I have been called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines Cauayan Mission. This blog is managed by my parents. If you would like to contact them, you can email at lindalarson1598@gmail.com

Monday, October 28, 2013

That Filipino Swag Tho

Holy cow I can't believe I am finally in the Philippines now! I don't even know where to begin. I guess we can start with the travel. We woke up at like 4:30 A.M Monday morning then flew to Seattle then Japan then got to Manila late Tuesday night and stayed in one of the nicest hotels they have. It was so nice to be able to talk to a lot of friends and my family during my layovers. Glad to hear everyone is doing good. Also shout out to my homies that were able to visit me at the temple on Sunday!
Wednesday we flew from Manila up to Tuguegerao then took a bus back down to Cauayan for our meeting for the transfer meeting to find out our companions. As Elder Robley described it, it is kind of like the NBA draft. A name goes up on the screen and then the companion is announced.

My trainer's name is Elder Merza and he is from here in the Philippines. San Balas I think he said but I don't really know where that is. He has been out for 5 months. He is pretty good at English but I usually have to ask him to repeat himself. We are serving in the Cabarroguis area of the Santiago zone. He has been very helpful in assisting me to learn the language and the culture. He is great with the people as well. A few fun facts about Elder Merza: 1-He has a strong dislike for dogs. Often times when we see them while walking, he will throw rocks or swing his bag at them. It is pretty funny I must say. 2-He does not seem to believe me that I like rice. Despite my Japanese background and the fact that every time we eat rice, I assure him that I do in fact like it, he still is not convinced and asks me again the next time we eat it.
 Elder Merza and me

It's only us in our apartment and from what I have gathered, it is actually pretty nice. We have a bedroom, a room for study, both of pretty good size, as well as a large kitchen area. We have to use a bucket to shower and flush the toilet but that's not too bad.

The people here are incredible. While we are tracting, almost everyone is open to hearing our message. I can now say that I know exactly how Elder Calhoun feels in The Best Two Years. Basically when we talk to people, the only things I can say are, "Ako po si Elder Larson", "Taga Utah sa America" and "Bago (New) sa Pilipinas. Alam ko conti (I know little) Tagalog and I can bear my testimony on whatever subject we are teaching. I love the ward here. The church is bigger than I was expecting and the members are awesome and very strong. Friday we participated in their mutual night activity and we just played games. Sunday during sacrament was the Primary Program and then us elders who are new to the area were asked to get up and bear our testimonies. I'm so excited to serve in this ward.

One of the wonderful things about them is that even though I usually don't know what they're saying right now, they can understand me because almost everyone knows English. They sing all their hymns in English and they are also very fond of American pop songs, so as I walk down the street I hear a lot of that. Charles and Kevin will be happy to know that yesterday I heard 'Treasure'. I think the funniest time though was when I heard 'Teach Me How to Dougie'.
As for the food, that is great as well. A lot of the stuff is similar to American food and I haven't had anything crazy yet so that hasn't been a problem. Everything here is also very inexpensive. For example, for lunch today I had two doughnuts and a bottle of Sprite and the cost came out to be equivalent to about 50 cents.
Before I sign out, I think it is STORY TIME. Our main way of transportation besides walking are these 3-row vans that people pile into. There is normally about fifteen in there but the most I have seen is eighteen. Anyways, it was my first day in the area and the ride to get where we were going was about thirty minutes. So I board the van and sitting next to me is a very drunk man and he wanted nothing more than to talk to me. Basically he went off the whole time and kept asking me questions, but of course I have no idea what he is saying because I barely speak Tagalog so I am just sitting there smiling and nodding my head. The only thing I caught is that he thought I was guapo (and apparently most people think the same way just because I am a tall white man...). He asked for our phone number and we also gave him a pamphlet about the Restoration so maybe some good came out of it. It was pretty funny though. Maybe when he becomes sober, he will read it. Anyways, until next week my friends. Mahal ko kayo!

Another one of our main ways of transportation.
Usually fits 5 people, up to 8 or so when people sit on top

Saturday, October 19, 2013

See Ya Later 'Murrica

Another week down at the MTC and we are heading out of here early Monday Morning. I have developed such close bonds with so many people here so it will be tough when we all have to part our separate ways, but I seriously can not wait to get to the Philippines and finally join everyone out in the fields. My Tagalog is alright I think but there is no denying the fact that in my first week, I will probably be having some Elder Calhoun moments: "This is not the language that they taught me in the MTC." It will be incredible once all the homies have reunited and we watch The Best Two Years together!

On our last Tuesday night devotional, we finally got the opportunity for a member of the Quorum of the Twelve to speak to us here at the MTC. Dallin H. Oaks came and he gave a great talk. As soon as he walked in the door, the Spirit was overwhelming. Considering conference was just a week and a half earlier, I guess you could say we have been given a lot of good revelation and guidance lately!
If I remember correctly, PGHS is having Sadies today so I hope everyone has a good time at that. This last week, I added 'The Spongebob' to my dance move arsenal. It is too bad that it took me this long to realize that I had it up my sleeve. Everyone is also very impressed me with my Zoolander dance (the arm and hip thing that the drill team always does. Huge shoutout to them for teaching me because I have finally gotten very fast at it and now I'm teaching most of our branch haha).
The other day we are the creamery and the worker was updating us on all the sports news and it's crazy how far behind I felt and I have only been gone 6 weeks. After 2 years, I will probably come back to things I haven't even heard of! The Philippines is going to be a whole different experience than anythng I'm used to, but I could not be more pumped to share the amazing message that this gospel has to offer to the wonderful people in the area of Cauayan. I don't know if any of you guys have heard, but Cebu was recently hit with a really big earthquake and there is a rumor that we won't have electricity for the first little bit once we get there. If I skip a week of emails, that is the reason but I would still love to hear from everyone for when I am able to get on. Stuff is about to get real as I'm finna dippin' the U.S.A. Keep Utah under control as I chuck up my deuces. I love you all!
 Our hecka chill teacher Brother Ward

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Forgotten Guinea Pigs

Kumusta mga kaibigan ko! (Hello my friends) I hope everyone enjoyed Conference as much as I did! I don't know how to explain it but it is definitely true that is such a good experience to watch it while you are in the MTC. This gospel is such a marvelous work and you can tell that these men have been called of God. There were so many good messages shared and I think the Sunday Morning session may have been my favorite of all time! I also really enjoyed the talk in the priesthood session by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. When we have fallen, there will be times when we think we can't get up. However, always remember those encouraging words that 'we can do it' and the Lord will always be ready to help you. As a side note for those who went to the Priesthood Session, am I the only one who thought that choir sounded like they came straight from the cast of Newsies?
Anyways, we got our flight plans yesterday and that was kind of a big MTC milestone. Yesterday marked the month anniversary from our arrival and we will be heading out in a little over a week! I am so excited to get there, but at the same time, the reality and nervousness is starting to kick in because even though the Tagalog is still improving, once we get out there it's going to be a whole new story. Our flight plans land us in Seattle, Washington and Tokyo, Japan before we get to the Philippines, so that will be tight to see some of my 'native homies'.
G Squad at the world famous map. I'm going to Alaska btw, ha ha.
Remember how I introduced Dirty Nel and said there would be a lot of stories in the near future? Well, this week he shaved his legs in a striped formation and also has somehow pulled out large wads of lint from his belly button on consecutive days. He definitely solidified the meaning of his nickname as Dirty Nel. What would we do without the guy? On Wednesday, we also had our heavyweight title wrestling match. The picture displayed seems suitable to be the headline photo of WrestleMania, but Krutsch pinned him in like 35 seconds. It was pretty epic though. We have some good times at the apartment.
Captain Krutsch vs. Dirty Nel - Heavyweight Title
Also, as to the reason for the title, we found out that we are getting moved BACK to Main Campus this Tuesday. This means we will have to pack and unpack for the second time here at the MTC, before we head out the following Monday. I am not sure who is even charge of this department and although I don't mind the move because I liked Main Campus better, it's just a little frustrating that they just kind of ship us around. Although it is probably not their intent and more a matter of their convenience, the only option we have is to look at this as another learning experience. Hopefully everyone back home has not forgotten about me, although I sometimes feel that is the case haha. You all still certainly have a special place in my heart though and if I were to give any advice, especially for those seeking to serve a mission, I would say go to the temple as much as you can. It's really such an amazing place to be. Also study Preach My Gospel and the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I love you all so much. Thank you for your the prayers and support you give. Alam ko po na totoo ang simbahan ni Jesucristo. Mahal kita!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A week in the Life of a Wild DL

Ano ang mabuti mga tao? (What is good people) It's been a fun week and each one seems to go by quicker than the last. I have never gone without eating from 6:30 A.M-5:30 P.M so my first Fast Sunday was kind of interesting. I ended up putting down 4 plates of chicken cordon bleu. I must say that I was pretty proud of myself, although I'm sure Elder Lee and Elder Reber probably could pound a lot more than that.

Anyways, just when we were getting settled in at West Campus, the MTC decided to throw some more changes at us and our district got split up. As a result, I got called to be the new District Leader. We all thought that was kind of funny because I have been lit up by President Anderson a few times. One time when he visited our class and was telling us something and he asked me a question but I had already started to doze off. Another time I wore the wrong pants with my suit coat and he noticed. Then ten minutes before he announced that I would be the DL, I was actually wearing Elder Wright's name tag and I got called out on it. Lulz. I promise I am not always in trouble though haha. And President Anderson is such a cool guy too. But here I am as a new DL so even though we are now two separate districts, we are still one family because we have grown so close together. Dalawa mga districto-Isa pamilya. Two districts-One family.
I always look forward to General Conference so I'm pumped that we get to listen to the prophet and his apostles this weekend. I think it will be such an amazing experience to hear all the talks while we are here at the MTC! I would strongly recommend for everyone else to watch because there's not much better stuff you could be doing than listening to the word of God!
Another good story that happened yesterday is that I concocted a potion (like what we would do during lunch at the junior high) and it consisted of chocolate milk, raspberry lemonade, salt, pepper, zucchini and ham. We went around in a circle playing 'what are the odds' which is like a dare game, and Geezy ended up having to drink it. Well we made kind of a big scene and then the cafeteria president came over and started demanding some questions and then Elder Wright ended up having to take the blame but it was a pretty funny experience.

I started reading Jesus The Christ and that book blows my mind it is so good. Elder St. Gelais and I also restarted the Book of Mormon the other day. After our Sunday night devotional, we watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. He is seriously the biggest stud!

The language is still getting better every day, but far from good. The lessons we teach to the 'investigators' are getting longer and tougher because they expect more (yesterday we taught the Plan of Salvation for like 30 minutes in straight Tagalog) but the Spirit is still strong as ever and the gift of tongues is always present. I love you all. Have a good conference weekend!