Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26, 2013 Photos from Elder & Sister Gorringe and GROWING RICE

Photos sent to us from Elder & Sister Gorringe:

Flooding outside Mission home

Same scene 3 days later

Sister Salome Tou’anga ‘I Vaiola Hausia

At mission home for training

From Elder Gorringe on GROWING RICE
A rice field
The pictures are of the food staple, rice. The amount of labor required to plant, grow, harvest, thresh, dry (twice) and mill the rice to me is amazing. We could not do this in the U. S. Labor here is unbelievably cheap. They are paid 200-250 pesos per day and a day can be very long. The rice is planted by hand, just broadcast on the ground. When the plants are large enough, they are pulled up by hand and tied in small bundles. They are then planted in fields that have been plowed, often by carabao, and then flattened by a powered machine much like a large lawn roller that is guided by a man wading behind like a garden tiller. The planting is done by hand in very straight rows with all plants spaced evenly apart in both directions. The planters are bent over all day long. Sometime after planting, the whole field is fertilized by hand broadcasting the fertilizer.  
Tying the rice stalks in bundles by hand
Cutting the rice by hand
Drying the rice on the road
Close up of the parlay, unmilled rice drying

Yes, they use the road as a rice drying bed. There is no other place for it. This is the highway between San Marcelino and San Antonio. Yes the drying of the parlay does cause traffic problems and does sometimes get run over especially by busses.
I hope this gives you a little insight into life for many in the Philippines.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 21, 2013 Wow! I've been here 12 weeks!

The entire Dinalupihan Zone here in Pampanga, Philippines

Me and Sis Salado

Somehow we stuffed four of us inside a tricycle

Dear family,

I cannot believe that my 12 weeks is up.  That means I am officially out of training...whatever that means.  I feel like I still have a lot of training to do.  But I am officially a "regular" missionary and not a "trainee".  We have transfer day on Wednesday and I feel fairly certain that Sister Salado will train one of the new missionaries coming in (there's 30+ coming in I think) and so I think that I will get a new companion again this transfer.  But that's good, I learn a lot from every companion that I have.  Also, there's a big change coming to my area: We are receiving 2 or 4 new missionaries to the Gua Gua area which means that my area will be split into three smaller areas.  It's really good because my area is so big, but I am going to miss all the people that we've been teaching in Sta Rita!  The rumor is that they are going to put elders there and all the sister will stay in Gua Gua.  Unfortunately, we really focused on the Sta Rita area and we have baptisms next month which means that the new missionaries will get to baptize them.  Stolen baptisms!  Also, we didn't focus very much on the Gua Gua part of our area and so it's going to be like opening a new area which means a LOT of street contacting.  My favorite.  But it will be an exciting change.

FHE with Candelaria & Rodriguez families at Malig's home
This week was good because we had FHE with two less active families at a members house.  They are two REALLY poor families and they have a lot of family problems but they all had so much fun at the FHE.  They were laughing and all seemed really close as a family which is the first time I've seen that.  The teenage sons are kind of hard for their mom to deal with but at the FHE they were all so happy and enjoying each other's company.  On Sunday, we went and visited the family again and I asked how the FHE was.  The youngest daughter said "Ulitin! Ulitin!" (Repeat! Repeat!) So it was a really big hit.  And of course I was so grateful to the member family who opened up their home and cooked dinner for us all and are just such great friends to these less active families (hint, hint...).  They didn't come to church on Sunday but I feel like they will return.  They just need the missionaries, time, and some friends in the church.

This week we did a lot of follow up visits to street contacts.  I'm getting pretty good at teaching the Restoration in Tagalog.  We were also a lot busier this week and had a lot more lessons which is so good.  The key to happiness on the mission is definitely work!  The days where we don't have appointments and we do a lot of street contacting feel a lot longer than the days when we are busy.  And we don't get rejected as much in lessons as we do in street contacting!   We also visited a less active family that just moved here from Bataan.  Here they are surrounded by the husband's family who are not members and so they don't go to church.  If they are in Bataan they attend church.  But the greatest thing about them is their boys' names.  They have five boys and the fourth is named Mohonri Moriancomr.  The Filipinos really like to name their children unique names.

And we have the Tapiador family who is really progressing.  The daughters are super excited for their baptism and one of them told us that she wants to serve a mission!  I also noticed that one daughter used to wear three earrings in each ear but now she only wears one.  I'm pretty sure her step mom told her that we only wear one earring but she is so willing to do everything to prepare for her baptism. We haven't even taught her the law of chastity lesson and she's already trying to follow it!   They really are golden kids!  If only we could find more families like them.  It's fun to teach part member families because they have someone at home who can help them with all the commitments that we give them because we can't be there all the time to help them.

Palay on the streets!
Cultural note for the week:  Here in the Philippines they do not call rice "rice" at all stages.  When it is in the field and in the husk, it is called "Palay".  The husk is a yellow color.  After they gather up all the palay, they spread it out onto the street and let the sun dry it.  Once it is dry they husk it.  When is is out of the husk, it is called "Bigas" or uncooked rice.  And when it is cooked, it is called "kanin".  So complicated!  But lately there has been a lot of palay in the streets drying because we haven't had much rain.  Also, to all of you at home, please rinse your rice before you cook it!  It has been on the ground and it is super dusty.

Well, that is the report from the Philippines!  I am excited for the transfer day, I think that I will get a new companion which makes me really sad but it's kind of fun too.  And hopefully I stay in the Gua Gua area, but I guess we'll see what happens!

I know that the Church is true and I am so grateful to be here in the Philippines sharing the gospel with the people here.  It is so true the saying that the first convert on your mission is yourself.  I have already learned so so much and my testimony has been strengthened so much in just the short time that I have been here.  I know that Christ is our Savior and that He loves all of us so much and He wants all of us to magkaroon ng buhay ng walang hanggang!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Danai Sirrine

Danai's response to Parent's question about big earthquake in  Philippines:  "Yes yes, the earthquake was very far away from us and on a different island.  So we were totally unaffected by it.  We didn't even know it happened until the members told us about it."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 14, 2014 Hello!

These are most of the people from our branch that attended General Conference.  I love the Gua Gua branch!

Kumusta pamilya!

So this week was up and down (story of the mission, right?) but of course it ended great because of Conference!  So we actually got permission to attend all the sessions of Conference and I was so excited.  But then Friday night and Saturday morning we had a big baguio come through and they cancelled the Saturday broadcast.  This storm was pretty big although it didn't last very was just like what I imagine a hurricane would be like.  The wind was suuuuper strong and I was actually a little nervous although our house is quite safe.  But anyway, we were able to attend on Sunday and after the 2nd session, they broadcast the Saturday afternoon session.  So we had a conference marathon on Sunday.  The good thing is the seats were super uncomfortable so none of us were even close to falling asleep ;)   It was a super inspiring conference so I wasn't even tired although it was a long time of watching.  Isn't it funny how they always seem to be speaking right to you?  I know that you all felt that they were speaking to you as members back at home but i know that they were speaking to me as a missionary here in the Philippines.  That's the amazing thing about the gospel, it applies to everyone in every situation although we are all unique.

I feel like I have so much to improve in my teaching and my missionary work.  I loved the talk about teaching in the was so applicable to me right now!  Also, interesting thing, they didn't translate it into Tagalog, at least where we are here in Pampanga.  I asked Sister Fuentes if she thought that people understood it and she said probably a lot of them didn't.  She also said that it was translated into Tagalog in another room but probably most people are embarrassed to go in there when everyone else is out in the chapel.  I felt kind of sad, at least they should have put Tagalog subtitles.  But, I was happy that I understood the conference....

The Tapiador family.  They are so cute!
This week we found a family to teach and it was super exciting.  The mom is a member but her husband and stepchildren and daughters are not members.  So she asked us to come teach them.  The stepdaughters are really excited and accepted the baptismal date for November 10th. The mom was so happy that we were there teaching them too.  Sister Salado chose Families can be together forever as our opening hymn (we sing before every appointment) and the mom got really emotional and couldn't finish the second verse.  The spirit was really strong there.  It was so amazing to teach an entire family too because that is really what the gospel is all about: families.  Sometimes it's really hard teaching other people becasue they don't have the support system of their family with them in the church or they really want their families to become interested because they want the blessings for their families.  But I loved teaching a family where I know that they have a support system and a help (their mother) and I feel confident that they will stay active.

We also taught the daughter in law of a recent convert.  We went to his house to teach him, but he wasn't there.  She came out and told us to sit and wait.  She sat outside a little ways off while we sat and waited.  We were just about to leave when I had the thought "You need to invite her to listen to the gospel".  I didn't really want to because I've met her before and she has never been interested.  She's nice, but not interested.  But the thought wouldn't leave and so finally I got up the courage to ask if we could share with her.  She hesitated, and then said sure.  I was so surprised!!!!  We started out giving just an overview because she was very distracted with her kids but eventually we saw that she became really interested and was asking questions and answering our questions.  At the end of the lesson, Sister Salado asked her why she listened to us.  She said "Walang choice.  Pero naging interesado." (I didn't have a choice.  But it became interesting)  Later that night, Sister Salado and I laughed that she felt like she didn't have a choice, but I guess what ever gets people to listen to us!  And her father in law was so excited that she was listening to us.  He is the only member and really needs some family support.  So we are really hopeful that she could be the beginning of his family to join him in the church.  Sana!!!

During the blackout we used tuna cans for our candle holders. 
We had a blackout this week and had to plan and cook by candlelight.  We lit two candles and melted the bottoms and stuck them onto cans of tuna for candle holders.  It was quite funny looking.  Sister Makihele said "I didn't know that candles could really light up a room!"  She is definitely American.  Also, we were out working when part of the baguio hit on Thursday.  We gave up trying to use umbrellas and just used them to protect our bags.  I have never been so wet in my life!  We were soaked but super happy.  I love the big rainstorms here.  That night I was absolutely freezing though and I did not want any of the fans turned on.  I am turning Filipino!  I never thought I would ever say that I was cold here but I've actually been cold quite a few times now.  Especailly in the church where we have AC.  I'm getting to the point where I really don't like AC.  It's too cold and it dries out my skin....haha

Well, that's the highlights of the week.  Of course we had some lowlights too but that is a part of missionary work.  Sometimes, just like Alma, we have to endure some hard things (like people not being there for their appointments or not progressing) to help us realize the miracles in the good things that happen.  And to help us realize that we can't do it by ourselves.  Every success that we have is because of Jesus Christ.  I loved the talk in conference about the man who saw his boy trying to move the rock and said "You have to use ALL your strength."  The boy replied that he was.  The father said "No you're not.  You have me too."  We have to use ALL of our resources and especially Jesus Christ and his atonement.  That is the only way that we can truly have success in this life.  I know this church is true.  And I know that we can't afford to lean on anyone's testimony because it is definitely the last days.  I see that every day here in the mission.  The Lord is hastening His work because this is salvation for the souls of men and I can't even imagine how heartbroken we will be if we realize that the people that live right around us can't enjoy the blessings of salvation because we did not do our part and share it with them.  The blessings of the priesthood and the Plan of Salvation are real and everyone is looking for them.  Even if they don't realize it.  It is our responsibility to show them how to receive those blessings.

Mahal kita from Gua Gua, Pampanga, Philippines!

Sister Sirrine

Oh Yeah!  I forgot to mention that I ate blood this week.  They cook dinuguan here.  Dugo is blood.  So the sauce is blood and it's turned black because it's cooked (I'm sure there's water too) and then chicken and vegetables.  It's actually pretty good.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 6, 2013 Wow! This Week Was Fast!


Sister Salado, Sister Fuentes, Sister Makihele, and me
Julie Rodriguez, Camille Candelaria, Jenny Fajardo, and me!  I love these girls!  They always call me Sister Barbie (but that's not why I love them....)
This is the Dinalupian Zone (my zone)

Dear Family,

I can't believe that it is P-day already.  I am starting to see what all the RM's mean when they say that the time flies out on the mission.  It still feels like I have a long time to go, but then I see how fast the weeks are going and i realize that it will go really fast.

So this week was pretty good.  The highlight of the week was that we had exchanges this week and I was with Sister Makihele who has been out for only 3 weeks.  So that meant I was responsible for keeping the lessons going and understanding what they were saying to us.  I definitely had some moments where I didn't know what they were saying but I had a lot more moments where I did understand them.  I had my first lesson that I felt like I understood everything she was saying, which I know was a blessing from the Lord.

Our teaching together wasn't too bad either.  It was very basic, but I feel like we were able to teach the basic fundamentals of each lesson which is more important than being eloquent in your teaching.  I've really learned in the last few weeks that it is more important to teach very simply and really listen to what the investigator is saying.  Because really the gospel is very simple and plain to understand.  So that's how we need to teach it.  So my exchange experience gave me the reassurance that if my next companion is a foreigner, we can make it through our lessons.  (Transfer day is on oct 23 and i feel like I am going to be transferred.  But that's just my feeling)  The only bad part about the exchange was that I forgot to wear my name tag.  yep.  I couldn't believe it when I discovered it during our second lesson.  That is the first time that has happened because I usually put it on first thing after I get dressed.  But let's just say that I am even more careful now!  Good thing we were close to our apartment and could run back quick and grab it.

our housemates....cockroaches!
Interesting cultural notes for the week:  The jeepeneys don't turn off when they fill up for gas.  They just stop and get a gallon or two and then keep going because they are losing money if they stay there and wait for the gas.  So far nothing has blown up even though the jeeps are running.  Also, we were walking to one of our appointments and saw some people cooking dog.  They had the dog hung up by his legs and were burning the hair of with a torch.  It smelled TERRIBLE.  I'm really glad we don't cook dog in America.

This week we had a really inspiring zone meeting about how important planning is and how important smart planning is.  I always get so motivated during the district/zone meetings each week.  The trouble is keeping that excitement and actually applying everything.  Sometimes I feel like we don't have enough time to do everything we should to be an effective missionary.  But I know that as long as I am working hard and being diligent, the Lord will make up the difference what i can't accomplish.

The last couple weeks none of our investigators have been coming to church.  They've been reading the Book of Mormon and listening to our message, but they don't come to church.  I never realized how truly important church attendance is because we always just went to church.  But the investigators that attended church received a confirmation about the truth of our church and the Book of Mormon and the ones that didn't attended church feel like they don't have an answer.  There really is a special spirit in the church and it can be the difference in the conversions process.

We also had a less active family come to church for the first time in months.  We went and visited them later that night and asked them how it was.  They said that they felt like their day was complete.  And they were so happy while they were talking to us too.  We really focused on teaching them about the temple and eternal families yesterday because they only got married last year and have a little baby.  We could see that they really want that, especially for their little girl so I have a feeling that they will return to activity.  It just makes you feel so good when people realize the blessings of the commandments that God gives to us and that they aren't doing their commitments because they feel like the missionaries assigned it to them and they'll get in trouble if they don't do it.

Well, that's all for this week.  I love you all and hope that you have a great week!  i know this is the one and only true church!
Mahal kita!
Sister Sirrine