Monday, January 30, 2017

Long Roads, and Big Rewards

This week has been kind of difficult. I am not really sure why, as it seemed mostly like another week in the field. I can’t say for certain why but it was harder than the other weeks. We had high expectations, and for the most part our goals went unfulfilled. I think if I have learned a lesson here, it is:

Don't do a lot of work without being smart about it. Don't walk a long road for a small reward. Always have a goal in mind every second of every day.

I have learned a lot recently about respect of parents. I think the trick is that children shouldn't be punks and parents in general won't be hard to get along with. I wish I had learned that one a little sooner. The same basic principle works with spiritual things. God is our Dad. He wants good things for us. He wants us to live with him forever. He gave his Son for us. He gives everything so, if we listen for Him, we will have the ability to be comforted – to have a family with us forever, to become perfect. So the trick here is "Don't be a punk kid." He expects certain things from you. He needs certain things from you in order for you to receive: "A state of eternal happiness." This is why I believe that obedience and respect to parents is a celestial law. It cannot be overlooked. If we cannot respect our parents on earth in easy things, how can we respect our Heavenly Father. Okay rant pretty much over (also that was pretty much mostly for myself but if someone learns something from it was worth it.)
Alright, so like I said this week was kind of hard, but there were two things that made it worth it. One we had a baptism! Brother Mark Ais was baptized this Saturday, and I got to see his life change. He is more firm in his understanding and knowledge now; he has changed completely when talking about spiritual matters; and he has learned a lot. Mark was always fun to teach, but also really hard because he doesn’t always understand right away. My words are usually very slow to be understood, so it was always hard to know if he got what I was saying. The other thing that made it all worth it is where the title of this email comes from.

Brother Kamarlon (our star investigator) recently got fired from his job. We always taught him at work, so we were really worried because we didn't know where he lived. All we knew about where he lived was the name of the barangay (which is a Tagalog word that kind of means neighborhood but it is a little different.) Barangays are often around 1000 houses, sometimes more, and this one was no different. So one day we went off in search of Brother Kamarlon’s home – with nothing more than questions to people around us and the spirit to guide us. We walked around for a good long while and made it to the end of one of the major streets. We decided to turn around and try another time. As we turned and made our way back down the street, we heard the question "Anong pangalan mo?" Which means "What is your name?" A question I get around 50 times a day from children. But this time we stopped, turned around, and looked at the person inquiring. We found brother Kamarlon there with several of his friends and some of his family members (if you remember he has 8 brothers and sisters.) We sat down right there and taught them most of the first lesson. They all seemed interested and now we have 5 families to teach – if all of them will let us in again. We had walked a long road (something we had been doing all week), but the difference is we had a big goal in mind. We weren't walking just for walking, we had a destination in mind.
You are blessed for walking long hard roads in life. But you open yourselves to those blessings when you walk those roads with determination and a goal in mind.
Sorry that was a really long story.
I have had a couple requests to talk about Filipino culture from family. I don’t know how many of you are aware that I shower out of a bucket now. Also, I eat some pretty weird foods. Other than those things life here isn’t that much different. I will, however, try to include things about the culture every week. This week is on dialects. The thing about the Philippines, depending on who you ask, is they have around 2000 dialects (I didn’t put an extra zero). They have Tagalog as a base, but sometimes it isn’t effective if the person doesn’t speak it very well. Language is a big part of their culture and people love to be able to speak their native language. Each one is distinct and has its own cool background. 

Tagalesson: Deep Tagalog. You know how in English we have "Old English" or words that are more cryptic, or words we just don't use anymore? Certain words in Tagalog aren't used as much and they refer to those as "Deep Tagalog". When you really look at this language, it can be really deep. Tagalog uses the same alphabet we use in English (minus a couple letters like C and Q) [Insert by Jordan’s sister: Letters that are redundant in the English Language and could be done away with here too] but that wasn't always the case. The fact that some words aren't used anymore, and the fact that many languages exist here, means you have to be careful with how you speak. Sometimes the people you are talking with do not know certain words. For example: the word Takipsilim is the Tagalog word for both "Sunset" and "Eve". Depending on who you ask, they might not even know that that word exists. I find it really interesting that depending on who you talk to, the language can change drastically.

Sorry, this email got kind of rambly. Remember that when you are walking a long road that you should be looking for a big reward. Don't let yourself settle for small rewards. Also remember that only the long roads in life have the worthwhile rewards.

Also I saw another huge spider. This one was very venomous and I didn't touch it. Also, it was my companion’s birthday this week. The picture of the family is a recent convert family. Their baptisms were a few weeks before I got there.


Elder Faulkner

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Walruses or Walri?

That is my question for this week: is the proper pluralization of one singular Walrus Walruses or Walri? I think it is a very good question.

Anyways now that that seemingly unrelated thought is over with, I will get into how my week was. I feel like I am learning faster now and I am getting a good grasp on how to teach in Tagalog. It can be very frustrating when I have something I want to say and I can't explain it adequately. Then I must start over with my thoughts completely. It really, truly, makes you think about what you want to say – long before it comes out of your mouth. That being said, I have also been working on listening. Not just understanding what people are saying, but seeing their needs through their tone and their eyes. It is impossible to teach someone to their needs if you don’t know what their needs are.
One thing that I would like to say is that the people here love Jesus. I think that missionary work in other countries tends to follow along the lines of telling people about the restoration of the gospel as fast as possible and bearing witness it is true. Whereas here, if you do not spend 15-20 minutes talking about Jesus Christ and what he has done for us – then the people might question what our message truly is about. It makes it easier to teach about the reason why we do anything, why missionaries exist: to invite others to follow Christ, to testify of Christ, to give witness of His life, and His true church and gospel. I really do love teaching the first half of the first lesson now. If you are unfamiliar, the first lesson is about the restoration of God's true church (the same church that Jesus Christ established when he was on the earth). The first half of the lesson, we are supposed to talk about prophets, Jesus Christ's life, and why it was important. We get to share doctrines from Jesus that some people don’t understand. The second half of the lesson is about the restoration of that same church through a modern day prophet. 
I realize the importance of Christ's life more every time I teach that lesson; every time I help people understand what Christ did for them and what he wants us to do because of it. Christ spent his whole life inviting people to follow Him and keep God's commandments; and it is my job to do the same thing.
We had a small cleansing of our teaching pool. We are shifting focus away from those that are unwilling to keep commitments and pray to know the truth of what we teach; and we focused a lot on finding and teaching new investigators. We were truly blessed as we found many people that we were able to teach and have started to keep commitments. One in specific is Brother Kamarlon. He was unable to come to church this week because he couldn’t get work off, but he told us when we checked up on him yesterday that he wanted to serve a mission. He said he has a strong desire to know the truth and share it with others.
I would like to share a spiritual thought out of the book of Enos in the Book of Mormon. After Enos prays all day for a remission of sins, he receives the answer from God that because of his faithfulness he is forgiven. He gains a testimony of the truth. Then in verse 9 he says: "And it came to pass that when I had heard these wordsI began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites;wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them." If you have truly received a witness how are you sharing it? If you have yet to receive a witness what are you waiting for?
This language is very much one of intent. People understand you based on how you say things and quite a bit less on what you say. The lesson I am going to teach is on the word "Lang". It means “only”, or “just”. It is used much how we use the word “just” in English. It is a word that you tack on the end of another word (almost always an English word) and it means about what you would expect it to mean. The only difference is that the way this is used it mostly based on tone and a lot less on the word itself. For example, 90% of the time if I ask how someone is they say "okay-Lang" meaning "just okay" but this varies depending on how you say it. Think of when you ask how someone is in America, and they reply "Good" but if they say that with a frown and a sigh it probably isn't. “Okay-lang” doesn't really mean "I am just okay" it means whatever the person wants based on how they say it.
I don't know if I have a lot to say, other than the weeks are moving by really quickly. I am almost half way done with training and by then I will hopefully be able to teach with confidence. Right now I am focusing a lot on how I say things and the inflection I put behind my words. The two things that go through my mind are. "The people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" and "It doesn't matter what you say it matters what the people feel."
The message I share is true and I need to share it in a manner that bespeaks that truth. If you have but a desire to believe, find a copy of the Book of Mormon and go to Alma32 and read the chapter. If you are reading in English it starts on page 288, you are halfway there. 
Keep on keeping on people I didn't take too many pictures but I will give you what I got. Some of these will be roommates and one of them should be a house we got to visit that we had to travel on a small bamboo bridge to get to.


I wish you all a good next week. If you are having a hard time, focus on improvement. I have learned that improvement can be pretty easy if you feel like you are at the lowest in life. Start with your smallest flaw and work on it then move to something bigger. Baby steps will get us to wherever we want to go as long as we are constantly taking them.

I love you all.

Elder Faulkner

Monday, January 16, 2017

WARNING BALUT AHEAD! Also that moment when your Investigator is on fire.

Alrighty. This week just flew by, but I still have a lot to say and not a whole lot of time to say it in. I realized that these emails are probably kinda of boring to read sometimes, so I am gonna change up the font and I am finally adding in some pictures this week.

The first thing that I want to share is a realization that I had: every day will have parts that are hard, parts that are easy, and parts that make everything worth it. I realized this has been true my entire life, but I am just starting to realize that I need to focus on the hard and how to fix it and improve. I really need to focus on what made my day worth it, because without that perspective I have little to work for and no way to improve.

Next, I will go right into prefacing some of the pictures I have, because before I didn’t have these. The spider was found a few hours ago outside of our apartment. That was really cool.

The balut I had a couple of days ago, and it was actually not even that bad, that is really young balut tho so it is not really grown that much. I ate it with some pig ear on a stick. That is apparently a real thing. We went to a person selling food on the side of the road – a bunch of different things – and I just bought some and took it home and then my companion said it was pig ear (after I had eaten like 2 of them). They weren’t so bad, but the texture was weird. The balut was much better, but appearance makes it look gross. 

We got to go into the sister's area for a bit (that is where the fields come from). A lot of those are rice fields and it was really pretty out there. That isn't quite what my whole area looks like, but a lot of it is green like that. I love my area.

My struggles this week are mostly from OYMing (Opening Your Mouth: talking to people and sharing with them, then asking if we can return and teach them later.) My conversational Tagalog is pretty bad, so it is pretty terrifying to talk to people; especially when I don’t understand what they say back to me. But I understand that to make my time worth it, I have to open my mouth and talk to people. It can just be really scary sometimes.

This week I am thankful for one investigator in particular. His name is Kamarlon and he was prepared for us. The first lesson we taught, we shared two principles (God is our loving heavenly father, and the gospel blesses families). At the end, he told us he wanted to close with the prayer and he wanted to say it. He prayed that we would have strength and intelligence to teach him effectively and that we would be able to share with him the truth. The next lesson he prayed as well. Once we taught him the rest of the Restoration, he was close to tears by the end of his prayer. We extended the invitation to be baptized on February 11th and he said that he would. We encouraged him to pray to know of the truth and he said that he knew we were sent to help him change his life.
Tagalesson: beginnings, specifically "Pag". In Tagalog you can take a verb base of anything you want and then stick a different beginning on it to change the meaning "basa” = “read" "pagbabasa” = “reading" as a noun (ie "Did you do your reading?" Sometimes, you double the first syllable – like in that instance tho. If you are really sharp, you can catch almost anything people are saying if you know the beginnings well enough. They also use those same beginnings to turn English words into Tagalog words: ie "Pagpapray" means "prayer". In actual Tagalog it is "Pagdadasal", the root being "dasal” = “pray".

Speaking Tagalog is basically like putting a puzzle together, but doing it really fast. There are around 50 of these beginnings that do different things to the verb bases so there is a lot to listen for. But once you understand, you can say almost anything you want, and you can constantly make new words that people know what they mean. 
This week I will struggle a lot with improving getting to know people and talk about their lives, but through OYMing I both learn how to speak better and also do what I was called to do. Hopefully, I will have the courage to open my mouth.
I leave you with a small spiritual thought from Mosiah Chapter 2 verses 30-31. God strengthens us, He gives us hard things to do, but when we start to do them and trust him we have the promise of help. Let God empower you in all things.

Elder Faulkner

Monday, January 9, 2017


The title of this email is the Tagalog word for disturbing, but the reason it is up there is because of the fact that it is a Tagalog tongue twister. There are people that have been speaking Tagalog their entire lives that can’t pronounce that word with consistency. I mention this because a lot of times it feels like my tongue is tied. The language will probably be my primary obstacle for a good while.

Then again, I know that there is a lot of hope. Last night I had a great experience after fasting and praying for the gift of tongues (and for several of my investigators). After struggling almost that entire day to teach and speak in Tagalog, at the very end of the day on our last lesson, I was able to teach – not just speak, but I was able to say words with a manner of conviction and explain the life of Jesus Christ and the importance of prophets to a family without using almost any English at all. I know that the gifts of the spirit exist and that we can receive them. I know that you need to ask in order to receive, and that faith takes action first. Sometimes you will try hundreds of times with seemingly no progress, but that next time stepping forward with faith your mouth opens and the perfect words come out.

The people here, by and large, are amazingly receptive. About 85% of the country is Catholic, and so they know about Jesus. They will gladly invite us in if we say that we have a message about Jesus and his true gospel on the Earth. Our ward helps a lot with that too. They are very supportive of missionary work, and we almost always have someone coming with us and being our member present for lessons.

I have already learned a lot about teaching and that is my second obstacle that I know I must overcome. Not only do I have to be able to speak in Tagalog – in a way that people understand (it helps that people here generally understand a lot of English, so they can help me out when I am a bit lost.) – but I have to teach in a way that people understand and teach in a way that brings in the spirit at the same time. Sometimes it is a lot to juggle, and other times you don't even have to think about it – it all flows.

I am learning more and more every day, and I know it is worth it to struggle all day – even if I make the smallest amount of progress. One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:27 (Which gains a little bit of more meaning when read in Tagalog because of focus. But I will talk about that in another email.) Basically in Ether 12:27 it is explained to us that, we all have weakness (that is something we should all know already) but it is only after we humble ourselves because of that weakness that God's grace empowers us. We then present ourselves to God with our weakness in one hand and our humility in the other. It is at that moment that he takes the weakness away from us and replaces it with strength. He does, however, let us keep the humility. For without it, we cannot do hard things.

My Tagalesson for this week is on “na” and “pa” because that is what I studied to increase my comprehension this week. I have struggled a lot with comprehension ever since I got here, but the last couple days I have seen crazy improvement. One thing about Tagalog is that the smallest sounds added can make a huge difference in a sentence. For example if you put "na" in a sentence (it usually comes out as the second word, but there are exceptions) it puts a closeness between the action and the present time. For example "He is sleeping" but when you add "Na" the sentence becomes "He is already sleeping." It can mean many different things; including, but not limited to: 
Already, now, even, just now, it can make a sentence a command, or show spatial closeness.

"Pa" is the exact same principles except it adds distance "He is sleeping" with "Pa" added becomes "He is still sleeping." It can mean, but is not limited to:
Still, another, even, later, any more, or showing spatial distance.

These small words change meanings of things very quickly.

Just like how the spirit can be hard to hear sometimes, but our understanding is blessed in great ways when we look for it – I have increased in language understanding by looking for words like these and looking for meaning based on what I am hearing.

This is a good work. Every week I focus on becoming a better me. Sometimes I realize I write these emails for myself as a kind of weekly journal to see that I have changed. I am sorry if I get too rambly in them, but that is kind of how I am.

I love you all and the gospel is a huge blessing in my life. Every day I learn that lesson again and again.


Elder Faulkner

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ang Araw-Araw ay pakikipaglaban

Pictures from the MTC:

I am glad to say that missionary work lives up to its name. It is hard work, however I also get to be a missionary and invite people to follow Christ. God has certainly blessed me with a language that is like 10-25% English – depending on who you are speaking to. This means a couple things for me:

1. Even tho I am 6 days in to the field I can share my thoughts pretty well, and people understand.
2. My talk given in church on Sunday wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be.
3. I have to work really hard to constantly speak in Tagalog because I know that people will understand English and I know I can’t rely on it forever.

My first area is called Malolos. It is in the mountains very much outside of the city. I am very grateful I didn't get assigned to the city my first transfer because now I get a slower environment to teach in. Many people are pretty receptive here. The area is beautiful with a ton of green all around. It is, however, very hot. There isn’t a whole lot of shade. My trainer's name is Elder Jucutan. He is Filipino and he knows the scriptures really well. He is one of the most fluent English speaking Filipinos I know. It is easy to slip into English, like I said earlier, and I have to be diligent in that aspect.

I got to meet my Mission president on Wednesday and he cares a lot about the missionaries that he leads. We have a couple goals in our mission – which include 55 lessons every week and baptizing people weekly. Obviously, we can’t determine the number of people we baptize because it is their choice. But, I think that those are realistic goals if I put in enough effort. I had my first baptism this last Friday – my 3rd day in the field. Her name is Sister Patricia and it is amazing to see the joy that she had that day, and again on Sunday when she was confirmed. One thing that motivates us to get a lot of lessons tho, is that people have fans. Really, we are either in the hot sun all day or we are in peoples houses teaching with fans pointed at us – which is a very nice change. 

I also really like teaching people. It is a really cool experience: bringing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ into peoples lives. This also gives me motivation to talk to people; because Jesus loves them perfectly, and as it says in Moroni 8:16 - “perfectlove casteth out all fear.”

Elder Jucutan says that there are 4 things I have to do to become a man. I won’t list them here right now, but based on the place that I am in right now, I will let you guess as to the nature of the things. The last thing on the list I have to do is eat balut. I believe that that will probably happen pretty soon. 

It was hard to teach the last couple days because we had curfews for New Years. The amount of fireworks that went off at midnight was insane. I was sad that it was so hard to teach people, because they were all preparing for New Years; but I am optimistic that the coming weeks will be much better – and that we will find many people to teach and talk to.

The Tagalesson for this week is on simple sentence structure. In English we generally go something like: Actor Verb Object Location For example "Steve reads the book to Alan." However in Tagalog, you normally order the sentence Verb Actor Object Location. This means in order to start your sentence, you have to figure out your conjugated verbs first. It usually comes out to something like "Read Steve the book to Alan" I say usually because, depending on the focus of the sentence, you can rearrange the sentence almost however you want – as long as you maintain the correct focusing words. You can even rearrange the sentence completely so that the location comes first if you really want. To do so, you put the word "Ay" between the focus of the sentence and the verb. So if you want to focus on the location, in this case "Alan" because the book is being read to him, you could say "Alan ay read Steve the book" and it translates a bit differently. Something to the effect of "Alan is being read the book by Steve." They do that all the time and it makes it really hard to follow along with what is going on, But I believe that I can do this.

Christ Lives. Luke 24:5-6 seek Him among the living and you shall find. I love you all, I am having a great time out here and I know Christ changes people that come to Him. If things aren’t working in your life, take the approach of the person who has lived it all.


Elder Faulkner