Philippines Cauayan Mission

Philippines Cauayan Mission

Monday, April 25, 2016

100 Days Mark

Well I want to start this week's letter by congratulating Sam on finishing her mission! I, on the other hand, just hit my 100 days left mark! I only know that because the elder next to me right now is in my batch going home and he is counting. But I knew this time would come sooner or later... just came a lot faster than I thought! But I'm glad every thing went well with Sam's homecoming. Sounds like the family had a great time being together!

Also before I start on this week's letter, I will say that I walked around the entire city of Roxas trying to find a different net shop to see if it would read my sd card. Found one net shop but they didn't have internet so that didn't work. We'll try them again next week. I put my sd card in a members laptop last Monday night and it worked just fine so I don't know what the problem is here. The elder next to me also has a 64 gb card and the computer won't read it either. So once again I won't be able to send pictures--which is too bad cause one of them was kinda cool. We were walking back home Wednesday night and this girl in a white dress started following us. Her long hair was draped over her face as well so it was just like in a scary movie or something. I'll be honest, it actually was pretty scary when she started following right behind us. It was funny though as well. I asked her if I could take a picture with her and she still didn't talk! But she stood there for a picture so I took it as a yes. Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to send the pictures next week. 

By the way, while walking around I saw a family we taught all the time back when I was in San Pedro. Totally forgot their name but it was way exciting seeing them again. They all remembered me believe it or not! They actually noticed me before I saw them. But they are doing great and seeing each other again was really fun! 

As for this week, Monday we had FHE with the Cordova family. They are awesome. One of their sons is on a mission right now then the oldest son is in the branch presidency. Everyone else in their family was just baptized in December then the rest of them in February. They are a huge help to the branch, especially with the youth. They are all magnifying their callings really well. But FHE was really fun with them. Can't wait to play some of these Filipino games with the family when I get home. 

Tuesday was zone conference in Ilagan. Really good time. We were with the Ilagan zone and both zones from Tuguegarao. So I got to see a lot of my friends namely Carrington, Estuaria and Romo. The whole zone conference was based on the Book of Mormon. Pretty cool since we recently finished the power read of the Book of Mormon. Never ended up telling you about that but yes I did finish it. I actually finished a week before I transferred here to Burgos. But studying about and from the Book of Mormon the whole time was a blast. 
Wednesday was back to a normal day. We switched aour schedule again and went out in the morning to try and avoid the heat. Didn't really work. Got hot by like 9 and stayed extremely hot the entire day. So we were only back at the apartment for a little while around lunch before we went out again since having the fan blow hot air on you isn't all the relaxing. We met some less active young men this week that were really active back in the day but have been gone for over a year now. We taught two of them Wednesday, Ian and Josen. In all there are 4 of them that we're working with to come back and so far it is going really good. They all came to church yesterday and we played ball this morning with all 4 of them along with a couple of other members. President Ancheta is also a big help in helping them return. He was the branch president back when they were active so they know him really well. President played ball with us this morning and does a lot to help the young men. 

Thursday we worked in Masigun then Cullalabo. The stand out lesson for Thursday was with Nanay Diego. She's been having some trouble with one of her neighbors. The first time I shared with her when I was here this lady saw us and just started yelling at her and calling her a liar and some other stuff. I have no idea but Nanay Diego is super nice and I know she wouldn't do anything wrong. So since that time the problem hasn't gotten any better. Nanay ended up going to the Barangay, or leaders of the area for help but nothing has happened yet. So we thought we'd drop by and see how she was doing and share a little message with her. Since our area is so small we get to go by quite a few of members which is actually pretty nice. So we just talked about contention and ways to deal with it and why sometimes things like this happen in our lives. Instead of being a lesson where we do most the talking, we ended up just all talking together and sharing experiences to help Nanay. This is the first time Nanay has had a problem like this so that's why she said she is having a hard time with it. She's still going strong though and doing what she can to end this problem. 

Friday we took off in the morning and went to Cauayan to get Elder Castillo's ear checked up. He said he's been having a hard time hearing well so we've been using some ear drops for a couple days then went to Cauayan on Friday to get it looked at by the ENT there. After a long wait he finally got to see the doctor and was in there for like 5 minutes. Waited ages just for 5 minutes! Haha just goes that way sometimes. But we thought it was because it was full of wax and needed cleaning but apparently it was way more complex. Something to do with the heat, dust and allergies. Then something to do with the tube that connects your ear to your brain would swell or something making it hard to hear. No idea if that really happens but oh well. You should have heard me try to explain this to Sister Rahlf on the phone--haha--probably sounded like I had no clue what I was talking about! I guess that's partly true though. Anyway, he gave Elder Castillo a ton of pills to take then we will go back May 5. Then after over an hour of jeepneys we finally got back to Burgos. Oh we also ate at KFC while in Cauayan so that was awesome. Super good. But we got back and went straight out to work since it was already around 3:00. Got to teach Nanay and Tatay Actson. They are less active and we've tried many times to visit them since I've been here but this was the first time we had success. They are actually really nice. We don't know yet the reason why they are struggling coming to church but at least we were able to share a message with them and get to know them.

Saturday we did our weekly planning. Thought about going to the church again so we could do it in the air conditioning but we ended up just doing it at the apartment. It actually didn't take that long this time which was nice. Finished that, ate lunch then took off to Masigun again. So there's this person there that makes 'donuts' which are more like scones but they are really good. So stopped for a little and ate a tone of those. Then we taught April and LeslieAnn Lopez. They are still progressing really well but they didn't come to church once again. I think April is really beginning to gain a testimony that it is true. The reason they didn't come to church is because they "had somewhere to go." Not very specific but we'll go with it. We'll work more with them this week. We were only able to teach them once last week so hopefully we'll get to twice this week. 

Sunday was  pretty good day. So the branch president's son just came home from his mission this week and I know he's going to be a big help to the branch. He was the first one there and had the sacrament all set up just to find out that Caliguian has sacrament before us. But at least he did the other branch a favor! He ended up teaching priesthood class and also spoke in sacrament. Last week we didn't even have priesthood class so there is improvement already. Even though there was only him, the missionaries and 2 other men there at 8:30 we went ahead and started class. More came in by the time we ended and we actually had a good class. Sacrament meeting was pretty good as well. We had no investigators there, which was too bad, but we did have 6 less actives there for the first time in years. 4 were those young men, Ian, Josen, JV, and Justin. Then Sisters Monique and Crystal. We're excited about all of them coming to church. Having an investigator would have topped it off but we're still happy with who was there. Then Mark, the new return missionary, worked with us Sunday afternoon. We had a good time hearing some of the things that happened to him on his mission and comparing what his mission was like to what it's like here in Cauayan. 

In all it was a pretty good week! We did pretty well work wise and made some progress with some less actives. Played a couple good games of basketball this morning as well so that made today fun. I think I'm gonna be super sore by tomorrow though and I have a massive blister on the bottom of my foot. I've gotten lazy with the exercise since I've been in Burgos. Anyway, hope you all have a great week! Congratulations again to Sam! No, you being home doesn't make me trunky haha I still have work to do here! Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, April 18, 2016

Crazy Hot

Alright I can't believe Sam is going to be in the family pictures come next Monday! So crazy. It's been nice having a partner out here with me in the mission field but looks like that time is coming to an end. I remember thinking how far this day seemed but now it's already here! Congratulations Sam on a well served mission. You've worked really hard and I know you've loved every bit of it! I'll join ya there in a few months!:)

So back when I was in Echague I said in one of my emails that Summer is here. Well, if only I knew back then how hot it was going to be now I would have enjoyed that weather a lot more than I did. It is blazing hot now. Like ridiculously hot. We've been downing water as much as we can to survive but holy cow, just thought I'd mention that it is crazy hot!

As for the week this week, it was pretty good. Had some good days but also had some not so great moments as well. Start this week by going back to last Monday. We had family home evening with the Ancheta family and it was super fun! They are one of my favorite families here. We had a good little lesson then got to the games which was a blast. Even Tatay and Nanay, especially Tatay, really got into the games. I even started to worry a little bit if he was gonna be able to stand back up after kept falling to the ground laughing so hard. We all had a really great time and also got a nice dinner. 

Tuesday we taught zone meeting. Went pretty well. We discussed different methods of teaching then the STL's shared about asking inspired questions.. Everyone's input was really good which was a big help in making the lesson go well. After zone meeting, we ate lunch at the local kerinderia then went on splits with the Mabini elders. I went with Elder Mansor. We were together in Alicia for my four cycles there then we came here to Burgos together so we know each other pretty well. We had a good time on splits. We only taught three lessons together since time was cut short because of zone meeting and having to do some things for the Branch President. One of the lessons we taught was to LeslieAnn and April Lopez. We've been teaching these two sisters and they've been progressing really well, especially in our lesson on Tuesday. We taught the Restoration since April hadn't heard it yet. She is the older sister and I think she is a little more interested than LeslieAnn. They both have been keeping their commitments so far so we are excited to see how they progress. They planned on attending church and even got ready but they said they didn't have a ride. We'll help them with that this week and just tell them to put aside 5 pesos a day so that when Sunday comes they won't have a problem being able to get to church and back. 

Wednesday was a normal day of work. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened Wednesday. Taught the normal lessons but not really to anybody that is progressing. We were able to teach Sister Munik, the less active we just met, and continue to build our relationship with her. She is the only member in her family so we are working with Tatay as well. We haven't been able to share with him but we are able to talk to him more and more each visit. It was too bad though she didn't attend church this week. We don't know why so we'll have to find out this week. 

Thursday we decided to switch up our schedule and work in the morning till lunch, the study during the early afternoon and then go back out again around 3. Do this we try and avoid the heat a little. It was working pretty well until about 2:00. By that time the apartment was turning into an oven. Couldn't stay any longer so we went back out. We taught Nanay and Tatay Plemente Thursday afternoon. They are still progressing slowly but surely. We are still taking it a principle at a time to help them really understand. 

Alright I'm not going to go into much detail for Friday and Saturday. Good days but nothing out of the ordinary happened. We worked hard and ended up teaching quite a bit but nothing really stood out. Saturday morning we did have a little csp just across the road from our apartment with the Cordova family. Pulled weeds from their garden if you could call it that. I think it needs replanting. 

Saturday afternoon a small but super strong thunderstorm came out of nowhere. The power lines of the house where we were teaching started sparking like crazy. There was a part of it that kept hitting the metal roof and whenever it touched it sparked. We eventually finished the lesson then ran to the nearest tindihan to wait out the rain a little bit. It was super windy and really strong rain for the time it lasted. 

Sunday was my first normal Sunday here in Burgos. When we got there there were two big puddles of water in the entryway and in the sacrament hall from the rain the day before. We went and got the mops and cleaned it up before the majority of the people got there. Also I'd have to say I wasn't too impressed with the leadership. So I could basically sum up the entire branch by saying not a lot of people are fans of the branch president. Church is supposed to start at 8:30 and we have class first but what really happened is we had one hour of class at 9:30ish then sacrament meeting. I had heard a lot about the branch president but I wanted to keep an open mind and get my own opinion of him. To be honest though, what the members were saying was true. Never saw him come out the office other than to attend Sacrament meeting. Elder Castillo and I taught Sunday school. The worst was after church. He came up to us and told us to make baptismal certificates for the recent converts that hadn't received them yet. My companion replied and just said we aren't the ones that make it and he needs to talk to the clerk and have them made. Plus we don't even know how. We also asked him if we could have a meeting which he grudgingly accepted. As we walked into his office he told me to wait outside and just let Elder Castillo in. Pretty weird but whatever. Long story short, he lectured Elder Castillo because of his answer about the baptismal certificate. Which wasn't even a bad answer? President told him we obey him. Whatever he says we do. Plus some other stuff. They were in there for a good 5 to 7 minutes before he let me in. He is kinda high up in the government here and he has money so I think for the most part every time he tells people to do something they do it since they are scared of him. So I think he was more shocked because we said he needs to talk to the clerk. So yeah, got some work to do with this branch president. We're going to try and do our best though. I guess all the past missionaries have reported to President Rahlf about him so he knows what it's like here in Burgos. We love the members here though so we want to do all we can to help the church become more established here. 

That's basically it for the week. Pretty good week that ended on a low note but things happen. We have zone conference tomorrow so that should be really fun. This will be our last zone conference with President and Sister Rahlf. Really looking forward to it tomorrow! I hope you all have a great week. Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, April 11, 2016

General Conference Week

Another week gone by once again in the blink of an eye! That rhymed by the way. Didn't know how to add commas correctly into that sentence so I just left them all out. Tells you how ready I am for school when I get back. Which is in like 16-ish weeks! Right around the corner believe it or not. So crazy. 

Start out the week on Tuesday. Had district meeting like usual. I don't know if I mentioned this before but here in Burgos since the zone is so small, there is only one district leader. Then in the other district the zone leaders teach it. So Elder Castillo and I just switch off every week so this week I got to teach. Kinda weird teaching district meeting again especially with only 4 missionaries on there. Two elders and two sisters. But we had a good time and talked about how we can bring back less actives. There are a ton here in Burgos. Last week, President Rahlf gave me a paper with the total membership in each branch in Burgos district. It also has a few other numbers about each branch but the membership in all the branches are anywhere from 400-500. Then I asked each companionship what the attendance was in their branch and they said around 100 or less and not really consistent. So long story short there are a lot of less actives that we can bring back to the church here in Burgos. After district meeting we went straight to work since we knew we wouldn't be able to work most of Wednesday because of MLC. We had a pretty successful day of work on Tuesday which was good. The last appointment was with the Abbad family who were preparing to go to the temple the next day. We got there and asked them how their preparation was and we can just say it hadn't really started at all. There kids weren't even all there. The one was still in Roxas. Tatay still didn't even have a white shirt. They had no idea what time they were meeting to leave or where they were going to stay. They hadn't been followed up with by the Branch President and they were just kinda waiting to be told what to do. Not a good thing to do. Pretty sure if we didn't go there that night they wouldn't have been able to go to the temple the next day. So we helped them out as much as we could and they ended up going but only two of their kids were able to go. We went by there house Friday and one of the kids that was supposed to go was there at the house. Apparently they couldn't find anyone to watch the little kids while they were gone so one of the older daughters stayed back. Kinda funny because Tatay's brother lives next door and as much as I know isn't a very busy person. He's always home by himself so I don't know why he couldn't watch them. I don't know how long the Abbad family has been members but their knowledge/understanding of the gospel and the church isn't very vast so we're helping them become more familiar with those things. Especially now that they've entered the temple. 

Wednesday we had MLC. Left early in the morning and ended up being the first ones to get to Cauayan. Guess we thought it would take longer to get there than it really did. But MLC was pretty good. Discussed a few things then we were taught some skills to help our teaching. Also it was Sister Rahlf's birthday that day so we ate some really good cake and ice cream. Also each companionship bought a little simple gift representing them or their area to give to her. It was really fun.
Thursday we had a csp. Probably one of the funnest csp's I've done. We went out to the Branch President's farm in Mabini and helped him move his little hut. Sounds easy right?? I thought we were just going to pick it up and move it. Well the pillars on the 4 corners were 3 feet in the ground so we had new pillars and dug new holes for them. The dirt is like clay. Like what you'd use in pottery class. Made digging the hole a pain in the rear end. Then when we had the pillars in we went to move the roof from the old to the new. It looked really light since it was just made of bamboo but holy crap it was heavy! Probably was the funniest thing ever watching us try to move the dang thing. I'm sure the sisters got a good laugh out of it. But we finally ended up getting it somewhat in place then went to President's house for some lunch. Went home right after that, showered and went out to work. Thursday and Friday, we went around and taught a lot of people and members about prophets since it was General Conference Saturday and Sunday. Not a lot of members go to the Saturday session of conference so we wanted to do our part in helping people attend. We taught a lot about it but it didn't seem to take much of an effect since not a lot of people attended. We did our best though. Last week we met Nanay and Tatay Plemente. Tatay is less active and Nanay has become our investigator. We were able to teach them on Thursday as well as on Sunday this week. We are taking it principle by principle with them since I think it is hard for them to get the concept. By Sunday they started to progress a little bit. Nanay listens really well and Tatay kinda just chills there while we share. We'll see how this week goes with them. They can't read so they won't progress that well on their own so we're going to try to visit them a few times in a week. 

Saturday morning we went to the church at 8 to watch the priesthood session. We joined the other 3 people there other than the other missionaries and watched the conference. By about midway through the session, we had a few more show up but not much. The other two sessions on Saturday didn't change much. A few more came with it now being open to the sisters but no more than a total of 25 of us there out of the entire district. At least it made it easy to get comfortable on the bench and listen to the speakers since it was quiet. 
Sunday morning session there was a lot that showed up just like usual. Then went back down to about 25 for the afternoon session. Can't really blame them though since it's hard to go to something that you don't even understand since it was in English. Also Pacquiao had a fight during the afternoon session so that took a lot away as well. When we left the apartment to go back to the church for the second session, we looked in President's house and he was watching the fight. It had just started. We looked at each other and told each other to not expect to see him show up to conference. And we were right. But I did enjoy conference weekend. Realized this was my fourth and last general conference in the mission field! Pretty crazy. I kept my notes with me throughout the day Saturday and Sunday and in every lesson we taught I was able to take something from conference and apply it to what we were teaching. 

Oh also Saturday during work, we saw a member from branch 1 that we are pretty close with and went and talked to him. He gave us a name of a less active member he wanted us to contact. So like 3 hours later we contacted her and then she ended up coming to church Sunday morning! Pretty awesome. She said she hadn't been to church in a long time and was shy to go back but she still came. Her name is Munik. No idea how to spell her last name so we'll just leave it at that. She turns 18 in a few weeks so it shouldn't be too hard to get her a good friend in the single adults to help her come back to church. 

Sunday was a fun day of work. We had two members work with us. They both have their mission calls and are preparing to leave. Sister Wilma is going to serve in England and leaves August 17 then Brother LordJay is going to serve in Las Vegas and leaves August 16. They are both preparing really well. Especially Sister Wilma. Don't think I've ever seen someone so ready to serve a mission. She's going to be a great missionary. 

All in all it was a great week and went by so quickly! This week should get back to normal since we don't have MLC and won't have general conference. I'm back here in Roxas today for pday. Been looking for people I know but haven't seen any so far. Also the computer won't read my sd card. I tried all the computers or other missionaries here and it won't work. I think it's this net shop though. I netted here back when I was assigned here and I don't remember it working every time. Gonna have to try a different one next week. The pictures are starting to pile up so when I finally get the chance there should be quite a few. Anyway love you all and hope you're all doing well! Have a good week!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bloom Where You Are Planted

March is out the door and April is here already! Can't believe a quarter of the year is already over! Probably wondering where I got assigned so I'll keep you from waiting any longer. I'm where I thought I would never be assigned... Burgos! I'm still a zone leader. My companion is Elder Castillo. He's great! Area on the other hand is in the middle of nowhere! But that's alright! I told myself no matter what happened on transfer day I was going to apply what President taught us in zone conference... "Bloom Where You are Planted." And so far it has been going really good! The area is actually really small. We have three barangay's. Masigun, Cullolabo and Ururbon. So basically everyday we work in Cullolabo in the later afternoon then switch off between Masigun and Ururbon for the first few hours of work. Makes it easy to learn the area I guess! Before I get too much in to being here in Burgos, I'll write a little about my last day in Echague. 

Tuesday morning we got up and went to a csp in the Sisters' area. We cleaned up some weeds in a members backyard so that she can get it ready to plant a garden. We made shirts again for the six of us there in Echague so we all wore them on Tuesday to get a picture together before we split up the next day. The rest of Tuesday we went around and I said goodbye to a lot of the members. There's a few there that I will definitely miss. Then, for the second to last time in the mission, I packed my bags and got ready to leave. 

Got up early Wednesday morning and finished getting everything all ready to leave. Bishop's nephew picked us up and took us to the highway where we waited for a bus to come by. Finally got on a bus and went off to Cauayan. Just like always it was really fun seeing a lot of the other missionaries there. Also got to go eat at KFC before we went out to Burgos. We took a member's tricy all the way back out to Burgos. We took the back way so it was a lot of gravel roads. Then with our luck we got a flat tire! Not only that but like 4 spokes broke off and like 5 more were really loose. So we just waited for ages for someone to come by. Finally someone came by that was willing to help. He had tools to get the tire off then they left and went somewhere to get the tire fixed. We found a house that had some hammocks under a tree so we just laid in them till they got back. Actually pretty relaxing. They eventually made it back to us, put the tire back on and we got back to Burgos around 2 in the afternoon. We dropped off my bags, took a few things out and went out to work. Little did I know I already went to 2/3 of my entire area my first day here! 
As of now we have one investigator with a baptismal date. He's 11 years old and his family isn't active. He's been coming to church though so hopefully that will have an effect on his family in the long run. 
We have a couple of other investigators that we're teaching but none of them seem that close. We do teach a lot of members which isn't really a bad thing since the branch needs strengthening here. We just had district conference this weekend and I guess the leaders got chastised a little by the visiting area Seventy. But that's not a bad thing since from what I've heard so far the leaders are not doing the right things. 

I've met a lot of the members so far and they are really cool. Super nice people out here. We have a ton of food appointments. I guess they aren't really appointments but when we see them we just ask if we can have dinner with them the next day or something like that and it will happen. One family in particular is the Ancheta family. Nanay washes our clothes for us and every time we go there they feed us. We have dinner with them quite a bit. Brother Ancheta is the old branch president and now he is in the district presidency. We dropped by this morning to drop off our clothes and they sat us down and fed us breakfast as well. They are super nice to the missionaries. But it's not just the Ancheta family. For the most part all the families I've met so far are super nice to the missionaries. 

Nanay DelaCruz is a member that we teach every once in a while. She's reading in the D&C and always has a lot of questions so that is always what we share with her. She's 83 but really funny though. We taught her on April fools day and we taught her as well what that means back in America. I guess they don't have that day here or not a lot of people know about it. Anyway, once she learned what it was she took it to a whole new level! Everything she said was a joke. We couldn't get her to say anything serious but it made us laugh and she was enjoying it. We just made sure she knew that it only lasted for one day so by the next time we're there she doesn't go off joking like crazy again. 
A little more about the area here in Burgos. There's not much to tell you about other than a lot of rice fields. Kinda like when I was in San Pedro. Speaking of San Pedro. One of the older single adults from San Pedro has moved out to Mabini (a branch in Burgos District) and I saw him on Sunday at district conference! And he is getting married to a sister that came with a friend every once in a while back in San Pedro. Really cool to see them again. They said they hadn't been out to San Pedro in a while but from what they knew everyone was still doing good out there. But we don't have a lot out here in Burgos. On pday we go to either Roxas or Ilagan to net and buy food since there is no place to do that in Burgos. Trying to think of what else to say about Burgos but I can't think of anything. But even though it is really small and not much out here I've really enjoyed my time here so far and am looking forward to being assigned here. 

That's pretty much the week for me. Hope you all have a great week this week. Love you all!
Love Elder Haacke
Pic of me and my new companion, Elder Castillo.