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Somehow, two years have passed. And Dallin will be flying back to the states on March 26th. It has been quite the adventure! I will encourage him to add his own summary when he gets back...(Living the good life in the Philippines, Quezon City North Mission. Entered the MTC in Provo on April 4, 2012. Flew to the Philippines on Sunday, May 13, 2012. What a great adventure! And what an honor to serve the good people of the Pines!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Johnny on the spot, the oval office, the think tank!!

Well hello hello, all of you happy people!!!

I suppose this means week one is down and out for the count!!! KO'd! Well, I'll be honest, it's been a veryyyyy long week. Which technically means it was a very long weeeeeeek. I'll get back to where I left off last week I suppose. Now, all person's living or dead that are reading this hereby must acknowledge the fact that some events may and in fact probably possibly will be slightly dramatized or exaggerated for the benefit of who knows, and also, due to time and a slightly forgetful memory, partially brought on by extreme heat and excessive Tagalog, there may be some events that are left out. My apologies to all.

So on day one here in my lovely new home, I was unleashed upon the poor unsuspecting people with one of the ZL's. We hit up the computers and did email. That was where we talked last. Afterwards, we went down the street to....the mall. WHAA? Yep, stepped inside and besides the guards carrying AK-47s and the many philippinos, it could have been the US! It was huge, it was full, it was cold, it was homeish. But we didn't stay long. Printed off some pics and hit the pavement. We went and said goodbye to all of the families he'd been teaching because he was getting transferred. That was cool. A good intro to Tagalog. I got to say a little, but there wasn't much I could say. I mostly listened. And, I understood....nothing!!!! AHHH! But it was still fun. The Elder in question was Elder Jolley. The guy is a total boss. He was way nice to me and everyone we met. He would push tricycle drivers uphill when they were struggling. And he bought me a few treats. Welcome welcome little elder. Favorite, hands down, buco juice!! Tis coconut juice with little coconut floaties in it. MMM boy. Yes please!! At the end of the day, I went back to the Mission home and had dinner with the AP's and the mission president and his wife. We were then released to prepare for bed. Wonderful shower!! There was a fantastic thunderstorm. And then I clocked out. Hardcore. Morning came and with it came breakfast, and a quick meeting with the AP's. An interview with the mission pres. And then off to transfer meeting!!

My comp is none other than one of the former AP's! Elder Quinney. They told me as soon as I met him that he was coming back into the field to be a trainer. I thought he was dope, so I hoped that he'd be my comp. But there were a lot of new missionaries, so who knows. But yes, he and I have been assigned together. Being as he's my trainer, we have at least 12 weeks, or 2 transfers together. But, he's only looking at 4 months left in the field, so I might be with him til he goes. But who knows??

Anywho, this man is very much an American. Comes from Bountiful Utah. The guy is a champ. Speaks Tagalog like a boss. Studies like a boss. Works like a boss. Helps me out....like a boss. But we'll talk more about him as the email goes on. Lets keep up with the story!

So we right after transfer meeting, we pulled our 4000 pesos out of the bank for our next 2 weeks or so. Then we loaded up in jeepneys and headed out to our area. We are assigned in Ampid, in San Mateo. Tis a niceish area. We have an apartment with a philippino companionship. Elder Batan and Elder Genada. They are pretty cool, but it's hard to communicate with them. The apartment, is....well, perspective. Before I came out, I would have said it was decently lame. The screens don't all close all the way, so we've got a lot of mosquitoes and a few cockroaches. We have a couple of little lizard friends too. I don't know if that's on account of the windows or the fact that the doors don't reach all the way to the floor. Oh well. The water at first, had a leakage problems in the shower head of the other companionship's bathroom, and in order to not have the water bill through the roof, we had to turn the water off using the main line shut off most of the time. Annoying. Elder Quinney and I sleep on little mats on the floor. No shower, fans only, and at the first, no food!! Hm. Issue. Well, after a few days we figured out the water problem, so we can leave it on all the time now. Usually. They are doing construction on the back of our house and the workers shut it off sometimes. Oh well. No shower. We use buckets. At first I didn't like it, but now, i'm thinking that's how I'll do it when I get home too. It's not bad and it saves water!! Fans instead of AC. NOOObody has AC! Tis the way of the Philippines. And as I've adjusted to the heat a little, a fan is all I need. They are amazing!! And after a few days of almost fasting, we did hit a store and fill the place with food, so that problem is solved too. Not bad at all!! So the house is just great! The only problem is that it's not in our area, so we have to do a bit of walking just to get to the area. But even that problem is fixed because we found a new place in the middle of our area and we'll be moving in soon. So, all is well.

As far as things go here. The last elders in charge of our area were a slight bit lazy on the area book. So we showed up and had some names for investigators and less actives and such, but no addresses and the notes for teaching were practically non-existant. So the first two days or so, we just went out and found people. That actually ended up being very successful! After lunch on day one, we were walking down a street. Everyone calls out to us, usually hey joe, or what's up man, or what's your name. But this guy said hey elders! So we went to talk to him. Usually if they know you're elders, there is something different about them. This guy was a tricycle driver. He'd talked to the other missionaries a couple of times and he new one member. So we found their house. The Marzan family. Their son was home and took it upon himself to be our tour guide for the rest of the day. We met a lot of members! It was awesome! Day 2, the ward mission leader came and worked with us. We went and found a lot of less actives and some other members. We pretty much scoped out the whole area. There are a few families that are well off out here. And of course, when I say that, I mean their houses are as nice as our missionary apartment or maybe even a little nicer. But for the most part, not nice. Most of the homes here are like children's backyard forts. Take plywood, some metal scraps, maybe two by fours if you're lucky and throw it together. A lot of houses are made from just cinder blocks. They just do not have much here. It's so crazy. The people are soo humble. But most families still offer us something when we come. It's amazing to me. They're so poor. Luckily, there are some amazing places near us for groceries. There are some walmartish stores. Not nearly as nice but still pretty good.

But we found some new investigators right off. That's been nice. But for the most part, we are trying to work with inactives and less actives. There are a lot of those. It's still beastly hot here! We walk a lot of miles in the day to talk to people. But our message for the most part is well received. We went to church sunday, and were the first ones there. The chapel is actually pretty nice. But no one showed up til about game time. And the bishop had the key to open the place up and he was way late. Church actually started about 30 minutes late. But we introduced ourselves to the ward. That was nerve wracking. Except that we'd met a lot of them already. The members are very willing to help out with missionary work. We have a lot of youth that are ward missionaries that will come out and work with us. That's been awesome!

We had our first good rain on sunday. When it rains here, it rains hard! The rain comes down soo thick! It didn't rain for more than 30 minutes, but it filled the streets with several inches of water. Flooding the sidewalks. The umbrella keeps my head dry, but the rest of me got soaked! But, I'm such a child that it was just fun!! Ha, I was laughing the whole way through the streets. We had a meeting after church and then we went to visit different people. A lot of walking in the rain. It was soo fun!! Loved it! It rains every day, but nothing else too big yet.

We have one investigator that is our "full time investigator". He came to church sunday. I guess he's been coming for 2 years. But no baptism? The members told us he had an issue with Joseph Smith. Ah, no problem!! We can handle that! We went to teach him yesterday. We had two ward missionaries come with us and one return missionary sister. Quite and army. The guy is a former preacher, judge, and policeman. Which I didn't register at first, but he's big into evidence and taking everything by the word. We started by watching a movie on the restoration. The spirit was so strong!! I felt like this would go way well! But ha, no. This guy just liked to argue. He had a big hang up because of one word in Joseph Smith history. Easy explanation, but he was so excited that he thought he'd found a loop hole in our doctrine that he wouldn't even let us talk. We just looped for two hours! He kept coming back to the same thing. We realized quickly that we were getting no where and he was just having fun arguing, but he wouldn't let us leave. It was really frustrating! So, that was probably the least favorite lesson so far. But it was ok, cuz we followed it up and ended the day with about 3 more killer lessons!! It's been awesome out here so far!!

Back to rain. Sorry this is so random, but there is a ton to write about and I'm just writing as it comes. When it rains, a ton of frogs hop through the street and a ton of them get run over!! It's like worms in Utah only they are frogs!! It's sad but kind of funny!!

I've seen a few rats out here. Kind of gross.

The people here throw trash everywhere. It's really sad, cuz they don't seem to care. It's a beautiful place but at the same time, it's so dirty!! But the place is awesome!! Picture Swiss Family Robinson! All manner of tropical trees and plants everywhere!! So cool! I'll get y'all some dope pictures as soon as I can!

Cats and dogs are skinny and yucky out here for the most part. Interesting side note.

Today we went to the temple. That was awesome!! Once a transfer we get to go. It was great! Really pretty small. But great. And in English! It was like being home. And one word: memorized!! Finally!! Anyway.

G-ma, thanks for the handkerchiefs. Never for the nose (gross!) but for the sweat, oh yes. Constantly keeping me dry!! Thank you!!

Hahaha, another interesting note: no toilet paper. But embrace the culture. That's all I have to say. And it's not bad. Moving on!!!

I love the kids out here!! They are all so fun! They want to speak English with you. But it's really fun to reply in Tagalog cuz they are always shocked! They will be the best teachers for a little bit. They speak simply. But they are still way above my level. I'm having the hardest time understanding out here. In the lessons, I can usually follow about 30%. But in everyday speech, I don't follow much. It's maddening. But it'll come. Only with the Lord's help. But it'll come!!

The food is great!! Lots of rice with random stuff. An egg and a hot dog with rice is not an uncommon thing to see. And surprisingly, it's good! Haha, I'll have interesting eating habits when I get home! Meat and rice though pretty much. OHHH!! There is a thing called Zagu!! Oh yes!! Soo good!! It's pretty much a smoothie. Love it to death!!

Elder Nelson is coming out to the mission on Friday!! WOOOHOO!! I'm way excited for that!!

Well, time is almost up I think, so I'll be closing up pretty soon. It has been soo amazing to hear from the fam!! I loved all your emails!! I'm sorry if I don't have time to reply to everyone, but there's a lot to say in my first email. So, sorry!! But going from tons of mail every day and email once a week, to no mail and only email once a week is quite a transition! So it was way nice to hear from you all! Thank you!! I will admit, I've been a little home sick this week. It's been a huge transition. Feeling like I don't understand anyone and everything is new, and it's always hot....it has just seemed sometimes like two years will be a very long time. Like that language will never come. And being so foreign here, well, it's easy for a chap to miss home. But don't you worry one bit!! The mission is going very well! That only happens when I have time to sit around and feel sorry for myself. Most of the time, we keep really busy and work hard!! And in PMG, somewhere it says something about the best cure for that is work!! And it's true!! I really am loving the work that's happening here! It's soo awesome!!! And the emails have helped! And the pillowcase is bomb too!! Thank you all!

So, even though yesterday's lesson with the preacher man kind of stunk, there was an upside to it as well. He questioned our beliefs a lot and the basis of our beliefs. He wanted to know how and why we believed. Was it just because all of our friends and family did? We told him we knew through prayer and the feeling that came along with it. He questioned that as well. How can you know based on feelings??? The man was frustrating!! But at the same time, it gave me a chance to look at it all. Think about what I know and how I know it. Tis a good thing!! I can tell you what I know, because I know it's true. There is no denying it!! "I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it". People I know can fall away from the church, and it would be a sad thing. But my testimony is not based on other people and what they know and say is true. My testimony is based upon Jesus Christ and His gospel. My testimony comes from a witness from the Holy Ghost! Not just a weird feeling in my heart or a made up thought in my head, but a pure feeling of peace and sureness through my whole being. I KNOW this gospel is true. There is no doubt in my mind. And no one can take that from me.

So there is always something good in a seemingly bad situation. Take that as your lesson from the field this week!! Anyway, I'll try to get emails to everyone, and if not, you'll be hearing from me again next week!! My p-day should usually be on monday. So be prepared!! And don't leave me hanging!!! Thank you all for the support!!! I love you all!! Take care!!

Much love,

Elder Christensen 

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