Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting Settled in the New Area - Pagudpud

Naimbag nga aldaw!  That's good day in Ilokano.  Now it has been a very interesting week getting settled into the new area.

So my new area is right on the beach and it's got a lot of tourist resorts.  We don't really go near the resorts in my area, but we walk on the beach pretty much every day.  My companion is a ginger from Australia. He's an awesome guy.  I love to work with him because he just loves what he's doing and he's just fun to work with and really funny.  This area is really small in terms of members, we only have a meeting house right now.  t's sort of hard because there's not a whole lot of investigators we can teach and it gets really hard to get a lesson in if the person we plan to teach ends up working or going somewhere else.  The members and investigators we have are awesome though.  

We are going to do some serious work to get the area into shape.  I've been way more tired at night from all the work we do and it's a lot more go, go, go here than it was in Cabugao.  We have a baptismal interview for a girl named Jenny Anne on Christmas day and then she'll be baptized Jan. 4th.  Her family, the Ramirez family, is really great and a lot of them came to church, it's kind of complicated as to why the whole family isn't being baptized at the same time, but we'll have the tatay, nanay, the little lalaki baptized in another 3 or 4 weeks. There's a couple that lives next to the Ramirez named John Paul and Menchy.  They need to get married, which is happening on the 30th, and then they can be baptized in about a month as well along with their 8 year old son. Another couple is getting married hopefully soon (that's a little complicated too) otherwise they'd be baptized already.  A lot of really good potential regardless of how small the pool of investigators is.

So we had a branch Christmas party and it was a really fun way to get to know a lot of the members.  I'm pretty sure the Christmas party was better than the one's back home from our ward.  Christmas in the Philippines is maganda (beautiful).  It's a lot more green and I'll miss the snow, but it's really exciting for everyone here.  Tons of people have lights even though the people here are really poor.  The kids go out caroling every night to try and make some money, some of them are pretty good too.  The 24th is when everyone is going to light off fireworks and get drunk so we all have to be in the apartment by 5 p.m.  

Yeah I did get to play soccer with Sister Wood, and it's pretty true, small world.  It was a lot of fun.  I guess Grandma and Grandpa Snow have 3 grandkids serving missions once again, that's awesome for the first Sister Snow.  I didn't get your second one yet, but the office says I have one.  They do have jell-o here and crystal light ;) No offense intended at all, I just think it's funny.  Thanks for the package though, talaga (really), I was really happy to get it and I still haven't opened the little "Christmas presents" yet (except the soccer pump, yes!).  

It's been weird not being with family for Christmas time, but in a way it's really nice because I really get to focus on the true Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ.  Dedicating all my time to him has really helped me get into a spirit of serving and loving others while sharing to them about Christ and his gospel.  I feel like this Christmas has really been about having more Christ in my life.  Being able to serve him is in itself a better Christmas present than I could ask for.  

Mahal ko kayo, Maligayang pasko, naraksak nga pascua, Merry Christmas!
-Elder Egan

P.S. My companion and I decided to do it 10:30 a.m. on the 25th (Philippines time).  I actually don't think skype will work in this computer shop though, it wasn't while I was testing it out today.  So be prepared for a phone or skype call because I'm not actually sure what will work.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Good Week and a Transfer

Everything is going really good right now.  This last week has been the best week so far as far as being able to teach lessons.  It's even more amazing with the fact that we had Christmas conference in Laoag and that took a full day of proselyting time out of our week. We now have a potential of 18 investigators with baptismal dates, 5 new ones this last week.  That's part of the reason this week was really good as far as being able to teach.  Unfortunately, only 3 of those made it to Church.  Jimmy and Lili with their son Jim Paul (they're daughter Jelina was sick this week).  So now their family is being interviewed on Saturday and as long as Jimmy and Jelina make it to church (of course we want the whole family to come, but Lili and Jim Paul have already met the church attendance requirement) they'll be baptized on Dec. 28.  I really have enjoyed being able to help their family out and to teach them about the gospel.  

Another reason this week has been great is because of all the events that have taken place. Christmas conference on Wednesday was great. I got to see all of my MTC District there and we had a very nice devotional with the whole mission.  220ish missionaries right now all nice and snug in a stake center chapel. (It's really small compared to chapels in America and we couldn't use the overflow). Then we had sports with the Zones from Laoag and down.  I played soccer again for the first time in forever, that was fun.  We had a bunch of Filipino dances and some skits on Wednesday night for a cultural type night.  That was way fun and I think President said he was sending videos to the parents of missionaries.

The day after that was Elder Lynn's year mark.  So he made a shirt and had everyone sign it and write down memories...then he soaked it in alcohol and burned it. Some weird tradition that is. But we all had balut!  I finally had balut, and it's not even bad at all. Oh and quick P.S. before I forget, I got one of the packages, thanks (some of that stuff is a little random though)! 

Then it was Friday the 13th.  Our landlady/nanay had a goat that she killed for us. It's pretty hard to study when a goat is screaming outside the apartment. We ate like kings though! 

Saturday I finished with my 12-wk training program so I can officially say I'm a missionary now!  That was fun. And now for some big news: I'm being transferred. I'm going to Pagudpud B with Elder Ramses. Elder Visaya's old area is Pagudpud and he says it's really nice, a tourist attraction. It's way up North, it's the furthest North in Ilocos Norte. Elder Ramses is a ginger from Australia, I'm excited to start working with him tomorrow. I'll miss Cabugao though. I'll miss my trainer, Elder Lynn, and the washing machine (joke ;) ), but I'll especially miss Jimmy and Lili's baptism. I hope everything goes well with that.

So here's some funny things that happened. We tried teaching, but a drunk came and sat down and we asked him if he was drunk, "I drank a lot" he says, "but it's all in my stomach, not in my head." Facepalm! So we asked him to leave and he did...along with the other male sitting in on the lesson, so we had to end it there. During Sacrament meeting, a little girl that has a mental disability decided she was going to lead the music with the chorister. That was really funny in a cute, innocent way.

Well that's all I have to say for now. We ended the transfer on a really good week and I'm glad I've had this chance to work with Elder Lynn in Cabugao and I look forward to more good work in Pagudpud.

Mahal ko kayo lahat!
-Elder Egan

"A Slow and Flat Out Hard Week"

Another week has already flown by, I still can't figure out where all the time goes.  Well I hope everything is going good for you back at home.  Snow would be incredible right now, but I'll stick with the warm weather for a little while I guess.  Well this week has been a little slow and flat out hard.  It's been the least productive as far as how many lessons we've been able to teach and we had a grand total of 0 investigators at church.  That was a pretty big bummer.  It's probably the hardest thing to watch people not act on their faith.  Some people decide that there just isn't enough time in the day read the scriptures and not enough time to go to church on Sunday or maybe it's more worth it to buy alcohol and cigarettes instead of going to church.  Whatever the case, they're missing out on so much more.  

Well you can't change someone's agency, but you can invite the Spirit into a lesson.  That's the only way that people will ever do anything in this work.  Without the Spirit, nobody would have a testimony of this gospel.  So that's how dependent we are on the Spirit, if we don't have that we have nothing.  So that's what I'm trying to work on this week: having the Spirit with us when we teach a lesson.  I know that people will act if they have that undeniable feeling that comes from the Spirit.

So I'll talk a little about the week we had.  We went to an investigators house in Namruangan during their son's birthday.  He has cerebral palsy and he basically can't do anything but roll on his back.  So here's an example of how nice the people of the Philippines are: this family has two working parents to try and support their family while taking care of their son and on his birthday they cook a bunch of party food and invite everyone over and gave the missionaries a nice big helping of pancit, some gram cracker crusted fruit salad, a chicken dish, and sticky rice.  We couldn't finish that even if we wanted to.  Now they probably won't be eating very good for a while and tatay might have to give up some cigarettes this week, but I can't say for sure.  

So I got a haircut and I would say it's better than the last one I got, but my right ear line got messed up.  I might not send a picture of me for a week or so.  So some good news is that 7-11 got soft serve machines and a giant cone is only 15 pesos.  That's less than 50 cents.  So one of the Elders in our apartment got a package and we've had some nice snack food for the past couple weeks.  

So as far as packages go I don't have any yet.  Also for future reference, things are a lot cheaper here so instead of buying a shirt and sending it, you might as well send money here or put it in my bank account.  I don't know about the phone call yet.  There is Skype but I don't know when and how we'll end up doing that.  

So that's about all I've got to say for now.
Mahal ko kayo lahat (I love you all)
-Elder Egan

Monday, December 2, 2013

"...we'll have their baptism on Dec. 28. The perfect thing for Christmas!"

Hello everybody back in America!  So I think I'll get questions out of the way again.  We wear long sleeves on Sunday meetings and District/Zone meetings.  Basically any time we have an official meeting.  My shirts are all fine, they just get dirty after a day or two of use and then they need to be washed.  Go figure!

The people that heard our caroling said it was early too, but it's pwede na! (You can do it now).  We have plenty of bugs but they don't really bother us too much because we have insecticide.  I got some mosquito bites a few weeks after I get here on my ankles (probably while I was sleeping) but if you keep a fan on you at night (which is when they come out) you might get an occasional bite every couple of weeks, but no real problems. 

The one [cute little boy in lots of his pictures] that stole my camera is part of a very active family. We started teaching the only less active person in their family that works every Sunday.  I would take a lot of the Filipino kids home if I could, but I don't think that one would get through security.  I guess the only difference in weather is that it's always hot here and it's getting colder over there.  I hope it starts snowing here too, but I don't think that's going to happen.
So for Thanksgiving we had Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches and some candy that Elder Knowles got in a birthday/thanksgiving package.  And we gave thanks, so yeah that sums up how much Thanksgiving is celebrated here.  Christmas, now that's a completely different story.  No matter how poor you are, some kind of Christmas decoration had better be up.  The mayaman (rich) put tons of lights up and nice Christmas decorations.  I'll take some pictures of what some look like.  The municipal hall gets all decked out as well.  The one in San Juan is my favorite.  They put couple poles from a stand into a tree and put some reindeer on it attached to Santa's sleigh so it looks like they're flying.  Santa even moves his arm up and down.  It's pretty sweet.  The only problem here is that Christmas sometimes seems a lot more about Santa than Christ, so it's basically been commercialized just like in America.

So to give a little update on Jimmy and Lili's family, Jimmy and Lili both came to our District Conference in Vigan this last Sunday (their two kids couldn't though).  They're an awesome family! We just need to finish teaching the lessons to them and see them a couple more times at church and we'll have their baptism on Dec. 28.  The perfect thing for Christmas!
So I mentioned before about Sis. Sandra and said she deserved a whole email to herself, well I'll just spend a good paragraph talking about her.  Her conversion story is pretty sweet and has a little bit to do about how much she loves the missionaries.  For the sake of time I won't give it, but just know she LOVES the missionaries.  She used to feed us once a week, but she started fellowshipping with us in Namruangan when we teach Jimmy and Lili twice a week and decided to feed us those nights as well.  So on a week where we don't have any kind of conflicts, we only have to cook dinner three times.  She also became a branch missionary and has since gotten us 6 referrals in Namruangan, 3 in other barangays (it's how the cities are broken up, sort of like neighborhoods) in our area, and four in the other missionaries' areas.  Elder Sablan made the remark that all you need to fix anything is a flat head, a philipps, and a hammer and she's a hammer.
So one thing I want to talk about that was really awesome is a family we contacted.  It happened to be when I was on exchanges with Elder Sablan (good things always seem to happen on exchanges).  We taught the family about how God calls prophets (as he always has).  The nanay is really smart when it comes to the Bible (well compared to the average person here) and so she knew what a prophet was and they agreed that we should have a prophet on the earth today.  So we told them that we do and his name is Thomas S. Monson.  They were all happy about this good news and they said even though they don't necessarily believe in our religion (yet) they believe that he is a prophet.  And they also want to know why there are so many churches right now.  Perfect set-up to teach the Restoration next time.  They told us we were always welcome so I'm very excited to keep teaching them.
So I guess I'll go into some funny things now.  We teach a really old couple that is being taken care of by a member.  The tatay is a devout catholic, the old I was born a Catholic and I'll die one just like my dad and his dad and yada yada yada.  He pulled out some evidence of how devout his dad was.  It was a collection of tithing slips for that Catholic church (they were kind of creepy looking and it's just not worth explaining over email) that he had compiled into a book.  The book was thicker than the Bible.  That's a lot of faith, now if only he was more set on following Jesus Christ than on being Catholic.  The funniest thing that happened though was the story about the rat.  So we had a rat that was eating our bananas at night and we decided we were going to go downstairs if we ever heard anything in the middle of the night to try and catch it.  Well the Zone leaders were on exchanges with some Vigan Elders and the one that stayed at our apartment was a new Elder, Elder Marsh.  He had to wake up early to get back to Vigan the next day and he ended up falling down the stairs after he was half way down.  So we all hear this big crash and my companion sits straight up in his bed and says, "hey everyone, I think it's the rat!"  He throws his covers off and runs over to the stairs and looks down.  He sits there in silence (I can only imagine him seeing an Elder layed out at the bottom of the stairs) and then he says: "That's a big rat."  The funniest part is that I thought he was joking the whole time (he is a jokester) but come to find out, he actually thought it was the rat that made the giant crashing noise.  We still get a pretty good kick out of it.
Well that's all for this week, I'm glad everything's going well with you down there and I can't wait to get the letters!  I feel like I have less and less time on P-day so hopefully I can finish some hand written letters (my handwriting hasn't gotten any better).

Mahal Mahal ko kayo!
-Elder Egan

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Never thought I would meet a Scottish person on my mission, but it happened"

Hello pamilya at mga kaibigan!  How is everybody?

This week might end up being a lot of pictures and not as much email.  So I have to tell you about the amazingly beautiful beach that we found that's in our area.  It kind of kills me that there's an awesome place like this and the whole water part is, well bawal...guess that gives me an excuse to come back! It's a place called Sabang and it has an island just a little ways off called Salomago island.  That's technically in our area too, but we can't go there because we'd be crossing water and I don't think anyone actually lives there.  But there's lots of nice pictures from there.  Crazy story about Sabang, we were taking a few quick pictures when we ran into a white male that spoke English.  He's from Scotland!  Never thought I would meet a Scottish person on my mission, but it happened.  He's an ex-military guy that met another ex-military Filipina and now they're engaged.  So we talked to him a little and he said we could refer missionaries from Scotland to him.  So we gave his name to the mission office and who knows what will happen now.
We had interviews with President Barrientos this last Friday along with a training from Sister Barrientos and the Assistants to the President.  It really pumped everybody up for hastening the work and Elder Lynn and I both felt like the Spirit was working stronger with us during the weekend.  We are starting to get a little more success with getting investigators that have baptismal dates to come to church.  Lilibeth came with her son and daughter, Jimmy was working this week so hopefully we can teach him about the Sabbath day and he makes it next week.  Christmas might end up really white this year after all! 
Speaking of Christmas, there's a funny story about us caroling.  We were out walking in the sentro of our area and we ran into one of our investigators sisters and started talking with her and a couple of her friends.  Then Elder Lynn told us all that we were going to go caroling.  So we did.  We sang "We wish you a merry Christmas" outside of the house we were by.  The people came out and tried to give us money.  We didn't take it, but the kids did.  We gave them a pamphlet though and set up a return appointment.  The many methods of finding!
Well that's about all I have time for right now so I hope everyone is doing fine and I can't wait to hear from you next week.
Laging mahal ko kayo!
-Elder Egan
so I ran out of time last week to send all the zoo pictures so I'm sending more.

This is that island off of the coast of Sabang

These are all of the adin that follow us around in Namruangan and love us to do magic for them.  The one where we're on a bench is my favorite because I got to sit by a very special soul. The kids here swarm Americans and for whatever reason they really (really) love Elder Lynn and I (almost too much...)


Monday, November 18, 2013

An Explosion of Referrals and a Zone Activity to the Zoo

Kumusta kayo? Sounds like life is going along pretty well in America.  I can't believe Jonny is back already!  He's probably just like a Mexican now.  Snow already huh? It'll be weird not seeing that for a while.  So I guess we'll get started with questions.  No I won't get to help with any humanitarian effort where the typhoon hit for several reasons, the most prominent being that it's pretty far away from our area and it's not exactly pwede to leave your mission area.  I heard a lot of the missionaries are going to serve in Manila now.  I feel like the language is going pretty well.  I can say pretty much anything that I want to, but it's pretty slow.  I'm pretty comfortable with it right now, definitely not fluent.  I'm picking up some Ilokano though which is way more fun than Tagalog!  Grandma got stung by a scorpion!? I mean that's something I wouldn't be too shocked about hearing if the houses in America were like the ones here, but talaga!?
Ok, so I think I'll talk about the exchanges I went on with the Filipino missionary in our apartment. He speaks really good English so communicating wasn't a problem at all.  We went out to Namruangan to teach the family that came to church last week.  We gave them the baptismal challenge and they said yes!!  Dec. 21st! Then our fellowshipper Sis. Sandra (I could write a whole e-mail just about her) went crazy and started talking with all these people as we went to go see a trike driver that has a son with cerebral palsy.  We got 6 referrals in that day just from Namruangan.  It basically exploded in missionary opportunities!

We went back to Namruangan to teach Jimmy and Lili's family (the ones I just talked about) and we gave them a Word of Wisdom lesson just to make sure we got that taken care of quickly.  Sister Lili was reading the bawal things from the pamphlet and just started laughing.  So Elder Lynn and I thought "oh no, what's so funny?"  So we asked her.  She said her husband didn't do any of that stuff. And then we were like "Talaga!?"  We went through every individual thing and they have absolutely zippo problems with the WoW.  If that isn't a prepared family I don't know what is!!  
We tried to teach some of the referrals we got out there, but there were crowds of adin all around us and they basically just wanted us to stay with them and visit them.  It was kind of how I imagine Jesus being flocked with people...except He was infinitely better at teaching to crowds and adults as well.  So we did manage to get a couple new investigators out there and another baptismal date!
So at church yesterday we had Jimmy and Lilibeth with there whole family and four other cousin/friends with them.  Record at church again!  The only problem is that our other investigators with baptismal dates didn't come.  That's probably the toughest thing about helping investigators to progress.  So everyone takes a tricey to church if they don't have their own vehicle.  Jimmy has a motor so he takes his family and then the rest of them triceyd it.  Tricey is about 25-30 pesos per person or less than a dollar and Namruangan is the farthest area away so it could get down to 20 if you're closer.  But yeah it's less than a dollar.
Here's a cool-ish story from the week.  We were teaching a less active guy with his family and it started raining the hardest I have ever seen.  We couldn't hear because it was so strong.  So we waited and had a little merienda after teaching and then it stopped as quickly as it started.  I'd say it was about a 15 min. storm and it already started flooding the streets.  Yep, we call it the mini-bagyo.

Well thanks everyone for your care and love for me.  Can't wait to hear from you again.  It's weird, I feel like this is just some extended boy scout camp (except I'm teaching the gospel in Tagalog) and I'll come back in a week and see everyone.  I bet time will keep on flying and it probably will feel like that, so I'd better enjoy it here while I can.
Mahal ko kayo lahat!
-Elder Egan

Zone activity to the Vigan Zoo


Monday, November 11, 2013

Smooth Sailing in Laoag

Hello my wonderfully amazing family and friends and other people who may end up reading this. No problems at all in the Laoag mission with the typhoon that just hit the Philippines.  I'm about the farthest down south in the whole mission and all we got here were some clouds.  We got the news from our President about the devastation caused by the bagyo.  We pray for them as well.  It's incredible to hear that the missionaries are safe (I guess we aren't quite sure about Tacloban, but President made it sound like everyone was ok).  So there isn't any emergency demand for humanitarian assistance in our mission. 

So it's nice to hear about some of the things going on with the family.  It's awesome that Kol made it to the semis and I guess Emma already has a better high school career than I did.  And now Mia's gonna be a snowboarding pro!  I hope that's fun.
I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I'm half way around the world in the Philippines. It's been pretty quiet round here, aside from  the fact that there's 6 Elders in our apartment now.  It's a little tight, but we have a ton of fun with each other.  
There isn't a whole lot thought that I'm thinking of right now to write about.  I've been reading Jesus the Christ and that's made me stand in even more amazement of the things that he did in his life.  The world was changed from just 3 years of writings about his life and teachings, that much almost everyone can agree on.  The more amazing part to me is the fact that so many people don't truly understand the eternal value of the Atonement.  I don't even understand as much as I wish I did, but I know it's real.  If everyone in the world knew it was real, I doubt that there would be as much misery and confusion in the world.  So that's something I'll try and help people in the Philippines understand at least a little bit more personally.
I think I'll give an update on one of the families we teach now.  It's a family that I haven't taught since the first week I was here.  They're names are Jimmy and Lilibeth and they have two kids, Jimpau (Jimpo) and Jelhina May.  They live really far out in a Brngy. called Namruangan.  Lilibeth and her kids came to church this last Sunday and they brought some friends with them too!  We're going to start teaching them a lot more.
I guess one of the things I wanted to share was that we've been able to give a few blessings just this last week.  One was to a little baby named JJ who had some kind of fever and and a rash around his ears.  He was looking a lot better on Sunday.  We gave one to Jimpau because he was really sick when we taught him on Saturday.  God still works miracles today.  He made it possible for Jimpau to come to church on Sunday and as far as any of us could tell, he wasn't sick anymore.  
Well that's about all I have for this week.  I love hearing from everybody.
Mahal ko po kayo lahat!
-Elder Egan
Here's a picture of a great sunset in the Pinas and a Filipino Christmas tree

Here's a beach out in Namruangan where a couple of our new investigators live

Here's a little friend that likes slurpees apparently

"Stinks that you can't be out here experiencing all the amazingness with me"

Magandang hapon! I hope everyone is still doing good.  It's crazy to think I've been out here a whole transfer already.  So I think I'll answer the questions first and move on to this last week.

There is no daylight savings time in the Pinas.  Yes I have plenty of money for my needs.  I have had a few emails from mission friends and I try to send something back so they at least know I read it...usually I can't actually reply.  It would be awesome if I could get all the letters compiled and then send it through the mail.  Printing them would probably work too, but it costs money to do that and that could start getting expensive depending on how often.  Soccer isn't a huge sport here, but I see people playing it in the park 2 or 3 times a week.  We got to play some soccer during our zone activity, but this transfer it's my goal to get us to play soccer every Friday for our exercise.  

Pansit, rice, and adobo...that's some good stuff!!!  I don't think I've ever had all of that in the same sitting, but I've definitely tried all that before!  The package plan will probably work out fine.  Nice, way to scare off the 12 year-olds.  So I guess that's one term down for everyone in school.  Good job to Emma, keep it up!  I'm sure everyone else did good in school too.  Snow and 60s...Ha!  That's freezing!  Thanks for the stories, I love it!

Well, this week has been pretty good I would say, aside from the occasional hiccups.  So we have transfers going on and we found out we're getting two more missionaries in the apartment.  Elder Knowles and his new Filipino companion, Elder Vesaya, are opening San Juan officially which cuts our area basically in half.  I have to say though, I'm super happy that I get to stay in Cabugao, I love this area!  So our new zone leader is going to be Elder Sloan, he graduated from Layton a year before I got in so now we'll have three Layton Elders in one apartment!  So in the apartment we have there has always been some problems with the bathrooms such as the shower head not working in either the up or down stairs CR (comfort room a.k.a. bathroom) and the toilet downstairs only flushes by pouring water down it (we don't use the upstairs one) and there was a leak in the faucet upstairs.  To top all these problems off, our water spinner broke. So Nanay Gaspar got somebody to fix all the problems and another guy to fix the water spinner.  So now we can use either CR and they both have working showers!  It's weird to use those after using a bucket for 6 weeks...anyhow, then she organized a cleaning service project by the BML and his assistant, and she cooked lunch for us!  Did I mention she cooks dinner for us every Sunday?  Yeah, sobrang mabait.  

This last Thursday there was a bagyo signal 2 so we couldn't go out and work.  It really stinks to just sit in the apartment and do nothing.  But the night is always darkest before the dawn, the storm was strongest before the calm (literally), and trials in missionary work seem to work the same way.  We went on companion exchanges on Friday after the bagyo and had huge success.  Elder Sablan had an impression to turn off our path to talk with some other people off of the main road.  They invited us in since it was raining at the time.  The mother was cooking some treats for her daughters birthday the next day and invited us to have merienda with them, they pulled out the orange royal and coke too.  So we had merienda, and then we talked to them about prayer.  It was a great lesson and this family seemed like they would really be accepting towards the gospel.  The only problem is that they leave for Manila on Wednesday for a few months.  We want to leave a BoM with them so they can at least have that.  We contacted a referral next and got 5 new investigators!  They asked us to come back (that really doesn't happen often, especially on the first visit).  Our last lesson was with a new father named Ferdinan, he accepted a baptismal invitation for Dec. 7!!!  Now we just have to figure out how to get our investigators to church...have super magaling nanays bring them! (That's a story for later).  

So I guess now to the funny stuff.  I find this completely unfunny, but the zone leaders were amused.  Elder Sablan gave us a referral in Barbar.  Barbar is the farthest area away that we have.  We didn't realize quite how far away it was so we thought we would save some pamasahe and walk from the highway up to the Brngy.  We didn't get there until an hour and half later when we walked over one bundok and into the next.  Turns out that the referral doesn't exist either.  Sayan naman!  We got a ride back from this old lolo and lola who were taking their grandkids on a ride to get merienda.

Well that's it for this week.  Love you all a lot and miss you too.  Stinks that you can't be out here experiencing all the amazingness with me.

Mahal ko kayo!
-Elder Egan

P.S. I would tell you if I was sick after I was better already.  No I'm not sick and I never really have been yet.
Sun setting over some flooded rice fields.

This little girl always comes by and asks us to do magic when we teach our recent convert.

A picture of the Cabugao District

We were tempted to cross this bridge...but then we looked across the bridge to the other side and realized that nobody had crossed it in years because it was covered in spider webs!

Cutest little Filipino boy ever who got a hold of Christopher's camera and had some fun!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Well, it's been another week in the Philippines"

Well it's been another week in the Philippines and it's almost been a whole transfer.  This week has been...well, different.  We were really short on lessons because of what I like to call "an adventure in San Juan."  San Juan is currently part of the Cabugao area and we go into it every so often but never into the sentro.  President has asked us to find an apartment in there so we have spent a good two and a half days just searching out there and not being able to teach.  I'm not gonna lie, it's been a little frustrating. Walking around looking for apartments is nowhere near as fun as being able to teach.  It's disappointing to go out and come back without having taught a single lesson.
But here's a quick little awesome story.  I decided to fast the third day that we went out to San Juan and as you might imagine, I got exhausted from walking around all day with no food.  We were getting ready to head back to Cabugao and decided to talk to a less active member one last time to see if we could teach him or find out about a vacant apartment.  We passed a large group of kids and Elder Lynn did a magic trick for them.  We turned the corner to go to our less active friend's house and he was busy so we turned back again.  We turned the corner going back to the main road when suddenly the same group of kids and some more of their friends came charging towards us with big smiles and screaming for us to give them "uphir" (high-five).  If there's anything that will lift your spirits it's love, and as I've already mentioned, kids are the best at showing Christlike characteristics, love being one of the strongest.  That was a masayang masayang moment!
Investigators...We have a really awesome kid named Vladimir that is getting baptized on Nov. 30 and we just taught him the WoW.  He said he used to smoke and drink but he already gave that up before we taught him and all he has to do is give up cafe.  He just said "ok Elders."  Simple as that.  We haven't had a baptism yet.  The two girls that I was hoping would be baptized soon have to come to church a lot more.  They didn't come yesterday which doesn't help me or them.  There were some 16 year-old adin that sit outside on a bench really close to our apartment and they asked us if we could "interview" them some time.  We said ok, how about tomorrow?  We totally thought they were joking, but the next night we came by and they brought out some chairs.  It ended up being a really good lesson and I feel like at least 3 of the 5 kids there really had an interest in what we were saying. Now all we have to do is find out where they live.  Kind of an odd story now: we contacted a referral from a recent convert and we had just started talking with him a bit and were about to get into the lesson when his niece came in and said "namatay ang lola ni (some name I didn't catch)." Translation:  Someone's grandma died.  He was a little startled by that and we kind of figured it was a bad time to start teaching so we left abruptly and he did too.  I think it was his aunt...yata.  Hopefully we can teach him and he'll find out about the Plan of Salvation.
So I ate at McDonalds during a little trip up to Laoag...It's not the same.  We have a 7-11 in Cabugao now though so we can get slurpees!!!  We had a little leak in our faucet and got a part to fix it, but somehow the whole top popped off and started spewing water out sort of like a mini-geyser.  We had someone help fix that though so ayos na!
Last story is about what happened yesterday.  Elder Lynn brought ties for all the priesthood holders who don't have any.  The District Presidency came for the branch's primary program and one of the counselors was wearing a barong-Tagalog.  It's a white shirt with some little designs on the sides and it's made from pineapple fiber.  In the Filipino culture, wearing a tie with that is not pwede.  Well Elder Lynn asked him to wear a tie anyway and he got really embarrassed.  After sacrament, the first counselor came and told Elder Lynn that he shouldn't do that, but the other missionaries and Elder Lynn said that as holders of the priesthood we should wear ties to our church meetings.  I couldn't get more than two words of Tagalog in basically saying "ok" or "ayos na", but this guy was furious.  It wasn't the most pleasant experience and I'm pretty sure Jesus would have handled the whole thing a lot differently.  But we had an excellent proselyting day.  We hit every single goal we had set perfectly.  So in a way, it was a perfect other ways, not so much.
Ok to answer some questions now.  Filipino watermelon is orange, but they have red ones too they're just smaller.  I don't feel like I've eaten anything weird yet.  The rainy season is over so I really only got two days worth of it, now it's just hot.   The practice ACT I thought was harder than the real one, but it's not stupid...just hard and long.   (In response to Emma telling Christopher about the practice ACT she just took) Oh yeah, I did get those letters.  I was actually planning on writing a real letter today maybe...we'll see how time works out.
Well that's it for this week.  Mahal ko kayo lahat!
-Elder Egan

Fingerprinting trip to Laoag and reunion with his MTC district

Elder Egan and his companion

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Spider Toys and Fire ballls"

Hello everyone back in America!  So the earthquake had absolutely zero affect on us up North. So the only request I can think of is maybe a little air pump that I can use for the soccer ball I just got today. Man, I have an aunt and uncle Funk now!  Magandang maganda iyan!  Actually I didn't get anything about soccer from dad which is really kind of surprising.  You might want to check and make sure he's feeling alright.  My companion is doing awesome now, it was really just a migraine and a cough that he had for that one day.  Thanks Mia!  Is there any other times you get teary besides when seeing my friends?  It is kind weird, but in a good and really touching way.  Keep telling me how you are, I love to hear about you all as well.

So the first thing to mention this week is I had a Filipino haircut.  They absolutely do not understand what it means to keep it longer in the front and especially in the back, whether you say it in English or Tagalog!  So that explains why my hair is so short in the pictures.  Here's a story for Kolsen.  We were teaching a less active member and a bunch of kids were sitting around listening to us and this giant spider (that's how Kolsen would describe it) crawls over towards one of the kids.  She picks it up like it's toy and starts pulling the silk thread out and wrapping it around her finger while the spider starts crawling up her arm.  No big deal.

So this week has been a little up and down for us.  We started out really good for teaching lessons and just these last two days, we've only been able to get one lesson per day.  One thing that's been a big blessing is the amount of referrals we're getting.  It's amazing how all you need to do is ask someone if they know somebody who's having a hard time with life right now and there's always someone.  We hope that these new referrals will turn into some really solid investigators.  

So  we had a combined zone conference in Vigan this last Thursday and heard from the Psychiatrist that works with the entire Philippines Mission and is going to go around the world working with missionaries.  She has an amazing story.  I can't tell it as good as her, but basically she went her entire life with a severe case of dyslexia and nobody ever knew.  She was valedictorian of her graduating class from Chicago Illinois University and she can't read.  She literally memorized textbooks word for word and takes about three times as long to read a sentence as it would normally take.  She told us that we all have our different trials and struggles, but it's up to us to figure out how to deal with that and to see if we can use those trials to learn and grow and improve our talents and abilities.  That was some good stuff to hear.  It makes me feel a lot more confident in my ability to speak Tagalog knowing that I can actually read a dictionary if I don't know a word.

Funny story for this week is brought to you by one of the greatest missionaries in our apartment, Elder Knowles.  One thing that is really common in the Philippines is matches.  Everybody uses them and you basically get them for the price of dirt.  So the Zone Leaders in our apartment took a box of matches and broke off the ends of them so there was only the little end that you strike the match with.  You can strike the match and then throw it at the same time to see a cool little ball of flame fly across the room.  It's all fun and games until somebody gets burned, and then it's hilarious!  I didn't know how to do that so I asked Elder Knowles to show me.  He didn't throw it very far though and it ended up landing on my companions foot.  He made some pretty funny sounds and tried to shake it off, but it ended up just burning a  nice 1 inch round hole in his foot (no it isn't literally a hole just a little charring).  It was the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life, except for we felt really bad for Elder Lynn.  He has a second or third degree burn (yata) but he's a really good sport about it. 

Well time's up already.  Mahal ko kayo lahat!
-Elder Egan

Elder Egan sporting his new Filipino haircut

Pday Beach Activity

"I love teaching to kids here. They are so intrigued by the Americans and they're really easy to talk with"

When I opened my email late Sunday night to write Christopher, guess what I found? Christopher was online posting pictures so we got to chat back and forth for a little while.  I asked him what he had for breakfast that morning and to describe for me how he does his laundry. He said he had pancakes and graham crackers and milk. He also said he had a little washing machine to do laundry in so I told him it sounded like he was a little spoiled....:)

Well that was fun being able to chat with you for a while.  Now I'll start my weekly letter.  Our place has the little (somewhat pitiful) machine though so we save time and money with it.  Hey, this was the first time we've had pancakes and the milk isn't real!

So our apartment actually had a nice little discussion last night about America and all the problems it's having and how weird it'll be to go back and see how it's changed.  But we all basically agree that having useless pieces of the government is a waste.  Well good luck to Stef and tell her I'm sad I had to miss it (his aunt's wedding) but super excited for her!

How is High school soccer over already?  I'm just going to guess that Layton didn't make it into the playoffs.  I liked my club team better too.  Well how was Kolsen's birthday?  I hope he had a good time.  Man, it's awesome that Olivia is going out and Avery is almost gone too.  Okay, so one of those pictures was of my companion and Melvin.  Melvin is a priest that's pretty much the most awesome kid in the Philippines.  He always works with the missionaries and it's really helpful because he knows Tagalog, Ilokano, and English (well he's pretty good at it for the most part).  

So this week has been pretty crazy because we had a Zone Training Meeting which took an hour to get to by bus.  And then there was conference for a couple days in the same place.  It is really nice to see those men giving us direction all the way out here in the Pines.  Between all those trips and the day when my companion was sick and had to sleep for 4 hours, we didn't have a whole lot of time to go out and proselyte.  So as a natural result, we didn't teach very many lessons.  But of the lessons we did teach, there was some great spiritual experiences.

I love teaching to kids here.  They are so intrigued by the Americans and they're really easy to talk with.  Children are so innocent and pure, it's no wonder that they're so Christlike.  We had been teaching a girl named Angel and then her friends started to listen to us.  They are by far the best at actually reading the Book of Mormon out of all the investigators we have.  It's a little sad that when we asked them to be baptized they said no.  We're pretty sure this has a lot to do with their parents not wanting them to be baptized and the whole baptized as a Catholic issue.  We might try and teach all their parents too now.  

So there's another 15 year old we've been teaching named Vladimar and he is pretty much pure awesomeness.  He reads everyday and he went to church with us last week.  We went by his house Saturday to ask him about conference, but he wasn't there.  So the next day we go out to the bus that was taking everyone to Vigan for Conference and guess who got there before us?  Yep, it was Vlad.  The other Elders in our apartment asked us when his baptismal date was and we were like "We haven't even taught him a real lesson yet so we haven't committed him either."  He's sick(in a good way).

The two girls we're planning to baptize on Nov. 1 have been super awesome as well.  It's sometimes hard to get them to church since they don't have parents that are members, but hopefully they can get there next week and keep coming.  Investigators have to come to 4 meetings out of 5 before they can be interviewed for baptism.

So now for something funny.  We were headed to our favorite tindahan since our last lesson fell through and there was a drunk guy trying to speak English.  I kid you not, he couldn't form a complete sentence.  He would say the first half of his thought and then repeat it a couple times before giving up.  He kept trying to come give us a hug and then he would dig his cigarette butt into his hand and look at it.  That right there should be reason enough for anyone not to drink, but people use their agency in weird ways.

Well it's time to go.  Make sure grandma and grandpa can get my weekly letters too.  

Oh and as far as a Christmas list goes, I really just want some more pictures and some American candy that isn't chocolate.

Mahal ko kayo lahat!
-Elder Egan


"I think that I've found the Spirit works better through you when you are humble"

kumusta kayo?  We were passing by somebody's house this last week and overheard something from Obama saying he was trying to get congress to open up the government again.  I don't know if that's something that really happened or not, but hopefully it isn't something really bad.  

Well no letters yet, and unfortunately we don't get to see conference until next week.  HOWEVER, my companion is cheating the system and downloading all the talks to his ipod so we get to hear it early!  That's great news!  There's another cute baby cousin to add to the list.  So I think something I failed to explain very well is that the main mode of transportation is bikes.  Motorcycles are very commonly converted into triceys (just nail a side car to the side of a motorcycle and its a trike) which is how we usually get around.  I had my first jeepney ride last week though, man was that fun!  

Food is actually really good here.  Walang mustard at walang mayo!  (That means none!)  They don't really have American food here so a lot of things taste different and all the Elders in the apartment don't like the knock off brand of mayonnaise.  Soda isn't nearly as acidic and it's made with real sugar instead of syrups.  meat here is usually pretty fatty and the bones aren't really ever taken out before being cooked.  It's your job to take those out when you eat.  My favorite is probably pansit.  It's a noodle dish that you can pretty much thrown anything into and they even have it Ramen noodle style!

I will definitely miss the snow.  It gets pretty hot here and you're bound to sweat, but I'm adjusting pretty well to that.  It only rained a little bit last week which is really weird.  A couple weeks ago there was a typhoon named Baguio that came through and forced everyone to stay in for a week because of all the water.  I'm sure we'll get some more water soon.  

My companion is from Grantsville, UT.  He's a pretty awesome guy and he played soccer!  That's like one person of all the people I've met going to or in the Philippines that likes soccer besides Sister Wood.  My companion is a really funny guy and he's probably the best trainer out there.  He has a lot of experience and he can speak Tagalog exceptionally well.  Our work here is long and good.  The most disappointing things that happen are when you travel all the way out to a far area and then find out that nobody is home because they're all out working.  It stinks when you have all that time planned out and it gets wasted.  We have trouble with people going to church because there's one building in all of Cabugao which could cost someone 40 pesos (that's the equivalent of $1 in the U.S.) to get to and from the church and people just don't think that it's a worthwhile expenditure.  We did commit two little girls to baptism on Nov. 1 and one of them was at church!  That was a happy experience.

So there are a couple siblings asking about bugs.  It isn't too bad because usually you don't see them.  I know they exist and once or twice a week we see one in the apartment that's bigger than the normal size ant.  Kolsen would probably find every single spider though and have a heart attack.  I honestly didn't even realize there were some spiders chilling in our bathroom until a few days after I got here. The spiders aren't poisonous according to the people here, they just keep the bugs down so I hope we get some more soon.

So Halloween is pretty much the equivalent of a lesser holiday in America.  They start getting into Christmas in September.  So now I get to wake up to songs about maligayang pasko (merry Christmas).  The architecture is pretty simple.  Either you live in a hut made from bamboo or a house made from plastered cinder blocks and a tin roof.  It's poor.
Well thanks for letting me know how you all are.  I hope things stay good.

As far as spiritual matters,

I think that I've found the Spirit works better through you when you are humble.  I had a little experience that I won't go into detail about, but God wants me to learn a few lessons.  Pride is something even people in the Philippines have.  There is so much we like to boast about.  I'm not saying I've been really stuck up and feel like I'm better than anyone, but there's always room for improvement.  I have a lot more appreciation for some of the things that we take for granted and have learned to remember who gives us those blessings.  This last week there was a particular day where a lot of lessons fell through, and even during the few that we had, I struggled a lot with teaching.  I had a really good experience with this last fast we had and I am ready now to let the Spirit put words in my mouth.
Well just know that I'm doing very well.  Healthy, happy, strong, etc.  I'm learning a lot out here.  I love you and miss you all!

-Elder Egan

Living quarters

Christopher's apartment

Christopher's First Week in the Field - "This first week has been a get-used-to-the-mission week"

Hello pamilya!
How is life back in the US of A?  I gotta say it's pretty nice to get to email again on P-day.  Yep so it's Monday that I get P-day in the Philippines.  Well this won't be as good of an e-mail since I've only been in my proselyting area for a few days now.  Ayos lang!  So on Tuesday when I finally got into the Philippines after a long flight from Portland to Japan and then Manila, we packed up and drove in a van to a hotel.  Philippines has by far the scariest driving on the face of the earth.  Manila has to be the craziest traffic in the universe.  So let me sort of explain: signaling to get into another lane is really only if you want to.  Everyone drives as fast as they feel like.  You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings because someone might just merge into your lane even if you're right there.  To pass someone, just lean over into the other lane, and if you see it's an open lane then you actually merge over.  So yeah, I'm not dead yet though.  The hotel we stayed in was so freaking nice, like nicer than any hotel I've stayed at in my life.  We got about 12 hours to rest and pack all up and off to the airport we went.  Manila is the craziest mix of growing city and dirt poor slums.  There is a lot of poverty...I can't even begin to explain.  I'm glad I get to be in Laoag and not have to see some of the poorest people living next to a giant hotel.  The flight to Laoag was less than an hour and the airport is the smallest "international" airport I've ever seen.  (I'll send a picture...maybe).  Laoag is actually a fairly nice city and the mission home was really nice.  It's too bad the Elders ended up staying at a rickety hotel for two nights though.  We had a little orientation and then stayed the night at this hotel and the next day we practiced going and talking to people and trying to give out copies of the Book of Mormon.  Finally I got to meet my trainer and find out where I was going.  I'm companions with Elder L. and my first area is Cabugao.
It's in the Vigan zone which is the west part and I'm pretty far south in the mission.  Cabugao isn't as nice as Laoag, but the missionary apartment is dang nice especially when compared to the rest of the people here.  Well it's definitely hot and humid, but I wasn't sure if it was really rainy season since it hadn't rained for three whole days.  I was wrong.  It is definitely rainy season and we got some downpours the last couple days.  The mornings usually start nice and sunny and in the afternoon we get slammed with malakas na tubig (strong water).  Ok, now to the good stuff.  This first week has been a get-used-to-the-mission week, but they had me working the day I got here.  The first person I ever taught was sister Lonnie.  She is less-active and has three little girls and a son that is investigating.  Her husband is a drunk that makes life really hard on her.  The little kids played with the watches we had and took the shoelaces off my shoes.  There's a lot of cute kids in the Philippines.  So quick miracle here.  Her baby was sick and we gave it a blessing.  On Saturday we went to a little branch party they had and we saw her and the baby.  Baby is all better now, isn't that good.  There are some people here that speak Ilokano and sometimes only Ilokano.  That doesn't really make it easier for me to understand.  It's a good thing we have people like Melvin, he's a 17 year old member that goes with us on lessons a lot, who can translate some Ilokano into Tagalog.  Now if only I could understand that.  There's a sister Sandra here that does dinner appointments with us and another family every week.  The family of Jimmy and Lilibeth.  I think they have a real interest in the gospel even if brother Jimmy doesn't want to show that he does.  Saturday was my first full day of work and even then it wasn't a full day.  We went into a far out Barangay (little neighborhoods...ish) and tried to teach a few families.  Only one person was there that we got to teach and I could hardly understand a word he said.  We did get to teach a recent convert named Jomar who's 18.  He can go to the temple in a year and turn in mission papers, so to get him excited about that, we talked about missionary work and how he can help the rest of his family hear the gospel.  Then it started raining really hard.  So we took a bus back to our apartment and didn't get to teach our last couple appointments.  On Sunday I got to bear a testimony in church.  Straight up Tag-lish for 3 minutes.  That's solid.  The members are all very kind and complimentary though.  We got another couple of people to teach even though it was flooding from the rain that day.  The worst thing about non-members is smoking.  It not only kills them, but everyone around them.  That second-hand stuff is everywhere and it's nasty.  So the only solution is to make sure everyone follows the word of wisdom when they're converted and bam!  No more smoking pollution and no more hole in the ozone layer and global warming crap.  Now to P-day, a.k.a. today.  It's a lot different because we have to clean an apartment and do dishes along with the usual laundry and such.  Shopping.  I like it a lot better when it's just the stuff that you need to eat and survive for the week.  Whoever owns some of these supermarkets must be filthy stinking rich because of how nice they are.  Well I'll try to send some pictures, but it's just a little computer shop I'm at so I don't know if it works.   Here's the mission home address to send letters, packages, pictures, money, etc. to missionaries.
P.S. It costs 50 Pesos to get a package that's taken out of my support money.  I don't think I'll get a ton, but don't go sending like a dozen packages.
Mahal ko kayo!
-Elder Egan

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Christopher Made it to Laoag!

Christopher left for Laoag, Philippines on Monday September 23rd.  We got to talk to him from the Portland airport where he had a 5 hour layover.  From there he went to Tokyo.  From Tokyo, he went to Manila where he stayed the night and then went on to Laoag. His mission president gave him permission to call from the mission home this morning to let us know he made it safe and sound. And wouldn't you know, my phone's ringer is choosing when to ring and when not to actually ring so we didn't get to talk, just a voicemail. We were happy however, to hear he made it safe and sound!
Here is are some excerpts of previous letters that didn't get posted.  I had asked him why his name tag was not in Tagalog and if he had sang in the choirs with his cousin Chase:

Sept. 14th

I'm not sure if I'll need the pajama pants since I'll most likely be hot enough without anything on so I might send those back.  I did do choir for the first couple weeks, but I didn't go after that (partially because everyone was sick in our district so we couldn't really sing even if we wanted too), but I think I'll try to go to it for my last week.  No the name tag isn't in Tagalog for a couple reasons.
1) The national language and the mission language of the Philippines was English when it was first opened for missionary work so all of the name tags and even church buildings had English names and they've been kept like that ever since
2) There's a church that has similar name tags for missionaries there and those name tags are in Tagalog so you can differentiate the missionaries by ours being in English
I don't think there's really anything I need besides a phone to use in the airport.  I have my travel plans now and we're heading out on the 24th, Monday morning, and we stop in Portland for a while and then in Tokyo before arriving in the Philippines.
Thanks for all you do!
Mahal ko kayo
-Elder Egan

Sept. 21st

 I can't believe Stef is getting married!! That's exciting! 
I did get the package and everyone loved them!  My district says thank you very much and you're a saint.  I didn't get the donuts, they could come today though. So I'll probably send back the sheets and probably one of the PJ bottoms and a shirt and most of my silk ties because silk ties bleed and get ruined in humidity.  But I have to do that today so you'll probably get that next week sometime.  I think the gold bond was a smart thing to send too.  
Ok so Monday, not Tuesday.  That's when I'll call.  Sometime between 10:00 and 3:00 most likely

BTW, he did get the donuts mom -after he wrote on Saturday!
Christopher with friend Braxton Todd
Christopher with some friends from High School


Christopher's MTC district with their flight plans

Picture of his room at the MTC--Yikes!

"pretty much the best district ever!"