The Longer Ones

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ch 58 How To Train Your Dragon

So far I'm doing well. I'm still a bit surprised to be a district training leader but I'm happy and I'm loving my calling so far! it's a bit busier than I anticipated but it's nothing I personally can't handle. Right now I'm just hoping I'm training him correctly and showing him the right skills to do what he needs to do.

As a companionship, Elder Lewis is a very interesting missionary. He's funny a bit awkward but has a genuine desire to learn. There are times when I believe he's being a bit too mean to himself but I'm asking him to be more patient with himself. Emotionally he is not sad or depressed and is also very talkative like me. Which I like because I'll keep him talking to get his mind away from homesickness. He's very proactive and reminds me anything I might forget. Right now though he feels a little bit inadequate when teaching lessons and I'm trying to encourage him more. Last week for companionship and language study we focused more on learning tagalog. But this week we will focus more on Lesson plans and lesson 1-5 so he can teach in taglish.

Our wards, are still incredible. we had a baptism last week and could get 6 more this saturday, and Elder Lewis is having a fun Filipino rollercoaster ride. The wards are loving us more and we are doing everything we can to support them and visit members that they miss. Not only is it reactivating but it's helping us build overwhelming trust between missionaries and wards.

Anyway funny stories

Have you watched the How To Train Your Dragon 3 Trailer yet? I haven't. But it's okay because my last week was even better. Or at least I hope it was. Anyway for my week I wanted to make Elder Lewis have a fun time. Like a really fun time. So we had the most adventurous work we ever had.

Day 1 of Elder Lewis' missionary extravaganza. I was dead tired. I couldn't sleep. I was so excited I ended up cooking breakfast at 4am only to pass out while eating breakfast. then I woke up. It was 6:00 and at that moment I knew I was screwed. All I was thinking was
"Oh no! I woke up late! President will make me a JC till I die"

And it was at that moment that I got ready, showered, sprinted, found a jeep, and called texted the AP's I was on my way. This took 5 minutes. The next 20 minutes was followed by traffic and me contemplating how I will be thrust down to hell.

Anyway I got there 40 minutes late and Surprisingly it was not too bad. After a lot of workshops and testimonies, I picked up my Anak and we got to work. We visited the leadership and ward members so he gets to know the area more and we practiced Tagalog till it hurts to talk. He loved it!

Day 2 of Elder Lewis' missionary Extravaganza I decided we need to have more fun in the work. I looked up and I saw some dark clouds heading our way. and you know what that means.

"Elder Lewis, leave your jacket and umbrella at the house, your bag is too heavy!" -E. Villanueva
"Those look like rain clouds" -E. Lewis
"Elder we're going swimming" -E. Villanueva

We proselyted for a few hours, showed him our recent converts and our baptismal candidate then waded through 2-3 foot or flood waters to get home. It was great!

Day 3.... We went to Norzagaray. and sat in a jeep for 6 hours to get to the baptismal interview. that was fun. But the best part was when Elder Lewis paid for the fare. now there are these 2 words in Tagalog. Bayad and bayag. Anyway his pronunciation wasn't golden yet and instead of saying
"My fare sir, for two" (Bayad ko po, dalawa)
He accidentally said
"My testicles sir, both of them" (Bayag ko po, dalawa)
And I just couldn't hold it in. I bursted out laughing and so did a few of the passengers. it was a fun time

Day 4 and 5 was a fairly simple day. had a baptism and church and that's about it. Nothing too interesting happened but it was good.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ch 57 I'm Pregnant.

Okay a lot of fun stuff happened this week but I guess I ought to start on the title of this post. Before I start with this post, some side info Buntis=pregnant and binyag=baptize, do not mix them up, we ask people to come closer to God and get baptized, not come closer to us and get pregnant. Those are two very very different things and you will need those 2 words to keep up with this post. I am buntis y'all! I'm about to train a new kid! Just as a clarification, no I am not actually pregnant, it just means I'm training a newbie! like new new. like so totally fetching new right from the MTC. HE'S A BABY MISSIONARY!!!!! I'm gonna be his trainer and I'm totally pumped! I still don't know who he is because I'm going to pick him up tomorrow, but I bet he is guapo as fetch! and hopefully diligent and obedient or I will burn him with nothing less than eternal damnation... okay too far.
anywho, I'm gonna miss my current companion Elder Lowery though, I'm gonna miss his weirdness, his strange but effective methods, and ummm his low-key annoying but incredible finding skills. 10/10 guy. But anyway he's leaving and going to be a Zumba-Lord in a different zone binyag-ing all the nanays and inas. And I'm buntis taking his place here as a District Leader. Oh it'll be a fun transfer mate! I'm so pumped!

The ward is still good, we're just prepping 2 families to be baptized, among a few other peeps. except you know the funniest thing happened. 22 out of our 35 progressing investigators EVACUATED THIS WEEK! we taught a total of like 10-20 lessons this week (weaksauce) because well they're not home. );

It's okay though they're still heading back to their homes... The storm was alright, some 2-3 feet flooding and some fetching strong winds but nothing bad enough that we stop proselyting. kaya patuloy pa rin ang work (so the work continues)...

Now for some fun stories.

One of the less actives in our ward just gave birth. anyway she was buntis. and my comp and I decided to visit her at the hospital and say hello and stuff. But while we were walking we decided hey we should buy her a birthing gift? is that a thing? birth gift? anyway. Elder Lowery bought a kilo of rambutan (sweet fruit that looks like pink hairy balls), I bought 15 pesos worth of dandelions (I'm poor), and our worker got a small thing of baby powder. Anyway thinking this was all normal, we went to the hospital, showed them our nametags and said
"Yes we need to be here, we are representatives of God. 3rd floor. Female ward. Mormons." -E. Villanueva
"Oh okay, come in!" -The Security Guards

We walk upstairs, wave at the nurses, and walk in the female ward. And this less active looks at us surprised and says
"What're you doing here?

And there's my sarcastic quirky attitude going like
"I heard you asked for 3 ghetto Filipino wisemen, we gotchu some gifts" -E. Villanueva
"So how was birth?" -E. Lowery

"Gifts? He ain't Jesus and I definitely ain't Mary!" -Less Active Lady
"Yeah close enough" -E. Lowery and Villanueva

It all went well! they didn't go to church though because they were flooded in their house and she just gave birth. It's okay there's always next week. One cool thing to ponder about this story though. We are all Children of God. THINK ABOUT THAT. That means we can become like Him, We have the opportunity to change and become more than what even we believe is possible because "When we comprehend the character of God, we comprehend ourselves" (Teachings of Joseph Smith, 2011). Yeah sure that newborn baby may not look like much right now, but like all others here, we have the divine potential to change and learn and become more like Him. Who knows? That baby? might be a missionary too one day.

Next story. Elder Lowery Shows brotherly kindness in a very very visual way. Is he kind verbally? not at all. Is he kind physically when it's the two of us? once in a blue moon. but when it really matters oh he's kind. Oh he is very kind. He is kind beyond kindness sake.

So lemme tell you my story.

Because of the storm, work and school is cancelled in a lot of places. Because it's cancelled and it's a strong storm, some people thought it was the end of the world. And like all apocalypse scenario there are some that come closer to God and there are some that come closer to their bottles (alcohol).

Anyway my comp and I are still proselyting while the world's falling apart, and decided to visit a part member family but on our way there we had to go through this one alleyway filled with drunks. and a few of them started harassing me. He said a lot of not nice things. And I just thought we were going to walk away and then Elder Lowery, this heaven-sent countryboy from Florida, confronted them in perfect Tagalog. (Next part is loosely translated)

"What? What's you're problem! You got a problem with us? That is my companion. Don't you talk to my companion that way! I Don't care if you're drunk! Don't you ever talk to my companion that way!"

They were so close they were pretty much face-to-face. And I was just there in the corner going like "Wow. please don't fight. please don't fight"

I was just speechless. And the other guy was stunned. Not only did Elder Lowery know Tagalog, he did it in a way that had power that I hadn't seen before in Elder Lowery. It low-key blew my mind. Little did I know that during this incident the part member family was listening and the dad went out and chastised him till he left. It was a cool time. and it shows that Elder Lowery, though doesn't show it, can be a powerful mother bear when protecting his companions.

-Elder Villanueva
Urdaneta Philippines Mission
Quezon City North Philippines Mission

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ch 56 Ambitious as Hell

We were very ambitious this week and tried to get 30 SMA's. To do this, it required intense planning, all 30 needed to be planned. Monday we asked ourselves who are our investigators, everyone we dropped, everyone we thought had potential and everyone we know can realistically go to church. After counting we had 28, which meant we need 4 more at unites or 4 new Part member less active that I can find. and that's exactly what we did. Everyday we did splits to hit that goal. Teach. Reactivate. Invite. We needed to do everything we can to hit it. While this was going on, we also have another goal of finding every Mormon family that lives in the stake.

Quick reiteration of our 2 goals for the week
-30 investigators at church to beat the area record and to bring our wards alive
-find every family in the stake to reactivate, baptize part members, and bring them to the fold

Everyday had to be productive, with no useless minute. We did splits 4 times this week. I mapped and found reactivated and taught, While Elder Lowery maintained our 28 investigators and made sure life was okay and their testimonies will keep growing. Because whether we have 2 investigators or 4 golden families, until we give our all to the work. Until we give a part of ourselves to Heavenly Father's work every day, every hour, until I collapse, I don't believe we have done our jobs. I searched for more while my comp maintained what we have and we prayed every hour for this week that all will be well. We do this because that's what missionary work is about. If Jesus Christ, literally the only Perfect Missionary that has ever lived, gave His all for us, why won't I give my all for Him. Him, who died for me, bled for me on the cross, for someone as imperfect as me. If we are really, like really going to take upon His name and do His work, why should I settle for 95% effort. This week we worked, and we didn't come home until we were tired, and found, and were rejected, and walked, and are happy. Always happy, because I know that Heavenly Father will be be infinitely happier for each soul we invite to come to Him. Yeah as a missionary life sucks sometimes, but why should we expect it to be easy when it was never easy for Him. We smiled through it and life was good. Tiring sure, but still good.

Fun story (For me)

I worked AJ to hell.

He is one of the YSA workers and he told me (somewhat cockily) that he's ready and prepared to go on a mission, that it's pretty easy right?

"Really? Okay AJ, let's go to work and let me show you real deep-bone-pagod" -E. Villanueva (pagod means tiredness)

Luckily it was only the two of us, so I can go all out and so that we don't have baggage or have to wait for anyone else. Anyway those 9 hours went something like this.

"AJ my goals for today are to teach 8 appointments, preferably all new investigators, walk 15 Kilometers, and find at least 20 less active families. Let's go to work" - E. V.

"AJ remember, you have to be faster walking uphill than walking downhill" - E. V.

At this point I just wanted to murder him with work for fun hahaha

"Elder can you slow down my body hurts" - AJ
"Okay sure, let's get some coconut juice and stop, but I want you teach him the Law of Chastity while you buy juice" -E.V.
"I'm tired though" -AJ
"Your body sure, but testimony doesn't sleep, so preach" -E.V.

"Elder it's raining, should we wait for it to die down?" - AJ
"2 years is short, stop wasting the Lord's time and let's get a move on" -E.V.

Looking back I might've a bit mean, but he learned a lot. He knows how to work, once those 9 hours finished, he was dead and it was good. And the next day he called to work again. I'm proud of that kid. And I know he'll be fine. He's working everyday more and he's pretty cool when he's not pagod.

Oh yeah, umm we also had a baptism, increased sacrament attendance by 20-40 in each ward, and got 32 investigators at church. It was a productive and tiring week. I'm gonna buy a chocolate shake.

-- Elder Villanueva

Urdaneta Philippines Mission

Quezon City North Philippines Mission

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Ch 55 He>I

Personally life is fantastic! I've been following some of your advice and here's what I've found. We work hardest whenever we always remember our purpose. When we are reminded of why we are here, when we are reminded of our purpose, when we are reminded of our personal conviction to serve, we are most effective and efficient. And the best way to do that is to look at something so close to our heart: our nametags. On all of our nametags we often forget that there are two names there. Ours and Jesus Christ. A lot of times as missionaries, we act for ourselves (oh that's MY baptism, I want a dinner appointment instead). So many "me, myself, and I's" that we forget what really matters, that we are here for Him. To do His will, to do what's right, and most importantly to invite others to come unto Christ. For the past few weeks personally I've been a bit distracted, and I don't think it's because I was arrogant or I didn't lock my heart or anything like that, but it happened simply because I didn't focus on the right person. Let's not forget in Matt 14: 20-25 (somewhere there I'm pretty sure) when Jesus invited Peter to walk on the water, and it was only when Peter looked away did he begin to sink. I believe that if we constantly remember Him, specifically in these latter days, we will never feel lost, we will never fall, and we will never be alone. I know that after the mission I won't have a nametag to remind me, but I hope and pray that at that point, I won't need it to remind me. I'm not saying it's easy because it's not, I'm asking you to put your faith and trust in Him rather than in yourself. And that's asking for a lot. But I promise that if we do that, we will come closer to our families and to Him. Because I know that no matter I well or how bad I do, He will always be greater than me.

Now some fun stories

Do you remember last week how we wanted Madueke (a less active South African  in Marulas ward) to go to church? Well We've been praying extra hard that it would happen and last sunday as we were about to go inside the sacrament hall, we saw him. In the front row, was an African man, and I looked at Elder Lowery....

"is that Madueke? no....."
"thats an Black guy! dadgummit is that him?!"
"fetch, did our passalong card work?"
"Elder Villanueva talk to him!"
"okay okay okay"

I slowly walked over and talked to him. His name is Timotheo, an investigator from Tanzania. And from my knowledge of Tanzania from that one time when I got bored when I was 14 and watched a documentary about it in Natl Geo, I used this knowledge to well talk to him and be friends.

"oh wow, are you near Unguja or Arusha? I heard it's a bit colder over there right? I'm Elder Villanueva by the way, I'm from California but I'm fluent in Tagalog too"

And then the funniest thing happened, Elder Lowery's English skills died.

"Hi I'm Florida and I speak Lowery, I mean uhhh I'm Elder Lowery and uhh I'm from Florida yeah, sorry i can't english, I'm filipino"
"You alright Elder?"
"I'll just go, yeah, talk later"

And the funny thing is, it kept going!!!!

In Valenzuela ward we have french family. Fluent in French, English and Tagalog, and before sacrament started we decided to greet them. You know to build trust and be friendly and I decided to say hi.

"Good Morning Bro. Salve!"
" ha hgbhjnm"

Right when Elder Lowery was about to say hi, he ends up saying a half hi and a strange grunt like Tim Allen from Home Improvement. Needless to say, I think we're going to practice our English a little bit more this week hahaha

As companions we also love to push other beyond our comfort zones. 2 weeks ago, he took me fishing, but this week it was my turn and I took him to a Korean BBQ place. It was $12 total for the both of us and it was pretty good but here's what happened

"Barbeque? I'm always into Barbeque!" -E. Lowery
"No no, I mean Korean BBQ" -E. Villanueva
"What in the world is that!" -E. Lowery
" well lemme show you" -E. Villanueva

We ate and got the unli beef and pork and it tasted pretty good. I liked it a lot, but I decided to ask Elder Lowery because he started making weird faces

"You're tellin me I gotta pay them money, for me to cook my own food? What kind of BBQ is this?!" -E. Lowery
"It's korean BBQ, so we can control when you want it" - E. Villanueva
"well no wonder it's a buffet, these little cups can't fill a baby up!" - E. Lowery

Then Elder Lowery decided to take a big bite of Kimchee thinking it was pulled pork

"careful! that's kimchee Elder" - E. Villanueva
"This ain't barbeque!" -E. Lowery

Anywho we had a few fun experiences and it's a weird but nice mix.

hmmmm anything else... We beat our record this week and had 22 investigators at church with 10 of them having strong baptismal dates, now for the mission record of 26, then to the area record.... Almost there! We also went to Norzagaray for a baptismal interview, taught a lot, mapped a few weird places, hiked, got Krispie Kreme, and we have another baptism this saturday. We also have dorky matching ties that ought to have died during the 70's #companionshipunity. Life is okay.

-Elder Villanueva
Urdaneta Philippines Mission
Quezon City North Philippines Mission