Landon with local farmers

Landon with local farmers

Sunday, December 23, 2012

God has a plan for everyone

Hello everyone!

First off, I just want to say that I will be calling around 9 PM your Christmas Eve. So 11am my time here on Christmas day. That is the earliest I can call. Does that work? 

SO this week was pretty much normal as far as mission life goes. Our Christmas conference is tonight by the way mom and dad…and tomorrow. So be looking for pictures sometime in that time frame!  I was actually asked to give the Spiritual thought tonight… yay? Oh well. I welcome the opportunity! I chose to talk about 2 Nephi 25:26. Its missionary work baby! I also memorized a quote from Jeffery R. Holland to use too. So I guess you could say I did my homework. :) I will let you know how that goes next week!

Elder Garner sharing a spiritual thought in
Hiligaynon language during Christmas Conference 2012

Elder Garner center, Elder Ellis 2nd from left,
Bacolod Mission Home Christmas Conference 2012

So Tuesday, we had district meeting, and right after, I found out that Elder Ellis was having exchanges with the Manapla Elders... and I live with them.  Meaning... he stayed over that night.  It was so much fun. We cooked eggs, drank water, and had a good time -- All 4 of us. Good ol' Filipino campfire! Minus the language... so almost!   It’s just so crazy to me. As we all were talking, I thought about the late night basketball games where we stayed over the night in St. George for tournaments.  And now we are doing the same thing, on a mission in the Philippines! How nuts is that? I am not sure why we got the same mission call being as close as we were before the mission, but I am sure he and I will figure it out as time goes on. God has a plan for everyone! 

Anyway, the next day on Wednesday, we worked with all the branch missionaries. Well, some of them. 4 of the 9 I believe. One of them is Michael R! The 19 year old I baptized a month ago! He was newly called as a Branch Missionary and goes with us every day, despite the parents’ wishes (they are Baptist). He has such a strong testimony of the church. It is amazing how much he has changed in the 2 and a half months I have known him. Love that kid! Its a blessing to have him there, being a convert and all. He brings that kind of spirit with him that as a new convert, really helps in lessons--especially with investigators.

Speaking of, Elder DLS and I decided to start talking to EVERYONE we saw. Handing out pamphlets left and right! BOOM! We got 4 new investigators this week alone. Which is a new record for me personally.... 3 of them live in the same area.  And let me tell ya, we can’t take a tricycle out there because it would be 100 pesos. What a rip! So instead, we walked like an hour. It took forever! But we finally got there, taught all three of them, and they seem interested. We are going to invite them to baptism this week next time we visit! As for the 4th, haven't found her yet.  There isn’t such thing as an address here so... we just ask people if they know who the person is, then they tell us how to get there. Its nuts! And I must learn how to do that quickly or I will be so toast when I train someday... soon. 
Filipino chili peppers

This little memory is for Heather, but I think you all will get a kick out of it. :) My companion really loves hot and spicy foods. So, whenever he cooks, he puts those hot little peppers in it --All the time. The same ones you had at PF Changs on my birthday over a year ago! Let’s just say I have received your pay back through him. I cry because it is so hot! Good-ness!

I heard through Elder Ellis that Rob M. got his mission call! Mexico! --Couldn't be happier for the kid. Everyone I knew in High School is either on a mission, just getting their calls, or now coming home! What the fruit! Time sure does fly man...! 

Anyway, in closing I just want to say that I love you all. I sent home "special letters" to my own family, Heather, and Nana and Papa for Christmas this week. It won’t get there by Christmas sadly... but, I just pray that you actually get them. It kills me that some of the letters haven’t gotten home yet.  :/ But, know that I send one every 1 or two weeks to you all. I love you and miss you all so much.

I love you. 
Until we meet again! 
-Elder Garner

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pablo & Pigaw

Hey all! 

So this week was way quick. I honestly cannot believe that I am already back emailing you all again. Oh how the time flies! I forgot my planner at our apartment that has everything I needed to write in this email... so hopefully I remember everything I wanted to say! First off, I need to ask for your preference. Should I start all my emails with how my week was spiritually, then go into fun memories, then go into stuff I need if anything at all? Let me know what you think! Whatever you all want, honestly.

Well, this week Elder Garlick went back home to his family. I only knew him for 8 weeks, but honestly he was like an older brother to me. He helped me with so much! Not only was he a great missionary and helped members and investigators strengthen their faith, but missionaries too. I can’t wait to see that kid in Utah again! We have plans to hang out already.  He is attending U of U as of now. So while I wait for that long awaited day for Heather to come home (sometime after me), I will be spending most of my time doing whatever my family wants to do, and I will most likely be at Maeser helping Nate Marshall, and Coach Watabe  THEN, SLC with Elder Garlick. But for now, I am here, doing the Lords work! :) I love it here. 

I have honestly improved so much. Elder Delos Santos quizzes me on new words every day. Our thing is when I hear a word I don’t know, I write it down. I usually get like 10-15 words a day. At the end of the day when we close and plan for the next day, I tell him what I heard, and he gives me the translation. Then the next day, he helps me learn everything I have written down. He is so awesome! I love my companion. 

We kind of did have a lot of "pigaw" (meaning bad, not so good, crap) days this week… a lot of people weren't home. I am not sure where they went with the typhoon and all. Which by the way, was nothing. It barely rained. It was cloudy sure, no sun, but no rain as well. It like sprinkled… Texas rain laughs at the Philippines rain brought by Pablo now... It was mostly just windy. That's all. But ya, anyways a lot of people weren't home this week - or went to bed at 7:30, or were drinking... I think the Lord is trying to teach me patience right now. Cause this week wasn’t so awesome.

I do though, have a freaking odd, kind of creepy, cause I like this sort of thing you know, story. In our area, there was a ton of cop cars all week. I didn't know why. But every day I heard sirens. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t know how much you can handle but... ya there was a rape and murder. Honestly? Wow. It’s insane here. It's taken care of now, and the men responsible are behind bars now. I don’t know what will happen to them cause I am not sure if they have the death penalty here. I was a little worried for my own safety… But all is well! The dumb men are gone. You are probably wondering how I heard all this? Well, a lady that lives in that certain area is the Primary President in our Branch. We went to visit her and as soon as she saw us, she told us everything. I mean EVERYTHING. She’s one of those talkative types you know? She’s so funny though. Her name is ‘Sister G’. OH! She also asked me, ME, for advice... I didn't know how to tell her that the Branch President would be better for this.

That's all I have this week!

I am getting excited for Christmas time though!  Skype!  Who is all going to be there by the way?? Mom, Dad, Gabrielle, Garrison, Gavin, Grant, Nana, Papa, and Heather? Anyone else?

And the members here are throwing a huge Christmas party which is awesome! Oh wait, I tried Casava the other day.. which is Root? Filipinos cook it, and it tasted just like sweet potatoes! Pretty good! 

I love you all so much! Can’t wait to hear from you all. 

-Elder Garner

ps. I need another journal by the way. I am almost done with the one I brought. Send a large, blue, hardback one. Like the huge one mom has for her journal.

pss. Hey dad look on Utah's roster for... shoot. I only know his last name. His last name is Vatu. Or that’s what we called him at least. He just went home as well from his mission here. He is 6'4, 300 lbs and is the D End for Utah this next season. He is massive --biggest Tongan missionary I have met. He could eat a whole barn. Sheesh…also, when did Jackson Hill leave on his mission?

Have a fantastic week everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chicken on a leash...?

Hey all! 

So this last week was pretty crazy. 

I got my first real taste of visiting every single less active in our area. And 90% of them I had no idea where they lived, or who they were at all. But we visited all of them, got to know them, set appointments to come back THIS week, and invited them back to church. And guess what? Wouldn't you know it, some of them did! Without a full lesson even. It’s kind of cool what a friendly visit from the missionaries can do to people! It was like "ya hey, we didn’t forget about you! We still love and care for you so come back!" type of thing --with a smile of course. 

With one of those less actives, they had a ton of chickens, like so much. My companion asked to buy one, and they said sure! So, yes, we walked home with a live chicken- literally on a leash.  I asked "what are we supposed to do with him? We can’t have pets…" And my companion said "I know bro, I am going to kill and cook it tomorrow for our lunch" Kind of gruesome but way cool to experience in a way. Only in the Philippines right?!?! We then ate it a few hours later for lunch… kind of odd thinking that a few hours earlier that bird was squawking and then it's in our stomachs. BOOM!

So I had Zone Nurse training last week, and it was cool and all, but let me tell ya, most of the stuff he told us, I already knew honestly. I am not in any means trying to brag. I just knew all that stuff from hearing mom or Heather tell me. I guess that’s what I get for dating a girl and having a mom who both love medical stuff and either have or soon will have professions in that field. But, I still took notes though! Don’t worry.

Oh, and yesterday we were out teaching and there was a basketball tournament going on in that same neighborhood we were in which made me miss competitive basketball so much by the way! Goodness. Anyway, while they were playing I saw chickens, dogs, cats, and caribou (water buffalo-like a giant cow) on the court while they were playing! Again, only in the Philippines! Man…plus basketball isn’t the same here as in America. All they do is cherry pick here. Seriously, it bothers me so much! No defense. All lay ups because they cherry pick. Basketball is so different here – can’t wait to play indoors again someday! In due time I know...

Anyway that was my week! Pretty exciting, right?! Oh, few reminders. Send me a USB and SD card, and Lubriderm Lotion in your next package, and yes those books are fine, the Jeffery R. Holland ones. I just can’t read them during study time, which I won’t. I did get your Thanksgiving package by the way! Thank you so much! I really loved it. I decided also that I will bring home gifts for everyone for birthdays and Christmases that I am missing. It will be cheaper that way anyway. Is that ok? I am sending home a letter for you all and Heather though. These letters will be extra special so I am excited for you to get them around Christmas time. 

I love you all so much! Thank you for all you do for me. I look forward to hearing from you in the future! :) Have a great week all of you! 

Elder Garner

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tear bringing, Soul shaking, Heart changing

Hey all!!!

Wow. 6 weeks here in the field! Time sure does fly. That is for sure. I have already learned so much, and I have a lot more to learn, and to go even...I can already see how this mission is going to change me. It’s kind of scary, but I love it here! All the members are so nice to me and always willing to help out if I need something! -So great. 

Two major things happened to me this week, that I will get to shortly. This whole week we focused mainly on the less active members and trying to get them back to church. There is a ton of them! I never knew how many people just gave up on going to church. We committed all of them (8 families) to come back to church, and they all said yes! But, sadly only 3 of them came. My companion and I are thinking of ways we can get them all back there. I think we are going to go pick them all up Sunday morning next week.
--Which is a lot of work because they all live way far apart, like 30 minutes walking for each family! It’s a ton, but it will be worth it in the end!! That’s what keeps me going everyday even though I am so dead tired. I love this work!

Two main things:

1. I finished the Book of Mormon for the second time on my mission!! So cool, right?? The goal for me is 6 times, and I will mark different verses or words each time I read it. I know this will help me gain a better understanding of the Book of Mormon and help me teach with greater power because of my understanding in the Book of Mormon. I feel like I am more converted in the gospel as well- which is absolutely needed because the Golden Missionary Rule is "you can only convert someone up to your own conversion" and that is totally true! I am learning so much and I feel so much better as an individual because of it!! 

Elder Jeffery R. Holland
2. Michael’s baptism… was incredible! He asked that I be the one to baptize him! I have just helped someone come closer to Christ in way of baptism. He has made that first covenant and first step in being able to return into the Kingdom of God again! It’s like... amazing. I can’t even describe it. When we were changing after the baptism, he said to me, in ENGLISH "Thank you Elder Garner... I feel so... clean... I feel....happy... thank you" -all that while he was struggling not to cry. That really hit me in my heart. That’s what a mission is all about! It reminds me of what Jeffery R. Holland had to say in Conference a month ago in his tear bringing, soul shaking, heart changing, bold talk that he usually gives... "I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said, 'Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.' That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well."... Those words will stick with me forever! He is right though. Being able to take part in that really does change you. I can feel it.

I love this work! I love you all! I am so grateful to have you all in my lives! You all are such a blessing to me. Thank you for everything you all do for me. Every one of you. You know who you are! You have been such great examples to me. :) thank you so much. Until next week! Halong!!! 

Elder Garner

P.S. Hey mom and dad, for Christmas, if I could ask for just one thing, and one thing only, it would be books that Jeffery R. Holland has written. I love his stuff.  All of it. Let me know if that is possible! I have already read the Book by President Monson by the way. I also started a book by Gordan B. Hinckley called "Discourses of Gordan B. Hinckley Volume 1." It’s way good! I love the words of the prophets along with the scriptures, I really don’t do anything else in my free time! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let the good times roll...Zone nurse?

Hello family!

So two things happened this week that really made this week special for me.

Jeepney in the Philippines
First, I got the chance on Saturday to do "Exchanges" for the first time! Guess who my companion was??? Elder Hong! One of the APs! How cool is that? We got on a Jeepny, and started preaching to everyone on it. I passed out pamphlets and taught too!  Way cool! We taught a family how to have FHE too! Man…what a day! At the end of the day, he told me I was very sagad (means very good) in Illongo for only being here one month… way sweet! Confidence booster right there! I feel so happy and better about my language now. :) Doesn’t mean I am going to stop working, just that AN AP THINKS I AM REALLY GOOD FOR BEING HERE FOR ONLY ONE MONTH. Let the good times roll on I guess! I have high expectations of myself. He also told me I could become AP if I keep progressing like this.  I would love for that to happen! Guess we will see how I do.

Second, during the Mission Tour, the Zone Leaders were asking if anyone had any "medical experience" so that they could be the Zone Nurse… meaning that person would help all the missionaries who are sick in the zone. I showed them my First Aid / Emergency Response card certificate I got my sophomore year.  They said alright! You are the Zone Nurse my friend! So,  I am officially the one who takes care of all sick missionaries in my zone that I am in. Cool right?  I have already helped Elders with LBM get the medication that they need and given advice to elders that have fevers and sisters that have other stuff going on. Haha. I feel so good helping them when they need it! This might make me rethink the whole cop thing when I get home. Who knows?  I could follow in Papa’s and Mom’s footsteps!  I am pretty sure everyone who reads this is thinking I am crazy, but I really am considering it! Let me know what you all think.

And lastly, Michael passed his interview! And as far as I know, I am the one who gets to baptize him on Saturday! It’s ultimately his choice, but for now, I think it could be me. That’s what the Bishopric wants anyway… I will let you know next Monday. :) That would be a way cool experience too now that I think about it. I would be helping him come that much closer to the Celestial Kingdom…wow! I wonder what will happen.

Thank you all for your love and support through your letters, emails, and prayers. They are definitely all felt! I couldn’t go on without your love and support. It really helps, and I am so grateful to have you all as family, friends, and more.

I love you all!

More next week. :) 

-Elder Garner

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hot as Death

Dear family and friends,

Yes Dad I do get all your emails. I responded to the one earlier! First off, Heather I wrote you a letter so expect that soon-ish.

Thanks for all your emails and I look forward to reading more weekly. 
I said last week we had a tropical storm right?? Well this week, nothing but sun and heat! It has been hot as death! Man oh man what a week. Makes for fun when we go out and teach! We walk a ton so I pretty much just drip in sweat all the time -- good thing I asked mom for handkerchiefs!  I would be in deep trouble if I didn't have them! 

So, the Philippines does not have Halloween here. On November 1st they have what’s called ‘All Saints Day’.  Not sure what that is supposed to mean really but all I know is everyone cooks a TON of food all day, gathers together as a family, and  when it gets dark, they all go to a cemetery and eat the feast on the graves of the deceased and get hammered drunk… like big time. So it’s like Halloween and Thanksgiving combined - Filipino style. Haha. Oh its two days actually: November 1st and 2nd. Back to back days of straight up weirdness! During the day its calm though. It’s hard to teach though because everyone has food... tons of it. And they offer food to us when we come by. I can honestly say I had more rice in those two days than I have ever had in my life. Yay for rice! 

I finally met some Elders in my zone that love basketball as much as I do --if not more. There are two of them. One’s name is Elder Garlick. He is from Centerville Utah and played for Viewmont High. The other is Elder Kaufusi. He played for a high school in California in the Bay area, and before he came here he played for BYU Hawaii. Kind of cool right? He’s really good so it’s fun competition. Sad thing is that they both go home after this transfer.  I made really cool friends as they are about to go home.  Go team! Haha. We play every
P-day though right after we email so now you know what I will be doing by the time you read this! 

Typical sugar cane field in Negros
Cool experience of the week: I got to try sugar canes! The family whose daughter is dating the non member asked me if I wanted to try it. So, of course I said yes! You have to peel it with your teeth, take a bite, suck the juice out, and don’t swallow! You spit it out after you can tell that there is no sugar left. So ya, straight sugar! Wahoo! 

Harvesting the sugar cane

And by the way, about the investigator who is dating the daughter, his name is Michael by the way, and he came to church yesterday! All investigators have to come for 4 weeks straight before they can be considered for baptism. So he qualifies! We are shooting for the 17th. I’ll give further details how his interview goes next week! 

Songs I heard this week: Huey Lewis-If This is It, Bryan Adams- Everything I do I do it for you, Guns N Roses-Paradise City, and Taylor Swift-Love Story. It just crazy how random their radio stations are! 

Thanks for all your love, support, and examples to me in my life.
 I love you all so much! Until next week!

-Elder Garner

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sweet Filipino Fruits

  Here are some interesting photos of the fruits of the Filipino Islands.  Mmmmm DELICIOUS! 

Cornucopia of Filipino fruit

lanzones - no English name

atis aka sugar apples

langka aka jack fruit

mangga aka mango

guyabano aka soursop

Monday, October 29, 2012

Truly Missionary Work

Hello everyone! 

Tropical Storm Son-tinh via Nasa satellite
Its been almost three weeks! How nuts is that? Still can't believe I am here most of the time... still amazes me. Anyway, there was a tropical storm in the southern islands this week. We didn't really get any effects of it except for 3 straight days of TEXAS RAIN X 3! It was nuts. No wind, just straight downpour of buckets of rain. Made proselyting loads of fun!  All the walking that we do, and that? I had to wash all my pants with the mud. First time I had to do that. Fun times! My companion says "it is a down right sin to not have an umbrella and flashlight in this area." And its true! We aren't in the city. It gets dark around here-- like pitch black-- at 6 pm. Flashlights out at that time. We spend most of the night teaching of course, but we have to walk about 2 miles to get to each house. Makes for a nasty sweaty me. Haha. Its insane.

One of our appointments is at the Gallego house. The father is the second counselor in the Branch Presidency. His daughter is dating a non-member named Micheal Reyes. He is 19. He is keeping all the commitments and is progressing well. If he goes to church this next week, he qualifies for baptism the last week of this transfer. Elder Parilla said I will baptize him if he goes! The reason its special to me is he was the first one we taught since I got here. And the other night, there was a moment where he asked me in Illongo "why are you all the way out here? Doing this? Isn't it hard being here?" Which yes it is... I took a little while to think of how to respond because this language is still new to me. I knew what I would say in English though for crying out loud... I then felt something inside me say "Speak in English.They will understand you"... So I told my trainer and he said go for it. I then continued to say, "Yes. It is hard for me to be out here sometimes. But you know what makes it easier on me?  I know with everything in me that this gospel is true. Without a doubt in my heart. I wouldn't be out here doing all this if I didn't believe it... I am here because I want to help other people come closer to Christ. You are one of those people, Micheal. I know God loves you. We love you. I know for a fact that God and His son Jesus Christ are so delighted you have started on your path back to them. As a representative of Jesus Christ, I promise you that you are doing the right thing. I testify of everything we have taught you tonight, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen."  I knew right after that they understood. The whole family-- even Micheal and Brother Gallego-- were in tears. Afterwards, my trainer said he had never felt that much of the Spirit in his life. That truly was missionary work. Wow. 

I have also heard normal music! And it kills me.... AC/DC-Back in Black, Chicago- You're the Inspiration, Eagles-Hotel California, Desperado, and New Kid in Town, Boyz to Men (haha laugh all you want but I love their stuff, so does my comp!!!) -On Bended Knee, Phil Collins- I wish it Would Rain Down, True Colors, and Take Me Home, Adele-Someone Like You, Eminem- Lighters, Creed- Rain Down, Boston- More than a Feeling, and every single Journey song ever made. Especially- After All These Years.. of course right? Haha Arnel Pineda is Filipino after all. Everyone here loves Journey. Which is just fine with me! 

I got your letter in the mail yesterday with your questions on it from October 14th. I will answer them now. 

1. Our apartment is kinda run down, but actually nice compared to others. We have running cold water, and not a flushing toilet. Haha. Yay me right? I have to dump buckets of water in the toilet to flush. Once mom finds a place to upload pictures I will send them so you can see. 
A typical Filipino missionary apartment.

2. Yes mom, I am set as far as food, sheets, and water goes. We have a water purifier so I am set. Is it ok if you put $25 a month on my card? I can withdraw it normally every week so dont worry. The money the mission gives us is support. Not to be used to personal stuff you know? So I would use that money for gifts for you all. Whoever wants something.. Let me know.

3. My companion is the same as me pretty much in every way. We love basketball, he loves Journey and Eagles! Boyz to Men, and Phil Collins. He is from Quezon City up north in the Philippines. He was baptized at age 11 and is a very strong member. Great spirit and testimony. I love him!

4. I can barley understand still.. I pick up a ton of words but this language is set up backwords from english. For instance: In english, you would say something like: His prayer was very good. Simple right? Well in Illongo its Nagpangamuyo siya sing maayo gid. Which directly translated means prayer he good. Haha.

5. The church building is normal of course. Mostly. It has fans instead of air conditioning. Only stake centers have air conditioning. Ha. Oh! and the churches have FLUSHING TOILETS! Ya, I take FULL advantage of that baby. You better believe it! 

Typical bucket-toilet flushing system.

6. Lastly, I wash thouroughly every day mom. I shower twice. With soap haha. Dont worry! I have a tub of hand sanitizer thanks to you all at home. So I might bring some home with me cause I have like 5 giant bottles. I also bought a few portable ones too so I can use it when we are out and about. So stop worrying about my cleanliness. :) I am totally against getting diseases here or cavities. I am not about to have a tooth pulled here. NO way. 

Thanks for all your love and support. :) I love and miss you all so much. I couldnt ask for better family, friends, and more. You all are the best! Until next week! WIth how the time has been going lately, I will be emailing soon enough!  Have a great week! 

-Elder Garner

Sister and President Lopez, Elders Garner & Parilla.
Cadiz Stake Conference October  28, 2012

P.S. I need a few things. Let me explain some that might not make sense. Just send what you can to the mission home. I will get it eventually!

1. Pilot G-2 07 pens. Any color will do. Maybe all of them! 
2. More missionary socks- I lost a few pairs. I think I left them in Provo... oops. Just the same kind I had before I left. Padded bottoms. They work wonders! No blisters yet!
3. Chapstick please!!! AS much as possible. 
4. Tide to go pens
5. Athetes foot medication.. Mine got confiscated in the Hong Kong Airport. I didnt think it would be an issue until yesterday.. My feet are killing me in that area. 
6. One more camera sim card-8 gig preferably. 
7. USB thing to back up my pictures on just in case my memory card gets a virus.. Thats what all the Elder suggest I do. Its the most effective thing. 
8. Lint rollers
9. My call letter in a protective thing.. for my binder. Thanks!

Sorry if that is a lot. I shouldn't need too much in the next two years after this. Just send as much when you can. Thanks! NO rush. I love you all!

"Trike" as mentioned in the previous post

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quite the Experience

First off, congrats to Gavin in making the team! Start practicing hard buddy! It only gets better in real High School Ball! Glad to hear that Garrison finished cross country strong! Haha something I couldn't have done! Atta kid! I'm happy to hear that Grant is out and about with all his new friends! That's great news! All the brothers and I will have some serious wrestling matches and sports days when I get home. Count on that! I miss my late night talks with Mom too. I could go to you with anything mom, even if you were busy with work. You would take the time to help me for as long as I needed. Thank you. Dad, Zac Brown Band, a little Jazz basketball when I get home? I think yes! I miss those times with you a ton. I could always relate to sports and our music interests. You would always buy something on Itunes and just know I would listen to it. ESPECIALLY if it was Zac Brown Band, Eagles, Don Henley, or anything like that. And Gabrielle, my sweet sister. Keep up the hard work in Dance. :) I know you miss our drives home after I would pick you up from dance, I honestly miss that a ton (ya I can admit that dad!), and our late nights with Criminal Minds and Friends! We will be doing plenty of that when I get home. You're never too old for that! Put that on your Calender! Gosh writing that brought tears to my eyes. Shoot. Umm.. Ok. 

Wow this week has been an emotional roller coaster ride for sure. Good. Grief. 

I did a little better this week then last week. Still missing home a ton, but I am trying to find ways to distract myself. For example-tons and tons of studying. Especially Preach My Gospel. The three youngers should start reading that and marking what sticks out to them and what they learn soon. I use that book everyday. Hasn't been a day since August 8th that I haven't touched it, and read it. That is just my advice! Anyway, I know I didn't tell you all a ton about the Philippines last week so I will now. 

First off, be grateful you have washing machines. Washing laundry by hand isn't too fun, and it takes like 2 hours. My back kills! I know I need clean clothes though (See Mom and Heather! I can be clean and tidy. I even iron my shirt every day. There is hope for me!). Plus, my hands smell like a mix of bleach, tide, and downy... Yes. they do sell packets of that stuff for the use of buckets haha.
Hand washing 
Next, I live with three elders. My companion Elder Parilla, and two other elders whose area is right next to ours- Elder Collado, and Elder Rilliorta (all three are Filippino..yay.) and... a ton a bugs and spiders!!!! They are everywhere!! I will just have to get used to that. They usually come out at night though. So right after we get home from teaching all day, we plan, and then I grab the broom and go "hunting" as my companion calls it, for the stupid little crawly things. They are huge! And so quick. Take Garrisons palm of his hand. That's how big they are that I have seen so far. And fat. And fast? Man. Totally not cool. 

It is so hot here! I literally sweat right through my shirt every day. Makes laundry fun! In a way, it reminds me of east Texas humidity. But worse.. I don't know. I have never sweat so much in my life! 

I literally have rice. Every meal. No matter where I go. I have just accepted the fact that I can't avoid it. Not that I don't like it, just every meal? Come on. Oh well, gotta get used to that and do what makes the people (and hopefully my stomach) happy! 

There aren't any speed limits here. At all. And because my area I am in is so isolated from the city (40 minute bus ride), whenever I see a car, its going like 90 mph average. Easily. We take the bus usually to neighborhoods, then walk the rest of the day, or sometimes we take whats called here as a tricycle. Its a motorcycle, and a handmade metal cart that is attached to the side of it. Its so weird but I promise you will only see that kind of thing here. It's quite the experience!
Public transit 
The people are really nice and understanding that I am learning and all that stuff. Which is really nice to have here, especially since  I am adjusting and all. If only I could speak English all the time! Halimbawa (for example).. The other night we had a lesson and the Second Counselor in the Bishopric for our ward, and his 19 year old daughter was reading in the Book of Mormon and had a question about a meaning of a verse. They read sometimes in English to learn, and there isn't such a thing as scripture talk in Illongo in their version of the Book of Mormon so everything is simplified. So when they read in English, they don't get it cause they have never heard or read any of those words in their lives. Anyways, I couldn't do it in Illongo, so I asked my trainer if I could say it in English if they would understand.. cause I honestly didn't know if they would or not. He said "I am not sure, but go for it." So I did, and they totally got it! I answered like 5 more questions like that too. It felt really good to speak English lemme tell ya... sheesh.

Anyway, lastly I can honestly say that I have seen everything here that isn't normal for America, well most of this stuff. Like... Pregnant 14 year olds walking around, kids who look like they are 16 buying beer and the clerks totally allowing it, little kids peeing and pooping on the roads and sidewalks, moms breastfeeding out in the open. Like she will full on lift up her shirt and just do that right there. I honestly feel like I am scarred from some of these things. Ok, last is the dogs. It makes me so sad but all dogs here, I cant touch. :( and it kills me cause I miss the puppies Rocky and Tex back home. First off, they are ridden with fleas. I can just tell. They haven't had a bath in their life, and they have talons. Not nails, talons. No joke. They just all are mangy and gross.... I see 100 dogs a day, and cant touch any of them. So dumb! Please keep taking care of the dogs! Be grateful for them! 

Oh wait, one more thing. The members here love Missionaries. Love us. Even if I cant understand a single thing they say sometimes, They still find it in them to love me. Haha. We have had 3 dinners with members here since I got here. THEY WILL JUST FEED YOU AND FEED YOU AND FEED YOU UNTIL YOU HAVE RICE COMING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. Honestly. You could say no I am good no more please, and it honestly wouldn't matter. MORE RICE FOR YOU! Gosh. And for some reason, I still feel like I am losing weight. Maybe because we walk 10-15 miles a day. Average. I know its good for m, I know. I am also grateful I am being so well taken care of. Phew.
Rice paddies alongside the Chocolate hills 

Thank you for all your prayers and emails. I loved reading all of them. I hope you all enjoy my emails! You all are deeply missed here. I love you all! SO MUCH. Keep praying for me, as I am for all of you. Thank you for making Heather a part of your life too. Means a lot to me. Remember what Helaman teaches us in Helaman 5:12. Rock of Our Redeemer. Study that! 
Thank you all again! I love you! Until next week.

-Elder Garner

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bring It!

Hey all! 
This is my first official letter from Cadiz, Negros Occidental. From an old run down internet cafe. 21 more months of things like this? Bring it! 
Ok I know this is gonna be dumb but I have SO much to talk about so I will make it quick, so please excuse my spelling and misuse of grammar. Ok so we got to Hong Kong after a 15 hour flight... makes me kinda sick. Being in a plane is cool and all, still blows if it is for that long. The meals on the plane werent too good either.. haha. Oh well! We only had 45 minutes to get on our flight again to Manilla, so I had no time to call. None. We had to go through security again so thats why.. anyways so we get to Manilla after only a 1 hour flight, and the MTC picks us up, but they have no room for the 11 of us. So what do we do? Hotel in Manilla! I'll attach pictures so that you all can see. Hopefully it'll work. We stayed up until 5:30 in the morning too! Freaking jet lag man. That's what it'll do to you! Crazy stuff. We got on our flight to Bacolod at 2 pm the next day, and everyone picked us up from the Mission Home. You saw pictures already so you know what it looks like. :) I loved it there. 
Now that I am in my area called Caduhaan, in the Cadiz stake, I miss the Mission Home's running hot water, plumbing, and AC... haha. Our apartment has none of that. Zero. Gotta adapt! It's honestly really hard though. You said to be honest, so, here goes.. you asked for it. I miss home. Bad. I miss all my family, I miss Heather, I miss my old life honestly. I live in an apartment with 3 other Philippinos who all speak Tagolog, which I don't understand at all. So I literally am by myself sometimes, studying as much as I can, no english is spoken (I mean all three of them can speak broken english. My companion is the best at it, but he still isn't amazing at it. He'd rather speak Tagolog to the others.. which is hard). I write in my journal and either get ready for bed or sit there. There isn't much to do at all. So ya. I am homesick. I know it's only my 5th day here, but it feels like an eternity sometimes. I just gotta keep myself busy.  It's a little better now. Hearing conference again made it easier for me. I really loved Hollands talk. He is so amazing!

First Companion, Elder Parilla
I would tell you our investigators names... but I can't remember any of them. They all are like names I have never heard of. I am still working on that. Next email I will be able to tell you more about that. For now, my companion speaks the majority of the time because they use all these slang terms and words I havent heard of before. I guess thats normal. Elder Parilla (my comp) will give me a few things to talk about in the lessons. So he makes sure I talk and teach as well, just my Illongo is kinda very broken and scattered.. which is also normal. I met a few Elders from Utah-Elder Garlick, and from California-Elder Kaufusi- and they told me it took them about 6 months to get used to the language. Like being able to converse and understand fully. So I guess I have to be patient.. yahoo. It's ok though. I know it's all part of the process. I'll be ok! Just pray for me please. 
The area I am in is beautiful though. That's a plus! I will attach and send up to 10 pictures, hopefully. I have a limit cause it costs money or something. I don't know. I am still trying to figure out what's going on here. Like I said, it's a process! I can do this with the Lord's help and with time. I just have to learn to put my head down and go. 
Road in Cadiz

Well, my time is up. Time to go scrub laundry before we go have family home evening with the Branch President (the bishop) and his family. I am so happy to hear that all is going well. That comforts me. I love you all so much! Halong Kamo (take care you all)! 
I love and miss everyone. More next week!

-Elder Garner

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Safe and Assigned

Elder Garner with President and Sister Lopez
Hello everyone!
So sorry I couldn't call in Hong Kong or Manilla. I swear, Manilla is the oddest, craziest, and most wild place on the earth. Especially the airport. Holy smokes. I'll explain more about the rest of our travel adventures in my next email. President Lopez said that this email is solely for us to tell our parents that we are safely in Bacolod (approx 8:56 pm our time), in the Mission Home in North Bacolod, and doing well. I will tell you about my interview with President Lopez though real quick that we had about an hour ago. Basically, he told us what zone we are in, what area, and who our trainers are. I'm leaving for the Cadiz Zone tomorrow at 4:00 pm our time, in the Caduhaan Area, and my trainers name is Elder Praillia. Apparently he's native Filippino, and speaks almost no english...(yay me?) All I know is that I am in for a serious ride. I know the first 3 months will be rough, because President Lopez said so, haha. So please keep me in your prayers. I will explain a lot more in my next email. I gotta go though. 
I love you all and deeply miss everyone. I hope you all are doing well! I can't wait to hear from you again.
Airport in Bacolod
North America New Arrivals

First Dinner at "Chicken House"- barbecue chicken, pork barbecue, lots and lots of rice, leche flan and chocolate sambo.

Turning in Passports

Meeting Elder Parilla

New Arrivals October 2012

Gifts from President and Sister Lopez- Brand New Pillows!

-Elder Garner