is addicted to cigarettes, but is really close to giving it up right now.  It's cool because he is very sincere when we meet with us. He is honest to us, and he has really been humbled when he realized that he needs to change his life around.  He family is giving him great support.   He really wants to be a good father and to not let his family down.  It is pretty cool.   I'm really excited for his family.  
Dad- What's the most common vegetable people eat?-  I would say that maybe the most common vegetable is cabbage. Usually though, people don't eat vegetables plain here.  It's usually in a dish.  I ate a lot more veggies back home. 
Mom- How much does a haircut cost there and do the places you get haircuts look sanitary? A haircut here costs about 30 pesos usually or about 75 cents.  And no, I wouldn't say that they look sanitary at all haha.  Next time I go, I'll take a picture for you.  There is black hair everywhere. 
Connor- what's the weirdest thing you've seen a person do there? There seem to be a lot of crazy people here, like literally crazy.  This week we were walking and then there was this  man in the road just screaming and then he was just punching his bicycle with his fists.  I thought that was kind of weird
Oliver- What is your favorite hymn?  That's a tough call, but right now I would say that it might be All creatures of our God and King.  I really like it because it really helps me appreciate and realize how great and magnificent all of God's creations are.  I have really enjoyed the beauty of the Philippines as well, so sometimes I like to hum it as we walk along the beach or through the forest or whatever. 
Chloe- Do you eat all three meals each day?  Usually, but sometimes I skip dinner because when we get home at night, we get done planning, and I would just rather sleep than eat because I am so exhausted.
Anyways, we are going to be leaving pretty soon, so I gotta go!  I hope you all have a great week! Thanks for your support!

Stuart is now in a three-some with Elder Gan and Elder Palzario for a few weeks.

Elder Cruz transferring to the office.

Elder Gan trying hard to be a good photographer.

Cool caterpillar

Poor Stuart got bit by some nasty ants and he had a bad reaction to it.  Ouch!

Somehow they make vinegar out of banana trees.  Don't ask me how!

Making a boat by hand.  In fact, they make everything by hand including painting the roads with a paint brush and mowing the lawns by hand using machetes!

Personalizing their trikes with interesting decor.  This one has a Seven Dwarfs theme.

Elder Palzario split his pants while out working.  They all seem to get a kick out of it!

A lot of Filipinos raise pigs for extra income.  Stuart says they get quite large!

What a cute face!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 6th, 2015: Take Note: Do Not Track on Good Friday in the Philippines!

Maayad-ayad nga agahon!  (That's my akeanon for the day haha)
Looks like you guys are having a great time in NYC.  The pictures look like way fun.  I hope all the students are having a good time too.  Tell them all hi from me!
My week was pretty great.  I didn't know this, but they don't celebrate Easter here.  The other missionaries in my apartment had never heard of it before. And they said that yesterday wasn't even a holiday.  It's weird because Easter is a church-wide thing.  I don't know haha, so, no we didn't do anything special or celebrate.  And yes, conference is next week for us.  I'm looking forward to it. I just can't believe it's here already again.  6 months have already passed somehow.  
On Tuesday, we had our zone training meeting, so us zone leaders and the sister training leaders each gave a 30 minute training.  We counciled about what our zone needed to hear and what would help them the most.  I ended up giving my training on how to increase our personal revelation.  I talked about specific things they can do to have the spirit more and to receive more revelation like keeping a study journal, using ideas from Preach my Gospel and about how to have more effective prayers.  I thought it went very well.  I learned a few things myself as well. 
Friday apparently was Good Friday for Catholics.  I'm still not really sure what it all means for them, but I think it's their day to remember the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  I don't remember it being that big of a deal back home, but here, it's a big deal.  All of the stores were closed, as in all of them.  There was nobody selling anything. Little shops on the road, nothing.  There was some fiesta and parade in the banwa, which isn't in our area, so there was not a lot of people in our area.  The bad part is is that we planned to go tracting for 5 hours that day.  It was the most frustrating day of tracting of all time haha.  From 12-3 there was this broadcast called the 7 last words or something like that.  And it was being played in almost every house we tracted.  It's tough because usually, when we say that we want to share a message about Jesus Christ, people let us in because every one is Christian and will listen to a message about Jesus Christ, but on Friday, it was tough because I think people were thinking, well, why should I listen to a message about Jesus Christ from a different sect when I am already listening to one from my church.  I don't know.  All I know is that it did not make for good tracting.  haha.  We went to one house that Elder Gan said he tracted out about 2 months ago.  She let us in, but she was NOT happy about it haha.  She is a professor at the local university apparently.  She was super rude to us though.  I would even maybe say that she was the most rude person that I have ever met, and that's crazy coming from a Filipina.  haha.  I have no idea why she let us in and then made it soo obvious that we were not welcome there.  She apparently was watching the 7 last words thing. She said something like, "I have been so busy lately.  I am a professor and work with administration. Yesterday, we had a series of 6 meetings.  That is how busy I am.  And today is my only day off and I am exhausted and right now I am watching 7 last words which is very special and sacred to us Catholics, but now you guys are here, so if you guys just do whatever you need.  I'll listen to your Mormonism."  I was kind of caught of guard and speechless. haha.  We just said that maybe we can come back at a time when we are not such a disturbance, but she said no way after we have already used up this much of her time (we were there for maybe 1 and a half minutes haha), not for nothing.  Yeah, so can imagine how that lesson went. It was bad haha.  After that, we just went and sat on the beach for like half an hour so we could loose our frustration and get the spirit back.  Lesson learned though, never tract on Good Friday!  haha
Overall though, we had a very good week.  We will have a baptism in a week and half.  Carla passed the baptismal interview, which is a BIG deal for her.  She is 16 I think, but I don't know if I've wrote about her yet, but she has some sort of anxiety thing.  When we ask her questions in lessons, she just locks up and starts breathing really hard and won't say anything.  In the baptismal interview, you obviously have to talk and express yourself so you can show you are ready to be baptized.  We have been working with her like 4 days a week to get her ready.  We are so excited for her.  She has had a rough life, but it seems like things are turning around for her.  We are teaching her step mom as well right now.  
Elder Gan had a cool experience this week too.  This might be a little personal to him, but I want to share it with you guys.  So, he had been approved to go home 2 months early so that he could start a semester at his college, but his friend who is also serving a mission sent him an email.  His friends email said something like, "Hey, my mission president sent me this. I don't know why though, I am not going home early, so maybe it's for you.  The Mission President had sent a letter about sow it is not appropriate to end your mission early for temporal reasons.  Seek the kingdom of God before temporal security.  Elder Gan had thought pretty hard about that and I could see it bothered him a little bit.  Well, a couple of nights ago, he prayed and asked God and got an answer that he needed to extend his mission, so he called President Aquino and now his mission is extended.  After that, he was the most happy I've ever seen him.   "I'm following the Spirit... It feels amazing!"  haha.  I'm pretty proud of him.  
What else.. Oh, we started playing basketball in the morning with some of  Elder Cruz's and Elder Palzario's investigators every other day.  It is a lot of fun, but I am completely exhausted at the end of the day.
Overall, this was a really good week though.  The first couple of weeks here I really just missed Culasi because this area is a lot harder than Culasi, but it's ok.
I feel like I have gotten to be a lot better, more mature, and actually I feel like I am a little closer to Heavenly Father. Our area really took a step forward this week.  We found some really good new investigators. I am really starting to enjoy it here.  We have fun.  
Anyways, I hope you guys have fun in NYC!   I'll write you next week!
Elder Robertson
Some of Stuart's batch mates form the MTC

Elder Gan and Stuart

The Kalibo Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders

The Kalibo Zone

Stuart's new house...A step up from the house in Culasi

Bigger living area

Not so clean bedroom...tsk! tsk!

Lot of trike traffic

Biggest bunch of bananas ever!

Puffer Fish that the fishermen just discard

A member in the New Washington Ward that works with the missionaries alot

The Bishop's son

This lady is making sticky rice by wrapping the rice in leaves and then boiling it