Friday, June 26, 2009

Animals in the Philippines

Animals in the Philippines. Aren't they like animals everywhere else (just not necessarily as safe as animals here because they might be eaten)? Elder Booth, up to this point, has mostly been eating chicken. No dog yet. Will that change? More than likely. I guess we'll have to see. Speaking of dog, here's a picture of one that can stand on his hind legs. When he does so, he also likes to relieve himself, and happened to do this all over Elder Erickson one time. Not fun for him...

Pigs pretty much look the same there, if you ask me. I'm not sure if this one was just running wild, or if it had escaped from some type of pen.

These are some shots of some water buffaloes Elder Booth saw down by the river. If a future post, with lots of bamboo bridges, you will see some of the water these buffalo were by.

This picture was a little random and didn't really have a place to go. For some reason I thought it should go with the animals. At first I thought it was just a random picture of the moon, but after looking at it closely, it looks like the moon is shaped like a heart, or a little odd shaped. I'm not sure if it's because of the clouds, or what, but you can make your own opinion.

What's going on here...?

So Elder Erickson and Elder Netzley left (they were transferred). Now Elder Booth and Elder Hamblin are alone. What do they do with themselves??

Have they lost their minds??

What is going on here??

Elder Booth!!??

The Filipinos "package" things a little differently than we do here in the United States. So although it appears to be a couple of Elders losing their minds, they are really just messing around. They are just drinking honey out of whiskey bottles and eating peanut butter out of shot glasses... It makes for a few crazy shots.

Here's what Elder Booth said about the incident: "The honey here comes in the exact same bottles as the whiskey. Plus we bought some peanut butter in a shot glass so we could not resist the temptation of taking some funny pictures. Sorry they are kind of bad but I thought they were kind of funny."

Apartment/Last time companion shots

Elder Booth is getting ready for Transfers! Elder Erickson is moving on and Elder Booth is getting a new companion (more to come on that). Here is one of the last shots of Elder Booth with Elder Erickson:

I say one of the last shots because here is another: (about Elder Booth's shirt....??)

Maybe if it wasn't sleeveless...?

It looks like Elder Booth and Elder Hamblin came across some left overs from some type of get together. Or maybe they felt like eating a bunch of pastries. Either way, I'm hoping that they weren't the reason for the "sick day" Elder Booth had to endure...

Here's Elder Booth's letter that will help explain some of the above:

Date: February 8, 2009 7:15:59 PM PST

Well, it sounds like things are pretty crazy back home. I am really sad to hear that the church burnt down. It just won't be the same without it. Oh well though, it's just like Joe said, we need to press onward and keep being faithful. I am also very sad to hear that the economy is not doing very well. I'm not going to lie. That makes me a little scared to come home. Oh well though, I guess I don't have to worry about that for couple of years. Maybe Obama and his change will save all of us by then and we can once again be a big democratic happy family. No joke long (Filipino saying?) I know I have a lot more important things to worry about than that stuff.

Well, things here have been kind of crazy this last week with my companion leaving and all. He left Tuesday morning, so it was just me and another elder from my batch in the apartment. So we made some plans and worked in his area. I was a little stressed out because it is not easy teaching when I not only don't know the language all that well, but I am with somebody that might even know less. Needless to say, the whole day was a fun, exciting experience. We actually ended up teaching a lot and I think I learned more in that one day then I did the past five days. It really works if you just push yourself and do whatever it takes. I just had to remember that the Lord calls and qualifies.

Well, I thought that day was a little hard but I was mistaken. We were supposed to work in my area the next day, but I found myself waking up in the night really sick. I think I lost a total of six or seven pounds just that night. So needless to say, I was not able to go to work in my area. I rested while Elder Hamblin studied, washed, and cleaned the apartment. He is a really hard worker. He actually washed my clothes too. I don't know what I would have done without him. Later that day we got a phone call informing us we would be having some elders stay at our place because of transfers the next day. They ended up being really nice and we had some fun. Well I didn't have a whole lot of fun because I just went to bed really early so I would be rested and ready to go the next day for transfers.

Transfers were actually really fun. It was a good time to talk to everybody about their new companion and where they would be going. I found out that my companion would be Elder Lucas. He is a Filipino from Manilla. He is actually a really nice guy. He is smart too. He has already graduated and is a civil engineer. I don't think that it takes as much to do that here though. It is really different though. I am learning a lot more when it comes to the language but it is a bit of struggle getting used to the way they do things. They are really into the what is mine is yours thing. That is good - I need to get better at that, but it just takes a lot of getting used to. Actually my companion is not bad but Elder Hamblin's companion, Elder Lising, is not afraid to ask or take some things. I really am learning a lot faster because the only time I ever speak English anymore is a little bit to Elder Hamblin.

The work is still good. It is bit of a struggle right now because we baptized most of our investigators. We are really trying to find new people to teach but we are having a hard time. The ward is still awesome though. I really get a long with all of the members and they seem to like my new companion just fine. I hope that we can really learn from each other and he can help me become a good missionary.

There really is not many things that surprise me anymore about the culture. Everything just seems normal now. The food is still good. I have not eaten anything crazy this week accept for whatever made me so sick. I really hope that never happens again. I think that could have been my worst experience on the mission so far.

Well I better get going. I love you all and am excited to hear more from all of you. Good luck with the economy. Just remember to follow the prophet and don't bite off more than you can chew. That's why they are in the mess. Love you and hope everything goes well.
(Sorry again for grammar)

Elder Booth

**Don't worry! Your sister helps you out with editing your letters for the blog :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Elder Booth's First Baptisms!!

What an amazing time! Elder Booth's First Baptisms! As you can see from the letter, he's pretty excited about the whole thing. Congratulations! How exciting! Go Elder Booth!!

Date: February 1, 2009 7:07:38 PM PST

Hey everybody. Well, I would have to say this has been a really good week. I guess I will start out with the good stuff, which are the five baptisms my companion and I performed on Sunday. I went on splits on Friday so the district leader could interview them. We found out that one of the boys that was supposed to be baptized was actually only seven. It's kind weird here. They always say they are a year older when they are relatively close to their birthday. All of the interviews went great though. We also found out that they could not do it on Saturday, which was the original day. Since we had one planned for Sunday morning, we just put them all at the same time. It still was not to easy though. Don't get me wrong, it could have been a lot harder. It was a long process getting them in the water.

First on Saturday the father cut off his finger. Well not all the way, just mostly. He just sewed it up himself. He said it hurt pretty badly. My companion does not do well with that sort of stuff. You should have seen his face when he was describing it to us. It was pretty funny. It was alright though - he just said he would deal with it. He is an amazing guy. I could learn a thing or two from him. Then Sunday was pretty hectic. We were supposed to be at the church at six thirty but we both forgot to set our alarms for earlier. So the morning was really crazy when we were running around trying not to be late for our own baptism. Then on the way there, it was raining. So when we were waiting on the corner for jeepney, we got splattered with dirty water so all of my baptismal clothes got black spots all over them. By then I was a bit flustered, to say the least. We finally got there though, and were actually still the fist ones there. Filipino time is nuts. It was amazing though because they all showed up. Even if it was late. We actually even had an investigator come that we invited. It was an amazing experience. Nothing could make me wipe the grin off of my face.

There were five in all getting baptized. The family had four and we had one other. My companion baptized the parents of and the other sister and I got to baptize the two little girls. It was so cool and they were all so happy. I got some good pictures so I will send those back as soon as I get the other memory card. (Oh, and don't worry Michele, you can put whatever you think is cool on the blog - I don't really care). Oh and the family's name is the Taladros. I didn't think I would get to baptize an entire family my first transfer. Oh, and I was looking at it and they were actually my first appointment in the field. The kids are great. They have three girls and one boy. The girls are 13, 11, and 5. The little boy is 7, so we will be getting him ready for next year. The other investigator was our golden one. Her name is Mary Jean Endrada. She is a house help to one of the really strong members in the ward and she was just brought to us to teach. She is really smart and learned everything so fast. To top off our Sunday, we actually had a really less active member come back to church. We were really impressed. She is a return missionary but she stopped coming because she got offended by somebody. That is a pretty big problem here. She came back though so my trainer can now die happy. That has also been nuts. My trainer is leaving tomorrow, so things are a bit crazy around here with them trying to get ready to go. It is just going to be me and the other elder from my batch in our apartment for three days. I really don't know how that is going to go. I am pretty nervous so I hope the lord helps us out.

Nothing really happened too crazy with the culture. Everything is normal to me now. I am sorry. If you really want to know something though, don't be afraid to ask. I love you all and I am sorry if I missed something . Just let me know and I will be sure to include it next week. Oh, and just so everybody knows I can receive pictures and stuff through email. That seemed to be a popular question. Well, I love you all and thanks again for all of your support.

Elder Booth

Here are some of the pictures of the wonderful day:

Elder Booth and Elder Erickson with the Taladros family

Brother Taladros with all of his kids

Brother Taladros with the girls getting baptized

As Elder Booth mentioned, they had to move the Taladros baptism to Sunday. They already had a baptism scheduled for that day, also moved up from the 7th so Elder Erickson could perform it. Her name is Sister Jean and here she is, getting ready for the big event also:

Sister Jean, the Golden Investigator

Sister Jean with Elder Booth and Elder Erickson

Sister Jean with Elder Erickson

Sister Jean with Elder Booth

Sister Jean with her family

What a wonderful experience for all of those involved! A truly amazing day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Second CSP

This week Elder Booth's District was able to help out with another Community Service Project. This time, they helped a small branch build a meeting house. It's pretty amazing to think that in one day, they could build a place for others to come and meet together on Sundays. I'm sure it was a pretty humbling experience.

Here is a truck loaded with some building materials. I'm not sure if these materials were for the meeting house being built, or not:

Here are the missionaries building the meeting house:

Look what they found! Cute little snail...

What a beautiful view!

Even though we can barely see him, we know that Elder Booth is looking good!

Here are the District members who helped with the build. You'll recognize Elder Netzley, Elder Hamblin, Elder Booth and Elder Erickson in the front, from left to right. As for the others in the district, I'm not quite sure.

Finally, a letter from Elder Booth dated around the time the pictures were taken.

Date: January 25, 2009 6:57:00 PM PST

If you haven't noticed, I am going to try and make the subject of each weekly letter different. That way I at least know that something is a little different, because if feels like I am writing the exact same thing every single week.

This past week has been a good one. The work here is really starting to progress and I am really excited. Oh, and I am really happy to say that the baptism of the family on Saturday is still right on schedule. The bishop interviewed them on Sunday and found them all worthy to take the plunge. It is going to be so great. We have some good speakers lined up and my companion and I are actually going to do a special musical number. I don't know how I got roped into that one, but oh well. It will be good for me. I will tell you next week how it goes and hopefully take some good pictures. (I haven't been taking too many so that will be a great chance for me to do so).

Our other investigator is still golden. I don't have too much experience yet, but I am pretty sure they don't get any more golden than her. A member just walked up to us and told us to teach her. She is only seventeen but we just found out that her parents are supportive and are willing to sign the permission form. The only set back is she has a date for the seventh and she just found out that my trainer would be going home before then so she is now really sad he can't baptize her. So he is going to try and do it next Sunday, which will be her fourth Sunday at church. Hopefully that works out, or I guess she will just have to settle for me or my follow up trainer. As long as she is baptized, I am happy.

My funny experience for the week is actually pretty interesting. We got an oym about a week ago so we went there to try and follow up with it. When we went up to the house there were two girls sitting there on a motor. So we asked them if Brother Baal was at home. They proceeded to tell us that he had died. Not really believing them, my companion asked if we could see. They said of course and took us inside. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the funerals here are in their house and last about a week and end up turning into a gambling party. Anyway, we followed them inside. Sure enough there was a casket just sitting there in their front room. So we looked inside and I could have sworn there sitting there was our oym. So not really knowing what to do now, we sort of just stood there. They told us to sit down and then started bringing us some food. That is when things got a little awkward. I had no idea what to do so I just sat there quietly. Then they looked at us and said it would be cool if we shared with them. So of course we shared about the plan of salvation. It was a crazy lesson. There was a old guy there that just kept asking us biblical riddles. I really didn't understand too well so I just sat there while they kept bringing me food. It was a little weird trying to eat and be in the conversation at the same time. Considering I didn't understand too well, I did more eating. After we finally got done we found out that Bro Baal was still alive and that was his dad, so that was a relief.

The last funny thing that happened was I prayed at the end and then stood up to leave. Then my companion grabbed me and said the old guy wanted to pray as well. So I sat down and stared at him waiting for him to stop talking and start praying. About half way through the prayer, I realized that everybody had their head down but me. So I put my head down and listened to him yell his prayer. Then when he got done he just said, "ok I'm done now." So that is my funny experience this week.

I think I am getting pretty used to the culture so it is really hard to think of anything really weird to talk about. As for food, I didn't eat anything too bad this week. I did get some really hairy big (pig??) skin, but I wasn't man enough to eat it. The hair really got to me.

Well, I love you all and hope you are keeping our Savior in your thoughts. Just remember it is harder to commit a sin when you are thinking of our brother suffering for it. Thanks again for all of your support and don't worry too much about your Elder in Bacolod.

Elder Booth

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bowling as a Zone!

Elder Booth was able to go to a fun Zone Activity at the end of January. His Zone went bowling for an activity and from the looks of it, you would think you had taken a step into the United States...

Here's what Elder Booth said about it:

"The bowling is a Zone activity. Yea, never thought I would be bowling here (in the Philippines). The place was actually pretty nice. We had a lot of fun."

Here is a picture of the Bowling Alley:
(Not too different from what we have here)

Elder Booth is having a blast!

Check out those moves! Look at that form! Elder ??

Not sure who this is either...

Again, not sure who this is:

Here are some of the Elders from the Zone. They are not the ones Elder Booth lives with, so I'm not sure of their names (I think they're the ones in the pictures above, too)...

Finally, some faces I recognize! Here's Elder Booth with his companion and "roomies."

Elder Booth (left), Elder Erickson (in the back), Elder Netzley (in front),
and Elder Hamblin (right)

Now a picture with the Elders bowling together (I'm not sure if this is the whole Zone or not). You'll recognize the four on the left (same as up above). If I'm not mistaken, that could be Elder Potter on the far right. He was the District Leader with Elder Booth in the MTC.

And a good time was had by all!

My first CSP (Community Service Project)

For Elder Booth's first CSP (Community Service Project), Elder Booth and Elder Erickson helped a family build a fence. Here is Elder Erickson starting the hole for the post:

Here's Elder Booth working on putting a post in:

Elder Erickson is posing by the finished product:

All Done!!

Here's the family Elder Erickson and Elder Booth were helping:

It's such a great feeling to help people!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fear Factor, Missionary Style!

FEAR FACTOR, Missionary Style!

Challenge: Eating Balut...

What is Balut?

A balut is a fertilized duck (or chicken) egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It is commonly sold as street food in the Philippines. They are common, everyday food in some other countries in Southeast Asia, such as in Laos (where it is called Khai Luk), Cambodia (Pong tea khon in Cambodian), and Vietnam (Trứng vịt lộn or Hột vịt lộn in Vietnamese). Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, balut are mostly sold by street vendors in the regions where they are available. They are often served with beer. The Filipino and Malay word balut (balot) means "wrapped" – depending on pronunciation. (Thank you Wikipedia).

So, now that we know what it is, the question still remains... why?

Balut has been the "shocking" topic of some television shows because of its taboo nature in some Western cultures. In two episodes of Survivor: Palau and two episodes of Survivor: China, separate challenges featured attempts to eat this delicacy. Similarly, Fear Factor frequently uses balut as a means of disgusting contestants. Recently, contestants of The Amazing Race Asia 2 had to eat 8 baluts as a team before receiving their next clue. The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs Team Mir featured balut eaten by several contestants after its introduction by a Filipino-American fighter Phillipe Nover. (Thanks again Wikipedia).

So, if eating a fertilized duck egg sounds like fun, continue reading and watching. If it doesn't sound like fun to do yourself, then maybe you'll enjoy watching others do it. If you would rather not even watch, you might want to stop reading this post!

Fresh from the store... Balut.

Instructions on how to eat Balut:
First, tap the pointy tip of the egg’s shell and make an opening large enough only for the broth to trickle into your mouth.

Next, remove the shell and season the egg with salt. Lastly, decide whether to wolf down the balut in just two bites or less, so as not to visually encounter the fetus, or to nibble on the egg and eat it section by section, being extra cozy with the partially formed duck. Lesson over. Here goes...

Elder Booth Approves! I guess it really does taste pretty good...

I tried to download the 5 minute video 4 times over 4 days, with no success. I guess you'll have to ask me about guys are crazy!

Here's Elder Booth's next letter:

Date: January 18, 2009 7:00:27 PM PST

Hey fam, how is it going? Things here are going great still. I am going to say "sorry" now for probably saying the same things over again from week to week because I don't know what I said last week and I don't have time to read it again. The weeks kind of just blend together here. I can't believe how fast time is already going. It seems like I arrived yesterday. I am actually a little nervous for transfers because my trainer will be leaving me and that will be a rough change. The good news is I will more than likely be staying here in Paglaum because I doubt that they will white wash and area two times in a row.

This week has been kind of busy. We had zone meeting on Tuesday, which was not too bad. It took the place of our district meeting, so our schedule was about the same except it went a lot longer. By the time we got back we had already missed some appointments and were running around like headless chickens trying to get to all the other ones on time. The next day was even worse because we had zone conference. We were really late getting back from that. It was fun though. I really like getting updated on everything going on in the mission. All the new missionaries got to bear their testimonies as well. That was fun. The food there was good to. I really love the food here. That will probably be one of the things I miss when I come home. I am, however, working on getting a recipe book with all of my favs. I can't wait to come home and have you try all the good food. I will have you cook it though, so it will taste good and you won't be disappointed in the filipino food.

Paglaum is still doing great. I think we are really gaining the trust of the members now. It was not that easy to do considering what happened with the whole death threat and all with the last elders. Actually its kind of ironic. The guy who gave the threat is my fav. We work with him a lot and I played basketball with him this morning. I don't know how you could not get along with this guy. Well I guess I have met the elder and I do know how you couldn't get along with him. Retention and reactivation is good. We are really working with two sisters who are return missionaries and very nice. They both had some problems with the people in the ward and don't want to go to church because of it. So we scheduled a FHE with one of them and invited the other. They just happened to be really good friends. We invited a lot of the members too, and asked them to write them notes telling them how much they love them and want them to return to church. It is on Friday and I am really excited to see how it goes. My companion said he will die a happy missionary if they go back. Oh yea, and I guess that's what they say here when you are going home. I don't know if I will pick that up because it's kind of weird.

Our new investigators are great. Oh, and our old ones as well. The family is still doing alright. We are starting to have some doubts that they will be able to reach their baptismal date or not. The adversary is really trying his best to stop it from happening. We are hearing some things from the members that they saw the mom smoking, but she said she still has not. Hopefully she is the one that is telling the truth. We also heard this morning that she just got scheduled to work every Sunday this month and next month. I really hope it works out because the kids are strong and are all really excited to be baptized. The couple that needs to be married really opened up to us this week. They told us the whole story of what the last missionaries were trying to do for them. I guess they were paying for everything and even set up an appointment to go and get the licsence with them. Yea, that really can't be in the rules that you can travel and get it with them. I guess they really can't afford it though. I think if they tried they could, so we talked to the bishop and he said he would interview them and if he feels they really can't pay for it then he will. Hopefully it will work out, because they are strong and are going to church each week. The high light of the week though was a young girl named sister Jean. She is seventeen and one of the member's house help. They just told us to come over and teach her. She is amazing and really listens to us. We taught the third lesson discussion on Saturday and she is scheduled to be baptized on the seventh. As long as we get it approved with her parents and the Mission President, it will go through. I am really excited. Our other ones are doing good and we are working hard each day to find more so we can build up the area book.

The weather here has been weird. It has been rainy and windy. It has constantly been about 70 degrees. The people here are freezing. It just prolongs me getting used to the real weather. I guess I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. I haven't seen anything to wierd as far as the culture goes. I am getting used to it fast. As for food this week, I did not get to eat dog. Somebody from my batch did and I am really jealous. I did, however, get to eat balut. It is a half formed duck still in the shell. I got the whole thing on tape so you will get to watch it when I send the next card home. It actually wasn't too bad. Oh, and I am trying to get better with pictures, but it's not working to well. I will continue to try and get better.

Well I better get going. Again, I love you all so much. Thanks for all of your support. I would not be here or be able to stay here if it weren't for each and every one of you. Thank You

Elder Booth


My companion just reminded me of a funny experience. We were at this appointment with two girls. One was married and one was just her sister who was unmarried and pregnant. We would not have been able to teach them but we luckily had a ward missionary. First of all, the married one is really flirtatious. She always calls us guapo. Actually, it was funny. She asked if we were full American and we said that really doesn't exist. My companion said his ancestors were from Sweden and I said Britain. Then she looked at me and said that's why your are more guapo than he is. I got a pretty big kick out of that. I couldn't help but laugh.

Then while we were teaching I was listening and then I hear this little click like a camera. So I look over and the pregnant one is taking a picture of me with her phone. That would be a first. Then when we were on our way out she said she really hoped that her baby looked like me. So yea, that would be a first for me.

Anyway, I thought that was really funny and thought I would throw it in there. I guess they really love Americans here.