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


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.


Elder Faulkner

Monday, April 10, 2017

General Conference, and General Shenanigans.

So last week (and hopefully this isn't a surprise to many of you) was General conference, which means that the Prophet of the world, who is also the President of the church for which I am currently serving as a missionary for, and the apostles of the aforementioned church spoke to everyone. I say everyone because General Conference is not just a time for people of the church to hear these words, but Thomas S Monson has been called as a prophet for the whole world. He was speaking to everyone. Now I did not get the chance to hear any of the talks until this past Saturday and Sunday. This is because I live halfway around the world from where the talks were given and they couldn't get the schedules to work out so I could watch it live.
Anyways. This time to listen to people directed of God to receive revelation, for me, was quite special. I got to listen to words that were prepared for me in mind, as well as words that were prepared for all of us. I don't want to understate the importance of this time, so I will invite you all to listen for yourself as all the talks can be found on HERE.
It is a really cool experience to dedicate two days to this event, and see how much it can impact people in their lives. We heard many testimonies of truth and many statements of confirmation of things that we know to be true. I think that too often we understate how important a living prophet is to our world. 
Other than General Conference this week, we had a very good time teaching and finding. Elder Rasmussen and I are still enjoying our findings and work, but we are working on bringing our teaching style into one that bespeaks the importance of commitments and change in our investigators. We are trying to change peoples lives here and save their souls. The worst is when they don’t understand the gravity of the message because we couldn’t explain it well enough.
Other than that, the work is moving along nicely and we are going to see a lot of progress in our investigators as we teach them the necessary steps of repentance and teaching them the Plan of salvation. Having done a lot of finding the last few weeks, we aim to move forward with teaching those new investigators and constantly work with them to feel the spirit of the lord testify of the truth to them.
Culture: Tambay (To do nothing or to “hang out”.) Filipinos love doing this. When you tambay, you kind of just sit around and sing, or talk to your friends with no real purpose. We are also in an area where there are many people that tambay outside of our house all the time. This makes it easy to talk to them, and start simple conversations to practice the language. Often times when you approach a group of people on the street and ask them what they are doing, the answer is just “Tambay”. This is a word with a lot of meaning because it fills in so much of the youth's time. But in the end, it has little meaning as nothing really gets done. I love Tambay.
Tagalesson: Today we will learn how to ask what someone is doing and how to ask if they are good at certain tasks.
“Ano ang ginagawa mo?” (What are you doing?)
“Tumatambay-lang ako. “ (I’m just doing nothing)
“Sige-lang Marunong ka ba na magguitara?” (Well then, are you good at playing guitar?)
“oo” (yes)
“Astig, may guitara ako. Tambay na tayo.” (Cool I have a guitar, lets hang out.)

Keep in mind random questions to people aren’t invasive here, it is chill to ask almost any question of any person at any time.
Welp I love you all and I hope that you are doing well. I encourage you all to read the words spoken in General Conference, or watch the recordings. 

Elder Faulkner

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sumasayaw and isang babaeng lasing. (A drunk Lady dancing.)

The other night Elder Rasmussen and I were walking down the street, when we saw a very drunk homeless lady dancing in the street. This was not an exceptionally weird occurrence, but it was strange enough to throw me off guard. She seemed to not care about anyone that was watching her. There was a decent crowd with at least one person taking a video. I don’t really know why I am including this in this email, but I jokingly told Elder Rasmussen I would – and I don’t want to be a liar. All I know about the lady is that she danced for at least 30 minutes. (I know this not because we watched her, but because she was very much still there when we came back that way – on our way home.) Also she was dancing to a Colbie Caillat song if you are interested.
Anyways I should probably update you all on the actual work now. I really like it here, and I think that we have some good investigators. Some people here are very very hesitant to keep commitments that we have extended to them, but that was true of my last area as well. I think that we will have to do a very good job at explaining why things like going to church are important; right now that is one of our weak points. We are good at teaching the lessons now, and can even make them applicable; but it is hard to bridge the gap. It feels like we are working from the ground up but at the same time I think that the work is going fast and that we are making good progress.
Elder Rasmussen and work well together, the companionship unity is getting better every day. That being said, we still have a lot to work on in our companionship – as neither of us are amazingly experienced. We are having fun talking to people on the street. People are amazed when two tall white guys walk down the street and have (mostly) fluent conversations in Tagalog. I think we support each other nicely, and while our teaching styles are a little different, they also fill in the gaps that the other levels.
People are surprised when they realize we are able to communicate with them. And generally, we are pretty effective at it. Also, I am still at the point where I am young enough in the mission to tell someone that I have only been in the field around 3 months and that Elder Rasmussen has only been in around 8 and they almost let us in the door on that fact alone. We just need people to keep commitments now.
This week has been pretty good and I am getting a lot more comfortable in my new area. SJ North is a fun place to live. We are supposed to get a rainy season in the coming months. I kind of hope to see a few baguio (typhoons or hurricanes) while I am here in the mountains.
Culture: Malls: so the middle class here is massive. One thing that people think of with the Philippines is the amount of poverty, which is certainly a factor. But in reality, there are an absolute ton of people and a decent amount of those fall somewhere in the middle class income bracket. That isn’t saying that poverty doesn’t exist here: that is the majority. But many, many people have cars and go to the mall. There are 3 major types of malls: Robinsons, SM, and Starmall. Robinsons is like an enlarged Nordstroms, with a few normal stores in it as well. SM is the most like anything you might see in America. Starmall is pretty decent too (it is where I am right now). They are air conditioned and have stores so people use malls to get out of the heat.
Language: Small colloquial language:
Barkada: Squad or small group of friends
Tara Na: Lets go (lets bounce)
Grabi: Intense (akin to Savage)
Magdab: To Dab
Huwag Ako, Iba na Lang: expression meaning "Don't me, others only." roughly meaning: Dont be like that to me, I’ve had enough.
If you use these enough you will sound like a teenage Filipino – I almost guarantee it
Either way the work is going well enough. I am still learning a lot, but I am also pretty happy with where I am at in the language, and in teaching. It is living proof that if you throw yourself at your problems and have the right kind of help that you can overcome a lot.
I hope that all is going well back home. Keep up the amazing.


Elder Faulkner