Philippines Cauayan Mission

Philippines Cauayan Mission

Monday, June 27, 2016

Opening a New Area

Hello everybody! Can't believe we're coming up on the end of June! You know what that means...we're almost to my last full month in the mission! Anyway, I'm here in my new area! I'm back in Tuguegarao North zone and my are is Tuao. I no longer have any calling in the mission, just a normal missionary. My companion is Elder Lechoco coming from San Pedro, Roxas; my second area. That was his first area. So we're opening the area here in Tuao so it's been a little hard. I'll tell a little more about that later in the email. 

For my last day in Burgos, we started with a csp in the morning. We helped a member start building their house. It was just Elder Dialino and I along with a couple members in Branch 1. It was actually a pretty fun csp to be honest. The way they mix cement is actually pretty cool. Elder Dialino and I brought 13 loads of sand over then they would mix the sand with the cement powder then make it into a pool and add water. Then we just took the cement in buckets to where we needed it. We just made the foundation and started the walls but only got 2 rows high of hollow blocks before we had to go so I could do the things I needed since it was my last day in Burgos. For the rest of the day we went around to as many members as we could so I could say bye. Since I wasn't planning on getting transferred, I didn't say bye at all at church on Sunday so we were in a hurry Tuesday to try and get to as many as we could. I definitely had a good time in Burgos and love the members there and hope the best for them. Elder Dialino sent me an email today updating me a little about Burgos. I guess Nanay DelaCruz couldn't sleep the night I told her I was leaving. He said that she really misses me. Never met a more diligent reader of the scriptures. Also the meetings at church still happened so I know that the members are still in good hands there in Burgos. 

Wednesday morning we had a member take us on their motorcycle to Cauayan for transfer day. I found out where I was going and also met my new companion since he was coming from Roxas. We stayed in Cauayan for a while, waiting for a van to come that we were going to put our luggage in. When that van came, we put all our bags in it then all the missionaries going to Tuguegarao just commuted. I traveled with Elder Walstad since he got transferred and is in Tuguegarao as well. We ended up beating the van with the bags so we had to wait in Tuguegarao for our bags to get there. I've seen two members so far from when I was assigned in Amulung so that was pretty fun. The one is going to serve her mission in Chili which is awesome. I think she'll really enjoy it. So when we got here we found out that Tuao is the furthest away area in Tugue North zone and by the time our bags were there it was too late to travel back to Tuao. Well, we could have made it there but the zone leaders wouldn't have been able to make it back to Tugue since the jeeps in Tuao stop around 5:30. We ended up spending the night in the zone leaders apartment Wednesday night then traveled the next day after district meeting.
So like I said, Thursday we had district meeting in the morning, ate lunch then took off for Tuao. I thought travel was bad last week going back to Burgos from Cauayan. That was just preparing me for what I was going to face here! We sat in the jeep waiting for it to fill up for a little over 1.5 hours. I timed it. Then the ride was another hour and some change so in all it was a long time! Got there around 4:30. The zone leaders showed us where the apartment was and took us to a members house. Once we got there they left us so that they could still get back to Tugue before there were no more rides. The member then took us to visit a recent convert so we talked to them for a while and they helped us learn a little about the branch. Then we just did some walking around to see what was in the area. 

For the next couple days I don't have a lot to talk about. We've been doing our best to try and get to know the area and the members. The area is actually really big and the houses are really far away. It reminds me a lot of Amulung since that area was huge as well. While walking around on Friday, we ran in to the branch president just on the street so we set plans for him to show us around Saturday morning. He took us to a couple of barangays that we hadn't been to yet and showed us the houses of members there. There are just a couple of members in each barangay. And all the barangays are really far away from each other. That would be a simple description of Tuao. So I don't have a lot to talk about I guess. Opening an area is harder than I thought but I think we'll get things rolling this week. 

Something that surprised me at church on Sunday was that a lot of the members are old. Most the time there are a ton of young kids in the branches where I have been assigned in the past but here there are a ton of old people. Which I think is actually pretty good so that there is a permanent teacher in every class. Both Elder Lechoco and I were the speakers in sacrament meeting so that we could also introduce ourselves since even to that point we still hadn't gone to the majority of the members. Church was good though and the members are very nice. The attendance was around 40. I guess last cycle it all of a sudden dropped off a cliff and went from 60+ to around 40 out of nowhere. So we have some things we can work on in this area. I'll have more to write about next week after we get a full week of work in. Also our new mission president comes this week so that will be cool! Really looking forward to meeting him and his wife! That's basically it for this week. Tell you more about the area next week as soon as we can get it a little more figured out! Love you all and hope you have a good week!

Love Elder Haacke
 The csp at the Martin's house.
 Nanay and Tatay Caratiquit
 The Dannug Family, Tatay wasn't there.
 Ian and Nanay DelaCruz
 Belinda, Benilda and their kids. The little girl on the left has an identical twin but she wasn't there.
 Cordova family, or at least those that were there Wednesday morning.
 Ancheta family. I got the closest to them in Burgos and will miss them a lot!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Surprise Transfer

Wow do I have some news this week! Totally surprised me but as you know, this is transfer week and we got the transfer list this morning. I'm transferring! Going to be honest though, I'm pretty disappointed about it. I've gained a love for the people here and this area that I haven't had in any other area. I really wasn't planning on getting transferred since I haven't been here for very long. Definitely going to miss this place like crazy. Guess we'll have to see what the Lord has in store for me. As of now I have no idea where I could go so it will be a surprise for all of us come next week! 

As for the week this week, we had a busy one so it went by very fast. We went out to work in the morning on Tuesday. We went to Ilagan in the afternoon for our specialized training/farewell with President and Sister Rahlf. They taught about the Atonement which was super good. President Rahlf is very good at teaching about the Atonement. He has studied it very well and for a long time so it's really fun to listen to him teach it. Along with teaching the Atonement, they gave some going home thoughts which were really good and helpful. They didn't go into detail about things but mentioned a lot of things that will be helpful in the mission and in life. President and Sister Rahlf have been amazing 'mission parents' and great examples to all of us. I have definitely admired the attributes they have and will strive to apply the things I've learned from them to myself. Definitely will miss them but I'm sure the new mission president will be just as good. Tuesday morning we only got one lesson with Nanay DelaCruz. It was hard since school has started now. Nobody was there but at least we tried. We left right after lunch and went to Ilagan and didn't get home until 8 so that was pretty much all of Tuesday. We were supposed to have dinner with the Pinon family but they said they were going to go to bed so we weren't able to go. We ended up having breakfast with them in the morning instead so it all worked out. 

Wednesday was a pretty good day. We had a good lesson with Nanay Acopido. She knows how much the church will help and bless her life but we are still having problems with her husband. She has had a lot of friends that have become members of the church and she has seen their lives change so she knows the same could happen for her. Tatay still won't give us time to teach him which is too bad but we won't give up on them. We were also able to teach Nanay Luce on Wednesday. We are starting with the Plan of Salvation which I think she really enjoyed. We just talked about the Pre-Earth Life until the Fall of Adam and Eve which we had a really good discussion about. She asked quite a few questions about the Fall but we were able to answer them pretty easily. The Fall is something that I've started to enjoy teaching. Just because almost everyone else doesn't understand how necessary the Fall was and why it was part of God's plan. Luce is still progressing well but hasn't attended church. We invited her to baptism a week or so ago but she said she needs to think about it first. Her husband told us not to come back but we didn't listen. We went back again on Saturday and was able to teach her again about our life on Earth. 

Thursday we got up early and left for Cauayan. We had splits with the AP's which was pretty good. My companion was Elder Navarro and we had a pretty good time. He is from Boise so we were able to talk a little bit about home. It's always nice to see different ways of teaching and we were both able to see things we liked in each others teaching. It rained super hard on us at one point so we got pretty wet. Just made us contact someone really quick so we could hide in their home while the rain passed. Later that night when talking to the others they said it didn't even rain where they were at. So it was just us that got dumped on. It was alright though, we still had a good day. Also we ate lunch at KFC so that was super good. And they got a new apartment which has air conditioning and a warm shower so that was something I haven't had in a while. 

Friday morning we got up and took off back to Burgos. Travel took forever! 3 hours! Takes like 30 minutes in a car but jeeps take forever. We waited for ages for the jeep to fill up before we finally got to leave then we had to get off and wait for the second jeep to fill up so we could leave. Took forever and was so tiring but we finally made it back to the apartment. I don't know if you remember the Lopez sisters or not. We taught them back in the day but it's been a long time since we've been able to teach them since they went and stayed in Roxas for a while. Well we taught April again and she remembered basically everything we had taught so far. We reviewed a little of the Plan of Salvation then finished teaching it since that's where we stopped last time. We also gave her a baptismal date for July 23. She promised to attend church but she didn't end up going. Her baptism is still far enough away that she'll be able to attend church enough times to be baptized. Also we got a new investigator on Friday that had some potential. Tatay Benancio Salazar. We met him right when he was coming home from the bukid but he still gave us some time to share with him. We actually gave him a baptismal date as well for July 30. We'll have to see if he progresses to be able to make that date or we might have to push it back. We've only taught him once so far so we'll see how the second visit goes. 

Saturday we did weekly planning since we didn't have time on Friday. Don't really like it that much but we got it done! We were able to teach the first counselor again this week. He's having some problems right now so were trying to help him by sharing with him every week. We are also communicating well with the Branch President about his progress in getting rid of his habits. He hasn't made a lot of progress but we're only a week into it so we'll see how this week goes. Also like I said earlier we were able to teach Luce again on Saturday and also the Biernes family. We weren't planning on sharing with the Biernes family but when we went by to see how they were doing he said he had some questions about the Book of Mormon so we decided to make a lesson out of it and get his questions answered. Nestor still can't walk but he says he's feeling better and progressing well. This is the guy that got stabbed a couple times if you didn't remember. His questions were more on what the Book of Mormon was about so we explained it a little better then just gave a simple scriptural thought. 

Sunday was pretty hard. We had a visitor though that was a missionary here back in the day. I was in the same zone with him my first cycle in Roxas then he went home. It was pretty cool to see him again. He has a girlfriend back in that area he was assigned in Roxas so they visited Burgos since it was close. Other than that, church was pretty hard. We didn't have priesthood class since nobody was there. Just the priesthood holders in the Cordova family and us two missionaries. So we just had Sunday school which was last second as well since the teacher wasn't there. Sacrament was pretty good though. The speakers were well prepared and gave good talks. Our attendance was lower than last week. I counted around 50 or probably just over 50. Pretty low compared to last week so that was too bad. We had another meeting with President after church. We were able to discuss some things that we noticed the branch needs. I encouraged him to call a branch clerk to make his job as branch president not as hard. The person he suggested for clerk was exactly who I wanted him to say so he'll get called next week and I know he'll help the branch a lot. Too bad I won't be here to continue to help out the branch here in Burgos. I know the branch has the potential to grow and become a strong, established branch. The only thing lacking is some organization and action from the members and this branch could get back on it's feet. I'll keep in touch with Elder Dialino so I can stay updated even when I'm in my next area. Love this area but I guess we'll have to see what's in store for me this week. I'll update you all as soon as possible on my new area and new companion! Hope you all have a great week!

Love Elder Haacke

 We ate frog at FHE last Monday with the Cordova family. Not my first time but it is my first picture with it. It is actually really good.
 My area is definitely out in the rice paddies but I love it! All the fields will probably be planted by this week. There's just a few left that haven't been planted yet and are still being prepped.
 Elder Romo and I in Ilagan. May have been the last time I see him before I go home.
 Me with President and Sister Rahlf after the tie cutting. Chose the purple tie to get cut.
Took a tricy all the way back to Burgos since there were no more jeeps. I rode on top so it was nice and cool.
 This is us earlier this morning. We all went to the chapel and played basketball and volleyball. Last p-day together before three of us transfer!
 More from this morning.

Last pic before I leave, also from the training. Dad, this is Philip Walstad's son if you remember him from Nuskin. We've become pretty good friends here in the mission and will probably hang out a few times after the mission since he lives so close to BYU.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sacrament Meeting Attendance

Hello everybody! Glad the first week of Summer went well for everybody. Sounds like everyone is really busy already. Also thank you dad for counting how many times the second hand needs to go around before I come home. That time will be here before we know it!

So we're back here once again at the net shop that doesn't read my card. The other one doesn't have internet again. An internet cafe with no internet...welcome to the Philippines! Just kidding, but hopefully it'll be back up next week. 
So we got back to a normal schedule this week. It was pretty nice but it actually went kinda slow as well. Looking back now it seems like it flew by but I remember feeling at some points during the week that time was going so slow. Anyway, I'll share a few things that made up our week this week. 

Tuesday we taught zone meeting. The topic was "Unto What Were You Ordained." We found a lot of scriptures that answered the question. I thought it was pretty cool that not a single scripture was repeated. No one even used a scripture that was used in MLC. Combined from the zone meeting and MLC there was 20+ scriptures that answered that question. Goes to show the scriptures really have the answers to everything, just need to study and search them. 
We went to Nanay Luce's house everyday this week except for Tuesday and weren't able to teach a single time! Most the time it was Tatay that came out or was already outside to talk to us. What happened yesterday was kinda funny though. We went there and Tatay was the one that came out. I tried to get him to let us teach him but the right time hasn't come yet. Anyway, the excuse yesterday was that Luce was sleeping. Everyday it's a different excuse. She's attending a funeral, her stomach hurts, she's cooking and so on. So after he said she's sleeping yesterday we were pretty disappointed and we didn't reply right away. Then Tatay's like, "Don't think that I'm trying to hide her, what I'm saying is true." In my mind I'm like, "Tay, that's exactly what we're thinking!" So we got a little laugh out of it and told him it's okay and that we'll come back another day. 

One less active that we've really been focusing on is Tatay Romolo. We've taught him twice a week since I've been here in Burgos. We always have pretty good lessons with him and he is doing good with his scripture reading and prayer but he's not coming to church. The lesson on Saturday was really good and the Spirit was definitely there. He always tells us that someday he'll come back to church but now isn't the right time but this time he told us he'll pray to see if the time has come to come back to church. We were almost certain that he was going to come the next day. Long story short, he didn't come! I don't know how the lesson could have gone any better or what we can do different but I guess we'll just keep on doing what we are now and hope for the best. 

We had our last service at Roland's kitchen last Wednesday. School started today so whether it's finished or not he has to start. We got basically everything done on Wednesday though. It was just me and my companion that participated. When it rains it still gets a little wet where people sit and get there food which then turns to mud so we took a ton of little rocks and spread them out to make it a little less muddy when it rains. We went there this morning and it was pretty muddy so what we did didn't help much but it looked nice after we finished! 

So the week this week was pretty good. Investigator wise we didn't do too great but we had a lot of less actives at church once again. Many repeats from last week. Our attendance was around 80. I counted like 74 but others that counted were around 78 or 82 so we'll go with 80. The branch president talked as the concluding speaker and said there was 108. No idea where that came from cause I didn't get anything near that and neither did anybody else. But hopefully we'll be able to get these meetings set and everyone in the branch can take part in helping it progress and helping are attendance continue to increase. 

I hope everyone has another great week this week. Can't wait to talk to you all again next week!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, June 6, 2016

Busy Week

Hello everybody! Sounds like everybody had a great week this week. Can't believe school is already out. Time goes so fast! I bet all the kids are super happy, except for Sam that is. We had a pretty busy week this week. I'd have to say this was the first time in a while where I actually felt kinda stressed over all the people we need to teach and how to fit them into our schedule. We were busy with csp's, MLC and a baptism we participated in. Basically we had something every morning that we had to go to. In the end, we managed to get it all in but I'm really looking forward to getting back to normal this week. 

Start out on Monday night last week. We had FHE with the Cordova family again. They love having us over for FHE. They also LOVE playing Uno so we end up playing a lot of Uno with them. It's kinda funny though. If they know we're coming to their house, they set up the chairs and table before we even get there so that when we arrive we can start playing right away. So we played some Uno, shared a message then ate dinner with them. 

Tuesday we had our last interviews with President and Sister Rahlf. We got to the church early and made sure there was two rooms with air con for the interviews. We open up both the offices and both of them had an insect that had died and was getting eaten by a ton of ants. We cleaned them up and for the most part all the ants went away. When President and Sister Rahlf got there, we opened up the first office and it was still clean. When we opened up the second one for President Rahlf some of the ants had returned and were running all over the place. So President found my Branch Presidents cologne and sprayed it all over the place in his office to kill the ants. It was kinda funny and sure made his office smell good! Interviews went well. I feel like there is always so many things I want to talk to President about but when it comes to interviews, nothing comes to my mind. It was still a good interview though. Talked about attributes of Jesus Christ and he advised to always have a continuous study about Him. We then moved on to district meeting, ate lunch and went out to work. At work one of the people we were able to teach was Tatay Dannug. He's less active but his family is active. His son was considered returned this last Sunday since he had been there 4 weeks in a row now. Tatay was also there yesterday and when we visited them after church he was very happy. We asked him how attending church was and he said, "Happy! Very happy!" So that's good! Not really sure why or what happened but we were happy for him. Wednesday we got up and went straight to Cauayan. Attended MLC the whole day. Meeting was good and the food was great! :) Also got to see again a lot of my friends that are in far zones. President and Sister Rahlf also talked a lot about how the transition is going to work with getting a new mission president. I remember thinking that the time we get a new mission president was still so far away but it's come so quick! President and Sister Rahlf have talked and Skyped a lot with President Hiatt and his wife. From what we've heard, they seem very excited to come to the mission. We didn't get home till around 7:30 so that took our entire day. 

Thursday we had did service at the school. School starts on the 13th and what they do here every year is about 2 weeks before school starts, they have community service at the schools to clean it all up and get it ready for the school year. The schools are basically abandoned when school is not in session. Weeds grow like crazy and everything becomes a mess. Our branch president told us we HAD to participate at least once. So we called a couple other missionaries and they came with us. He was supposed to be there as well to show us what to do but the night before he said he couldn't come. So we basically just showed up at the school and said, "What can we do?" They gave us some tools and we basically just swept up a ton of leaves and put them in piles. At least they gave us a free snack! We still had some fun though. Played baseball with the broom stick and some mangoes. After that we went home and got ready for the day. We had another elder come home this last week, Elder Cordova. When he left only one other member of his family was a member and now they are all members and really really active. One of the families that are helping this branch stay alive! But he worked with us on Thursday since he hadn't been released yet. He had like a really hard time speaking Tagalog since it's been two years since he has spoken it. Even I had to help and correct his Tagalog. But that just means he served well in his mission. We decided to contact some nice houses on Thursday. We got a few but were only able to set return appointments. Finally we found one where they were outside so we went up and introduced ourselves. Apparently all the people that were there weren't the owner of the house but just the helpers that keep it clean and stuff. We were able to teach one of them though, her name is Jessie. She has one daughter that we also met but we haven't met her husband. She didn't show a lot of interest but we'll have to see how she's doing when we go back this week. We also had three baptism interviews to do on Thursday. I did two interviews and my companion did the other one. All the interviews were successful and I had the chance to baptize two of them on Saturday.

Friday we had another csp at a different school right next to our apartment. We helped clean and fix Brother Roland's kitchen again. This time we focused more on the outside. I dug a path for the rain water since it was going right into the kitchen then made a hole in the cement wall for the water to go out. We're going back this week on Wednesday to finish it all up since school starts next week. Apparently my ditch didn't work though. We talked yesterday and he said the rain still got in the other night so looks like I know what I'll be doing Wednesday morning! For lunch we went to a birthday party and they had a ton of food which was great. There were a lot of other members there as well. Had a fun time talking to them all and once again, played a couple games of Uno. It was Rex Cordova's birthday so that's why we played some Uno as well. They are literally in love with that game. We just worked in Cullalabo on Friday. We taught Nanay DelaCruz again. She is such a fast reader. She's reading faster than we are teaching. She says she always wakes up in the middle of the night and uses a flash light to read. Probably the most diligent scripture reader I know here and she loves it as well. Also got to teach Sister Clarita. She is less active that is from Caliguian branch but she works at a house that is in our area so we visit her every once in a while. We haven't been able to teach her since Elder Dialino has been here so it was good we were finally able to leave a message with her. We committed her to coming to church and she promised she'd be there but it didn't end up happening so we'll follow up this week. 

Saturday we had a baptism in the morning we attended. Like I said earlier I had the opportunity to baptize Angelica and Kylene. The water was pretty shallow so when I baptized Kylene her feet came up. I ended up doing what Dad did to me when I was a little kid and stepped on her toes for the second one. Everything was good after that. Rest of the baptism went really well. Speakers gave good short messages and everything went smoothly. Best part of Saturday though was teaching Nanay Luce. First time we got to teach her all week and I was looking forward to it so much. We followed up her prayer and had a better discussion about the Holy Ghost. She said she is searching and really thinking right now about which is the true church. Our lesson was great and we tried committing her to baptism but she said she is still thinking . She explained her answer and we respected it but we told her that she needs to come to church to really get a better understanding of what our church is like. She said she'll pray about coming to church. 

The next day she still didn't end up coming. Too bad because this was one of the best Sundays we've had. There were a lot of members there and we had good classes as well. That was the most full I've seen the sacrament meeting since I have been here. The testimonies that were shared were really good. There was actually more that spoke Tagalog than Ilocano so we were able to understand them. We did have one investigator there, Sister Florence. We haven't focused a lot on her since she hasn't been here lately but it looks like she's back so we'll start teaching her again. Something else that was really good was we had 8 less actives at church that we are teaching. Three are now returned and the others are progressing. Two that really had good experiences were Tatay Pinon and Tatay Dannug. I mentioned Tatay Dannug earlier. Tatay Pinon even gave the opening prayer in sacrament meeting. We are planning on visiting the Pinon family later tonight so we'll talk more about church. 

Over all we had a very busy week but still finished off strong with a lot of members attending church. Hopefully we'll be able to have the same this week but also with some investigators! Hope you all have a great week!

Love Elder Haacke