Eric from Bangui!! He was on his way to Santa Ana and stopped by to say hi. Love that guy.
This week was wild. I’ve got some good stories to tell.
First of all, this week was "Holy Week". Here in the Philippines, they celebrate Easter all week. Thursday is called "Holy Thursday", Friday is "Good Friday". That is the biggg celebration. On Friday everything was shut down, not a single store was open. We ran out of water to drink and when we went to the water store, it was all closed. Everybody was inside, watching the Catholic Holy week movies. It was like a ghost town. Even difficult to find transportation. And then on Friday, everyone was lined up at the huge Catholic church. Seriously around 1000 people lined up to go in. Longer than any Disneyland line I’ve ever seen.
So we were at one of the member’s house, they were having a Good Friday party. Tons of food and a karaoke. The members were begging me to sing a song. So I looked through the book of songs and one caught my eye: "Reminiscing" -Little River Band. Everybody was a little confused why I chose that because they had never heard that song and they like it when you pick songs they all know. So they didn't enjoy it much, but I had a good time haha.
Another interesting experience from this week - I was sitting in the sidecar of a triC, waiting for our triC driver to get going, and all of the sudden this truck, carrying a trailor, bashed the sidecar that I was in. I was expecting to get out and see the two exchanging insurance info or something like that, but all I saw was a cloud of smoke and this guy sped away as fast as possible haha. I couldn't believe it. My first instinct was to chase after the guy, but everybody else was just standing around like nothing happened. Like it is an everyday occurrence. Nobody cared, including our TriC driver. All he said was "ayyy mobilis yung takbo" (wow he ran fast). Things like this remind me how different it is here than in the U.S. There is an elementary school, and on the other side of the wall is a Prison!!
and another cultural difference
Alright, about the food. One of the members called us up on Thursday telling us they just slaughtered a pig and wanted us to come feast with them. We were stoked. We got there and they had all kinds of different Ulams (main dishes) some lechoned pig (whole roasted pig - see pic below), some BBQ, some sweet and sour, some kind of tray that involved the pig’s blood, and also the liver. That’s one thing that I’ve never really enjoyed - the liver, not a big fan. But man, it was sooo good.
Also, I am starting to love balut more and more. After every baptism, I treat some of the members to balut. It’s really good, but the pictures I took will probably gross you out a bit. When I’m back in America I’ll have to find a Filipino restaurant and get you guys to try some.
post baptism balut for everyone
I've got some goooood pictures of balut to send to you guys. You are gonna be grossed out, but honestly I love it. It's such a delicacy. I ate like 5 just last week. Mom will gag when she sees one of the pics haha (yep - I'm avoiding looking at them).
Funny story. There is a "special" boy in our Branch named Jerrick. During sacrament meeting he likes to come and sit with us. But he’s not a quiet boy haha. He’s a big boy who runs around yelling. Last week he came up to me during sacrament and started yelling "ALLERGY" while pointing at the acne on my cheek hahaha, and he kept yelling it over and over. Then went to my comp and started yelling even louder. Before we knew it, everyone was looking back at us just cracking up. A bit embarrassing, but pretty hilarious.
So yes, we had 3 baptisms on Saturday, and it was great. Leny was the only one in her family who hadn't been baptized yet, so we were really happy for her and her family. Jacky, the 17 year old boy is best friends with our Branch President's son. Jacky's mom doesn't really support him in doing all this church stuff, so it was a long journey for him to finally get baptized. It was a very spiritual meeting when he bore his testimony and told his story about his parents not supporting him. Our Branch President bore his testimony and had the same type of story as Jacky when he was a kid, and he related to him. It was just a good spiritual meeting. Jordan, 30 years old - so when the missionaries first met this man, he was constantly getting drunk. But wow this man has changed. He has found a whole new purpose in life. The Gospel has absolutely changed his life. So about the baptisms. The faucet in the font decided to kinda stop working, so the water was only up to my knees. Baptizing Leny and Jacky was ok. They are Filipino size, so it wasn't a problem. But Jordan, he is taller than me. And to add on to that, he has really bad knee problems, can’t really bend his knees. So you can imagine the difficulty of fully immersing this man in the water. The first time I dunked him in, I thought it was good and I pulled him up. As I pulled this heavy man up with all my strength, my hammy decided to tweak. I never thought I would obtain an injury in the waters of baptism haha. And we had to re-do it because he wasn't all the way under apparently. Let’s just say it wasn't the most smooth baptism. I had to put him as far as I could into the water and hold him in for a couple seconds to make sure everything was immersed. The next day at church, he came up to me and said, "Elder, I think we should go to the ocean and re-do the baptism, just to be sure." haha he's hilarious. I love the guy.
Earlier this week, we went to a member’s house. He's 40 years old, has 4 kids. He just got back from doctor appointments and treatment in Manila. He has stage 4 cancer, and has been suffering for a couple months now. I had never met him before, and when we walked into his room, he was just lying there, crying. I just wanted to sit there and cry with him, I felt so bad for this man. While my comp was talking to him, I sat there and pondered what I was going to say to this man. I then began to testify of God’s love for us and his plan for us, and about the Atonement. He sat up and started to listen. It seemed like he started to feel comfort and peace.
I know, for a fact, that God has a Plan for us to return to him. And that His plan for us is centered around the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through His pain and suffering in the garden of Gethsemane, He prepared a way for us to return to our father. D&C 19:18-19
Mahal ko kayo (I love you all), have a great week! :)
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.