Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 25, 2014 - Talisay City

I'm too large for this nation!
So it finally actually got hot over here!

But it's not that bad, actually. It hasn't been much different than a June day after the marine layer's burned off, a bit hot, a bit sunny, and a little humid. But we also finally got rain this last week, and it was more just like a sporadic drizzle. So I've come to the conclusion that Cebu is not very different from home, except for that fact that anything you need a permit for in America is done here freely and with reckless abandon.
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The river and Corazon Village, from the Biasong bridge

But it's been a lot of walking! Our area isn't very large, and it's not very hilly, but there are plenty of places to walk to! Mostly what we have been doing the last weeks is teaching the investigators, as well as some less active families in our Area Book, who the sisters before us were teaching. So, we mainly just go and walk around to different neighborhoods and villages and barangays and teach different people. We usually have a kuyog (another word for companion, but meaning ward missionary) with us who knows where all these people live and can take us there, but we've gotten to know the area pretty well ourselves. We've been able to contact some people, too, and teach them some lessons, but we've mainly been teaching through our pool so far.

Elder Gama and our ward mission leader

We've got planned this week to do some proper tracting of our own, though, to try to open up our options. That'll be really interesting and fun, since we haven't really done much of that yet. But apparently we're also going to try to go to a nicer subdivision where we can tract in english! I will be looking forward to that opportunity though I don't really know what to really make of the idea yet. I have started to be able to really take more part in lessons, as I've gotten more comfortable with using Cebuano. Though it's still really hard. I got to the point this week where I know enough of the language to really understand how little I actually know when people are talking. But I've been improving still, and it is a continuing goal to make me bisdak (Bisaya Dako, or big in Cebuano, or native-sounding) by the end of the transfer. I've been able to really talk to some of the members and really have a decent, proper conversation in Cebuano, which has been really nice. Still, it can be hard because the streets are loud and the people are quiet, talk fast, and their mouths are far from my ears when we stand next to each other. But I'm ever learning. 

The last few days we've been able to meet and really talk to some of the members, too. On Monday, we went to the Vertos family's house, and we talked for a long time. They gave us coconuts to drink. And it turns out, those have a ton of water (tubig sa lubi) in them, and if you try to drink it really fast, you don't feel very good! But I was okay. But we then went up to the house of a member in the ward who lives up in Corella Homes, way up on the hill, for Family Home Evening, which we also did last Monday. I really want to go up there during the day, because there was a big lookout point that would be really neat if it weren't dark. But anyways, we had to ride a habal-habal up there. Last week, I lost my name tag on the way up, and we walked all the way back down to look for it, but to no avail, and when we got back up almost to the family's house, this girl passing by said "Pangita mo para ni? (You looking for this?)" and had found it on the road, so my nametag has some good scratches on it now. But This week, we got up to the house and I realized I didn't have my camera. (!) So when we left we had to look for it all the way down, but no luck. But Brother Dante remembered I took the picture of the coconut at the Vertos' house, and may have left it there. So yesterday, after we had already walked all over creation in the sun, we all walked all the way back down to their house which is nearly in Pooc, to find that I had left it there.

We had bulad!  It's dried fish!

But the walk to there house was really cool, because we walked through these huge green fields full of goats and cows, surrounded by the mountains of Cebu, while the sun sunk behind the island. And the sky was a great bright red, with big puffy clouds and all. It was a great time to not have a camera, but even still, it was nice to take that moment to walk through the fields, with this beautiful place just happening around us. It was a lot like what Grandma shared to me in her email this week, of just taking moments to take in the world around us and appreciate the beauty of it all.

But things are going well here! One point I forgot to say: the water situation is: everyone just drinks from 5 gallon jug mineral water things. It seems to be a booming business here, the water purifying business. Every stand on the side of the street has an ATM (Automatic Tubig [Water] Machine), which is just a stand that dispenses water from the big blue jugs. But yeah, that's that situation.
Lawaan 3 Barangay

Driving through Mohon
But yeah, other than that, through the dust and sun and smells and chickens and jeepneys, things are going good! Just another week of sun in the Philippines!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 18, 2014 - First Area in the Philippines!

I am Here!

So much has happened since I last properly emailed you, I can't believe it! So I'll start with the flight.

The flight across the Great Basin was cool, we followed the sunset the whole way. I kept looking out the window, and it was cloudy most of the way, until I saw a city below us, with a long road to another city, and realized we were flying over the Owens Valley! I figured we were probably over Big Pine, and it was cool because I could see all down the valley, across the sierras and out to Fresno and the other lights out there. I was looking south, but I bet the guys on the other side could've looked straight down into Yosemite Valley! So that was fun.

Last view of snow!
Then we got to San Francisco and got in a big Philippine Airlines 747. An they weren't joking with the "philippine", I was just about the only white guy on the plane. But the map thing on the TV didn't work, and I was in the middle of the middle aisle, so I had no idea where in the world I was, so I didn't like that. I talked to the people next to me, on the one side, he spoke Ilocano and lived north of Manila, and the other one lived in Manila, so I couldn't practice my Cebuano! And everything was in Tagalog, so it looked like I should understand, but I had no idea what any of it was. It was fun to stop in Guam, too, so I can say I've been there, too, though we didn't get off the plane or anything. On our way to Manila, the sun started to rise, so I got up and took my first pictures from the Eastern Sea! That was fun. Then landing in Manila, was super cool, because I couldn't see much out the windows, but what I could see definitely told me that I was in a different kind of world.

Then we finally stepped outside and felt our first real tropical air, first time outside since Salt Lake. And it wasn't that hot, or humid, or anything. The weather's actually been pretty nice the whole time I've been here, not that humid, not too hot. Although, I can say to anyone who talks about smog in LA, take the look I did at Manila. It was seriously a dark, brown cloud over the city, and I can just say, I'm glad I'm not in Manila or Quezon City. 

This is actually my area.  All around the river at its mouth.

Landing in Cebu!
So then we got on the plane to Cebu, and it was actually the nicest plane we flew in the whole way, honestly, it was like the Jet Blue planes out of Long Beach. But I got another window seat, and I was able to watch as we flew over the Island into the city. And the first time I got a look at the mission, where I would be, I just got this feeling, this great joy to be going out and serving in Cebu. It was a beautiful day, and so cool. So we got off the plane and met President Schmutz and the AP's, Elders Peck and Mejos. They welcomed us, and the Elders got in a van with the APs. That drive through the city to the Temple was so incredible. This place is so alive. It is full of all kinds of living things, plant, animal, and human. There's just chickens, dogs, cows and caravao grazing all over the place, things growing wherever there is place, and the roads are basically madness. Dad was definitely right, it's the free market in action, there streets are just full of people trying to sell stuff; food, clothes, motorcycle parts. One thing that I've really noticed is there is always rampant arc-welding, someone's always welding something onto their tricycle or jeepney. 

Sister and President Schmutz
But we got to the mission home. The mission home is the building to the North east of the temple, since Dad was wondering. And we got changed, I showered, and we started the mission proper with a bunch of meetings and orientation. The Schmutz's, or "President and Sister Smoosh," as all the Filipinos call them, really are wonderful people. I was able to meet with President for a few minutes, and the one thing I could tell him was that I am ready. I've seen a bit of the city, I've heard jarbled mix of the language, and everything I see, hear and do just reaffirms to me that I am ready to go out among this people. He said that I'd get the opportunity to serve in every part of the mission, in the city and in the bukid (meaning mountains, but means just out there in the country,) and that all of the elders and sisters serving are really great. They don't really have any problem people, and there's a great spirit of obedience and dedication in this mission. 

Cebu Philippine Temple

So after we toured around the temple. It's fairly small, probably a little bigger than Redlands or Newport but still, absolutely beautiful. If we hadn't gotten delayed, we'd have been able to do a session, but we didn't have time, so I haven't been in yet. And it had already gotten pretty late at that point, so we went and stayed at a hotel that night. It was around the corner from the temple, and it was certainly different. But we basically immediately fell asleep, and got up and back to the mission home in the morning, to get our assignments and trainers. So we had a little meeting, and got started:

My first walk around my area (near Biasong)
I have been assigned to the Lawaan C area, in the Talisay Zone. I live in the barangay of Dumlog and spend most of my time in Mohon and Biasong. My training companion is Elder Gama, from Davao. He's a native Visayan (Cebuano) speaker and also knows Tagalog. He has been out for 10 months, and I am his fourth anak (child [trainee]). And everyone loves him, he's super talkative and friendly, which is nice for me, because I have a lot of Cebuano to listen to and learn! But he really is good and great, and I'm learning a lot from him, just about everything. But it is also his first time in Lawaan, so we've been learning the area together.

Elder Gama
So then we took a taxi out to Talisay with our zone leaders. I was just watching out the window the whole time, taking it all in, when Elder Milla, our ZL, said "And this is your area." I couldn't believe it at first. This street seriously was so, just everything. Anything you could ever think to say about a street other than clean or shiny, describes this street. I truly cannot describe this area fully, the sights, the smells, or the people. But the people here are different. They're always smiling, they always answer "maayong hapon sad (good afternoon to you too,)" there's just a friendliness, an instant camaraderie just by being here. And for me it's kind of like the scene in Inception where everyone starts staring at the girl in the dream. Everyone, especially all the kids, everywhere we go, always stare and wave and shout "Americano" and "Hey, Joe!" at me. It's especially fun for that. 

Our little city center in Tabunok.
Stake Center in Minglanilla

Coming home from Stake Conference
So I've just been walking and tricycling everywhere for the past week. That's another thing, is the public transportation here, is truly the free market in action. Everywhere there's tricycles, which are just motorcycles that someone's welded a sidecar onto and jams several people onto for the price of 8 pesos a head. And tri-sikals are the same with pedal bikes (because sikal is "pedal" in cebuano. Huh.) But the tricycles are all decked out with sweet paint jobs, some with lights and stereos, and they're really fun. They usually have straps to hold onto, too, so they're safe! But we've been going around and meeting all the investigators and less actives in the Area Book, and just meeting people. We've gone to many different homes and areas here, and each time, every one is so incredible. I have no satisfactory word for what it's like here. However, the one thing I've definitely learned is that a home, no matter if its floor and walls are concrete or dirt or galvanized steel or linoleum patches over bamboo, is a home. This is a family's abode. If there's centipedes, lizards, ants, spiders, anything, it's still their home. If their door is plywood reinforced with rebar, it's still their home. This is what has really struck me here. 
A tricycle in Biasong.  Most of my area is much more dense city, but Biasong is down by the river delta so it's real pretty.
And this place really is beautiful. One may call it an old-world charm, but it really is quite cool here. it still is incredibly green here, and so full of life. It really is incredible. People always talk about how much of an eyeopening experience the first few days are, and they have been, they really have. But it hasn't felt uncomfortable for me. Of course there is poverty here unlike anything I've ever seen back home. But I feel like I've been so welcomed by the people, and Elder Gama and our ward mission leader, Brother Cose, have been great guides through this all, I just don't feel overwhelmed. I just feel a little whelmed. A proper amount of whelm. 

I miss you all, and I miss home, where the hot dogs aren't weird and I can get a proper burger, but I love it here. It really is wonderful, and I know that I am helping to bring a great work to the people of Talisay City.

Thank you for all your love and support! I'm out to go take on the world!

Love, Elder Dunford

PS. I also just wanted to share my experience I had this week. I was able to attend a baptism and confirmation of a child in the Lawaan ward. It was a really small, but tender experience, and there was a strong spirit there. And when the father stood and laid his hands on his son, I felt a strong witness that he held the Priesthood of our Heavenly Father. That he held the same authority as my father, thousands of miles away on an island of the sea, and that that boy was receiving the gift f the Holy Ghost. I felt a strong spirit in that meeting, and It really has helped my in this time. I love you all. I know I am here on God's errand. And I know we have his support in all we do, if we seek it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 10-11, 2014 - Traveling to Philippines

On Monday Elder Dunford left the MTC to begin his adventure to the Philippines.  His first leg was from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Francisco. At home, we were planning on tracking his progress on various apps and online. The plan was for him to call us from San Francisco, but we were getting nervous about hearing from him when we realized his flight left about an hour late!  But, we got a call from him just a few minutes before he was to board. It was so great!  He told us how excited he was to go and spoke Cebuano to us. It was a blessing to be able to hear the positive excitement in his voice about what he was about to set off to do.

The next leg of his journey was a flight from San Francisco to Manila.  He had told us on the phone that there was rumor they would be stopping in Guam and, sure enough, when we checked the app it confirmed this. After we hung up with him, we kept watching for the app to tell us he had departed, it was never happening. This flight left 2 hours late!!

An interesting thing we noticed  about Adam's flight was that because of the direction he would be traveling, he would be in the dark for 20 hours!  That combined with the long flight and all the delays must have made for a pretty exhausting flight.  His flight landed in Guam and one of Gene's co-workers used an app where they could listen to the pilot talk to the tower in real time as they landed!  Isn't technology a blessing?!!

The flight from Guam to Manila was next, but because of all the delays he missed his last short connecting flight to Cebu!!  Looks like another delay. 

WOW!  What a journey!  He left Salt Lake on February 10 and arrived in Cebu on February 12.  A total of 25 hours from SLC to CEBU!  

In the middle of our night we received the following email from Elder Dunford:


So, we flew in today! The flight to Manila was delayed forever, but we got on a quick plane to Cebu, and we're here! We're staying at a hotel tonight, at the mission home all day today, then tomorrow we get assignments and head out! I can tell you, as we were flying in, it just looks so amazing here. The drive through the city was incredible, and I can say there is nothing I have ever felt more sure about than this. The Schmutz's (mission president) are great, and this is going to be so great! 

So that's all I can do! It was great to talk to you yesterday! I love you!

Elder Dunford 

(post by Trina)

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 7, 2014 - MTC

Kamusta mo!
Here's us with our new haircuts

In 3 days, I'm going to be sitting on a plane to San Francisco. I absolutely cannot believe or imagine that this is actually happening, but it is. 

So this morning, we checked our mailbox and we all got a note. So remember how we auditioned to sing for a devotional? Apparently Sister Nally was serious, because we are singing in the sunday devotional for departing missionaries! So it's not the entire MTC, but it is several hundred people that we are singing for! We haven't really even practiced it since we tried out! We're kind of flipping out! But really, it should be really fun, and hopefully we'll be good. 

So all this week, it's been snowing! It's super exciting, and really nice to have some good snow before I never see snow again. But this whole drought we're in seems to be lifting a little, at least for us. Today, we were walking to the temple, and the clouds all around Timp were just dumping, it looked like it should be a perfect day. Not that I'm worried about any of that!

So for my mission plaque scripture,  I'm going to choose 2 Nephi 2:4,8, which says:

  4 And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.
8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

I like these verses, and this chapter because it's a father's blessing to his son, who has been raised in the gospel, and is about to see a great change in his life. I love when Lehi says "you will be blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh." I've been really learning about the savior in his ministry, and how glorious it would be to teach along with him. But we can know of his glory even in our state now, if we "Come, Follow [Him]."

This is us and brother Pasikala and Sister Ormsby, our teachers!

I'm so excited! I just absolutely cannot believe that the time is really, seriously almost here. Next email, I'll have plenty of pictures for you, just you wait! I'm so excited to go and serve these people that I've been preparing to serve!

I love you so much, and thank you for helping me get where I am today. I am where I belong. I love doing this work.

Elder Dunford

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January 31, 2014 - MTC

(Note:  Adam sent me this Cebuano hymnbook for my birthday. -trina)

I'm glad you got the book!  They've got some good Cebuano materials at our bookstore, it's kind of surprising how much there is in our little language. "G"s are pronounced like in "gate", and "mga" is probably one of the hardest things we have. It's like "nga", except the beginning has the "m" as basically a separate syllable, so it's kind of like a two syllable word. But mga is a pluralizer, so it makes whatever follows it plural, so I will send mga pictures to you. 

My friend from school, Stetler Eppley left this Tuesday for Cambodia. We were able to get together for one last picture, and it's exciting to see him heading out, even if that means I'm the last of the Budge Boys here! 
Elder Eppley and Elder Dunford

So I told you in my note that our elders sang "I need thee Every Hour" in part Cebuano, part english, for our branch meeting. But We decided that we were so good at it, we auditioned for the Devotional music number yesterday! So the seven of us sang, and it was all very fun, though I don't know if we quite realized that we would be auditioning for Sister Nally, the MTC President's wife, who has been heralded as one of Utah Valley's best composers and musicians today. So after we sang, she gave us all a few tips and told us that if she had plugs for her ears, it would be great! (In a very nice way, though using those very words.) So they gave us the "That was nice, we'll tell you if we find something to use you for" and we had another fun experience for us all.

Our service assignment, which is usually cleaning and mopping for most people, for us is raising the flags in the morning. It is so fun.
Elder Dunford raising the Philippine flag
I'd believe the mountains are hurting, we've barely had three inches of snow the whole time I've been here! it's just been nice and warm, and everyone's complaining about how cold it is. They don't understand last winter! I heard you all finally did get some rain, we got a little storm the last couple of days, but it's been so warm it was half rain, and the snow didn't stick at all. But I won't have to worry about that at all in a week and a half!

This morning, I got my FLIGHT PLANS. I will be flying on February 10,  from SLC to San Francisco, then on from SFO to Manila, then on to Cebu. From February 10, 4:50 pm to February 12, 7:15 am, I will be flying. This also means that a week from Monday, I will be leaving the Western Hemisphere WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.
Time is absolutely flying, I just can't believe it's really coming down to this short.

Grandma sent me a box of goodies, including Martinelli's, since I missed out on the party, I guess. That was really nice, though. 

And thank you for your spiritual thoughts in your letters. I just want to let you know, I know what you mean what you've always said about the MTC. There is such an incredible power here. The spirit is just so very tangible, and there is so much learning done in this very short time here. I have really come to recognize the heritage I come from, how I have learned from great saints, strong in the gospel from my youth.

Thank you. You are always in my prayers.

Elder Dunford