Monday, July 8, 2013

Philippines Week 1 - Bugs and Lizards!

Kamusta Everyone!
The past week has been crazy! There is so much to write about! To start off our flight was good, it was very long but it wasn't too bad, and the layover in Tokyo was too short so I didn't get to leave the airport, but I did still get to see some Asian stuff (hello kitty everywhere). The first night we stayed in Manila and then at 4 a.m. we got on a bus and rode to San Pablo! My mission president is great and his wife is really nice. There are also several couple missionaries here who seem really nice.

I have been assigned to the Alaminos area. It is just outside of San Pablo, in the same town as the mission home. It’s pretty urban and there are always people around.  

My companion's name is Elder Valdez. He is a native Filipino but he speaks really good English so we can communicate just fine. We have taught a lot of lessons and found quite a few new investigators since I’ve been here. Everyone is open to talking to us. We have 3 investigators getting ready for baptism. However, there are a lot of inactive members here. There are 300+ members but usually only about 50 or so attend church.

Tagalog is coming along pretty well. I have learned a lot since I’ve been here. I can’t understand everything people say but I’ve been able to pick up bits and pieces. People have been impressed when they find out I have been here less than a week and can understand what they are saying. The rich people and kids here know pretty good English. And some other people can understand it, but are embarrassed to speak it, so they prefer to talk in Tagalog. If you ask them to speak in English they say no, because they will get a "nose bleed" from thinking too hard. The little kids are funny they run up and yell HI! or WHAT'S UP MAN!

There are a lot of different and interesting things here. First being that it is REALLY, REALLY humid! I am constantly hot, sticky and sweaty!!  There are also a lot of little bugs and things! I also saw the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life. It was insane and scary! There is also the most annoying bug in the world here. It is some type of cricket. It makes a sound like the ringing in your ears after you hear something super loud, like a gunshot. And it makes that high pitched ringing noise from dawn till dusk. I've attached a picture of my lizard friend. There are usually a dozen geckos that come into are apartment at night. I like them, they are harmless and eat the ants and keep away the spiders. 

The streets and transportation here is "loco loco". In Manila the driving was crazy. It seemed like the street lines were there just to look pretty, because nobody pays attention to them. The main transportation here is jeepneys and tricycles. I've attached a picture of me in a jeepney, it's a really long bus looking thing except it's made from WW2 type jeeps.  And the tricycles are just a motorcycle with a side car. 

The food here isn't too bad. There are a lot of really good fruits and I found out it is illegal now to eat dog!! Hurray! I tried a cool fruit called a rambutan that was really good. It is red and pokey on the outside but white and really good on the inside.

One quick funny story; We ran into this lady while we were walking, who sells apartments, and she wanted to talk in English with me. She wanted to know what a good name for her granddaughter would be, something unique and American. I told her Sariah Abish! She doesn't know yet that it’s a Book of Mormon name, but she seemed to like it. She wanted to know what it means so I told her it means Eternal Daughter of God.

Also if you want to send a letter, the mission office here prints from Dear Elder. SO please send mail and letters through that, I have more time to read them!

Also they told us to tell our families to NEVER ship through Fed Ex or UPS. It is really expensive for me to pick up. So just send things through USPS priority mail.

  I love and miss you all
     Mahal Kita
          Elder Merrill

Mom -
That great you got a bike! And it sound like you had a good 4th of July. Things here are very different, but it’s good. I am a little bit home sick for America. I miss hot showers (most mornings I use a bucket).

Also Happy Birthday to Mom and Dad in the next weeks. When I get the chance I will try and send a box back home with stuff in it for everyone including birthday stuff for you all!

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