Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013--Made It to the Philippines!


So I don't know anything about any typhoons... It rained off and on a little for the first few days, but there haven't been any big storms or anything.  So... I used the tabo for the first time this morning, It was definitely something different.  

I think the sketchiest thing that I have eaten here is a smoky bacon hot dog from 7-11. It was quite good (I have actually had three of them, but on separate days). The other elders want me to eat baloot today, but we will see about that...  I had what was basically chicken ramen for breakfast today, so that wasn't bad. We usually have noodles or rice with chicken, but more often than that, we eat at the 7-11 (They have good hot dogs and a 15 peso ice cream cone). There are so many dogs that are just around people's houses and stuff. They make me think of Daisy, but they always look really sad like they aren't treated very well. When we had our district meeting we ate at this little restaurant, and they actually had burgers (it seems like a lot of places do around here.) I ordered spaghetti, however, because I do not know how to tell them about all of the toppings I don't want on my burger...

My trainer is from the Ilocos Norte province of the Philippines.  His name is Elder Acidera.  He himself has just been trained, but fortunately, he is really on the ball and speaks Tagalog already.  He is really nice, and like just about everyone else, he speaks English. It is really funny, when people hear me struggling with my Tagalog, they just start speaking English. I even taught a lesson in English... My area is called Libmanan (Libmanan A actually). We live in the same apartment with the elders who are assigned to Libmanan B. They are Elder Sorenson and Elder Kaumaitotoya from Utah and Fiji. They are all really cool. Elder Sorenson has been out for like a year and a few months (he is our district leader), and Elder Kaumaitotoya came from the Manila MTC at the same time as I came from the Provo MTC. We have actually only taught one lesson so far (it was to a member), because we spent most of the day on Friday traveling to a district meeting, at the district meeting, and traveling home from the district meeting (by jeepney I might add). We then spent all day Saturday and Sunday at/ traveling to and from General Conference. That's right, I got to watch it twice! I got more out of it the second time than I thought I would.  Tonight we have plans to visit some less active members and some recent converts.   

I have some really good pictures to send you too. I think I will probably have to send them in a separate email, so I will do that in a bit.  There are a few of the apartment, which is, I'm told, one of the nicest in the mission (We have a washing machine!!!), and some of us riding on the top of a jeepney to get back from conference.  What I've learned about jeepneys is that there is always more room on them.  They will put stools in the middle aisle and put a wooden plank across the back, and let people hold on to the back and even ride on top like we did.  I really enjoy riding in them nonetheless, and it seems like a good place to find people to teach. 

I haven't been yet, but there is what they call the Super Mall in Naga, and apparently it is like being in America, so I am excited for that.  We will probably go next Monday, which is pday, but I guess it is Sunday back home.  I think if I came and emailed earlier then we would be able to have somewhat of a conversation. It is about three o' clock here. We are actually emailing from this little net cafe called Louie's Nook Net Cafe. They have these kind of places all over.  Apparently, the people here are really into games like World of Warcraft and stuff like that.  

It is really hot here when it doesn't rain.  It hasn't rained since Saturday (I still don't know anything about a typhoon...), and so it is pretty warm out... I think I am starting to get used to being really, really sweaty all of the time. It really seems like a different planet here.  It is weird.  It always has a jungly smell, kind of like how I remember it smelling in Nigeria. (Jungly probably isn't a word, but hopefully you know what I mean.) There is also a guy who comes by our little back road area every morning usually between 5:30 and 6:30 am to sell his pandasal/pandesal bread.  He has a horn that he honks when he comes by that always wakes everyone up. None of us have tried his bread yet, but I guess we just don't want to encourage him.  We do like to eat at the Atlantic Bakery. I like to get maligaya bread (which means happy bread). It is like a roll with sweet red stuff inside, it is pretty good. I am in the process of trying all of the different things they have still.  

What is really strange to me here still is when you go by someone's tiny little run-down house and they are blasting American pop music or watching TV.  I think almost everyone has a TV, or at least a radio.  I have heard a lot of pop music just walking around and in some of the jeepneys. I really hope I can get used to it here quickly. Most say the first week is the worst and then I will be used to it by the time my first month is over.  

Hopefully you enjoy the pics.  If you have any questions about what is in them, let me know, because it was going to take too long to put writing in the email with the pics. It is going to be really awesome when I get to show you around here in a few years.  We will probably get a lot of "Hey, Joe!"s. That is what they say when they see someone white... I usually get one or two every day. I finally understand the name of that food truck.  

I love you all so much, and I miss you tons!
Until next week,
Elder Benjamin Merrill

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