Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 25, 2014 - Transfer Day! (and Elder Dunford's birthday!)

(Trina - Today's letter is short and no pictures were sent.  It turns out Adam was transferred after just 6 weeks in his first area.  He is being sent to the new part of the mission on Negros island that he talked about in his letter last week.  I was able to retrieve a couple of pictures from his dropbox account, but without his usual awesome descriptions.)

Today, for me is transfer day! We received our transfer calls on Monday at the district meeting, and Lawaan C area is being closed because of the new zones I told you about. So I am leaving Lawaan, and am being sent out to Escalante City, in Negros Occidental! We're taking a bus tomorrow, but all the people going to the new areas are going to Lahug this afternoon, and are staying there overnight. And if what I've heard is right, the bus ride should be about 12 hours tomorrow, so yay, fun! I get to see a whole lot more island! And it's technically still my birthday, in the place of my birth! I think that's really how I'm measuring it, because it just didn't feel right yesterday, though it was the 25th here.

So as it turns out, this was my last week in Lawaan, which was rather unexpected for me. I didn't really have time to say goodbye to many of our families and people we met, but I don't really know if that's common practice, anyways, and I don't really like saying goodbye, so that's okay. However, when I heard that I would be leaving Lawaan after just this one transfer, I thought about how I'd miss it. I really have come to love this place, and 6 weeks here just doesn't seem like nearly enough here, especially since I'm still not really able to understand a lot of people, and can't really sufficiently express my own thoughts. But that aside, I am extremely excited to go on to new places and new islands, both for myself and for the mission.

Really the main thing is just that I have no idea what to expect. No one in Cebu mission has been to Escalante, so I'm just going into this kind of entirely throwing into the wind. I don't know what the language is going to be like, since the people there speak Cebuano, that's why it's now in the Cebu mission, since Bacolod missionaries learn Illongo. But I just know that though it's the same language, there's a lot that changes from island to island. And there haven't been Americans there usually, since the Americans are taught Illongo, they only sent native Visayans there before. I also haven't really heard much about my companion except he's pretty old in the mission, so there should be a lot to learn from him. I'm excited for that. I'm really, truly just excited for all things about this. I am expecting to learn and do so much. 

As for my last week in Lawaan, I had written out some really nice, good descriptions of my doings this week in the picture emails, but all those drafts were being bad and are now empty. And I am out of time and need to be moving kind of quick, so I need to be short, unfortunately. But this Saturday, we had a baptism for sister Bianca, a 16-year-old, whose parents are members, but she had never been converted. The sisters before us for a long time had taught her, but she would never go to church or read. But we were able to see some great growth with her, as she made the commitment to go to church, and really begin to grow her testimony in Christ. We were really able to see a small, something-of-a desire to learn grow into faith, and it was truly good. Her father was able to baptise and confirm her, which I know was a wonderful beginning to truly help their family grow. The Abaquitas were also always buotan jud (truly nice) to us, and they would patiently conversate with me and let me really try out my Visayan. 

(I had sent him a package for his birthday) - 
I have not yet received the package, though I will check when I go to the office today. If it's not there, I'm afraid I may not get it for quite a while, since I am in the absolute farthest reaches of the mission!

(I asked him where he would be watching conference) - 
I have no clue how conference is going to work, actually, especially since I'm going to parts unknown.

(I asked him what it felt like to be 20 and what he was doing for his birthday) - 
And I don't know what it's like to be twenty, that hasn't really hit me. Maybe that feeling's got a long layover in Guam on its way over here. But for my birthday, be had a big dinner at the Osores family's house, who were always super nice and fed us a lot. It was fun and good, and hopefully you'll be able to see some pictures! 

I love this work. I love this place, and I'm excited to go see the other side of it, and see what adventures await there. This is truly a good work, and thank you, always, for all you have done for me. Truly, I appreciate it.

Love, Elder Dunford.

(The following pictures I was able to retrieve off his Dropbox account.  No descriptions, but I assume they are from the cave exploring trip he talked about in his last letter.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 19, 2014 - Talisay City

This is down by the mouth of the river, behind Deca Homes, where we have a few investigators. One night we went down to their village, and no one was around, and their whole coast here was receded really far out for low tide, and we could see a bunch of people out there. So we went out there where we met with Nanay Magdalena, and helped her look for clams and snails and things in the sand bar, all as the sun was setting. It was such a really cool moment out there.

Maayong P-Day!

So over here, there is this place called Mang Inasal. It's a fast food place that's in the Gaisano mall, that basically just has barbecue chicken or pork and some other things, and with each meal, comes unli rice. They don't have free refills, but they have a guy walking around with a bucket full of rice to give unto all who ask for it. And so you just get your rice and cover it with soy sauce and this neon-orange, Castrol-like "chicken oil," which I do not trust to not give me cancer of the liver (And which every different bottle seems to have a different consistency and viscosity. I don't usually have the chicken oil.) But for my first week and a half, every day, we went to Mang Inasal. Elder Gama really likes Mang Inasal, and though it's pretty cheap, and you get unli rice, he ran out of money for that week. So we do not eat at Mang Inasal so frequently any more. But it's really good and tasty, and everyone compliments me on how much rice I eat. There's also Angel's Hamburger, which is a shack which supplies hamburgers and hot dogs, and there's about four of them in my area, they're everywhere. The hamburgers are basically a roll with mayo and ketchup with a quarter-sized piece of meat, and the Hot dog, which is the only thing I have actually eaten there, was almost entirely not unlike a hot dog. It was ridiculously large, covered with ketchup, and it was just about the most average thing I could imagine eating. It was just about equal parts sweet and salty, but not really very sweet or salty at all, and though it was over a foot-long hot dog, I didn't feel like I had eaten anything afterward. Also, Elder H___ told me that the more you eat Angel's burger, the more you get this odd craving for it, that you just can't get rid of. I haven't eaten there again, and hope not to much more. 

Elder H___ with my old tie and my new.
This picture turned out really really weird, I have no shins! But we were walking along the levee from the village of Nanay Magdalena, when these little bata (kids) started following us, all talking to me and holding my hand. It was just kind of a funny moment, so a funny looking picture is fitting, I guess.
It is also almost entirely impossible to find a ripe, yellow mango in Lawaan. There are only ever green ones, which are like a sour apple, except exceedingly difficult to eat. And there's also everywhere bakeshops, which sell various breads and things, many of which are physically covered with lard. But, striving to keep away from those as much as possible in fear for my weight, these are really good for breakfast. And we have had generally a lot of dinner with members, but it makes me feel bad to eat at their house, just with my upbringing concerning missionaries eating. But Bishop Chong fed all the Lawaan Ward missionaries with some nice squid (though I don't enjoy my food to be covered in ink), and the other day we went to a fiesta at this family's house up in the hills in Elder H___ and M_____'s area, where they had a whole baboy lechon (pig roasted). I was told several times by the family to "eat the skin! It's crunchy!" It was indeed, crunchy.

The Community Service Project at the Kubar Compound
Everyone. I broke out that hat for the occasion. 

So yes, I am eating. And it is crazy that I am about one week away from my first transfer day! And less than a week from my birthday, though I haven't even really thought about that, that I'll be twenty. And at the end of the month, I'll be an eighth through my mission! wow.

The Bacus family's house. Nanay and Tatay (matriarch and patriarch, is really kind f the definition of these) are less-active, and their children aren't really interested. Our normal chapel in Tabunok is being renovated, so the Minglanilla chapel is where we meet, and it's pretty far. It's actually in Carcar Zone, I just found out last week. But for many people, such as the Bacuses, it is really hard when they have to give up a full day's work and the plete (fare) to get out there, which is about 20 pesos one way per person. But in the last few weeks, we've seen a lot of development with them, and last week they dedicated themselves to go to church, and they did come. It was really great to see that. They live right by the bridge in Mohon.
And this is the Minglanilla chapel. It has fans on every conceivable surface and the windows all open during sacrament, and I'm always sitting right in the sun for the duration of Sacrament meeting, which can get warm. But it's good.
And today, we're having a Zone Activity, and we're going to a cave! I have no idea what this entails, where it is or anything. I just brought headlights and a camera!

There's this street in Tabunok that's lined with all this bamboo fare, including entire huge groves of 30-foot tall bamboo. I always think of "So Far from the Bamboo Grove," a book we read in 5th grade or something, because I have yet to see an actual bamboo grove here.
Last week, I was washing my clothes (I hand wash my clothes, usually, by the way. It's fun!) when it started pouring rain. I got Elder Gama to take a picture because I wanted to remember the occasion.
So yesterday we had a Zone Conference, which actually ended being an Island of Cebu (in Cebu Mission) Conference, so we had all the missionaries on Cebu in Lahug at the meetinghouse at the Temple Complex in a workshop with President Schmutz. Apparently these are usually supposed to be all full of doctrine and things, but yesterday, we really focused on member missionary work, and we have been asked to really work on this in our work, helping members to help us, and to be more missionary-minded. I really, though, just felt a new fire in the work for me. I felt a new love for what I can do here, and I felt that I have a great work I can do here. And in the help of the Lord, I can do this. I know that this is true.

They have these really cool hibiscus at the temple.

Thank you for getting me here. It is a wonderful place. Last night as we left the temple, the sun had just sunk below the mountains, but hadn't yet set. So as we were driving through the city, I looked up at the clouds, and just saw suddenly a rainbow appear in the clouds. No rain, and it was as bright as could be. But the sky was just lit up so bright, and it was really just a kind of oddly stilling moment. Of course, I had forgotten my camera. But still, there's just always something showing me: This is a cool place. This is a cool mission. And there is something great to be done here.

Love, Elder Dunford

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 12, 2014 - Talisay City

Today is a tropical day! 
This was going to be such an awesome picture.

So yeah, last night it started to rain, a kind of misty rain, like Elder Gama said, just falls like snow. And it's continued all through this morning, just a misty rain. But when we walked out of the temple today, was the first time here I think I've really felt the air hit me. It was just that heavy, hot good tropical air. I don't know, I think I may still take Santa Anas over this, but okay ra.

 Just call him Kobe. (Whenever I tell people I'm from Los Angeles, the reply is always: "Oh, like the Lakers." Basketball is really big here.)

The work this week has been really growing. Well, I've really felt myself growing from all we do. I have truly been loving my area, too. I've talked to some people, including my batch-mate, Elder Job, who's in Naga, and they all say that Talisay is one of the just real dirty city areas. And we definitely have that. But that's not what I'm here to see. And the people I have met have been wonderful. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to do a Community Service Project at the Kubar Compound. The Kubars are in Elder Haws' area, and when I went out with him, we met with Clarice and Stuart. So this Kubar family, apparently is just this huge craziness of members, non-members, and less active members all in this family living on this plot of land in the hills a little ways. And from what I've been able to gather, they definitely have plenty of trials. But the ones I met with, Clarice is not a member, but she really listened to what we had to say, even though there was a camp of little batas (kids) all being loud with us, she wanted to hear our message. And Stuart is a teenager who has gone out a bit with the Elders, and is preparing to go on a mission when he gets to the age. And he was a really bright kid, and he shared his testimony at the end of our lesson that we taught. But back to the service project, we were sweeping up the leaves that had all piled up in their compound, which is this little grove of old-growth trees. And we worked with all these kids, and talked a bit with some of the Kubars who live there. I just got a great feeling about these people, that they would be great saints of the Lord's kingdom if they get through these trials. I really just felt good about the work we did there, and not to mention, there's a nice, clean grove above Talisay now.

Sun Day

So one of the things that has really kind of upset the work for us is that we run into a lot of situations where we can't teach our appointment because we have no kuyog nga lalaki (man companion, literally) and there's only a mom whose bana (husband) is at work or something. But we've had a lot of experiences where we show up at someone's house and they're super excited to have us, asking us to "lingkod, lingkod! (sit, sit)" and want to talk so much about something they've read, something they've learned, but we have to say sorry, wa'y kuyog, and just leave with a short visit. Now, in most of our cases, we are able to return, because our ward Mission leader is a great guy and comes out with us a lot. But still, to see these people who want so much to review and discuss what they've learned, is both wonderful and hard. 

Cebu Philippines Temple
 I just got back now from the temple! We were able to do a session, which was really cool. It's a good temple. It's a lot like Newport Beach, except the ordinance rooms are bigger, and they're all on the second story, so like Newport with a second floor, basically. But one interesting thing, the men don't wear a shirt and tie. They have a white Barang, which is a traditional Filipino formal wear, but it's just a big silk shirt that you don't tuck in and don't button the neck, so it's super comfy. But it was a really nice experience to be able to go to the temple, and to see this beautiful new temple on the other side of the world, still teaching the same gospel to turn us to Christ. <330.gif>

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 5, 2014 - Talisay City

There are a ton of these "vulcanizing shop" signs everywhere, sometimes even a "volcanizing shop." I'm not sure what they're vulcanizing, (or volcanizing, which would be even more awesome) but this is my interpretation.

This week has been more of the same, warm, sunny windy days. It's been really nice and clear, which I always like. Though it gives the Filipinos even more use to their umbrellas. It seems they use them more for sun than rain. But I'm just working up my tan, I got horribly white at the MTC.

Walking always
The work this week has been really good. We've been able to meet with a lot of new people and reach out to new areas. We were able to visit with this one couple, the Villavers (Brother Villaver reminds me of a Filipino Mark Richardson, both in looks, and he always has a lot to say). They had been taught by the sisters before us a bit, but we had never been able to meet them, and knew nothing about them. But we were finally able to figure out where they live (there's no such thing as a proper address) and when we got to their house, they each had a Basahon ni Mormon full of notes, they had gone to church several times months ago, and when we asked if they would be baptised if they found these things to be true, they just said "Well yeah, of course." It was a really cool experience, because the both of them had been so prepared and were ready, they just needed to be invited.

Family Home Evening at a family's home in Biasong
On Monday we had splits, which was really fun and cool. I went with Elder H... to their area, and walked all around Pooc, meeting their families and all. So Elder H... is a 6'4" Scottish ginger, whose accent actually works incredibly well with the Cebuano. But he's been out for about 9 months, and is really a great missionary. And going around their area was fun, because everyone was so excited to greet us and say hi to the two taas, puti (tall, white) Amerikanos. It was actually a bit of a problem in one area, where we were trying to tract around and get to know people, but we just had to leave because there was this massive flock of very excited children all around us, and we just couldn't talk to anyone. Still, we were able to teach a few lessons, and they went very well. 

Dinner at the Bishop's house
It was good to see the teaching styles of someone else, and to be able to draw from that. It was also a good confidence boost for me in the language. To be able to work with and talk with another English native elder, and see how strong he is in the language, as well as picking up some of the mannerisms and phrases he used in Cebuano, was a really strengthening experience for me. I could really see yesterday, after I had returned with Elder Gama, that I was able to use more words and phrases and express my thoughts to these people in ways that I did not before. Also in my lessons with Elder H..., he pushed me a bit more to be able to speak and answer the questions of our investigators, which let me really see what I am capable of.
Sunny day in Dumlog
But more importantly (entirely kidding), I have made a booming start in the tie business with him. On Saturday, I bought my first okai-okai (thrift shop) proper Cebu mission tie. It was loud and fat and had plaid and weird neo-paisley designs, which is the way to go here. But when I actually put it on, I realized there was no way I could wear this kind of tie, at least not when I'm so soon from my father's banker power ties. But it turns out that Elder H... loved this tie so much. The proper Scot he is, he's trying to acquire all the plaid ties he can, and this one he needed. So for this one tie, that I had just bought and could not wear for myself, I was able to trade into 3 of his, which were all at least decent mission ties, to add to my daily wear (and future trade pool.) And on top of that, I was able to trade that plaid tie I got from missionary mall for another of his. So for two of my own ties that I did not even want, I received 4 new. It seems I have the beginnings of a proper business here in the Cebu mission.
 Our apartment! We just have one story, but it's pretty nice, and we have a water heater for our shower, which is a very sought after item. 

And speaking of the Cebu mission, it is growing! Starting next transfer, March 27, we are adding on two new zones: Escalante and San Carlos! They are on Negros, and are taking from the Bacolod mission, because the people in these areas speak Cebuano, but Bacolod Missionaries are trained in Illongo, so it's more of a matter of convenience. But it's super exciting because that's two whole new zones on Negros, and adding onto our mission! 
Children at the water pump in Biasong

Elder Gama teaching them well

But I've really been able to see a lot of personal growth this week, in the language and spiritually. I actually just read through the book of Mormon this week, too. And it is just so incredible, the testimony he bears of Christ is so strong and pure. It's truly a testament, that when all the bellows of hell blow against you, there is strength in Christ. There is solidarity in Him. There is comfort, and power against all that would bring us down. It is an incredible testimony.
Rainy beach in Biasong

Twilight strolls on the levee
I love you so much, and again and always, thank you for doing all you have to help me get here, on this mission. There is so much for me here to do. I know I belong on this mission.

Always a photo op


Elder Adam Dunford