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