Philippines Cauayan Mission

Philippines Cauayan Mission

Monday, May 30, 2016

Investigators Progress

Can't believe May is come and gone! Got one day left and it's already June! This will be President and Sister Rahlf's last month. They put their departure on the mission calendar they just sent to us. They leave the last day of the month. Pretty crazy how fast time goes by. I bet they are thinking the same thing but I'm sure at the same time they are ready to get back to spending time with their family. I will be giving the scriptural thought this Wednesday in MLC which will be the last one with President and Sister Rahlf. Hopefully that means we have a celebration. :) We also have our last quarterly interview with them tomorrow before district meeting starts. 

Before I get too far into this weeks letter, I want to wish Mom a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I liked the picture of Mom's birthday with Alexa bumping the present on Mom's head. Looks like it was a good birthday.

So this week was a pretty good week. We had some investigators really progress this week. Not to the point of coming to church but we are seeing their interest increase. Our most progressing investigator is Nanay Luce Estella. We met her a couple weeks ago along with Sister Marissa who was also our new investigator. We found out this week that Marissa is actually a member. She didn't want to tell us she was baptized back in 2007. But I think it was good for her to hear the lessons again just like she was an investigator. Anyway, back to Nanay Luce. We taught her three times this week and each lesson was pretty good. She read the entire pamphlet that we gave her and is started on the introduction of the Book of Mormon. We still don't know for sure if she's received a confirmation about Joseph Smith and the restoration. The last lesson we had with her was the Book of Mormon so we'll follow up with her next time how it has helped her gain a testimony. We really enjoy teaching her even though sometimes it seems like she's not even listening then she'll ask a great question about what we've been saying. She's really pondering about the message and we're praying she follows her feelings instead of listening to the people around her.  She lives in a compound of houses that are all Espiritista including herself so we think that will be the only thing that holds her back. 

We got another new investigator this week that is showing potential. His name is Mark Ramos. He's 26, married and has a little boy. We taught him twice this week. His wife hasn't listened to us yet. We only met her the second time we taught. She didn't want to come sit by Mark but she was sitting within listening distance. Half way through she left and went outside which was too bad. Then she came back with a bottle of Coke and some snacks for us. So that was great! Hopefully she'll sit down and listen next time along with her husband Mark. 

Marinel Lapao, our progressing investigator last week, has gone down hill. She's kinda being immature when we go visit her. I don't even want to go back unless we have Fatima with us. Fatima is good friends with Marinel so she can help Marinel focus and realize how important this really is. 

Saturday we had an Elder's Quorum activity. Supposed to be sports activities in the morning then we cook lunch at the church and eat there then split up and go visit less actives for a couple hours. Basically ended up being a little get together with the Ancheta family, Brother Bautista and Julius. Julius isn't even from here. He's from Manila but is visiting his wife's family here in Burgos and he still came to help the Elder's Quorum. We played some basketball, ate lunch then everybody went home. Didn't even end up going out to work since there was nobody there. The food was already bought so we had to cook it and those that were there got to eat it. So there was a ton of food and not a lot of people. So Elder Dialino and I just went home, studied for a little then went out to work on our own. We'll have to try again next month to get a good Elder's Quorum activity put together. 

So it rains basically everyday now. If not everyday then at least 6 out of the 7 days of the week. Normally starts in the evening and rains for a couple hours. Normally hits us as we're walking to dinner and walking home. And even with umbrella's we still get soaked every time. Gotta love it! 

Sunday this week was kinda a mess. So the branch president wasn't there. He didn't say he wasn't gonna be there until Saturday night. He is supposed to teach the combined class since it is the 5th Sunday and there was a lesson given to him by the Area Presidency. The fact of him being gone wouldn't and shouldn't be a problem but he didn't assign other people to fill in for him. President Ancheta ended up being the teacher last minute and we discussed the area goals. Also President doesn't really involve his counselors in almost anything so they too didn't know what to do. I was standing outside the room they were in as they planned sacrament meeting. I heard someone say, "Who are the speakers?? Was anyone assigned??" Then without even giving time to think if someone was assigned, someone else is like,"Straight to the missionaries!" So Elder Dialino and I were the speakers in sacrament meeting. I decided to use the time to give a little chastisement/correction. I talked about missionary work but I also used the verse in Alma when Moroni is chastising Pahoran for not sending help. He talks about needed to first clean the inner vessel. I related it to the branch. We need to make it a place so that when an investigator comes, they will see that it is a place they wanted to attend church. Honestly, not having an investigator at church yesterday was more of a blessing. We were supposed to start at 8:30 right? Well it's like 9:15 and there are 10 people there. If an investigator came yesterday then never came again, I don't know how much I can blame them. I talked straight forward about being on time and being ready to participate in classes. Hopefully what I talked about will have an effect on the members. President Ancheta told me it was good what I said. Guess we'll have to see next week. 

Didn't really give a detailed day to day letter this week but those are the updates on our investigators that are making progress and also a little update on the branch. Hope you all have a great week! Talk to you again next week! 

Love Elder Haacke
 Finally planting season again so the fields are once again becoming green.
 It's hard to tell in the picture but this was a pretty cool cloud. Had a rainbow coming off the edge of it. It's hard to see the other colors in the picture but the colors were pretty distinct in real life.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Blessed in the Rain

Hello once again! Another week gone down already. I hope you don't think I'm counting down the weeks for when I go home, I'm really just counting how many more weekly emails I have to write! I believe I have 10 left, if I write one on my last week. Which is up in the air if it will happen or not so we'll go with 9 to go! 

This week was actually a pretty good week though. The week started off pretty slow just like last week but everyday had improvement and we got things picked back up again by the weekend. 

Start off the week on Tuesday. Elder Hardy taught a different lesson for district meeting, not just the usual pick a trait from the Preach My Gospel and talk about it. He did more of a doctrinal lesson which was actually pretty interesting. He taught us about the Urrim and Thummim. What it looks like, how it was used, where it came from. Stuff like that. It was actually pretty interesting and I enjoyed listening to him. I will be teaching tomorrow so now I'm thinking if I'll try and do something like that. We got three new investigators while at work on Tuesday. Two of them are related to Tatay Edwardo Passion who I talked about last week. Out of the three, one of them is progressing more than the others. That is Marinel Lapao. Her husband isn't too interested in listening to us yet but we have a good fellowshipper lined up to help us with that this week. She is going to Baguio later today so hopefully she'll be able to fellowship with us later in the week. Tuesday night the sisters in Caliguian invited us to dinner so we went with Brother Roland and the sisters in the other branch in Burgos in Brother Rolands kulong kulong (like a tricy but with no top) and traveled to Caliguian. It's not far so it was okay to go but while we were on the way, it started pouring rain! Like crazy hard. We had umbrella's out while driving down the road but that served basically no purpose at all. We were drenched like we just went swimming in proselyting clothes. When we got up from the chairs at dinner, there was a nice puddle underneath each of our seats. Luckily the rain stopped while we were eating and we were able to go back to Burgos a little more peacefully. 

Wednesday we went to the school in the morning and helped brother Roland clean his kitchen. That's where he works and school will be starting here in a week or two so we went to help him get his kitchen all set up and cleaned up before it starts. We'll go back this week on Thursday to finish it up. I don't even know if you could call that room a kitchen though, it was filthy. I'll take some pictures on Thursday. We had to shovel out dirt that the rats had brought in. I'll just leave it there. But we will eat there at his place a lot once he gets up and running so we're pretty excited for that. Wednesday was a long day of work. We didn't have very much success and so time went by pretty slow. We were still able to teach Tatay Romolo and Monique. They are both less active. Since Elder Dialino has been here, we have been working really hard with Romolo to come back to church. I guess he saw a leader of the branch doing something that wasn't right and now he doesn't want to attend because he doesn't want that kind of person running the branch. Any guesses on who that leader is?? We don't know what he saw or what specifically happened but we trying to help him put it behind him and come back. 

Thursday was when work started to get better and it finished strong through the whole week. Best lesson on Thursday was with two new investigators we just met that day. Roenna and Nestor Biernes. Nestor was stabbed a couple times 3 months ago. Him and some others were drinking and things got a little heated and he got stabbed a few times. Now he just lays/sits in bed all day and slowly heals. He got messed up in the inside as well. He has a catheter right now. He made sure we knew how much it hurts when he replaces it with a new one every two weeks. Made me laugh. But he's just grateful to be alive at this point. Our lesson went really well with them and it's a perfect time for him to start reading the Book of Mormon since he's got nothing else to do! They have two kids, the oldest is a boy that's 10. They are really receptive so far and I think Nestor wants to attend church. We'll just have to continue teaching him until the time comes that he will be able to walk again and be able to go to church. 

Friday was a normal day. Didn't really have any stand out lessons. Taught Nanay DelaCruz again. She's awesome. She doesn't like that section 76 of the D&C is like 119 verses long but she's making her way through it. She makes me laugh every time we visit her. She'll probably be done with it by the time we visit her next. 

Saturday was the best day of work we've had since the cycle started. We went back to the same area we worked on Wednesday. We had no luck on Wednesday but it totally changed on Saturday. We were 3 for 3 on our first three appointments. Almost never happens. Our third lesson was with a new investigator. We contacted her on the street last Wednesday then followed up on Saturday. Were able to share a good message with her but her baby was pretty distracting so that made it hard for her to focus. We'll go back this week and see how it goes. So after that third appointment, it started pouring rain! Like we left her house, got like 15 yards down the road and it was pouring. We ran to a tindihan (a little store) and waited under the tent for a little while. It continued to rain harder and harder and the lightning and thunder was crazy. We were already pretty wet from running to the tindihan so after we had a little snack we decided to leave and just get more wet. Then as we were about to leave, the rope holding the tent up broke from the weight of the water on the tent. Then all that water went straight on Elder Dialino! It only landed on my leg but it got his entire body wet! The lady in the tindihan and I were laughing so hard! There's a picture of the tindihan we were at. I'm still standing underneath the tent that fell. So after that, we went to Tatay Romolo's house but he wasn't there. His house had like 3 inches of water in it. I guess that always happens when it rains hard so they don't leave stuff on the ground. So anyway, our day started really good then got destroyed by rain. We were soaking wet as well. Water was squirting out of our shoes every time we took a step. Believe it or not we were still able to have a pretty successful rest of the day. Definitely had the temptation to just go home since it was still raining but we were blessed by staying out. We were able to get three more lessons even with the rain and one of them was to a less active who has never let us share with her since I've been here. I think she felt bad since we were soaking wet. Blessing for staying out in the rain. 

Sunday was pretty good as well. It took a while for people to show up at church. I think a lot of people had water problems so they didn't go to church since they were cleaning up. Also some people we went to later in the day said the got wet which made them get sick so they couldn't go. Anyway, I'm pretty sure the speakers were good. Everyone seemed to enjoy the talks. I, once again, used the time and made my grocery list for later today since I had no idea what they were saying. I was sitting by Josan and he saw me making my grocery list and laughed at me. Told me I should learn Ilocano but Tagalog is good enough for me. 

We didn't have any investigators at church this week which was too bad. We did have our three young men there that we're working with. Jayvie, Josan and Ian were all there. Pretty sure buying that basketball is paying off. They've been coming to church ever since we started playing. We did a surprise visit on Jayvie and when we walked up he had an English and Tagalog Book of Mormon on his lap and he was reading. Made me happy to see the progress he's making on his own. 

Overall the week was pretty good. Started with some struggles but we worked through it and finished strong. Pretty happy with the week this week and with the new investigators that we got this week. Should be another good week this week! Hope you all have a great week!

Love Elder Haacke
 The tindihan where we waited. The tent above us is what fell and soaked Elder Dialino.

 The tent that fell. That's me still under it. Funniest thing ever.
 Saturday's storm. This was a break in the storm, then it started pouring again until the evening.

 Punted day at work. Elder Dialino decided we should take a picture of what a punted face looks like.
 Stayed at this waiting shed Tuesday night for a little while as we waited for Roland to pick us up. My comp told me to model the Royal (soda I'm drinking).
 This was us at dinner Tuesday night. Hard to tell in the picture how wet we really were but you'll just have to trust me we were soaked to the core.

 Elder Dialino and I with Tatay Abad. We had him take us on his motor to our dinner appointment since we were going to be late!

 Last three pictures are cleaning Roland's kitchen.


Monday, May 16, 2016

New Companion

Well just like Dad said I can't believe it's already May 16th! Time continues to go by so fast! Hopefully you enjoyed the pictures last week. I finally found a net shop here in Roxas that will read my SD card. However we aren't there today since they had a problem with their internet. So looks like we're back to not being able to send pictures. Next week shouldn't be a problem though. But I too had a great time last week talking to the family. Not too much longer and I'll be talking to you all in person! Even though I just saw you all last week I can't wait to see you again. Last night I was sitting outside the apartment talking to Mark about post-mission life. And it seems like every time we sit and talk to members for a little while we start talking about the same thing. Most often the topic is marriage but that's still a while out. I'd say I'm not trunky though. I'm definitely not the lazy trunky but my mind does start to think about home pretty often!

So like I said last week on Skype, I will be getting a new companion this week. My new companion is Elder Dialino. I was actually his district leader back when we were in Roxas so we knew each other pretty well before we met up on transfer day. But before that, I'll give a little recap on the last days with Elder Castillo. 

Last Monday we had FHE with the Cordova family. It was super fun and we did hooga booga. Remember to ask me what that is when I get home since I don't really want to explain it through typing. I can say that now since I'm somewhat close to coming home. But spending time with the Cordova family is always fun. Roel Cordova was a speaker yesterday at church and he did a great job. He is so intelligent and knowledgeable. He spoke about humility. He is a teacher so he is really comfortable speaking in front of groups. 

Tuesday we went to Gamu in the morning for a csp. We helped a member clear a spot of his land that was covered in weeds so that he can plant some vegetables. There was only 6 of us that went so we ended up doing quite a bit. We stayed focus though and didn't spend too much time there. Everyone else had to get back to pack and get ready for transfer day the next day as well so we tried to go as fast as we could but still do a good job. After that we ate with the family we did the service for then went back to get ready for the day and prepare for transfer day. We went around during the day and said bye to a lot of the members. Ate dinner with the Ancheta family then came home and Elder Castillo finished packing. 

Wednesday morning we took off for Cauayan and took a kaliglig with the sisters in Caliguian. Our ride fell through the night before so we called the sisters and they said they had some room in the kaliglig so we decided to just go with them. We took the back roads through the rice fields so travel was pretty long! Still got there on time though. Read the transfer list and found out my companion was coming from Tuguegarao so I went to KFC with some friends and ate lunch. Later in the afternoon he got to Cauayan then we left right away to get back to the area. We just commuted which took forever. Spent over 2 hours traveling back to the area. If we had vans like back in the day it would have taken 30 minutes. Takes forever waiting for the jeeps to fill up before they leave. We waited on the second jeep for what felt like a century. Finally got back to Burgos then went out and introduced him to some of the members and investigators. So pretty much every day since he has been here we've had a horrible time at work. Not as in we have a problem but as in the success that has come normally pretty easy in this area hasn't been there. I think it will be back to normal this week as we get back to our normal schedule. Dad's quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in this weeks letter was perfect for our week this week, "The great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed." So with that being said I won't give a daily update but I will tell you about our new investigators this week. Because of our unsuccessful appointments, we ended up doing a lot of tracting which led to some new investigators. First one is Edwardo Passion. He's probably like 60 yrs old but super nice. Most the time people like Tatay don't listen very well but we kept the lesson very simple and I think he really liked it. He said he wanted to come to church at the Mormon church so we told him what time to go but he didn't end up going. We taught him Wednesday evening then the other two days we went back to him he wasn't there so he might have forgotten. After our lesson with Edwardo, it starting pouring rain. We both had umbrellas but we were still soaked by time we got back to the apartment. It was a good first day in Burgos for Elder Dialino. 

Our other new investigators this week are Sister Marissa and Sister Luce. Marissa's husband is a member but I'm not sure if he is still active. He is working in a different town and just comes home once a month or so. Sister Luce is a member of the Espiritista church but was very welcoming and she listened very intently to the lesson. Elder Dialino mentioned the word prophet at the very beginning of the lesson but we really taught about the Godhead and families. Then at the end of the lesson she asked if we have a living prophet. I remembered the conversion story of my ward missionary leader in Amulung and it was because he learned we had a prophet. So next time we go visit them we will teach about prophets and I think she'll enjoy it. 

We continue to become closer with the young men here as well. Ian, JV, and Josan were all at church yesterday. We played basketball again with them this morning. They are also a lot more comfortable around us missionaries than they were before. They're still a little crazy but hopefully as they continue to come to church they'll clean up a bit. 

We had two more less actives at church yesterday other than the three young men. There was also Tatay Dannug and Sister Monique. President Bulos noticed that there were more than usual there in sacrament meeting which was good. He does something weird though every week and I don't think the less actives like it very much. When he gets up to speak every week he says he's thankful for everyone coming and then names everyone in the congregation. It is awkward and takes time. Then for the less actives he says glad your back or something like that. I think it makes them feel uncomfortable and I myself think it is a little weird. Oh well, see if we can get that changed in the next few weeks. 

So that's pretty much it for this week. We struggled some days but still had a lot of good things happen this week. Everything will get settled down this week and should get back to normal. Hope everyone continues to do well back home. Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week in Pictures

Just pictures from Elder Haacke this week since he Skyped with the family yesterday for Mothers Day.

CSP moving the hut:

This is where we rest on those punted days. Super comfortable and always a nice breeze:

Zone Activity:

Picture of most of the zone. Sister Aguanta is the only one looking.

 Sister Velasco and I with some others in the back.
 Elder Hardy and I.
 Sister Sauder and I while in the cave.

 The mouth of one of the caves.
 Pretty sure Elder Castillo and I were holding up the rock.
 Me, myself and I plus a cool looking rock.
 This little guy was are tour guide. He's 11 years old but he knows everything to say and was telling us about the stalagmites and stuff. We gave him a nice tip so he was pretty happy!
 I don't think our investigator liked the pamphlet... we found this out in front of her house.
Analyn and Darril's wedding. There were a ton of weddings in April. This was one of them. 

 So jeeps like this have been going around for weeks now blasting songs promoting the person running for a position in the government. It's super loud and very obnoxious. Good thing election is today so they've finally stopped.
 This is the "White Lady" that started following me that one night. Asked for a picture and she didn't say anything so I took it as a yes!

 Holding the snake. Really I totally hate snakes but of course I acted like it was no big deal since the whole zone was there!
 This is the monkey that slapped my knee when I bent down to get close to him. Scared the crap out of me. He's crazy fast!
 These are all the zone leaders in my batch. We took this picture Wednesday at MLC. Can't believe we're getting that close to returning home. Elder Higgins will be released as AP and train his last 2 cycles so we'll miss him at MLC.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Some Big News

Alright so I'm going to start this week with some big news! Something that you most likely did not expect... but HONEY MUSTARD HAS MADE IT TO THE PHILIPPINES! Yeah we were at McDonald's earlier and they had honey mustard! Brand new! They've never had it before! So yeah, that was great. Just got done with our zone activity. It was a pretty fun one. We came here to Ilagan and went to a park that has some caves and a zoo kinda. I say kinda because it only had a few animals. But the snake was pretty cool and I bent down too close to the cage of the monkey and out of nowhere he stuck is arm through and hit me! Caught me way off guard so I jumped way bad. But he was fast! Then the caves were pretty cool. In one of them we had to crawl and even get on our side to get through. Plus we had no flashlights so we basically went through blind. Only our tour guide, who was 11 years old, had a flashlight. So we just kept taking a ton of pictures and used the flash for light. But it was a lot of fun. This computer actually read my sd card but I started uploading a picture to this email and it has barely moved so hopefully it will finish by the time I do so I can send at least one picture. Just hit me today that next week is Skype so I gotta find somewhere to do it! Try and get that done this week. The attachment just failed so who knows if I'll be able to send a pic by the time I'm done here. Anyway, today was a lot of fun. Nice zone activity plus got to eat at McDonald's. 
This week was pretty good. We had some investigators at church this week and set a baptismal date with one. Florence Corquera is a girlfriend of a recent convert (Roel Cordova) and we taught her for the second time this last week. The lesson went great and she's already seeing the blessings of the gospel and accepted a baptismal date for May 28. It's pretty quick since we've only taught her twice but we think she can be ready by that time. Roel is also a great helper. He was baptized last February so I wasn't here yet but he is already very smart in the scriptures and has a strong testimony. This Cordova family is amazing by the way. All new to the church but they really are one of the strong families here in Burgos. You wouldn't know they are new to the church if someone didn't tell you. So now we're helping Florence also become familiar with the church and gospel and hopefully one day she will be able to share this with her family. That is really what she wants. Family unity. I told her there's no better way to gain family unity than by living the gospel and following the teachings of the church. 

So I didn't bring my planner to the net shop so I'm trying to think of specific things that happened this week... 
Wednesday was a pretty busy day. We went out in the morning and worked a couple hours. Taught Nanay DelaCruz and the Dannug family. Then ate lunch and went out to Mabini for a baptismal interview. After that we came right back to Burgos for the Sister's baptism where I was chosen to baptize. Part of being white in this country... she saw me at church and wanted me to baptize her. But I was happy to do so and the baptism ended up being really good. Then we went back to Cullalabo for work the rest of the evening. 

Thursday we had a CSP in Caliguian. We helped the girl scouts clean up around the barangay hall. Who even knew there was girl scouts here?? Anyway, basically what we ended up doing was pulling weeds out of the gutter while the sisters painted a fence. Good thing is since it was at the barangay hall there were a ton of people so they got to see that we also do service instead of just teach. So that was pretty good. One of those service projects that aren't the most fun but at least you're doing the right thing. 

Friday we did weekly planning at the church again. Super nice chilling in the air conditioning. Definitely something taken advantage of back home. Then again it isn't as hot back home. This week by the way has still been extremely hot! The last three days though it has rained pretty hard in the late afternoon then ended during the night. You would think that means it cools off but no, it's still super humid or even increases when it rains. Your getting wet from rain and sweating at the same time. 

Friday we had splits with two members. I went with Mark. He's our neighbor that just got home the other week from his mission. He is applying for BYU-Hawaii right now so we talked a lot about that. The question in the application still hasn't changed. About what the hardest thing is you've ever done. We talked about that for a while and got a good laugh out of it when I I told him what I wrote about. But we had a good time working together and he got to see some people he hasn't seen in two years. He lost a lot of weight on his mission so every one is way surprised when they see him. I think it might be the same for me but for the opposite reason! Just kidding.

Saturday we planned an activity with the youth in the ward to help them grow in unity with the leaders and with each other. We played some scripture games then ended with a big water fight. We all then went to the Cordova's house and ate pancit then went home. Quite a bit of youth showed up which kind of surprised me but it was good. Sunday however was complete opposite. There was only one young man there and a couple young women. Kinda sad since they all were able to make it to the activity but not church. 

Church was good however in the sense that we had some improvement. We set teachers for Priesthood class for the next two months and also made home teaching companionships and gave them assignments. Then in Sunday school, Jane Ancheta taught the lesson and did a great job. Then I was talking to her after church and she said that Nanay Diego taught Relief Society which doesn't normally happen. So we had lessons in all the classes for the first time since I've been here. Then we went to sacrament meeting and the microphone wasn't working so you could barely here people's prayers and testimonies but it was still good. I saw improvement in the branch this week and I think it will continue to improve slowly each week. Brother Mark is doing a great job as well helping the branch become more established. 

That's pretty much it for this week. Once again, I don't have my planner and I can't remember a lot of things from this week but I'll catch you all up on Skype next week. The pictures never loaded but I'll send some that Sister Velasco sent to me from the zone activity and the baptism on Wednesday. Hope you all have a great week and I can't wait to talk to you next week!

Love Elder Haacke