Landon with local farmers

Landon with local farmers

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