Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 24, 2014 - MTC

I honestly can't believe that I'm halfway through my stay here! In one week, I get my travel plans, with all the itinerary and tickets. This is becoming way too real. In the last week, a couple of our teachers have been talking a lot about just life in the field, and the mission itself. And while I don't want to sound too proud of my fortunes, Cebu Mission is the place to be. Brother Pasikala spent a ton of time in Dumaguete, on Negros, and he said that was the place to be, that it's a super great place, and Negros is generally cooler than Cebu and Bohol. So hope for plenty of time there, for sure. But they've all been telling us all about where to get the best ties and all these people in the city where you can get custom made suit for like $20, and just that you can get anything you want there. Everything they were saying really just sounded like what Dad said: it's the free market in action.  And they've also told is all about the many ways to kill a rat and other various animalia. It's definitely a whole new world I'm heading in to. 

The language is just getting better. Our teachers keep talking about different principles and stuff, and how it make sense in their Cebuano mind. One of these things is Time Particles, which sound like some kind of super cool thing, but which just don't really remotely make sense in English. If you say something "pa", then it's something that hasn't happened yet, or is still going to happen, and something "na" is something that is going to happen anymore or something like that. It just really kind of doesn't make sense, but for a fleeting moment, I began to really understand it and it was like the entire language was starting to come together before my eyes. I just can't wait for that to actually happen, and I'll just understand what people are saying, not just the simple gospel stuff the teachers say now. One of the learning tools we have is the TRC, where once a week we have people from the area who know Cebuano come in, and we just talk to them and teach a lesson. So it's basically all just RM's, but still, it was an awesome experience last week, because we were able to hear the language how actual people speak it, not just the teachers' stuff. It was really cool. Also, this phonetic language is killing my spelling. I've noticed in writing that sometimes I really have to focus on the spelling of English words. This is somewhat concerning.

This is definitely a place of great spirit. I can really feel this, and I've seen this in the growth that has happened in all of my zone. We've really grown together, and we're starting to get through this. On the halfway mark, Elder Crandall and I switched seniority, so now I'm our junior companion. Since the other companionship of elders has the zone leaders and a district leader, that makes me the lowest man in the zone! But that's okay, I can focus more on learning EVERYTHING. But it's really been great. For Tuesday's devotional, the choir sang this arrangement of Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer, from an Ensign contest a few years ago. You should find it, it was really an amazing song.

I just want to share a story. The other day at lunch, I was sitting alone, waiting for my people to show up. (our whole zone usually sits together,) when this little senior sister, Sister Mead, asked to sit next to me. I said sure, but I was kind of not feeling up to conversation. But We started talking, and she is serving in Los Angeles with a group of elders going out in a program that's just starting, teaching Iranian Farsi-speaking people in the States. She said her mission was fulfilling her Patriarchial blessing, which said that she would teach her people the Gospel. So she told her story of her father, who had read the New Testament and decided that he wanted to live like Christ. Then she, growing up in Iran, went to Catholic School, and learned all that, but it wasn't enough. So she moved to Germany, where she learned a lot about Protestants, but it wasn't enough. She ended up in Geneva in this lesson taught by missionaries, and she wanted to know more, but they couldn't actively proselyte because of their local laws. But she eventually got a Book of Mormon, and reading it, knew it was more than just a history, as they said. She told me that she knew how it felt, to have one's soul hunger for truth, to want and need to know more, and that there were millions of people across the world just like her. We have a map in the central building of all the missions, and the big grey area between the Sahara and China where there are no missionaries is juts foreboding and incredible, there are literally billions of people who have absolutely no access to the gospel. But the work that Sister Mead is doing is helping to break that. The effect her mission to Persian people could, and likely will have, was incredible to me. 

I know that I have been prepared for this work, and I know that I am here for a reason, on the Lord's errand. I am very thankful for all the help and support I have received from my family throughout my life. 

Elder Adam Dunford

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 17, 2014

Kamusta mo!

P day. Making good use of our sandals
So the thing with Cebuano is, the alphabet is all phonetic, so it's pronounced the way it's written, except b's and v's, and p's and f's are kind of nebulous . Though I hesitate saying this because Dad'll just mispronounce things with a surety now. 

But things are going really good now! It's really warming up here, the snows all melting and there's robins and blue jays around, and the world feels alive. Where was this last year? I've really gotten a hold of the schedule and all, I just can't believe it's already p-day again! The time is really starting to fly by. 

So apparently earlier this week they were doing a big training for a bunch of new MTC presidents, for the international MTCs. So a good number of apostles were here, as far as the word goes. But At the Tuesday Devotional, we had Elder Bednar speak! I was really an incredible talk. Apparently he was just here on Christmas day, and during the devotional they passed out phones to missionaries that they could just text questions in to him, and Elder Bednar would just answer them on the spot. So this week, he and his wife had prepared some stuff for some of the questions they didn't get to, and it was great because they were the kind of questions that would be helpful to have for investigators. but overall, it was really an incredible talk. And I was able to sing in the choir, we sang Nearer, My God, To Thee. The chorister guy is super cool, he always gives all this backstory to the author and about the song itself.  Oh, and we also have Sunday Devotionals, and last week the MTC Administrator spoke, President Stevenson, who is a Cache Valley/Aggie man.

All of our teachers (/investigators, we're teaching our teachers lessons. It can be really fun when they act like a full-cebuano who you just walked into their house. We're making progress.) went to our mission, or Tacloban. Apparently Cebu City's living the high life compared to Tacloban, they always kind of joke about that, and that Cebu City is basically like an American city, by comparison at least. They have lanes in the streets there, that's how they really could tell they have it good. And they've said the water's all good and safe, there's not really too much you need to worry about. However, in our bag full of language supplies, they gave us a water bottle with a built in filter, so there's that. It'll probably still be nice to have the filter. But they have all these stories about chasing spiders with ladles, and showering with lizards, and eating rotten balut. But they also have stories about walking on to buses and just shouting out to people about the gospel, or going out in the country (bukid) and having the people just love them. It's just so exciting, and it really makes me want to get out there and start serving these people. 

The other day through study I came upon Ephesians chapter 4. The entire chapter is incredible, it truly testifies of Jesus Christ's church, and that we're on the right track. Also our teacher asked us to read Moroni 7:48. It's the last verse of that chapter, and I found I just couldn't read it by itself. It serves as such a powerful close to this perfect definition of the pure love of Christ, that if we pray to be filled with this love, we can truly come closer to our father in Heaven.

Nasayud ko nga sa tinuod niini ebanghelyo. Nagpasalamat ko para ni Jesukristo ug sa Iyang pag-ula. Nagtabang ko ang simbahan, magtabang siya mo ug inyong pamilya. Naa ang buhing propeta sa kalibutan. Naa ang Dios sa Langit, ug kita mao ang iyang Anak. Naggugma jud siya nato, ug ganahan siya magtabang kita sa siya magbalik. Nasayud niina sa tinuod.

I know this is where I belong, and that I have been called by our Heavenly Father to serve the people of Cebu.

Elder Dunford

PS. This is what I told Nathan concerning Cebuano:
It's actually kind of simple, the grammar is basically throw stuff together, if you don't know a word in cebuano, just say it in english, and people will understand you. And there's a ton of random spanish words. "Puede ko mag-bathroom" is a perfect sentence, and it has the spanish puede "can" and turning bathroom into a verb.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 10, 2014 - First Week at Missionary Training Center


I am currently in the laundry room, waiting for clothes to finish, because it is finally P-Day! Our schedule changed after 3 days here, but we've now almost had a full week on the regular schedule, but it was a week and a half before we got any kind of break, but now we have, and so Friday is writing day. So hi.

So yes. I am at the MTC. I have two companions, Elders Crandall and Christensen. Elder Crandall is from Plano, TX and Elder Christensen is from Portland. 

Elder Dunford and companions at Provo Temple

Basically all we've done so far for class is Language study. We've just barely in the last day or so started some actual learning how to teach and stuff, but even still, it is mainly just 6 hours of language study a day. It is fun. For the first few days I kept having the German word for whatever I was saying pop into my head, which was a bit of a problem, but I've broken myself of that habit. Cebuano is really a kind of interesting language. It's literally like no one ever bothered to write it down, so there's no "correct" spelling for any words, and they make shortcuts for everything! And there is a ton of Spanish words just thrown into everything, like if you really just want to, you could just start breaking out into Spanish, especially for numbers. So it's kind of handy having the broken understanding of Spanish that I have. But the language is otherwise really informal, they're always mixing with english and tagalog and stuff, so I very well may learn tagalog while I'm out there, too, and maybe even a bit of Iliocan on Negros.

 I went to the Provo temple this morning. While we were waiting to start, I read the last few chapters of John, I'm not sure why. But the very last verse in John, the last verse of the gospels, really hit me. I don't have the verse here, but it said something to the effect of "These writings are not all that He did, the works of Jesus were so great, that I do not think all the world could hold them if they were written." I also started reading Jesus the Christ, and the intro tells that no matter what you believe of him, that he was truly an exemplary man. This just made me reflect on all he did to the uplifting of his fellow man, how much he humbled himself, as the King of kings, the Prince of Peace, and as the Son of God. It is a truly wonderful thing, to in every way, strive to become like Jesus.

I'm doing great here! I can't wait to get out there and begin serving the people of Cebu, but I'm so excited to be here amongst such a great spirit. 

Elder Dunford

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January 1, 2014 - Dropped off at MTC

Eating final breakfast at IHOP
"because it's international"

Welcome to Elder Adam Dunford's blog.  Elder Dunford began his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on January 1, 2014.  What a great day to start this new adventure!  

Elder Dunford will be serving in Cebu, Philippines, but first must spend six weeks training and learning the Cebuano language at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Elder Dunford's dad and I drove him up to Provo on the Monday before Jan 1.  We did a little last minute shopping (finally found sandals!) and then our plan was to attend the temple one last time together.  We dressed  ourselves up and got ready, but when we drove over to the temple it was closed.  We came up with a plan to drive to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and look at the lights.  It was cold, but a very nice New Year's eve and a final night with Adam.

New Year's Eve on Temple Square

The next day was it - January 1 - the Big Day!  We were to drop him off at the MTC at 12:30, so we decided to get some breakfast at IHOP, right next to our hotel.  When we were seated our waitress asked if Adam was a missionary.  We told her yes and she said on Wednesday all missionaries eat for free.  Yay!  Wednesday is drop off at the MTC day so we looked around and noticed lots of missionaries eating pancakes.  After breakfast we had a little time so we drove around BYU so that Adam could have one final look at the campus, then headed up to the Provo Temple to take some last pictures.


Then, all of a sudden, it was 12:30 and time to drive in.  We were told at the gate we would have a grand total of 2 1/2 minutes to get his stuff out and say good bye...

We were told 2 1/2 minutes, but I think we took about 1!  Then he was walking in...

It was weird driving away without him, but we know he is where he is supposed to be, doing what the Lord would have him do.  He's been there one week.  Hoping to hear from Elder Dunford himself soon!

-post written by Trina