Monday, July 25, 2016

Hiking the Rice Terraces With Pics!

Hello Family and Everyone Else!

Well this email is coming in later than normal because I went to the Banaue rice terraces today!  It has been a long day to say the rest. I feel like it should be 8 at night right now haha.  We had to wake up at 2 am to go to Banaue because a couple of people wanted to see the sunrise.  Now I was not opposed to this idea, but after the sacrifice of sleep I made, I was expecting to see that sunrise.  Sadly, since Banaue is in the mountains, the MOUNTAINS blocked the sunrise!!!!!  Oh well, at least the weather was very cool, I actually felt like I was back home for a second!  

We hiked a long ways.  Elder Ishibashi wanted to go to this little hut way up in the terraces.  Basically, we trekked down into a ravine with a river then climbed up the other side to past the elevation we had been at to finally arrive at the hut.  It was a pretty good hike.  l've learned that I am out of shape recently, but I will get into why a little later.  Anyways, my journey to the hut, included me almost falling off a terrace three times, getting half my body covered in mud, and of course when I reached the top the other Elders started to think I was going crazy because I was very dizzy and singing about hiking.  I think I may have made their days with that one, but man that was a good hike.  I also have many pictures of the terraces, so you will be very happy!  

While I was in Banaue, I bought a dragon carving, I took a picture of it, and a special kind of blade!  I got both for under $10 bucks which I call a successful day!  Overall, it was a fun trip.  I enjoyed doing some good exercise and joking around with the other Elders.  So this week was the week of CSPs or service projects!  I had 2 service projects in a row this week on Friday and Saturday.  The one on Friday was pretty dang brutal and is the reason why I say I definitely need to be doing some more cardio exercises!  On Friday morning at 8 am sharp we went to a members house.  It was just Elder Tabudlong, me, and the member who was a heavier set man.  Our job was to shovel out a huge pile of dirt and rocks.  I'm talking it was chest high on me and was about the width of the road.  It was one huge pile!  Now I was working pretty hard like I normally do.  What I didn't realize right away, was how physically demanding shoveling rocks is.  After an hour of working hard, I noticed my heart was pounding and my stomach wasn't feeling too good.  So I took a 5 minute rest, but its still really hot that morning.  I get a burst of energy and start going hard again.  About 5 minutes later the first urge came... Now I pride myself in being able to say I have never puked from working out.  Never! Until Friday at 9:08 am.  I puked 3 times into a small stream.  The rest of that day was pretty hard but I stuck it out!  

When we got home that night, we received another text from one of our Leaders giving us two options, we either go to an emergency service project the next morning or help out with the one day mini mission.  At this point I was laying on my bed thinking about how much a wheelchair costs in the Philippines.  My companion and I decided it was better to go to the CSP, so we would have about an hour break before we went out to work.  That CSP was a little easier, I only had to move cement bags and paint.  I learned that I can really push myself to my limits when i want to this past week.  It was pretty cool.  

I never thought I was pushing myself hard enough, but now that I have come on a mission, I have changed and my will and determination have increased!  Now I am not saying it was good that I puked, but the fact that I alone pushed myself to my absolute limits showed me just how much I have come along on my mission.  I truly believe that I can accomplish anything I want in my life as long as I have the desire! 

Our work is going pretty good too!  We are really getting help from our Single Adults and Return Missionaries to come work with us and fellowship.  We do not have any baptisms yet, but I know that it will come.  I just need to keep bringing the desire and motivation to do so!  It has been a pretty full week and I am just a little tired right now, but this has been a great learning week for me.  It is so awesome to see first hand how I have changed.  I am no longer the weakling who puts down my dumbbell when I have 2 more reps to do!  I do 5 more reps instead!  We all need to keep building our faith daily, and the best way is through constant prayer and a positive (humorous) attitude!  

Well everyone enjoy all of these beautiful photos of me surviving the rice terraces and I love you all!


Elder Warren

Boil on a Foreigner's Butt

Hello Mom, Family, and Everyone!

Well I officially made it over a year in the mission!  It is a weird and yet satisfying feeling to know that I have come this far!  We met the new mission President this week and he sounds like he will be another great leader! He is from Idaho and has actually already served in the Philippines so he has a lot of great experience! I enjoyed listening to him, and he gave a lot of great advice to us.  Although I do miss President Rahlf, I know that Our Lord has a reason why he has called President Hiatt to be our new mission President.  

This week, a couple of interesting things happened. First, I tried the dragon fruit! I guess it is supposed to taste kind of like a watermelon, but to me it really felt like I was eating water!  The fruit actually looks pretty cool and I wish I was able to take a picture of it, but I didn't have my camera on me at the time.  The inside of the fruit is a dark purple and after you eat it, it dyes your teeth purple!  So I had to make sure I brushed my teeth extra well that night!  Haha.  

Also, we went to the hospital on Tuesday for my companions going home x ray.  While we were there, I decided it would be good for me to get my boil checked out, just to make sure everything was fine.  This is where it gets interesting.  They whisked me into a room that had 3 patients sitting waiting to be looked at and 2 female nurses. Then, in front of all of them, they told me to show them my boil.  Now I don't know about most people, but I was just a little nervous about mooning everyone. Alas, I didn't have a choice, and of course five seconds after I showed them where my boil was one of the nurses yelled "Oh look its a foreigners butt!" I don't know how appropriate this story is but I needed to share it.  

Anyways, I finally got my boil taken care of and after waiting for someone to operate the counter, I only had to pay 3 bucks to get the pills.  Hospitals are really cheap here! We also had a CSP (Community Service Project) this week and I learned that I appreciate the ingenuity of electric saws!  I had to cut bamboo and man was I making Elder Ishibashi crack up.  At CSPs, I find it is funner if you aren't serious about anything, so while I cut the bamboo with a regular saw, I made sure to crack jokes about how bad I was at this.  By the time I finished, we were both crying from laughter and even sweating! I call that CSP a definite success!  

Elder Tabudlong and I are still making progress with our investigators which makes me very happy and the Branch continues to be a huge help.  I am very thankful for this Branch.  The Elders reopened this area only last cycle, so we are still learning where everyone lives because of how big the area is.  The members are so willing to work with us and help progress the work.  I can testify that members are really the key to a missionaries success! We need the members just as much as they need us.  Only together, can we strengthen the ward or branch into a growing and unified House of the Lord!  

Well I had a pretty good week overall. I continue to work as hard as I can, because this next year is gonna go faster than I can imagine! I love you all, I pray for your safety and protection, and will see you in under a year!


Elder Warren

Happy 4th of July!!

Hello Everyone and Mom!

First off, happy fourth of July!  Although for you it is still July 3rd... I don't feel that different, just a little tanner, a little weaker, and a lot wiser.  It is crazy how fast the time went by to be honest.  At on side, I can definitely see how it has been a year, on the other, it doesn't seem real.  I still remember very clearly the night I headed off to the MTC (Missionary Training Center).  Interesting how that though is still clearly ingrained into my brain.  

The work is going great in Bambang, and the members are fantastic.  They literally are helping our work progress because of their attitude.  They are super outgoing, friendly, and funny. There is rarely a serious moment in this branch to tell the truth, but that's a good thing.  The church lessons are so much more involved with the investigators because the teachers are just fun to be around.  The food also does keep my quite energetic and healthier!  

On a sadder note, I got a pretty big boil this week.  Right now, I am sitting on it, and it literally feels like I am sitting on a golf ball.  I am hoping it goes away soon, but it is sort of a long process.  Oh well, this is what ibuprofen was invented for right?!?  

Anyways, we have a couple of progressing investigators in the branch and I see very high potential for them! Also, since this past week was fast and testimony meeting, I decided to get up and bear my testimony, since I haven't gotten the opportunity to introduce myself to the Branch.  When I went up, it was very different from my last branch, the members all paid attention to me and smiled.  It was a very peaceful atmosphere and I am really blessed to have the opportunity to serve the people of Almaguer Branch!  

My comp likes to remind me everyday of how close he is to going home.  I just help him to work hard and have lots of fun doing it.  He got a haircut this morning and the first thing he said when he was finished was, this is my last haircut in the mission! Haha, I love how he is excited, but he also still knows he needs to finish strong!  

Well I am doing great over here.  I continue to grow in my testimony and in my ability to eat anything I can get my hands on!  Haha I love you all and will talk to you in another week!  
See you in one more year!


Elder Warren

New Area - Bambang

Hello Everyone!

Well I am now happily here in Bambang!  This is one of the farthest Zones in our mission and is in the mountains.  I have to say the 4 hour drive was a little brutal to the knees but its nothing I can't handle!  The area is a little cooler than my other areas due to the fact that I am on a mountain, but I still manage to sweat a lot.  Story of my life!  

In other news, we have a pizza place literally right next to us and man do I take advantage of that!  One of their pizzas is like the perfect snack size for me!  I just need to make sure I don't spend too much money on them haha.  My new companion is Elder Tabudlong and he is pretty funny.  I can also see that he is ready to go home, but I am making sure we end his last cycle good!  

The area is pretty great so far.  We have a ton of members in our branch which is a total difference from my last area.  Like my last area, everyone likes to ogle over me but that's ok.  The major difference I have noticed is that people are a lot more outgoing in this area.  I love it because it makes it easier for us to get contacts!  

Alright!!!  I have realized there are various advantages to having a companion who is going home after this cycle.  For one, we get a lot more food!  Members are always feeding us because they know that my companion will be going home shortly.  It's also awesome to have a companion who has his Testimony to such an elevated level.  He truly believes and knows in what he is teaching.  He is my 5th companion so far in the mission and he is my 4th Bisaya (native) companion.  For some reason, I seem to get along really well with the Bisayan!  

Anyways, leaving my last area was a little hard.  Its hard to believe that I only left that area 4 days ago.  It was harder for me because in those  months I really bonded with those members and investigators.  I really treasure those relationships I was able to build with the people of Naguilian.  I hope that I'm able to do the same with the people of Almager branch!  At this rate, I may have to return to the Philippines after all because I have a ton of friends here!  I feel rather accomplished right now as a missionary.  

My main reasons behind going on a mission were to help others find the true joy that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ and to form eternal relationships with the people that I meet.  Throughout my mission I always pondered about what things I could bring back with my in the next life and I realized that one of those things is relationships.  The beautiful thing about relationships is that is built spiritually rather than physically.  The connection you build with people you meet and love is not seen, but rather felt.  I am really glad that Heavenly Father created such a beautiful place where I can build such relationships and bring them with me throughout all eternity.  After all, I do love spending time with my friends!  

On another bright note, my new Zone Leader is my MTC batch mate Elder Ishibashi!  He looks like he is doing really well and he is super excited to be in the same Zone as me.  We will have a great cycle this cycle.  Well I love you all and I am grateful for this new opportunity to serve in the Mountains!  I feel at home here.  

Well I will talk to you again next week!


Elder Zach Warren