Monday, March 27, 2017

Sapang Palay (Rice Creek)

This was my first week in Sapang Palay, in the SJDM North Zone. My new companion is Elder Rasmussen, he is an American from Virginia, that has been in the mission for around 8 months now. At first I was kind of nervous that, as two Americans, we would have a lot of problems with teaching and finding people. In reality though, it hasn’t been like that at all. He is a pretty great guy and we are able to evaluate after every lesson how we did and what we can do better. It is nice because we both know that we are struggling with the language and are not perfect, so we rely on God and the spirit to do most of the work that we can’t do.
At the same time, I think having an American as my companion is encouraging me to work a lot harder because he cant save me when things go badly! It is really fun to work together, to talk to people on the street. We don’t often find ourselves in situations where we are outright confused, so I think we are doing well. 
We have actually found a good amount of investigators that are pretty interested. Our companionship goal for this transfer is to prepare 12 baptisms for the month of May (The month after this transfer ends). We are both excited. Our goal is to set up 3 for every week in May. If we work hard enough, I think that we can hit that goal and have a lot of progression. 
Like I said before I came here Sapang Palay is on top of a mountain. It is a really cool area and beautiful as well. You can look to the mountain and see shacks built up the side it. It is amazing to see how people live here, as the economy is not as good as Malolos. It is also more hilly, so we have to do a decent amount of walking. We get tired pretty fast. It is the start of the Hot Season, and very wet here. It is especially difficult in the middle of the day when you are walking a long distance.       

Pretty much the best part of living here tho, is the Tindahan that is literally attached to our house, you don’t have to walk more than 10 steps out the door and say "May bili" to get food in the morning. It is fantastic! The lady that works there is a member of the church, and our landlord. Basically that means she loves missionaries and we are always buying things from her. I attached a picture. The other amazing thing in our house is that we have a real weight; it is around 60 or 70 pounds, so it is good for curls but I am still working on how to add weight to it so it will be better for benching. I have attached pictures of both the bench press and the Tindahan for you. The other two pictures are taken from our backyard.

Culture: Managing stores: This is sometimes a big thing that keeps people from being able to go to church. The way these Tindahans work makes running them simple. So simple that sometimes younger children (around 14 years old) will be asked to run it. Oftentimes the store doesn’t make up all the income for a family, but it is more often used to supplement income from another job. In a nutshell, the Tindahan pays for things that you don’t need, but are nice to have. MOST things are only nice to have. Things that we might count as "Needs" are really only nice to have. Back to Tindahans – someone always needs to be at the shop so the family won’t lose that important income. This can be a real challenge when inviting people to church because they are not able to leave the store.
Tagalesson: “Daw”. Daw is the best word sometimes, even in complete English conversations we will use this word because it is useful in almost all circumstances. It marks a quote from someone whether direct or indirect. it can also be used to push away an idea from the speaker, the same way we use the word "Apparently". For example: Why did he get in trouble? Oh he wasn’t getting up on time daw.
You use daw there to say that your information is coming from somewhere else, that it isn’t you who knew it. This really helps when people say things like "Well you said _______." You just tell them “Daw” and all is forgiven.

I hope you like the pictures from Sapang Palay, it is a fantastic area. Hopefully soon I will have some really cool stories about the people here, I already have some that maybe I might be able to share later.

The last thing I would like to remind you all of is my invitation to read the Book of Mormon this year. It will help your life. If you haven't started, I highly recommend it. That one simple thing is often the difference between someone who doesn't understand why the missionaries are there talking to them, and someone who has a knowledge of the truth of God.


Elder Faulkner

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Malilipat Ako. (I will move)

So we have talked about transfers before and I believe around 6 weeks ago I said something to the effect that I would be staying in Malolos for a long time. It is very apparent that that is not true, I will be leaving my area tomorrow and moving to San Jose Del Monte North. I will have a new companion, and Elder Jucutan will stay in Malolos. I am excited to move on and go to a new area – but at the same time, I am sad to leave the people I have come to know and teach. As a missionary, you establish strong bonds with people as you come to learn about their lives and urge them to improve. My new companion will be Elder Rasmussen, he is an American as well, and he has been in the mission about 8 months now. I am also moving to Elder Meyer's (my Zone leader and roommate) old area. He has told me a lot about it and I am excited to move on and meet people in this new area.
In San Jose Del Monte North (Or SJDM North for short) I will be on top of the mountains. I am really excited because I will get to see a very different culture there. In Malolos, they speak the deepest (oldest) Tagalog in the world. People in the SJDM use more English and their Tagalog might be easier to understand. I am kind of sad to leave Malolos because I have been pushed to use Tagalog and not rely on English. I to keep it that way, but I am afraid that my Tagalog will suffer if I do not have to use it as often.
So far, I have been doing alright in the language. I am excited to have an American companion; hopefully he will further my understanding of the rules of Tagalog. I hope to learn a lot from my time with Elder Rasmussen. My Zone leader told me he is pretty sure I will stay in SJDM for around 6 months, because I moved out of my training area so quickly. I like the idea of being there so long because it will allow me to watch the area progress and I will be able to help the people there for longer. 
Still sad to go though. I will be leaving some good friends behind tomorrow; but I know I will make new friends and find new people everywhere I go. That is one of the best parts of being a missionary – no matter where you go, your call is to talk to people and help them in life, however you can. Teaching and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings you close to people and establishes strong relationships. 
We had another baptism on Saturday. The baptizee was Stella Gomez and she was a great investigator. I have a lot of hope that she will continue to learn and be strengthened in the church. I got to conduct the ordinance of baptism. This was my first time baptizing anyone. It was a very amazing experience. As I said last week: when you utilize power given of you by God to change someone’s life, giving them a gift like that, it is overwhelming. The words (if you are not familiar with them) in the baptism are " (insert name). Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." I have received a commission from Jesus Christ to bring people to Him and to teach them the way. It is quite humbling when I think about it.
Culture: “Videoke”: It is like karaoke, but they will have some kind of video going in the. Everyone does this and, just like in the US, almost no one is good at it. People rent Videoke to celebrate a birthday or big event. Sometimes they have a pretty decent stereo and you can hear it several houses away. It is a very interesting part of their culture. People here love to sing, regardless if they are good or not. That is another way I fit in very well.
Tagalesson: Since I am leaving I will give you all some words about moving, or traveling in the Philippines.
Sakayan: Any form of travel or transportation
Malipat: To move
Malilipat: Will move
Pupunta: will go
Saan: Where
So now that we have these words, let’s put them in a sentence to find our way in the Filipino world:

“Saan ang mga Sakayan pupunta sa _______ (insert place)”: "Where is the transportation going to __________?”

“Malilipat ako sa SJDM North”: "I will move to SJDM North"

Welp there you have it, now you can tell people where you are going and ask how to get there. I wish you luck in making it around the Philippines, especially in understanding people's replies to your questions ;)

I hope that you all have a wonderful week and feel God’s love for you. God loves you, not in a general sense, but He knows you and cares for every choice in your life. He loves you more than you know.

Elder Faulkner


At the top: I got a Hello Kitty Face mask for sleeping. Deal with it.

I found a pile of Hay

Baptism of Stella:

Monday, March 13, 2017

Solid 7 on a scale of 10.

We had two baptisms on Saturday, and we have another planned for this coming Saturday. Toby and Kyel Esguera got baptized on the 11th and their cousin Stella Gomez will be baptized on the 18th. I got to do the ordinance of Confirmation (Confirming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost). That was my first time doing that. One thing that I know: The Priesthood is power given to people – by God. I could feel the power of the ordinance as I was conducting it. I would not even begin to do something like that if I did not 100% believe that I have the power and authority directly from God to do that, in His name. The same goes for the baptism of Stella. On the 18th, I will be the one to baptize Stella, in the name of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I would not take part in such an event unless I knew the power of the Priesthood. 

We have had a pretty eventful week here in Malolos full of Zone interviews, Long days, and the above-mentioned ordinances. The best days are the ones where you get back to the house, look in the mirror, and say "I did a good job." When you know you put in a good effort, you look at yourself in a different light. That is a huge thing in missionary work. You have a lot of hard days. It is easy to think that it isn't worth it to keep going, or to try your hardest – but it always is.
Life in the Philippines is really cool. Either I am starting to think that it isn’t that different here, or I am starting to forget what it is like in America. I have an American roommate; his name is Elder Meyer. We often talk about restaurants back home and other things like that. It is weird that most of those things are removed from my life now. I find that I don’t miss them all that much. It is hard to miss things when you are so distracted with the work.
Culture: Food. Filipinos eat a whole lot of rice. Rice is a cheap food. We will go to restaurants that provide an entree and unlimited side rice, for only 50-60 peso (which is about a dollar). Then you eat your entree very slowly, and as much rice as you can possibly eat in one setting. It is a great thing overall. Other times, we will cook our own rice and make our own ulam (the stuff that goes on the rice). But that is less frequent. So all of you hoping I would learn to cook here are kinda out of luck (sorry mom)...

Tagalesson: Rice. There are at least 3 different words for rice that you might use to describe where the rice is in the process of making its way to your plate.
"Palay": rice that is planted and very much not ready to be eaten. When you see a rice field (Called a "palayan") that is all "Palay".
"Bigas": I would also not recommend eating this, as it denotes uncooked rice – the kind you might purchase at a store prior to cooking it yourself. If you cook rice at home, you are probably quite familiar with Bigas. A place that sells Bigas might be called "Magbibigas" or "Bigasan".
"Kanin": Cooked rice. We finally made it to the stuff you want to put in your mouth. This is a large portion of the Filipino diet, and it is useless to try to go more than a few days without eating it here.
I hope you feel enlightened in the ways of rice. I am actually kind of thankful that they have 3 words for rice (At least 3 common ones. There are more) because it helps differentiate.
Anyways keep it up back home. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Which is Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) is the plan of God for us to be able to return to Him. He has given to us priesthood authority for us to accomplish His purposes, and He loves us. He wants us to have everything we need to return to Him, and He mourns when we don’t use it adequately.
God is a Father, our Father.

Elder Faulkner

Monday, March 6, 2017

Huwag Mong Pasaway. (Don't be disobedient)

How are you doing today? I want you to really think about the question. We ask about 100 people every day how they are and oftentimes we get the exact same answer. I think we often overlook our own wellbeing. We don't think about how we are doing. Even if we do, we often overlook doing small things that can increase the quality of our lives. "Going through the motions" includes believing we are okay, when in fact – we could be living a much higher privilege in life. I invite you to take a minute to think about your own health right now. What you can do to improve it Mentally, Physically, Spiritually, and Emotionally? Doing this will set you free, (hopefully).
I am coming to really appreciate a lot of things here. Even though life is hard, people are generally very happy with their lives. I realize that I have a lot in every single aspect of my life. Now, I have a great opportunity to share the truth that I know. 
This week has been uneventful, not ‘gonna lie. We did have a very good Sunday yesterday. Testimony meeting was wonderful, and we had several investigators. It reminded how important attending church in in the gospel. It isn't about going to the building and sitting somewhere for three hours; it is about adding to the spiritual experience of others, and creating one for yourself.
Culture: Religion. Around 85% of the population is Catholic. This is a huge part of the work here. We teach a lot about Christ and how HE is the center of our religion. We take a long time to teach why Christ is important and what He expects of us. There are pictures of Christ in every single home and on every single Jeep and most cars. But not everyone thinks of the real impact Christ can have in their lives – that is what we are for.
Tagalesson: Simple Questions.
Ano ang Pangalan mo? "What is your name?"
Ilan Taon Ka Na?: "How old are you?"
Kumusta Po Kayo?: "How are you?"
Saan Ka Pupunta? "Where are you going?"
Kumain Ka Na Ba?: "Did you eat?"
Saan Ka Galing?: "Where are you coming from"

It is pretty much okay to ask these questions to anyone at anytime – even if you don’t know them at all. It is perfectly acceptable to walk up to someone you have never met before and ask them where they are going. They are open and welcoming to answer those questions. It is a different culture.
I hope that all is going well back home, Sorry there are no picture again this week I have to work on taking picture more often. Keep on staying strong. I know Christ lives. I know He will help you every time you ask for His help and then get to work.


Elder Faulkner

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Road to Demascus

There is a video on the Mormon channel on YouTube, called "The road to Damascus." I encourage all to watch it. We are all on a road somewhere, and it is completely up to you what path you are on and how comfortable you are with where you are going.

One of my favorite teachers of all times is Paul. He makes an account of the change that he underwent in the New Testament. I think that when we stand at the threshold of knowledge and the threshold of understanding and choose not to act – we are limiting our mortal experience. Many people here in the Philippines will listen to what we have to say. We get a whole lot of people that we can teach and invite to action. There is, however, a huge gap between the number of people we teach and the number of people that choose to be agents unto themselves and ask God to know the truth. This week the whole mission was ministered unto by an apostle of God: David A Bednar. He taught us that the only way to know truth of spiritual things is to learn it through the Holy Ghost. Sometimes it is really hard to see people let us in and listen, but then not act.
This week, I learned again the worth we have as humans. We are not objects here on earth; the gift of free agency is pretty much the most important things that we could ever have. We all have the ability to be agents unto ourselves, every single person that you meet, yourself included, has the ability to respond to every situation and act – instead of being acted upon. I think that many people do not understand the importance of their choices. We are here on earth to be agents unto ourselves, to make decisions every day that determine who we will be for eternity. 
We receive strength to do hard things as we get up and start to do them. One thing I learned this week is that we receive answers and strength from God based on our willingness to act when we will receive our answer. As a missionary, this is so important. I only get words to say to people when I start talking – never before. I know now more surely that I get the words to speak when I am talking not when I am waiting there for words to come. 
This all ties together because it is really, really difficult for us to find answers when we are not actively seeking them. Because of this, I am trying to change the way I work as a missionary. Every lesson, I try to tell people that if they really want to know, they must be prepared to act. I try every single lesson to give to people the invitation to change their life – sometimes drastically. Before my mission, I was pretty scared to go and tell people to change their lives. Now I really appreciate the opportunity I have to help people see the way to change and see what their lives could be better because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am really sorry if that seemed a little preachy, but I am a missionary...
This week we had my first opportunity to see the whole mission in one place. People rejoiced at seeing their friends and old companions. It was weird being with all these people in my mission that I do not know. But I think it will be fun when I know more people and can see them again.
Culture: Tindahan: Every 5-10 houses or so is a little shop that sells small food items and other things like laundry soap. People use this as their way of living. They buy in bulk from the grocery store and sell them for a slightly higher price (normally only 3-5 pesos more). Honestly it is pretty convenient. If I want a snack in the middle of the day – it is always right there. This allows communities to work a lot smoother because the people tend to buy food day by day instead of once a week.

Tagalesson: How to buy things: 
“Magkano?”: "How much?" use this and point to ask how much something costs.
“May bili”: "There is a purchase." We use this when the person is not paying attention and you want to buy something.
“May _____ po ba kayo?”: "Do you have ____?" This is used to ask if they have the thing that you are looking for.
Welp now you know how to buy foods, I am sure that the nanay running the store will be impressed with you.

Also I am very much out of time. I love you all and I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Next week should be a normal week in terms of emailing. :D


Elder Faulkner