Monday, May 29, 2017

Part II: The infection strikes back

This week existed.


Not all that much was done, because Elder Rasmussen's infection came back; this time it wasn't on his forehead, it was on his lip. It swelled up a lot. Hopefully I will get some good pictures attached to this email. With that said, we were stuck in the house a lot this week. As a missionary, when you can’t go out and work, you feel kind of useless; there is not a whole lot that you can do.
       
With that said, I got to go on exchanges a couple times with Elder Stephens. It is weird teaching with my MTC comp again. He says a lot more in the lessons nowadays. With 4 foreigners in the house, we spend a decent amount of time talking about things that help us with the language – although Elder Kirifi is basically a Filipino at this point, he is pretty fluent.
       
We had Zone interviews at the beginning of last week. When we get mail and proselyting supplies, it comes from the mission office. This is a 2-hour trip each way to go down the mountain to the mission office. Then we have lug all of it back up to our house. It can be a bit of a struggle. The transportation around here helps. Coming back from Zone interviews we all decided to take a taxi. It was only 150 pesos (or $3) each for about an hour in a taxi, all in all it was around 12 dollars for all of us to ride.

We got back out to work this week for real on Saturday. That means from Monday to Friday there was almost no work done! It hurts to not speak the language often. We are reviewing our teaching and finding styles. Hopefully we will focus more on finding this week and have a bigger teaching pool because of it. Then we can fill in all the lessons spots on our calendar.
       
Finding can be a weird thing here, sometimes we are just there to teach a small lesson. Even if the person listens, we might only stop by their house a few times. We aren’t looking for people that are ready to listen; we are looking for people that are ready to change their lives, or be helped to change their lives.
       
We are going to get a new Mission President in a few weeks. This will be the last full transfer with our current mission president. The next will come in not knowing about the missionaries or the areas. He will only have the current missionaries and God to help him figure out his job. It will probably be hard on him. Right now we only speculate as to what he will be like. There are a lot of people that think things will get more strict, I figure they will mostly stay the same.
       
Culture: Naliligo sa kalsada: It rains a decent amount over here. Whenever it rains hard – all the children run out into the street and start showering. Most of them are fully clothed, or clothed enough. The streets aren’t full of naked kids. This happens every time. Sometimes the rain is pretty intense, but this usually just increases the number of kids outside.
     
Tagalesson: we will learn some of the different words for rain and some other things.
Ulan: Rain
Umuulan na: It is raining now
Ambon: drizzle
Umaambon na: It is drizzling now.
Ligo: shower
Naliligo sa kalsada: showering in the street.

We will learn about "um" and "na" verbs next week.

Welp, we will continue on with the work. It is good getting back to it all.

Keep on keeping on.

Love 


Elder Faulkner

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Last Zone Interviews


So every transfer, which means some time in every 6 week period, we have individual interviews with our mission president. The thing is, we are getting a new mission president next transfer. This means that the next time that I have zone interviews, it will be with the new mission President – President Hughes. I don’t currently know how he is, also I have heard that the mission presidents don’t talk to each other. They do this so mission culture and biases do not carry over between mission presidents. A lot may change or a lot may just stay the same. It is very hard to tell right now.
     
With that we will have a small part about my current mission president, President Bertin. President Bertin is a doctor, or he was a doctor before he was a mission president. He is one of the best problem solvers I know. He loves all his missionaries and he is exceptionally intelligent. He tends to know what his missionaries are thinking when he is talking to them.
       
President Bertin has been a big factor in how the mission is right now. A lot of missionaries have a problem with him because he can be very strict – but he is very loving. I think I was called here because he is the mission president here. I do, however, look forward to seeing what will happen with someone new.
       
I got a new roommate, his name is Elder Stephens. If that doesn’t sound familiar, I will remind you, this is the same Elder Stephens that was my companion in the MTC. We are now in the same house and Elder Kirifi is his companion. We already did exchanges for a half day (it was really just one appointment) but I got to teach again with my MTC comp. It is really fun living with someone from my batch. Batch can mean a lot in the mission – these are the people that you started your mission with. It is easy to start comparing yourself to your batch mates because you have been in the mission the same amount of time as them. Elder Stephens has started speaking up a lot more, but he is still struggling with the language. I look forward to helping him figure it out by sharing things that helped me learn.
       
Culture: Batch: So here in the Philippines, they use the English word “batch” to describe people that went through major life events with them. Your batch includes all the people that you started school with, or graduated with. It is not very clearly defined, but when you find that you have been with this person for many a laugh and many a hard time, they are your batch.
         
Tagalesson: “Ka”. This is a prefix that can be put on many words to say that someone is your companion in something; kind of like the prefix “co” in English.
Examples:
Ka – Bahay-house: Kabahay roommate
Ka – Batch: Kabatch- Batch mate
Ka – Sama-together: Kasama-companion
Ka – laro-play: Kalaro-Guy you are playing with
Ka – Laban- Fight:  Kalaban- Enemy

This is a pretty useful thing to know.

Welp I am on my way, sorry no pictures this week, the internet is being kinda whack here at the computer shop.

I love you all keep up the good work.


Elder Faulkner

Sunday, May 14, 2017

#Mother'sDayCalls

So this is a thing that happens twice a year. Yesterday I got to call my family. They are pretty cool people. If you don't know them, then you probably should. The two days missionaries can call home are Mother's day and Christmas. This means that we have quite a bit of time before the next call happens. It is a very interesting experience only being able to really talk to your family 4 times in the 2 years here. It was a good experience, and it always brings those feelings of how much you miss home and how much you want to be there. It leaves you feeling very strange afterward. 
       
I got to see and talk to several different people yesterday. My mom and my Dad; My stepdad Craig; Lisa, my oldest sister, and her husband David; and Caroline, who needs no kind of introduction (amiritetho?). We had a bit of a hard time because of internet connection, but in the end I am very happy I had the chance to talk to them and to see them as well. 
       
Mother's day is an interesting holiday here in the Philippines. It is not celebrated like in the US; it depends on the people and the family. Some families go all out and others have little to no celebration. All I know is that our neighbors celebrated and gave us cake. Our neighbors are chill. The Nanay (The older lady that lives there, and also our landlord) has been a member for a long time. Currently she has teenage girls that live with her. They are investigators of the other Elders (our roommates). It is really cool to see things like that happen. This also means that when they make a lot of food, or have extra cake, we reap the benefits.
       
The work is good. We are doing the work.
     
I felt like that last paragraph was needed. I don’t know why, but yeah. Elder Rasmussen is getting a lot better. The infection is pretty much gone. We had a really rough time last week. There was a decent amount of time where he couldn’t do work because it hurt too much.
     
Culture: Computer Shops. About every 30 feet, there is a computer shop. At these places you normally have around 10 – 30 computers all lined up. This is big in the culture because most people don’t have personal computers, but still have access to the internet. A lot of kids come into computer shops to play computer games and go on Facebook. Computer shops charge around 10 pesos an hour, unless it is a really nice one. That is around 20 cents for an hour of internet. We use the computer shops for emailing and the video calls to home.
       
Tagalesson: My family complained that I never include pronunciation in these things. Therefore, I will start trying to tell you how to pronounce all the words, even tho Google should do that for you. The best advice I have is to keep your mouth open and loose as much as you can when saying Tagalog words, it helps a lot. Most of the "A's" are pronounced with a longer sound. For example, in the word "Car" it is a longer A sound it is not cut off like in the word "Care". For example, you would say the word "tindahan" (the small stores around here) not with short "A" sounds it is like "Tin-Dah-Hahn" just like that – just like almost every a in the language. As long as you don’t let your mouth close too much, you wont mess it up.

Elder Santillian took selfies with my camera.



Pictures: We killed a rat.




Brother Elmer, The legend. He is kinda of special needs but has been working with the missionaries for around 19 years now almost every day



Peace out, I love you all.


Elder Faulkner

Monday, May 8, 2017

When the infection is too strong

This week my companion, Elder Rasmussen, got an infection in his face, it is pretty nasty. It is very VERY painful for him to speak. So not a whole lot of work got done this last week. That is okay though, sometimes things like that happen. I feel bad for him because he has been in a lot of pain and there hasn’t been much I can do. He got antibiotics for it the other day so it is hopefully going to be a lot better soon. Right now it is hurting him a lot.

This week we have been getting ready for Mother's day calls. If you did not know, there are two times a year that missionaries are allowed to contact their families with video chat: Mother's day and Christmas. This involves finding a place that has webcams and trying to figure them out. We get around 40 minutes of time to talk to our families. This might seem like a very short amount of time, that is because it is. Anyways, we have been trying to find a place that will allow us to video call and it has been a bit of a struggle. Hopefully the internet will be decent.
     
Anyways, like I said there wasn’t a ton of work this week ‘cause we have been confined to the house a decent amount of the time. We did try to visit some names that were given to us by ward members. Normally when a ward member gives you a person to teach – it is a great opportunity because the friend that that person already has in the church can help them out in their journey for understanding. This is a better way to find people than walking down a really hot street talking to random people. (No matter how much I enjoy that.)
         
As missionaries in this church, our job is to explain to people our beliefs and help them to come closer to Jesus Christ. We do this by inviting them to find out the truth for themselves. In the end, everyone that we talk to and teach every day has their agency to do whatever they want; when we invite them to pray, read the scriptures, go to church, and other commitments such as those – they have the agency to accept and find truth or not to. More often than not, they do not take us up on our invitation. The joy of teaching is in the inviting people to change their lives; it is in telling them where they can find the truth, and showing them the way to follow. That being said, we are also here to identify concerns that people have and help them understand the importance of coming to Christ. In this church we believe that based on what we do here on earth we receive blessings, and we are here to show and explain those blessings so that people can receive them if they so desire.
     
It is hard to see what people could be, after having what they could feel, and what blessings they could have – then see them not accept it. The promise of truth and understanding is a sure promise. God does not give to some people that ask and not others. He loves us all equally, and based on our desire to know and ask, He gives us what we need to understand His plan for us.
       
Culture: Load. Oftentimes you don’t have a phone plan like most people in America do. You buy what is called load and you buy promos. You have someone at a tindahan (one of those small stores) put load on your phone. For this you give them money and they put most of that money (there is a small charge) on your phone as “load”. Then you usually use that load to buy a promo – which might be unlimited call and text for 7 days. It varies a lot based on what promo you have and how much load you have. Most people run out of load a few days before the month ends. If you want to get a hold of someone at the end of the month, they probably can’t text or call you back.
     
Tagalesson: Last week I mentioned "ang" and "ng" – the are two words you need to understand to get this language. You can say anything in Tagalog by conjugating a word a different way. It is all about "Focus". This is basically how it works: the word that has "Ang" before it is the focus of the sentence (if it is a proper name you use "si" instead of Ang) so you can say the same sentence but it can be focused on a different thing 
Example:
THE CHILD read the book
Nagbasa ANG BATA ng aklat
The child read THE BOOK
Binasa ng bata ANG AKLAT

Note the root of the word is “basa” in both situations, and how the translation stays the same. In the second sentence, you are focusing on the book that was read more so than the child. This works in many different ways, but based on what you want to emphasize you need to put the "ang" in the correct place and you also need to conjugate the verb correctly.
There will probably be about a million lessons on focus, be warned
I love you all; keep on keeping on.
There will probs be pictures on Elder Rasmussen's Infection so be warned as well.
That puppy is sad.


Our roommates had a baptism




Monday, May 1, 2017

Fiesta on our street




This week we had a Fiesta. Now this isn’t a super rare occurrence in the Philippines – but it took place right on our street. There were about a million activities, that we did not participate in, but it was all very loud. People really like to give you food when there is a Fiesta. We got fed a decent amount.
       
Life is going pretty decent here. Transfer announcements just happened and not a single person got transferred out of my zone. That means Elder Rasmussen is going to be my companion for at least 6 more weeks. I think that is for the best. It is hard to progress in the language when the person you are speaking to also doesn’t know it fluently.     

I want to talk a little bit about one of our investigators. I haven’t really done that up until this point. We found this family (The Bello Family) while they were playing the song “7 years”. I started talking to them about music – I relate to people well through music. After talking to them for a good 20 minutes, we began to teach them. They seemed pretty solid. Later on we found out that they were very doubtful, but they let us come back because we told them it is their choice to continue learning and growing spiritually.
     
Oftentimes people don’t understand that we are here to help them based on the help that they want to receive; it really is dependent on the person’s ability to search for knowledge from God. We all need to be constantly searching and asking questions to enlarge our understanding. This is how God teaches us. Now, a couple weeks later, Sister Bello is excitedly reading all of the reading assignments that we leave with them, and they are eager to learn more. We challenged them to baptism and they said that as their knowledge grows they will happily keep that commitment. I am excited to see how they go and how they grow as a family. They have had many struggles and they have opened up to us a lot.     

Culture: Fiesta. When you have a fiesta, everyone knows that it exists but not everyone really knows the reason for it. In essence, it is just partying for the sake of partying. I love it! Fiestas happen every once in a while and often have to do with historical events – unless people decide they want to have one.
     
Tagalesson: Accent. Some parts of the language are hard, not because it is a difficult language, but it can be hard to constantly understand the Filipino accent. This can be a big problem when you think are saying something correctly, but people misunderstand based on your accent. With this we will cover the Ng sound. There are many words that have this "ng" in them. The most prominent in two words that don’t really have exact translations (They are linkers between words.). Those words are "Ng" and "Ang". Ng can mean "of", "a", "the", or several other words. “Ang” is the same deal but it cannot mean "of". Just sit on this knowledge for a week and I will get you more about these words next week.
         
I love you all keep up the good work, thank you all for the support that you have given me.


Elder Faulkner

Monday, April 24, 2017

High on the Mountaintop

So, like I said before I live on top of a mountain.
       
Welp that is the end of that.

This week was good. We had exchanges with the other missionaries that live in our house. I had forgotten what it was like to do missionary work with someone that is fluent in the language. It was nice to have that opportunity to learn. Being with someone who is not yet fluent, I have to stretch myself to be effective at the language. When I went and worked with Elder Kirifi (He is from New Zealand, but has been in the mission around 21 months), I learned a lot from the way he used the language. 
       
Next week we have transfer announcements. This is when we’ll know if Elder Rasmussen moves on without me. If he does, I will have a new comp and the work will probably change slightly. I like working with Elder Rasmussen. We tend to get along pretty well.
       
This last week I gave a talk in church. It was very much like my farewell talk on the Doctrine of Christ, except in Tagalog. I think it went fairly well.  I was able to speak without too many mistakes, although it was still difficult to speak in front of so many people in a language I am not totally comfortable in. Either way, it was much better than my last talk I gave here.
         
I don’t have too much extra time for this email so I am sorry if it is a little short and has no pictures I will work on getting the picture sent next week.
       
Culture: If people are eating and you pass them walking – there is about a 90% chance that they offer you food. This is interesting because I am never sure if they really mean it or if they are just offering because it is part of the culture. Either way if you see someone walking and you are eating, just yell "Kain na tayo" at them and they will feel more invited
       
Tagalesson: This tagalesson is brought to you by eating and inviting people to eat. There are a few things you might say to invite people to eat, all of these are polite and deeply part of the culture.
“Kain na tayo”: Lets all eat now
“Kumain ka na ba?”: Did you already eat
“Kain pa”: Eat some more.
       
We hear these a ton. Especially if we are at an appointment and they bring out food. It is very rude to reject that you know ;)
 
Life is good here. We are keeping on. I hope you all have a great week. 

Love you all,
Elder Faulkner

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter

It was Easter this week. 

Sometimes I think that we under appreciate Easter. We tend to recognize Christmas as the holiday that we celebrate Jesus, and then Easter as the holiday with eggs. Easter celebrations in the Philippines are quite different than the ones that you might find in the United states, or anywhere else for that matter. 85% of the people in this country are Catholic, this leads to a pretty strong culture in the importance of Jesus and his atonement. I believe even then they miss the mark. Here over the entire Holy Week (Sunday to Sunday) there are many celebrations. Most of those involve things like singing psalms in the streets, and gatherings of family and close friends; sometimes they are a little more public, like parades; and, depending on your location, you might see a public crucifixion. This does not mean that they kill the person, as that usually takes hours for someone to die on a cross, but it is not exceptionally uncommon at these events for them to really nail someone to a cross (note this is voluntary)
       
This was a very different atmosphere! Generally, I am in a very safe part of the Philippines – so I didn't see anything too crazy. It made me think a lot about how much everyone tends to miss the mark with Easter.
     
I think the inherent problem is that the event that makes Easter a holiday that we celebrate, is an event that we do not understand.
     
Jesus, The Son of God in the Flesh, suffered for our sins. If we act to change and rely on Him in our lives – we may be forgiven of wrongdoings and brought into the presence of our Father again. He was sacrificed on a cross and gave his life for us. There needed to be a perfect God, given to overcome the effects of our shortcomings. And three days after that event, He took up His body again. He overcome death. This gives us the gift of Resurrection – we will all live again, we will all have life after this. if we plead with Him we can have forgiveness.
       
We all fall short of understanding the importance of this. It was a sacrifice that was never ending. it was a sacrifice that was salvific. it was a sacrifice to "End all sacrifices."
         
This really happened. Jesus, the Son of God, did really come down to live a mortal life. He suffered for you individually. This is not a fairy tale. The best part is, while we are acting on faith here, the spirit is our guide for us to know. There can be knowledge about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Prayer is the way to know.
           
What does this mean for us? We need to show our reliance on that sacrifice. When our life is affected by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, He makes intercession for us with the Father. But our life also starts to look like Jesus Christ's. I can’t adequately express how this happens or how important it is, but I think every single person on the earth falls short of understanding it. 
       
Work here has been good, not much has changed over the last few weeks. The work continues, and I love the area I am in.
       
Culture: See above about Easter
       
Tagalesson: This might not be much of a lesson in the language as it might not include any actual words for you to learn. I might put some translations in the end for you guys anyways. The Filipinos have 3 words for stupid, and each of them have specific meanings, going along with that each of them are basically swear words. These are some of the most used swear words here, and calling someone stupid here is a very big insult. Sometimes we throw around that word in America, but it can be very offensive here. The three words are like three stages of swearing – with the most offensive being a word that is very rarely used. It is an interesting thing to know about the culture that calling someone stupid is such an intense thing. It has made me take a second look at how we communicate back home.

Here are some random translations:
Kumusta ang _____ mo?: "How is your ______?"
Saan si ______? "Where is ______(person's name only)?"
Bakit Ganito? "Why like this?"
Hindi Ganito "Not like this"

Welp that is all I got. I hope that all is going well over there. The work moves forward over here. Love you all keep it up.

Love


Elder Faulkner