Landon with local farmers

Landon with local farmers

Sunday, March 10, 2013

100 degrees and my feet don't sweat

Dear.... Everyone! 
So just so you all know, I keep forgetting to mention this but there is no ATM for our credit cards anywhere in our Zone. The closest one is 3 hours away in the closest Zone to us. So every two weeks, we have to hop on a bus and ride over here to withdraw money. President Lopez gives us special permission to stay here for the P-day and do all of our shopping and P-day activities. The city is called Kabankalan. It is right in the middle of our area that I am in now. But, it does have a huge mall in it. So we email, shop for food, print pictures, eat lunch, and do all that kind of stuff here. It is pretty nice even though this shop has sketchy email. Oh well. I think it is ok right now. 
I thought it was hot in my last area. But because I am farther south now, it got even hotter. I looked at my thermometer the other day, and it was 100 F -not including humidity. Holy smokes! I felt like I was gonna die the other day. Actually, President Lopez sent a text out to all of the companionships in the mission and told us "Elders, even though it is fast Sunday right now, I want you all to drink water. That might sound odd, but with the work you are all out doing, in this heat, I need you all to be drinking water." Haha so we hopped all over that. But yes, it is super hot. I want to see Gavin or Gabrielle assigned here in a mission like this. I even sweat through my shirts. But, want to hear something funny? I have not had a problem with my feet since I got out here in the field.... Not a bit. My feet don't even sweat. My socks are always dry. It is so hard to explain and I don't understand it. But, I see it as a blessing!
Siplay Zone Conference
We do have Zone Conference this Wednesday and Thursday. And.... it’s a 6 hour bus ride! Stoked for that let me tell ya... Not! I wish we had a car... but I guess a bus that stops every 50 feet will have to do. I was asked by President Lopez himself to sing a duet with another Elder in my Zone as well. “Special musical number”... yikes! I love to sing and all but I have never done more than ONE note by myself in front of people... If anyone that reads this remembers "I need somebody to love" in Extreme Choir last year... now that was a memory. But, we are singing’Secret Prayer’. Maybe Sister Lopez can record it instead of taking pictures so you all can hear and see. I will ask, but no promises. Don't ask me to sing at home. I am shy.

Filipino village
I had an interesting experience this past week. We found a kid that is 19 that wants to listen to us. He told us to come back on Saturday at 1. He gave us his name and ‘address’. So my companion and I go back there and try to find him. We call it "hunting" here in our mission. Since nobody here has a set address. You just have to ask around to find people-- it is a load of fun! So we find the area he is supposed to be in, and his friend, relative, or parent told ME to get lost, that they are Iglesia Ni Cristo and want nothing to do with us. Anyway, they have churches in like every part of the Philippines. They just barely built one in our area actually. It's built like a temple to be honest. They are so mean to us, too. They teach their members that The Mormon church is the most incorrect church. They all act like they HATE us. How can you hate a short Filipino kid, a tall white American, wearing shirts and ties, while smiling and 
SINGING HYMNS OF GOD? I will never understand. But yes, we continue to go and teach.
Investigators! So… this week kind of stunk. Remember L and M? They were not home at all this week -work, or just plain not home. It stunk. So we weren't able to teach them really at all. BUT! We did teach Brother FM -the one with the sad situation. He is progressing really well. We taught him last on Friday last week. Before we left, we made sure to commit him to come to church. He told us that his "partner" wouldn't be home this Sunday. She is a member and has helped Felipe so much. We were expecting him to say that he wouldn't be able to come because she wasn't home. BUT! He then proceeded to say that he would come BY HIMSELF! How cool is that?  And he did come! Oh man, were we ever happy about that. He has come so far in the short time that I have been here in this area. I love that man. As far as other investigators, the other one, Sister B moved without telling us. So now we have to go find her again. She moved within our area, so we just go "hunting" again in order to find her. More on that next week!
Elder "I" and Elder Garner
(knowing that his mother would see
this photo on Pres. Lopez' FaceBook page,
Landon is showing me that, yes,
he IS DRINKING LOTS of water)
As far as my companionship goes, we are still awesome. I love Elder I. He is so cool! And, so helpful! Plus, we decided to start reading the Cebuano Book of Mormon, too along with the Ilonggo one. So he is teaching me two languages at once! -Something else cool, I am getting used to hearing the languages now, so even when someone is talking in Tagalog or Cebuano to me, I can understand most of what they are saying, and respond in Ilonggo! Now I want to learn those two languages. I am going to come home having learned 1 language with 2 dialects under it. That is my goal! I already got a Book of Mormon in all three languages. I want to learn more! It is awesome. As time goes on, the better I will get!

That is all I have this week. More on this week, next week! I love you all so much! -Until next week everyone. 

Love From The Philippines!
-Elder Garner

Saturday, March 9, 2013

You only have two years to do this...

Hey all! How is everyone doing?  Swell I hope! 
So this week was.... SO BORING! NOT! Haha. A lot has happened. A few things that I want to make sure to say. So I will get right on to it.
First off, my new companion, Elder I, is an amazing! I feel like I teach so well with him! I think that is because we get along really well and he understands me. He was born in Manila, but he grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Our Zone Leaders even refer to him as a "foreigner" Hahah! He's totally non-native though. He says "oh yeah" to me all the time. Not in Hilagaynon either. The kid is too funny for words. He might even be one of the companions that I will keep in contact with after my mission. Canada road trip (oh and as I write this, all the little Filipino kids that are here in the computer shop are all gathered around me and my computer as I type… like as of right now. Haha they can't understand English so... when they read this as I type, they won't get it.)! 

So a few things about church yesterday - they only have one priest in this Branch. He was in Bacolod with his parents yesterday so there was nobody to bless the sacrament. Guess who the Branch President asked to bless the sacrament? Us. Luckily, he told us to do it in English, which was nice I guess. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to read the prayer in the language, but when I opened my Libro Ni Mormon to the verses in Moroni chapters 4 and 5, I realized there were so many big words that I would totally butcher. So, I went with English. Maybe in a year’s time I can do it in the language if I get asked to again.
Oh! As we finished the opening prayer, and older man walked in. And by older, I mean he is like old. I found out that he is 95 years old. 95! He still works as a fisherman, all by himself. He still walks without a cane or help! It's nuts. 
new area, Hinoba-an
-So this area that I am in now.... holy smokes. It is like 15 times bigger than my last area. And since President Lopez wants us to have as many lessons with investigators with a member with us, we bring 1 or 2 with us. But since they are poor and cannot afford to take a tricycle as far as we go, we pay for them. And because that is part of what our support money from the church is for. But.... it adds up fast because our area is like enormous. President told us that he will most likely adjust our support money so we can meet the needs of this area without any restrictions. Still no word yet, so we will see. I don't worry about getting fed dinner so much anymore. We had a dinner appointment every single day last week. 

old area, Cadiz

Fish market in the Philippines
Guess what else? Because this area is right on the ocean, they get fish for so cheap. So, every meal I have eaten since the minute I got here 11 days ago, I have eaten fish. I hate fish. Anyone who knows me will know that if I had a choice between beef, chicken, or pork, and fish, I would throw the fish to the dog and eat everything else. Here I can't do that. Well, it is like President says "you only have 2 years to do this. So, don't mess it up." Haha- honest quote. So I eat it anyway. I have had maybe 5 different kinds of fish lately... and I can't remember the names of them. But 2 types of fish I do like a little…enough that I don't have to choke it down. I am getting used to it though. 

OK-- onto our investigators!  We have like 4 that are willing to listen and learn. First off, we have Sister B. She was investigating the church like 2 years ago but the missionaries stopped visiting her because she was a live in with her boyfriend. But, there was a mass wedding here in our area and anyone who had 100 pesos, the Mayor married legally. So we began teaching her again! She is still really interested. Her husband however, is not. We found out that he is a really active Pastor in another church here in this area. Kind of a problem you'd think, but he allows us to teach his wife. He just wants no part of it. I thought it would cause tension but he is totally cool with it. Maybe after we baptize her, he will soften up. You know what they say!  Next, we have L and M. They are in same situation as Sister B. Investigated, weren't married and then discontinued. But now they are married and they both listen and learn. Brother L’s brother is actually the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric here and ironically their house is right in front of the church, as in 25 steps from the front of their house, to the church. Those three investigators have all been taught the Restoration only so far. We will invite them to be baptized this week. More on that next Monday!
Our last investigator deserves his own paragraph. It is kind of sad so get ready. His name is Brother M. He is a fisherman, and works nights. He has a girlfriend/wife?  -Hard to explain that. Her name is D. She was married in the past and had one son. Her husband left her and the child in the dust for another girl in Manila. That was 10 years ago. Now she is with Brother M. But since she is poor, she can't legally divorce her old husband. So her situation is called "Co Inhabitants". And here, it’s the closest thing to marriage. The Church however, has come out with something regarding this. Since they can't legally be married, but they are "committed" to each other, they can be baptized. That is the only good news. Bad news is, he can't hold any callings, or receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. On top of all that, they can't have a temple recommend. Meaning.... they can't be sealed together for eternity.  We just found this out yesterday. President Lopez would also like to interview F before his baptism. Good grief man. It is such a hard situation. We haven't told him or D yet. We will have to soon though. President will instruct us on what to do. -More on that next week.
Well family, friends, and loved ones, that is all for this week. All I can say now is, have a great week. Thank you for all your prayers in my behalf. I feel them every day. I love you all so much.

Love From The Philippines!

-Elder Garner

Legit English and Mondragon, How sick is that?



Sorry I am getting on a little late, I had some things to get figured out and such so... It is all a work in progress. I will explain further in my email now.
I think you all may know that I did get transferred. I am no longer in Caduha-an. I am in Hinoba-an, Sipalay Zone. Here is how you can tell where it is, look at a map of Negros Occidental, and look at the border between Occidental and ORIENTAL, and I am the last area on that border. NEGROS ORIENTAL is where the Cebu Mission officially starts. Don't ask how the boundaries work- I have no idea. Let’s just put it this way, I know I am in the farthest area south in the mission. It is about 7 hours on a bus south of Bacolod. So ya. very far. I will go through the big events that happened this week though now.

So on Wednesday, we got a text from our mission secretary about paying your share of the bill if you end up getting transferred. We asked around the Zone to see if anyone else got it and only 2 other companionships did… so we figured it was a sign that either Elder DLS or I was going to be leaving. So we spent the day teaching until around 6, then we went to visit some members that we are close with, just in case. So we did just that. At around 9:30 we came home, closed the day, and planned for the next day. We hadn't received a call from the President or the AP's yet so we figured we jumped the gun or something, right? I had just finished writing in my journal, brushing my teeth, and I was about to go to sleep when one of the AP's called. He told my companion that I would be leaving tomorrow and that we need to be in Bacolod by 8 the next morning. Meaning I had to start packing right then. And I was all comfortable and had a system with all my stuff, too! Haha dang it! Oh well. The entire time I was packing, I could only think about where I was going (the AP told my companion that we would find out tomorrow), and who my new companion would be. I finally got to bed around midnight after packing for an hour and a half (man I am so bad at packing..... I needed so much help. But, I got it done. So, that was that.)
 We woke up and left for the Mission Office at 6:45 am, and got there around 8:15. I found the one of the AP's and asked him where he wanted me to wait. 
Bacolod LDS church building
He told me to go into the Chapel in the church and just wait for my companion to come. So, I went in and found most of my batch in the chapel, too. They ALL are training right now. I asked, "How do you all know that?" They told me that the AP's told them when they called. So I asked the AP "Am I training or no?" He told me "No, Elder Garner, President Lopez has something special for you." SO.... ya I got nervous because I knew nothing. My companion finally got there around 9:30 am. His name is 'Elder I'. Sounds Filipino right? Because he is. But when he opened his mouth to talk to me, English came out! And not just Filipino English, it was like legit English. No accent at all. I asked "Where are you from????" and he replied "Vancouver, Canada".  I have a Filipino/Canadian companion! He is about 5'4, and weighs just as much as I do right now which is like 183 now! He has a scale at our apartment…so yes I have lost an additional 5 pounds since December.
Anyways! More about that day. I asked him where our area is, and he told me that is "the farthest south in our mission you can possibly get." And was he ever right! I said goodbye to my old comp and Elder Ellis, then we left to get on a bus with my luggage. The bus ride was a full 7 hours from Bacolod. All the way down to the tip of the island. A little oasis called Hinoba-an. And by oasis, I mean it. It is right on the beach. Lets just put it this way, our chapel is right in front of the beach. Like 20 steps. And by beach, I mean white sand beach. I have been taking a ton more pictures so don't worry. Oh, and before I forget, one side of our area is the beach, and the other side is the mountains. It's like I am getting the white sandy beaches of California and the mountains of Utah all in one area! Except the mountains are not near as big, but they are more green for sure and still just as beautiful. 
When we got to our area, I stepped foot into our apartment, and thought ‘we live here’?  Hmmm, it’s like the people building the house didn't bother finishing the floor or the roof. The floor is like what an unfinished basement would look like (cement), and the roof isn't totally sealed all the way. Meaning birds and insects fly in all the time. Last night we had a bat fly into the house actually.  I won't complain though. Actually, Elder I tells me that President Lopez might want us to find another apartment soon anyway because next transfer he might split our area and put 4 elders in one house, just to lighten the load in our area. It is pretty huge. Plus we are getting like 24 new missionaries next transfer so why not? 
Anyway, we have spent the last few days meeting members and trying to get me accustomed to the area and all the new people. He knows I am still sort of new, so he helps me out (Elder I). Oh, and just for your information, I will not get any letters for like 6 weeks if you send any. Apparently, since the area is so far away, the couple missionaries only make the trip down here once a transfer - which is understandable because it is like driving to St. George and back from our home in Lehi. Ridiculous. We do, however, have a post office in our area. So I can send letters regularly still. The last thing I am trying to find is a place to print pictures, so you all can see what I am living in.
Hinoba-an beach

YOU ALL HAVE TO SEE THIS AREA! Every time we drive by the beach or the mountains I just fall over in complete aw... it's incredible. It is actually like a big tourist spot here. I see non-native people all the time actually.

Hinoba-an mountain range
As for yesterday, I was asked by our Branch (yes I am in another Branch, in a District, not a Stake) President to be the first speaker. I had just arrived at the chapel. I did ok though I think. I didn't get too many confused looks as I spoke so it was good. Oh, our President's name is President Mondragon. How sick is that???  
That is what I have so far. I would tell you names of places and such, but I am still trying to learn them. I will continue to look for a place to print pictures. I think we may have found one actually, just the only thing is-  they only print out wallet sized ones and one size bigger. I hope that is ok. I love you all so much! Thank you for all your prayers. Keep doing the righteous actions I know you are all doing! -Until next week everyone. 

Love From The Philippines!

-Elder Garner