Saturday, October 26, 2013

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

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