August 18, 2014
My last days in my beloved Santiago were pretty awesome. First of all, you've never seen a sadder face in your life than Rusell's face when he heard I was being transferred. Every time he looked at me it was like he was going to cry. Same goes for Jethro and Henry. The really frustrating part though was that the city shut off the water for our apartment the last two days I was there... Which means I wasn't able to finish washing my laundry, and both Elder Delaney and I had to shower at one of our less-active sister's home. She was super nice about it, though. She even made us a big breakfast. It was an awesome way to leave out.
At transfer meeting I met up with Elder Bautista who seems to be doing awesome. He's training these coming cycles, which should be fun in his purely-mountainous area of Benito Sullivan. Elder Delaney is going to Alicia, where they have lunch and dinner appointments with the members daily. I, on the other hand, have gone to a far greater place...
TUGUEGARAO! It is pronounced Too-gig-ah-raw. It is the hottest place in the mission, widely-known as the hottest place in the Philippines, and arguably one of the hottest places in the world. It's smack-dab in the middle of the Cagayan River Valley, which is the valley encompassing most of northern Luzon. Considering it's bowled-in like this, it makes for an extremely hot climate. I haven't seen any rice fields here, either! It's all corn up here. The town has a really unique feel to it; far different from the feel of Santiago. For one, the street layout is completely different. It is a lot more crammed and crowded. There are a lot of really cool, Spanish-era churches all over. Even the tricees are a different style than the Santiago ones. I've started to give them all different names... The Quirino Low-rider, the Santiago Tub, and the Tuguegarao Antique Wagon. Maybe it will catch on. Don't quote me on that.
I'm in the Cataggaman Ward. It is an extremely small area. You can walk the whole thing in 30 minutes, most of the time passing nothing but corn fields. The population here consists mainly of youth attending the state college. A lot of those college students are young ladies. I think it's safe to say... The yellow fever has set in, swift and without warning. Ha! ;) Besides that, it's like Neverland here. Kids run everything. I'm amazed at how young everyone is. It is a great place to preach the restored gospel; thousands of youth, searching for truth, thirsty for a steady direction in life. And here we are to offer it. What a great opportunity!
My new companion is Elder Glassie. He's in the batch with Elder Espanto, so I'm his follow-up trainer. He's from Australia, which makes him my first English-speaking companion! He was surprised I knew so much Australian slang which I had picked up from Elder Delaney. That was pretty fun. He is a really cool guy, though. He played rugby back at school and he loves most other sports. I guess his trainer was a real stickler, in a very bad way. He wouldn't even let him play sports on P-days, which I think is simply uncalled for. He's become pretty disobedient, stemming from the fact he hasn't been able to enjoy the full blessing of obedience yet, considering when they were obedient, there was something wrong about the spirit of it. To be honest, I'm employing a strategy that may lead to me doing some disobedient things at times, but the ultimate goal is for him to want to be obedient out of a desire to be an effective missionary. He's expressed things to me that make it apparent he has a desire to be effective, but it's hidden behind his fear of being strict or unlikable. I know that a happy balance is obtainable, and although it might take time, it is priority, and important for the work here to progress. I'll give you updates!
We had a baptism on Saturday which was amazing. A 13 year old girl named Maryann Balisi. She is awesome! She just gleams with a testimony that is hard to ignore. The youth in this ward are super helpful and really good at English. I've had many complements on my Tagalog but mostly I've been complementing them on their English, which really is heaps better than the English of previous wards I've been in. I'm anticipating helping with the piano accompaniment on Sundays, so I hope I'm able to improve better my piano playing. I'm able to do pretty well with the simplified hymnbook they have, which features guitar chords I'm able to figure out on the piano much easier, but I'm intending to start reading music better by the end of it. I feel I've squandered a lot of opportunities to grow my talents. My Heavenly Father has given me these for a reason, and I ought not to bury my talent.
This is a great work, and I'm so excited for these coming cycles in beautiful Tuguegarao! A gospel to live, a lot to learn, and many more to love. The God of Israel leads us.