Monday, October 14, 2013

Getting There

* In order to make the communication easier to read, Michelle took some of Brian's comments from different emails and wove them into the main email he sent on the same day. And, some of them are listed at the bottom of the letter. Questions or clarifications from Michelle are contained in brackets.

* Brian sent several pictures from when he flew out of the US until this past week. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the letter for the pictures.

Monday, October 14, 2013
Dear Everyone,

This week has been awesome. I mean to say that I'm no longer sick at all, and I can finally understand some of what is going on around me. I mean I know my area very well; I just can't talk to everyone. I love being able to work though. I feel like I can actually do something now rather than just let my companion do all the talking and teaching.

Anyway I have some stories for this week. :)

So while we were on our way back from town in the jeepney, there are two things that you say a lot. One means stop (pala), and one means pay (bayad) So, when people give you money, you say pay and give the money to the driver and he gives change as needed. But when I meant pay I actually said “pala.” He stopped the jeep, and no one got out... It was super embarrassing. :P But that's life. haha.

We also taught some really cool people this week. We taught Roddy, and we taught Sister Kristin and her little girl Jamie. They were really nice. We are also teaching Sister Iva, and she really seems to be progressing but slowly. I've noticed that nothing in the Philippines every really happens fast. But slowly and surely the work does move along.

Also, conference was awesome! I took so many notes. It's crazy. I hope that everyone had the chance to see it. I loved it so much. [Favorite talk?] Man that's hard. They were all way good. I really liked Elder Holland’s talk about caring for those with depression. It made me feel so much hope for anyone and everyone who suffers from discomfort.

Elder Holland's Talk:

I hope all is doing well at home with all of you. I keep you in my prayers, and I pray that you stay safe. I love you all, and I love this gospel; it is such a blessing in my life. It makes me not fear the future or doubt what is going to happen to me. I know this is true and love it.

Mahal Kita!!!

Elder Christensen

[What is your companion like?] Well he is very small... I mean he literally is one of the smallest 22 year old men I have ever met. He is super spiritual, though. He was a convert about 7 years ago but became inactive later and started smoking. He then found his way back to the church after a lot of hard work and tribulation. We get along pretty well. I mean, I've found that I'm not going to get along always as a perfect unity with everyone. It just isn't going to happen. We mainly have fights over the fact that he thinks that I'm not carrying my weight. But then we do better when we both remember that I'm learning, and I still have a hard time even understanding all of the conversation let alone speaking it. This is because he is a native Tagalog speaker and has learned English. But for the most part we get along really well. We both strive to be as humble as possible and understand that we were raised in very different circumstances.

Elder Hernandez and Brian
[How are you getting along with the Filipinos?] I love the Filipinos. They are such a sweet and kind people. I mean they have their problems, but as a whole they don't yell at one another, and they really hate to fight. I love that. They don't really have any rules though, so they kinda all just do what they want all the time... But that's just their culture I guess.

[What is it like being so tall?] Haha I hear the word “tankod” every day. That means tall, and it's really funny because we go to investigators house, and when they open the door they say "ay" because they weren't expecting someone so tall. It's really funny.

[How is Tagalog coming?] It's coming. Slowly but surely, it's coming. I mean in lessons I understand about 80%. But the hard part is when I don't have any foreknowledge of what we are going to be talking about. Then I only get about 20-30%. I can teach most of a lesson, But it's slow and my companion hates that, so he takes over a lot. I'm ok with that because then I can just listen and try to understand all that is going on.

[Do you feel shy and quiet among the people or do you feel like you can talk to them?] I feel a little bit of both. I mean they are all way nice when you talk to them, but I'm also very shy. So some days I just try and talk to everyone, but on others I'm very withdrawn and it’s hard to talk. But I'm finding that as I rely on the spirit it gets easy to talk to them more and more.

[How long does it take you to get a pouch letter from home?] It depends on when we get pouch. It gets to the mission home awhile before it gets to us. It takes about a week or two to get to me usually.

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