Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 25, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental

The little kids that live on our street always call out to me "Hey Superman!" I don't feel like it's entirely good, but I can see it.
So I've still got those pictures from last week I promised, so here they are. This was in Dumaguete, where all the Cebu missionaries on Negros had the farewell conference for President Schmutz.

Last Picture with President and Sister Schmutz

(This week's letter was all answers to questions ! and pictures - trina)

Me:  When is your new Mission president coming?
Elder Dunford:  President McCurdy arrives on June 29, we have been told, so wala pa (not yet). We're down to the last few days of President Schmutz's rule.
Several of us packed into the back of an air con Ceres bus from Dumaguete to San Carlos. 
Me:  How is the new elder in your apartment?
Elder Dunford:  Elder Omugtong is Elder Jamil's new companion. He's really bright and nice, and is really strong in Tagalog and English, but his Cebuano is really small, because there's no language training at the Manila MTC, so I've been able to help him a bit with that (ha.) 

A Football!

Me:  How are you doing?  You look thinner.
Elder Dunford:  I'm fine healthwise, why just last night I had a very nice balut, so I'm eating fine. And just yesterday Brother Walter (Branch mission leader) said I was looking a bit tambok (fat), so It's probably just the camera. 

We were walking around some fields in Mocabog when we came up to this house that had two huge mango trees, one of which was felled by Bagio Yolanda (typhoon haiyan) Elder Montano stands at the roots for comparison.

Me:  I asked him what the food was in a picture.  It looked fried and was served with ketchup.
Elder Dunford:  Honestly, I don't know what that fried thing was. I think It may have been like a pork chop or something. But yeah, anything fried here is eaten with ketchup. But it's not tomato ketchup. It's banana ketchup. It's weird, and sweet, and not naturally red. I'm adapting.

 Saging payong (banana umbrella) We were teaching at the house of Sister Blezil, an investigator (who is to be baptized this Saturday!) when it started pouring rain. And I forgot my umbrella, so we got some banana leaves for the purpose. Although, the moment we stepped out of her house, the skies cleared, which was okay, too.

One thing that we've worked with here is the strength of the branch. We've discussed a lot, and need to help more with the branch president and auxiliaries of the importance of meetings and of making sure that things follow their proper order. It's an interesting and a different challenge, since I've never really been in a PEC or ward council. But the main thing is just teaching that this is the Lord's way.  This is the Lord's way, and we have his counsel, his guidance, and his help as we follow him. It really comes down to these same principles that are all that we have to teach.

Me and the Langa family (family of sister Blezil, though she is not pictured here.) They were a referral to us because Sister Grethel was baptized a few years ago in Calatrava, but she came to live here with the Langa family, and hasn't been active since then. So we've been able to teach to this family and they are super good. They're all really bright and receptive and kind, but mom and dad and brother are often away working and Sister Blezil is the only one left at the house. But in our second visit with them, we followed up on her prayer, asking of the truth of the Restoration. She said with great conviction that she had received an answer, and since then has shown great faith and desire to learn. It is really good to see this. So last Saturday we went to her house and she was interviewed, and will be baptized this Saturday! This was a good experience, too, because we had some good time to really sit down and talk with Sister Langa and her family, and they want to learn, too. She have been able to see this brightness in her daughter, and knows that it is good (see Alma 32:28). I know that they will be able to receive this gospel, all of this little family.
Yesterday I read Matthew 5, as that celestial law, the way to live as Christ lives. I still always love verse 14. I love how in 3 Nephi 12, he says "I give unto you to be the light of this people" But to his disciples in Galilee, he said Ye are the light of the world. There is no JST or footnote to 3 Ne. These disciples were to be the light of the world. THey were to go out and establish Christendom. They were to write the New Testament, which would testify through ages of Christ. It was through this light that the world learned of Christ, and that His church was able to be brought back up in these last days. We have this example to follow.

I love you, and thank you always. Escalante is the place to be. It's a happy little town, I like it here.


Elder Dunford

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 18, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental

No pictures sent this week! :(   ~trina

Punxsutawney Pete says six more weeks of Escalante!

Which is really good, because this is an incredible place, the people are super good, and it's starting to cool down a bit!

But last week on Thursday we went down to Dumaguete, way over on the opposite end of the Island of Negros! We got on a Ceres bus, which are just big, yellow busses which I would guess would be comparable to a greyhound (though I've never been on a greyhound, so I'm not sure) and rode the way down the coast. It would be a really cool drive in a car with good suspension and it reminds me of the 101 a lot; except with the green hue turned way up. We stayed in a missionary apartment on Thursday night in Bais City, where we had a little group suroy-suroying (hanging out). I was feeling a little tired from the biahe (travel) and a little left out because I was the only one who knew no one at the house, and people tend to start throwing in Tagalog when they talk, which is confusing, when a football emerged out of the house. Apparently, an American who lived there before had left it there. People started trying to throw it around, though it was rather hard for some of them (some of the others were treating it like a rugby ball, the poor thing) and gave it up. But I got to throw it at Elder Jamil, who picked up the technique of it.  I tell you what, there may have been nothing quite as satisfying as throwing a football around for a couple of minutes that evening.  

But in Dumaguete we had our Zone Conference, for all the Cebu missionaries on Negros. This was the farewell conference of President Schmutz, and as such it was all tender and nice. But it was really good. President and Sister Schmutz just spoke, and gave really good messages. The overall theme was kind of a "Learn from your mission (about Jesus Christ) and let it (meaning Jesus Christ) change you." It was kind of mingaw (to miss, kind of hard to define in English. It means homesick, but more than just that.) because they kept talking about life after the mission, and President talked a lot about his life experiences when he learned to trust in the Lord. To follow in his way. It seemed a little out of place for a still pretty new missionary, but I really learned a lot from it. Mainly that we are given the way to be successful, whether in the mission or in life. If we follow in the way of the Lord, and follow his commandments he has given us, we have his blessing. We can have the power of our God with us in our life, and it all starts if we give a portion to the words of prophets. If we build our faith in him, which means to act upon that which he has given us, we have His blessing. 

But this week was transfer week as well and both Elder Montano and I are staying in Escalante! Our kabalay (housemate), Elder Lagundino is moving to Cebu, and Elder Jamil, our other kabalay is training a fresh, new missionary! He is going to Cebu now to be assigned his anak (child) and they come back tomorrow. So that will be exciting, and the first time for me to not be the newest in the house!

We have two really good, progressing investigators. Sister Elsa (wala na frozen siya, Elder? [She's not frozen anymore?, as our Branch President says]) is really good. She had been going to church pretty frequently, but the last few weeks, she hasn't been there. She's been having trouble really recognizing the Spirit, though we know she's felt it. She always has good insights from her reading of the Basahon, and she always tells us how much she likes going to church, how this feels good to her. So yesterday we taught her, and she said that she hadn't felt like she had really received the sign from God that she needed. So we taught Alma 32:28, comparing the word to a seed. I testified that this is the way of our God. This is the way he answers our questions. We do not search for signs, if we do, we miss the whole point, and we may miss what he does give us. I know that we can receive a sure witness from our God, like you said, Dad. I know that we can and will receive what we need. But sometimes, what we need is to be quiet. We need to think about it, and listen. And remember what we know to be true. If we do this, we will receive what we need. Our Father knows what we need, we just need to be ready to receive it, and we need to be ready to follow the word he gives us.

 I love you. The other day in Zone Training, our ZL's asked us to share our desire. I said I want to live up to my heritage. Not to stand on the shoulders of giants (because we're not holding hands here.) But to show my respect, and my gratitude, I want to live up to what I have been given, so it can be passed on after me. I thank you for all that you have given me.


Elder Adam Dunford

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 11, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental

Yesterday, I went on splits to Old Escalante. Old Escalante is the branch adjacent, Eastward of Escalante. It covers the area of Barangay Old Poblacion, which I would guess is the old city center around here, which sits on a kind of peninsula out there. But Elder Jamil and Elder Lagundino are the missionaries in Old Esc. Branch, but they live in our house in Escalante Proper, so we're all close, but it is a separate area from mine.
(In my letter to Adam this week I let him know about the pool party we had in the Young Single Adult Ward)
I'm glad to hear things are happening all as usual over there at the Mar Vista people. I just can't believe it's already been a year since the last "welcome the new seniors to the ward" pool party, and two years since I was one of said seniors. I'm getting more and more of an idea that this mission is not going to be forever as I had thought previously in my life. 

I'm doing well. I have yet to really get sick at all here in the Philippines. The last couple of days, it's rained at night, and been a bit more cloudy during the day, which makes it less hot. Yesterday, when I was over in Old (Escalante), it started raining while we were in a lesson with Sister Plieda. When we entered her house, there was blue skies, but it started thundering as we started the lesson, and the rain started coming down. And it came down hard, just solid sheets of rain for about 15 minutes. Between the rain coming down on the tin roof and the fact that Sister mostly spoke Illongo, it was something of a hard time hearing what was going on. But the lesson went well, and by the time we were to leave, the rain had moved on, and left a new day! (nothing seemed to move, everything was still. It's just another perfect day.) Blue skies above bordered by black clouds, and extremely muddy pathways were the only thing that seemed to tell it had rained. It's cool in the tropics. And the rain here is actually pretty cool, it's not like that Caribbean or New England rain that just rises like steam when it hits the ground. It's nice and cool here after it rains. 

Elder Montano has been pretty sick this week, which we've decided to either be a stomach virus or allergies to the dust here, so it's not contagious. But we've had a few days that we've had to stay in the apartment and only go out for an appointment or two. So it's been kind of hard with that, but it's given me an opportunity to brush up on my Preach my Gospel and Book of Mosiah. I like in Mosiah 23:21-22, where the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people. Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people. Thus it may be for us, if we put our trust in the Lord. We're working through this trial, and everything we face.

I feel I have grown for myself here. I trust in the Lord. I know he knows what is right. And I know that he speaks to us, if we seek him.

Trails along fish ponds

Thank you always for getting me here. This is an incredible place. These are wonderful people. I'm finding for myself how to live my life here. I know that this is good. I know that this is true.


Elder Dunford

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June 4, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental

The hills are alive
It is mango season. Just about every day, we've been given a bag full of yellowish-green mangoes, which is delicious. We are in the right place in the right time in this transfer, because just about everyone has a mango tree out here, so there's plenty to go around. If we just walk up to a person's house and ask for a mango, several mangoes will be given. This is a good place. 

 The center rotunda in Escalante, all flagged up.
On Friday night, we were invited to the Cafe Canderosa, the little restaurant in town that sells pancakes and delicious shakes, and they had all manner of really good foods that was all free! Including Mickey.
So the Manlambus Festival is now over. I didn't get quite the complete story of the Manlambus festival, but it seems to have to do with the olden days in Escalante when people used to fish with their bare hands or something like that, because manlambus is the Cebuano word for fishing with your hands or something. But all of the city has been strung up with banner flags and there were people selling all sorts of doodads and foods, and in the city center plaza, there was a big stage, and all last week, they had goings-on over there. I bought a Manlambus Escalante City shirt for remembrance, which was good. The work didn't suffer all too much for reason of the fiesta, but on Friday and Saturday it was hard to find anyone home because everyone was out miesta (fiesta-ing). 

Everyone here has a duyan (hammock)
 I feel like I was trying to make a statement with this picture. The barbequehan of Sister Navarro, a member in the Habitat. She barbecues the normal fare of pork, hotdogs, chorizo, chicken intestines, and pig's tongue, ear, and cheek fat.
And school just got back in session! Summer vacation actually started the day I got here to Escalante, which we saw because as we rode the bus from San Carlos here, there was a big graduation going on in every town, at every school. But summer is now over, apparently, and there seems to be something of a change in the weather, as yesterday, it rained in the morning, and the sky was super tropical, it was like the absolute image of what a tropical sky looks like, all big white clouds around, but blue skies above. So maybe we're starting to move out of the dry season and getting into the rain!

Elder Montano (there should be a little squiggly for his second "n", FYI) and me at the sea
I want to talk about another person here in our area, who is Toting. Toting, every day, kuyog's (joins with) the Old Escalante Elders, and goes with their work. Toting is deaf, and as such is mute, in that he does not know spoken language. However, this has not stopped him, as he is a very social, talkative person. He knows sign language, which is helpful, and so does Elder Lagundino, of Old Escalante.  However, he'll go up to anyone and start talking, part in signs, part in spoken not-words. I've been able to be in lessons where the elders give him time to testify. He usually knows what scripture or subject they're talking about, and he usually finds and explains this scripture to the people. It's a situation that you have to rely on the spirit, and really focus on him, (especially because sometimes people tend to make fun and laugh or get frustrated at this), but I've really been able to see the person he is. He is a kind, and kugihan jud (diligent) member of this church.

Baptism in Old Escalante of Sister Plieda, the mother of one of our investigators, sister Elsa, and a bata (child) from Old Escalante. Elsa was able to attend, and this was a really cool baptism, in part because...
...It was my first dagat bunyag! There was no water at the chapel in Old Escalante, so they held it at the ocean there. Nagtudlo si Toting sa Cebu. (Toting is pointing at Cebu.) But that was a really cool experience and just  neat thing to see, on top of the greatness of a baptism.
(Gene wrote in a letter to Adam about how close he was to Leyte Gulf, the sight of a significant battle during WWII)  I remembered when I first looked at a map of the Philippines after I got my call, and it looked like I was going to be right next to Leyte, and it was exciting because I remembered hearing about the battle of Leyte gulf on the history channel. But, here I'm basically on the opposite side of the Visayas. That over there is the Tacloban mission, and there's actually a few people here serving in Tacloban. Over there there's a big cool statue of MacArthur landing on the beach, and everyone on a mission there has pictures with it. It really kind of explains to me the whole reception I get here, being a big American walking around.

I am truly grateful for the example I have of priesthood power. I know what you, or your mission president mean by that use of the authority. We have the authority. We can be given the power, and guidance by the Spirit through our actions. But we have the authority of God to do what he needs done. We must trust in this. 

Thank you always for all of your support. I love you. I am praying for you. I am learning from you, always. 

Elder Dunford