Monday, August 30, 2010

First email from the Philippines!

wow. i'm in the philippines! what on earth?!
so i should have a little longer here to email, so you dont have to completely worry about making things short :) its much less stressful without the minutes counting down in big red numbers on the screen!
so the travel here was... ok! lets see, i called you from... SF. so from there we took the HUGE 14 hour flight. that was... full of sleep and reading and staring at the seat in front of me. i was sitting next to a missionary, and a chinese man. early in the flight i asked how his dinner was and he said "no english!" so after struggling to act out "yummy" and "dinner" i kinda gave up with him.
the flight actually went pretty quick to me... faster than some of our drives to st george even ;) haha
it was slightly hectic finding our terminal in taiwan, but we did. we were walking along, coming up on a GINORMOUS "hello kitty" area, complete with rainbow stairs, play place, and pink walls floors and pillars. as we gaped at it, we looked at the gate number right next to it. of COURSE it was our gate!! so we sat our things down in the hello kitty pink waiting chairs and laughed. i think i got a few pictures...
oh about pictures, apparently most the computers here have viruses and such, so its kinda risky to plug things into them. one of my roomates has a card reader that is slightly safe, so if i can get a hold of that i'll upload some photos today, if not it will have to be about 2 weeks so i can go to Roxas (the big city) and buy a couple of things to make it virus proof. but i'll try! i have some great photos! i just wish photos captured the whole scene i see.
so after taipei we flew to manila. by this time we were all exhausted, with 2 days of travel and rough airplane sleep only. but in the manila airport, elder burton and i talked with a guy for about 2 hours or so! we talked about his job, his family, and then the gospel! he was really interested!! so i gave him a book of mormon, got his address and gave it to the missionaries in his area! it was so exciting to finally be able to share the gospel for my first time! and i was blown away by how much tagalog i could speak and understand!! he knew a little english, so between us we could pretty much completely understand eachother! (i sat next to some filipinos from manila to iloilo and they just laughed at me when i spoke to them, haha, but whatever!) but about tagalog... yeah, right when i feel like i can almost hold a conversation, i get here, and i cant understand a SINGLE THING. i wont lie, i feel pretty dumb cuz i have nothing to say to anyone we contact haha but amat amat, little by little, i'll get there!
so the first night, wednesday night, we drove to the mission home, and i wont lie i had a little hit of culture shock. and the next morning i had the feeling, "this is the philippines, what on earth am i doing here?!" but after that, everything was fine! i LOVE the people here. they are so nice, and hilarious. after eating and we retired in the ZLs apartment. next day was orientation where we just talked about mission rules and what not, got our ilonggo language book and talked about health safety and such. then friday morning we had our transfer meeting! i am assinged in the Roxas zone, the north east corner of Panay Island, a good 2+ hour drive from Iloilo city! my companions name is Elder Adams, from colorado. he's only been out about 5 months, but he's a great guy, and his ilonggo is incredible.
but the coolest thing about my assignment is that we were assigned to the Balasan area, a town that has NEVER had missionaries, so we are opening it! most of the people havent even heard of the church! and there are only a couple members in the area, so our first day, we went down the street of a baranghei (neighborhood) and just talked to everyone we could see! we started teaching lessons (Elder Adams does most of the teaching, i just try to bear my testimony and pay attention to the language right now!) and setting up return appointments, so we've got lots of teachings to do this next week! i'm super excited. we spent.. friday and saturday in this one baranghey, and thats only one out of the many many in the city! we board in a neighboring city, Estancia, so we have to ride a Tricycle each day to and from balasan (20 min each way) (tricycles are motorcicles with little passenger carts on the sides, super fun! :) ) i'm excited to spend the rest of the week returning to the people and finding more to teach there. it varries on the people, but some are super nice and welcoming, and others just want nothing to do with us. i LOVE this area tho! its a more rural area, lots and lots of rice fields. its so pretty. i need to take more pictures!
its incredible how much we stick out here, especially in balasan. people will just stand on the side of the road outside their houses to watch us go by! and we get shout outs all the time "hey joe!" thats what they call all white people haha and they always ask where we are going. its funny. the culture is great!
ok. so now just a couple quick experiences i've had:
-at our transfer meeting i met a boy i knew from school a little, Elder Oldroyd (his mom's a missionary mom, mom :) ) that was cool. and guess what? he just happens to be in my zone, and district! just saw him this morning at district meeting.
-so i room with Elder Adams, and Elder Andrews from my district at the MTC! and his companion Elder Ellsworth. we have a nice place, probably one of the nicest missionaries will ever live in! its a house that we're using while the owners are in europe or something. i have some pictures you'll have to see. the first day, when we got home, their rat trap was occupied, so we first disposed of that.. then we went to the palengki (market) and got some nummy philippines food! dinner usually consists of rice with sulad, pretty much anything you put on rice, mostly canned meet etc. breakfast is nummy chocolate cereal w/ powdered milk, and yes, rice! that was a fun experience. lunch is either rice, or their equivelant of roman noodles, panit. and then we'll mix in peanut butter sandwhiches and eggs into our meals. thats about it! yum! for our first day, yes, we ate balut. the duck was young, so it was like eating a boiled egg yoke with a glob of dark goop in the middle.. yum! i didnt mind it actually.
-yesterday was stake conference, so we shoved all the members from here in estancia into a jeepni (i think... 45 people?) and we drove to Roxas, only a 2 hour drive. but once we were outside the city, me and a few others just climbed on top of the jeepni to make it a little less cramped :) i let some others sit on top on the way back, and i got to hang onto the back for that drive. Fun!
-on our.. first day i think, it was really hot (suprise!) and we needed water so we went to a little shop and asked for some. we asked if it was filtered and they said yes. after elder adams drank his cup and started filling up the second, i looked down from drinking half of mine, and let me just say... it was not filtired. elder adams is a little sick today and we think thats probably why. but yesterday while we were waiting for our ride to roxas my stomach was upset, so i had to ask to use a persons bathroom. LUCKILY they had a toilet at least. but when i tried to flush it.. nothing. they always have these huge buckets in the bathrooms full of water and a big ladel (usually the substitute for toilet paper, luckily i had some with me) so i tried filling the toilet with that to make it flush. but then i got nervous, what if it never flushed and kept filling? so i just left it! haha i felt kinda bad, but hopefully they forgive me. i guess you ARE supposed to just fill it till it flushes. i'll know that for next time! :)
-yesterday, a huge rainstorm came when we were trackting. we stood under a waiting shed, but the wind was so hard the rain was comming sideways, so our pants were pretty soaked! but there was a filipino man under there we got to talk to for a half hour while it rained! the Lord works in mysterious ways!
-cold showers... but not w/ ladels for now, an actual shower! and our friend Shelob in the bathroom helps keep the misquitos thinned out :)
so today we played basketball with some filipinos which was enjoyable. they're pretty good! (dont worry, i still only lost once :) ) and we just bought some new beds so me and elder adams can take our mattresses off the floor, although it was probably cooler on the floor.. we sleep with little fans blowing on us, and no blankets, otherwise it is very uncomfortable!
so everything is going great! i love the ties mom! my comp says silk ties seem to do fine for him, so i should be fine, but if i need i can buy some more here. everything is CHEAP! one elder got a guitar and case for less than 20$ :) i'll have to look around. and you can get any custom jerseys, shorts, and pants, for 3-5 dollars. havent done it yet, but i plan to get a few things made for me. the elders here say the dress pants they make are super comfortable! i get to do my first day of laundry today... not excited. our shirts last... 1 to 2 days, depending if we mind putting it on again with a black collar. haha.
wow time has flown! i still have to go do laundry, which i hear takes forever. its about 6 pm here, so its only 4 am there!! so you'll have this to read for the morning, maybe between classes mom :)
i love you all so much! it was so good to hear from you on the phone. i'm excited to have some more stories for you for next week!
Elder Pettit

you can send this to anyone that would like to hear! love you!