Monday, February 20, 2017

Pastry Chef

So there is this restaurant... and I hope you understand this, for 200 Peso (4 American dollars) you get all the food you want. As the name implies, a decent amount of the food that they have is cakes and other pastries. Logically, we go there as a kabahayship (group of roommates) every week on P-day. Also, logically (as we just came from this place), I am very full.

This week was very interesting, I think Elder Jucutan and I are getting into the habit of finding people and we are getting a little better about opening our mouths and sharing to people. This has been a weakness of both of ours for a long time now. I have learned that I can hold a pretty decent conversation in Tagalog right now for a small while. If we start talking about something that I don’t know the words for, I am completely lost. This has helped my confidence in talking to people, as I have found it a lot easier to talk when I believe that I will be able to say what I need to say. 
Honestly, that has been one of the most difficult things so far: having something to say and just not having the words to say it. Looking someone right in the eyes, knowing exactly what you should say, then not being able to have them understand is a frustrating feeling. However, I have seen that when I open my mouth in those times, I end up saying something that I needed to say, not what I wanted to say. I lacked the words to say what I wanted to say, but what came out worked just as well. When speaking a different language, you learn a lot of ways to say things. Sometimes you forget how to say something and you need to say it in a more roundabout way. 
Conversation can be difficult here, especially when we are with someone we have never talked to before and we are trying to learn their beliefs. Oftentimes it is my trainer and them talking; many times, they are talking so fast that my brain can’t make a response faster than they are talking and it is difficult to get a word in edgewise. I did, however, have a very good experience with this this last week. We were in what seemed like a hopeless conversation: the lady we were talking to knew a lot about the scriptures and she had a habit of interrupting Elder Jucutan, finishing his sentence, then take over the conversation again. This made it almost impossible to say anything, especially because I have to put all my thoughts in another language. In the end, we discussed authority and what happened to the church Jesus established. I had the chance (just a split second) to come in and I talk about how important proper authority is when dealing with spiritual matters. Missionaries would not be out teaching people if we didn't believe we are called of God. I talked about why we need baptism and why it must done with proper authority to truly follow Christ's example (baptism by immersion with authority). I ended that conversation with what I said and I felt good to speak my mind. 
I still struggle with the language, a lot. I was called to give a talk in sacrament meeting the other day. They gave me less than 24 hours (most of which was proselyting time) advanced notice. It was really hard, and about the last 40% was in English. I think that is okay because even the bishop uses English when speaking in church. I felt bad because much of what I wanted to say, I knew I could say – I just needed more time to think. I didn’t want to pause for 10-15 seconds to think, in front of a bunch of people – essentially looking like an idiot. I don’t know how many people won on that occasion.
The other huge thing that happened this week was the 7-week follow-up training. I got to get together with all the people that entered the Quezon City North Mission at the same time I did. All the people from my mission that were in the MTC with me were there. It was a cool thing to see how they all were doing. I learned that I need not compare myself with other people – that we all learn and progress at different rates, in different ways. (Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?) All-in-all, I really appreciated that experience; it was nice to see friends again.
Culture: Public Transportation. There are two major ways of getting around in the Philippines (for short distances at least). Jeepneys and Trikneys. The Trikney is basically a motorcycle that someone jerry-rigged a side car to. There are about a million of them. They are small and they fit anywhere from 1 to 8 people. The Jeepneys are trucks which you enter from the back. They have seats on either side. They fit anywhere from 1 to 30 people (they really stuff those things full.) Both means of transportation seem really unsafe, but that is really only true because of the way that everyone drives – which is fine by me because I don’t drive much safer. [Insert from Jordan’s sister here – he really doesn’t. I appreciate his honestly here, despite the fact that it really worries me.]
Tagalesson: Words you need to know for transportation along with the most important word that is the easiest to miss:
Bayad: means to buy. You use this when you need to pay, then you pass your money up, and people pass it to the driver.
Dao: pronounced "Dow" it means "Someone else said". When you add this in a sentence (Which this word is super easy to not hear if people talk fast), it means that it is coming from a different source. For example, when someone says "Bayad dao", it means someone else is paying.
Saan: Said by the driver to ask where you are going it means "Where"
Po: I said this one before, it means respect, but it also means a lot more. It basically fills the spot of “please” (as there isn’t an effective word for please in this language) so a person usually says "Bayad po" in order to pay.
Magkano: "How much" – you ask this to know how much you must give to the driver.
Learning to do public transportation was actually a really fun experience here.
I am pretty much out of time, so I will see you all next week. We have Zone conference so I will be on 2 days later (Wednesday for me Tuesday night for you) next week.

Love you all,

Elder Faulkner


Me with my batch from the MTC 

Me with a package from home

Me and Elder Jucutan with a couple RCs

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lock Your Heart and Close Your Eyes

So as many of you may be very aware of, Valentines day is coming up tomorrow. Holidays are things that I don't think about a whole lot anymore, the days pass very quickly now and it feels like Christmas was not very long ago at all. But Valentines day is still a thing that a lot of people talk about, surprisingly (or perhaps not) even missionaries. In the MTC they sat all the missionaries down and said "Lock your hearts." They told us to forget about people we may have back home, people that may have said they are going to wait for us. Many missionaries have funny sayings that come out of that talk that we all get. The favorite among them seems to be, "Lock your heart, but keep your eyes wide open." I think it is kind of funny that Valentines day becomes a big joke as a missionary. And the day effects everyone differently including missionaries.
Welp that is enough about that. I had balut again this week but I didn't take any pictures this time. Sorry bout that one. This last week we had transfers, like I said before. I said goodbye to one of my roommates and I got a new one. He is actually really cool and gives some pretty good advice. His name is Elder Narciso and he goes home in only 3 months. He is a very experienced missionary, and he has all kinds of stories. It is nice when I have problems and he is there to give specific guidance. 
Sometimes I think a lot about how weird being a missionary is. There are tens of thousands of 18-25 year old men and women running around preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I sometimes think:

Wouldn't it be better if these people were more experienced with the world? Or understood more about what life is? had more life experience? Were just a little bit older?

Now I realize – who better to talk about something that will change your life forever than someone, who at the young age of 18-20, is constantly seeing how Jesus Christ is changing their life? Missionaries may be pretty big goofs sometimes; we are little more than children. But Jesus was only 12 years old when he was teaching in the temple to "learned men". There is power in a testimony that changes and strengthens everyday. 
I feel like I do not have a ton to say and this is the point where I normally start rambling about whatever my thoughts are at the time. I will try to not do that right now. I was sick this week, and I will tell you missionary work is pretty hard to do when you are sick – especially the part that involves speaking a different language. The sickness wasn't that bad, but I was really tired all the time and I had a constant runny nose and headache. Sometimes I was still able to talk and teach well, despite my sickness. I have definitely seen the blessings that God gives to you when you put your mind to something and fully commit.
Cultural stuffs: We are back to communication here, because that is still a hurdle for me. There are two words in Tagalog "Ate" and "Kuya": meaning "Big sister" and "Big brother" respectively. These words can be used as the actual meaning, but their other use is to show respect to someone whether they are your sibling or not. A lot of times we refer to people much younger than us as "Ate" or Kuya" in order to show them respect. One of the greatest forms of respect here (in my opinions) that I receive is when someone on the street calls me "Kuya" it lifts my spirits because I have been, in a small way, accepted into the culture.
Tagalesson: I was pretty afraid when I started learning Tagalog that the language would involve gender differentiation. As many of you may know, in many Latin based languages every noun that exists has a gender – either male or female. The glorious thing here is, not only does Tagalog have no gender differentiation for nouns. They do not usually have different words for most things that English does. For example: in English, you have "nieces and nephews" in Tagalog you have "Mga Pamangking". In English we have "brothers and sisters" in Tagalog "Mga Kapatid". Even their word for "him/her" is “Siya”. This can make translation directly from English to Tagalog very difficult. However, I am able to think in Tagalog it so much more smoothly. (Also "mga" is the word for pluralization you put it before any noun to make that noun plural. No exceptions.)
I hope all is going well back home. If you are unaware my sisters Lisa is keeping a blog for me, it is probably much more appealing to read than these emails. It basically is these emails with better colors and better punctuation.
I love you all and wish you a wonderful week.

Elder Faulkner

Pictures this week of:
My room.
A recent convert family (baptized Dec 10)
A kitten we found.

My District before transfers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hey Joe

First transfer: done. Training: half over. Things are falling into place, it seems. If you are unaware, a mission is broken up into 6 week-long time periods called transfers. At the end of every 6 weeks, we get in a room with our zone (around 20 missionaries), and we get the announcements of who will be going where. My training lasts 3 months, or two transfers. Then, chances are, I will be follow-up-trained – by someone who is not my current companion – for one transfer. I will see some people go, including one of my roommates; but my current companion will stay with me for the next 6 weeks to continue to train me. We only get a 2-day advance notice if we are going to move, so it is a big deal when the announcements come in.
Transfers are pretty important to missionary work. Sometimes you are in an area for 1 transfer (or 6 weeks) and other times it could be 6 (which is 9 months). It changes a lot and depends on you, God, and your mission president. You never really know if you will move to a new place and teach new people or if you will continue to teach the same people. Sometimes it will be really hard to leave investigators. Of this I am sure.
You get pretty attached to the people you teach because you have helped them change their lives. The way transfers work makes that a pretty heart wrenching experience sometimes. I hope to stay in this area for a while, but I have no idea how soon I will leave.
Whenever we have transfers our P-Day changes. So, just know that every 6 weeks I will email on Tuesday and not on Monday. For most of you: Monday night instead of Sunday night.
I find myself wanting to use the phrase "I am learning a lot" every other sentence. Just know that I learn new stuff every day, and when it is hardest – I learn more. I keep working on constant improvement and changing my perspective. I am getting much better at talking to people conversationally. Honestly, right now that is the biggest hurdle.
Conversation in Tagalog is much MUCH different than it is in English. This is also a huge culture thing. I will use this to explain a little more about culture. Last week, I talked about how important language is to the people of the Philippines. The thing about their conversation is it has to do mostly with HOW you say something, and much less about the words you use. For example: in English there are about a million ways that you can ask someone if they will come back. In Tagalog there is only one word. And they use that word for every single translation you might think of: return, come back, give back, return an item, etc… It really matters how they say the word and the context it is in. Tagalog conversation also tends to be much simpler. They hardly ever talk in complete sentences when asking for something or telling you to do something. You only tend to find full sentences when you have an extended conversation, and it is kind of hard to explain. 
Tagalesson: Going along with the above segment about how people speak I will talk about teaching. There won’t be much of anything to learn here word wise; but I have learned a lot about communication from being here. In order to connect with someone, one of the first things you need is to teach using inflection that allows them to understand what parts are more important and why they are important. For example, I was teaching a family about the importance of family strength in the gospel. Honestly, I was speaking so simply that it didn't matter what I was saying. But when I made eye contact with the mother, and told her why it was important that Christ is the center of her family – she agreed. You have to talk to people openly here, not just in the words you use but more so in how you say them. People know when your words and your tone are different from each other. I will try to follow this up with examples in later weeks but I have rambled far too long.

Wow I totally did not mean to do that, I just kept going and going. I apologize. 

Just know that the work is good and there is always room for improvement. I strive every day to become a better missionary, but it is a long road, with the best reward. It will be a long time before I am an effective teacher, but for now I am teaching people as openly as I can.


Elder Faulkner