Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014 - Escalante City, Negro Occidental

We went back to the Beach we went to my first transfer here. We played frisbee, volleyball, and a somewhat decent game of beach football, with a bit of explaining of the whole everything of football..
Dear Family,

This week has been my last in Escalante. I've been here for 4 months, and only one of the original Cebu Missionaries in Escalante Zone is left now. It's been a blast.

Last week, the Escalante Zone.
I want to answer your question of the music, because it's one of my favorite. Music is really big (and really loud) here, of all kinds. Karaoke bars are really big, and basically whereever you are at night, you can here someone singing on a very blown-out, loud-speaker karaoke machine. The other that's fun is the music from jeepneys. There's not that many jeepneys out here in the provinces, but in the city, the streets are just full of remixed up, beat-boxed versions of any kind of music, from Electric Avenue to Miley Cyrus. Now this may sound rather obnoxious and annoying, which it can be, but it's just fun. There's something about the remixed music here, it's annoying, sure, but in a fun way. It's not like remixes back home where it makes it sound like the world is ending, it just it fun to hear. You just can't really hold a conversation if you're on city streets.

We finally went to the dagat (sea) in Escalante area! Yesterday was the first time I actually saw the sea from our area. Most of the work of the people out in Puting Bato is on the sea, so it was fun to finally actually go there with them.
This last week, though, President and Sister McCurdy came to Escalante to pailaila (introduce himself) to us and for Zone Interviews. They are incredibly kind people. To make comparisons, The Schmutzes were like mother and father to the mission, but the McCurdys are more like grandma and grandpa. Presdient McCurdy didn't really teach much to us, at least this first meeting, but he and sister really just expressed their love to us. Sister McCurdy talked all about their family. They have several adopted grandkids, and they have a bunch of complicated storylines, it sounds like, but she really showed that no matter about anything like that, they are really just full of love for them all. That was really mainly the theme of the meeting, I would say. It was really good. In my interview with him, he said he liked me because there was a young man in his home ward (in Twin Falls) who was a Dunford, and we looked about the same. I assured him that we were related. I told him the Dunfords are from Bloomington, and he knew people around there, too. I'm glad I can carry on the Bear Lake heritage whereever I go in this world. But the spirit of love was so strong. I can really say that I know that President has been called of God for us. There was such a great spirit there.

The Emperado family with Drixio and Ervie
Brother Walter and Sister Merlin De Jesus, our Branch mission leader. 

So I've had a little bit of a chance to go around and say some of my goodbyes to people, get my pictures with people, and do all those necessary things. It has been so good to have this time here in Escalante. I have learned so much, and I have grown so much, and I have met so many good friends. The people here are just kind. They're fun. They are loving, and I have been so blessed to be able to be here. 
The last FHE at the Ortega family house.

The Langa Family, sister Blezil and her mother, Evelyn, as well as the children. It is always good to go visit the Langa family, because they are always just so happy. They have so much love for each other, and they are so strong in this gospel. Sister Evelyn has been coming to church three weeks now, and she committed to be baptized on August 16. I just feel so strongly that their family will progress in this gospel. 
 Langas at their Balay. They have a really nice little garden. 

So for this transfer, I am going to Ayungon and my companion is Elder Castro. I am so excited for this opportunity I have this transfer. 

I love you. I love this place, and I know that wherever I am here, the people are going to be wonderful. I know some Elders who have been in Ayungon, and they've said it's amazing. I am so excited for all I can do here.


Elder Adam Dunford

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental


It's started getting to the point where I don't even realize how much it's rained this week. It's not that it really rains a lot, but it's been raining at least every day, and sometimes it really comes down. But supposedly this is the tail end of a baguio (typhoon) that hit Manila, so that's a first for me, a tropical storm.

This week was the branch had an activity! It was called Branch Unified Home Evening (or BUHE, which sounds like buhi, which means life. It's clever.) and they used to have this weekly before Yolanda, but it got stopped by "different priorities" afterward. But it's now being restarted, and it was a really good activity! It is essentially that the members of the branch meet together and discuss a certain topic (the baptismal covenant was last week's, for example), then they are split up into groups and they go and visit all the less active members in a certain area, and have a sharing time, little family home evening, unified with all the branch, thus BUHE. The turnout was kind of small at first, because it had been raining all morning, but a good amount of people came out, and it was all very nice. It was really good to have the members really out and focusing on these less active members, and having the whole spirit of helping their isigkamember (fellow member). Though the rain really came in as we were out, so people got very wet. 

I want to let you know that I have recently gone back to writing in the journal. I'll be honest, I was lacking a bit, but I feel like the last week or so, that I have learned some things that I cannot forget. I cannot afford to forget. I know that this will help me grow on the mission. I have felt that I have grown, and I have seen that I have so much more to do to become better. But I know that all of us can become better. That we can become perfected in Christ. 

I know that this work of ours is true, and I know that it is not our work. Yesterday I went on splits with Elder Omugtong, and I was given the calling to be trainer to him for a day. And so that was my piece of wisdom I tried to give him. That no matter where you go in the mission, no matter how good things are going, no matter how bad things are going, just always remember where it all come from. All your strength and all your weakness. I think that applies to what you were saying, that we need to always focus on that "deeper spirituality." No matter where we are in life, lost or found, there is one who knows where we are and what we need. Remember him always.

I read in a 2005 conference report Ensign kicking around the house a talk of President Hinckley's. In it he quoted a poem, It read:

"Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by.
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
just as good and as bad as I.

I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Or hurl the cynic's ban,
Just let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man."

He said this was how he felt at his age in life. I know that if we follow this, we can come closer to Christ.

Thank you always. I love you.

Elder Dunford

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 16, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental

Maayong odto (Good noon)

Last Saturday, I went on splits with my Zone Leader, Elder Buckley. He went to Orem High and knew Nathan (Adam's cousin) as the Master of the House, so we talked about that for a little while. It was a little bit weird talking about my cousin with someone who knows him while we were walking under the shade of banana plants on the side of a mountain, looking out at the island of Cebu. Just kind of surreal. 
We worked in Barangay Libertad, which they only work in once a week, because it's pretty far out and really kind of bukid. So this was my first chance in all the mission to really work in a bukid, hilly area. It really kind of reminded me of our hills back home, except you know, with goats instead of coyotes and with very much fewer houses.
So this week on splits with Elder Buckley in Mabini Branch, that was a really good experience. First of all, because it was my first time working in the hill country, which was fun, of course. Second of all, it was really interesting. We didn't really have any planning time, because we started first thing in the morning, so as we waited for the tricycle to leave, we went over the people we were visiting and discussed a little bit about them. The missionaries have only been working in Libertad for about two transfers, and they go at the most once a week, and Elder Buckley had only been there once. So they only have a few investigators they go and visit, and there were several times in the day that were parted out for finding people, specifically that we would teach a lesson on the spot. And we did, in those times, have several lessons that we taught. One was to a member of the missionary Baptist church, who shared a little of her own scriptures, but not really in the spirit of bashing. It was very in the spirit of just sharing (and talking with a rather big preacher-y voice for a little filipino nanay.) But another lesson we taught was a really interesting one. We were walking down the road (it kind of reminded me of Tonner Canyon,) when we stopped at a couple of houses in a little stand of trees. The people on one side started calling out the joes (doubly more than usual,) so we turned to the other side where there was a young couple doing a little work around their house. We introduced ourselves and asked if we could share a gamayng mensahe (small message). The look on their faces as we talked to them, and as they invited us in, it just looked as if they were saying "yes, it's time." They were just really receptive and dawaton (receptive) of this message, I knew the Spirit spoke to them. We just shared a very simple message of the plan of God, but I really hope Elders Buckley and Maasin can go back there. I really just felt like they wanted to receive this gospel of Christ.

I really liked this picture.

On Sunday we had a FHE at the Ortega house. The Ortegas are a less active family, and so this evening lesson became a sort of impromptu FHE, which was really good. We've been able to see some progress, as Sister Ortega has come to church more frequently. Brother has come once and we're really waiting on him, but they are just good people.

Things are going good. With this as my longest time with one companion, I've really started to be able to get to know Elder Montano. I've been able to understand more of him, and I've really been able to learn a lot from him, and from this time. I've been able to learn things that will help me in my life. (And the owner of the internet-han just started playing Take on Me so I lost my train of thought.) But I know that I'm growing here. I know that I can draw so close to the Lord here in his work. And I know that this "message of ours", that this is not the words of man. This is not the works of man. I know that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I like how the name of the Church is really a testament of itself. This isn't just any church. This is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know that this is true.

Love and care,

Elder Adam Dunford

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 9, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental

Elder Mantano "stealing" a child's bike.

(Elder Dunford's letter this week was mostly in response to my letter.  First I told him about sending a package and at the shipping place the people were speaking a Tagalog/English mix.  I asked him if he thought he'd be able to understand Tagalog by the end of his mission.)

Oh, Tagalog.

That actually sounds kind of like the my apartment right now, except throw Cebuano in the mix, too. Elder Omugtong is starting to really pick up a bit more Cebuano, but as all three of my housemates are from Manila area, the Tagalog gets around a bit. But I'm starting to get to where I can follow around what's being said. But I really can't understand Tagalog all very much, but my Cebuano is getting pretty well solid. But there's enough tagalog around here (it is the national language, pretty much everyone knows it), always that by the end of 2 years, I should be able to get pretty good. 

(I told him about our 4th of July BBQ)

I tell you what, this week I was really feeling like a nice homegrilled burger and hot dog with all the fixings and stuff. I don't know why, but I was actually really feeling this week a craving for a good burger. Probably just because my body knew it was the 4th of July.

(Gene asked him about the effects of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda on his area.)

I would bet there wouldn't be much publicity of Yolanda's effects here, because it didn't cause much destruction to the city like in Tacloban (not to mention the city of Escalante is pretty much a spot of civilization way out in the middle of nowhere, probably not much news would get out of here), but there still were a lot of people affected by the storm. It hit here pretty head on, after it passed through Tacloban, it crossed and hit the northern ends of Cebu and Negros (Like you may remember Bogo City over on Cebu was hit pretty bad, and we can see that end of Cebu from here.) But a lot of people whose houses aren't concrete structures (which I mean literally) were affected one way or another. A lot of times, we'll visit less active members out in the more bukid areas who we'll ask "How has your reading of the Basahon ni Mormon been?" and the answer is pretty much always "Oh, Elder, nawala siya sa bagio, pang-Yolanda. (It was lost in the storm.)" There are a few people whose houses were destroyed, either partially or completely, whose houses now are pretty scrapped together from the materials, the bamboo that was left. But for the most part everything's been built back into shape, but people do still talk about Yolanda here, it really did shake the town.

So it turns out that the "Habitat" was a Habitat for Humanities project. The Church of Jesus of Latter Day Saints helped here. I decided that this actually isn't that bad of a variation of the Church name as some I've heard, though it's a little unclear on just which Jesus we're talking about.
(I told him about the goings ons in the Mar Vista Singles  and Granada Wards)

I should probably tell you to say hi to all the people in the wards and back home more often, so hi. 

(I told him about teaching the first Temple Preparation Class which was about God's Plan of Happiness for His Children.  CLICK HERE if you would like to know more about it!)

One thing that I've noticed in my studies is a lot of times I come back to statements of the divinity of Christ. This isn't really something I've ever noticed before (but hey, I wasn't on a mission before), but just the power in the statements of Jesus as the Christ in the Scriptures. One of my favorites was in John 8, I just read the whole chapter. I just love the "boldness" that Jesus uses, just always rising up, confounding the growing claims of the Pharisees and scribes, of their greatness of the Law and of Abraham, until he says nothing more but the simple truth behind it all, that "Before Abraham was, I AM." I love how not only was that a totally bold statement, it is so simple and so true. It's as true as when he told Moses the same. He is the Christ, the God of all. He knows all, he has a reason for all and he has a plan for all. If we follow him, we can get His help with it all. I also read in 1 Nephi 19, where Nephi is commanded to make new plates and he of course follows. He just testifies of this, that God has a plan and a reason. Sometimes, we need to just follow, knowing there is wisdom in this. If we do, we have his help in all that will come up to us. I know this this is true.

Thank you as always. I am really starting to get into this mission stuff here. Now that I've been in Escalante for more than half of my mission, I really do love this place. I love the people here, it's so good. Take care over there.


Elder Dunford

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 2, 2014 - Escalante City, Negros Occidental

WOW 6 months in the mission.  Six months since I first heard what this Cebuano actually is, and all that stuff. I can't believe it. It's a whole deal about mission time, how it is like  wow, super fast, but it feels like it's been a forever, and time is just incomprehensible here. But I've also now been in Escalante 3 months, for half of my mission I've been here. Lawaan seems so long ago, like it wan't even real. 
We were walking back from the Tagulabo house, a less active family. Most of the family actually lives in Bacolod most of the time and only return home every once in a while. But Tatay and his son, Ronel, and cousins live at the house, and we've been able to teach to them, and they're all really nice and good, but they're super ulaw (shy), and since it's been dugay nga wala sila nakasimba (a while since they've gone to church), they said they're shy to go back. But last week, Ronel and his cousin came to church! And the other day, when we went on splits, Elder Montano was able to teach to Tatay and family, and he said they were really able to help him understand why we need to take the Sacrament and come to church weekly, and that Tatay said that he would bring his whole family to church this week, because they'll be home from Bacolod this weekend! So we are really excited about this, just the growth that we've been able to see take place. But yeah, this picture was taken near their house, and it had rained hard that morning so the crick was flowing over.

I have yet to meet President McCurdy, though this week is the first Zone conference, so the ZL's are all in Cebu being ministered unto, and tomorrow they'll teach us all the new things.

This was almost a good picture, but it didn't quite focus on the flowers.

(In light of 4th of July this week, I had asked Adam if there were any remembrances of WWII in his area of the Philippines. ~trina)
There's few people left here who lived during the war. There's a tatay in the branch who was born in 1945, i think he said, so just afterwards. Probably the biggest hold over is just the "hey joes" and salutes I get. I have to try hard sometimes to not return a salute, because that probably wouldn't be the best image. 

The baptism last week of Sister Blezil! Her mom and sisters were able to come to the baptism, and though it was kind of small, it was really nice, too. The aunt of sister Blezil, who is an RM from Calatrava was able to come too, and she was at her confirmation the next day as well. I can't express how good of a thing this is for her. I just know that this is really opening doors for her family and for all sorts of people. I know this is true.

The other day we went on splits. Elder Montano worked with Brother Leonardo, and I worked with Brothers Cris and Bobby, branch missionaries. We just split to be able to reach out to more people and areas, but it was a really interesting experience, to deal with the challenge of leading lessons. But one thing that I've really been trying to refocus on and practice is really just trusting in the Spirit for what I teach.  I was really focusing on listening to the people, and focus on them, only them, and not thinking of what to say, what's going on or anything. Just focus on the people. Focus on their needs. Have that desire and that love for the people we visit, to help them. To want to help them in the way our Father would have us help them. It's still a little hard if I don't know what to say and people start talking about how I'm struggling with the language, and it's like "It's not the language that's the problem, I just don't know what to say!" But I know that If we do trust in God, he will help us. If we do just keep talking to people, that we'll be covered, and we can start to actually do good. If we show our care for them, they will know we love them. That we will do anything for them. 


Elder Dunford.