Monday, January 21, 2013

Jan 2 Weeks of Updates

Howdy team!

Sorry about no email last week. we had a District Activity so or email time was cut short.  I'll send plenty of pictures though!

Along with the Activity, the last two weeks have been full of celebrations.  The Bicol Region (the boundaries of the Naga Mission) is known for having lots of Fiestas.  These Fiestas aren't just on Saturday to eat chips and salsa for an hour or two, but these are multi-day, no school/work, pure eating and partying kind of event.  There were three in the last two week...  In visiting these areas to teach, we were, in classic Filipino style, invited to go house to house and eat as much as we could to not offend the host.  As we would walk out of one house another person (sometimes just random people) would grab us, drag us to there house, and urge us to eat - or in more accurate words, FORCED us to eat!  I felt like a pig getting fattened for the slaughter... Luckily, the slaughter never came, but I'm convince that I've never eaten more rice in my entire life than in the past two weeks...

In addition to excitement on the outside, I also did some celebrating of my own.  As it turns out (and I'm not sure how time has gone by so incredibly fast), last Friday marked my first full six months in the mission!  I don't have too many terrifically exciting stories of that recognition here, but all my experiences leading up to this point have been more than enough for me to stand on my tip toes, tingling with joy.  I've made several traditions in my mission.  Adapting to the culture (the fish has been the biggest change), I've held onto at least one bit of American life as I eat hamburgers and slowly sip on ice cold Kern's Guava Juice every Wednesday night.  As part of my efforts of assimilation, I've driven a padjack and sat on top of Jeepneys barreling down the highway.  I'm not at all lacking in good stories either, even though I'm generally too pressed for time (lazy) to type them all out.  My favorite thing has been seeing the change in peoples' lives.  After direct involvement with the Group when speaking/blessing/passing in sacrament weekly and teaching the youth class, coupled with proselyting for the duration of the week, I've seen miracles happen.  Without doubt though, the biggest change I've seen (and felt), is the one in myself.  Not only just the speaking Tagalog all-day-every-day r conquering my fear of sea food, but it's this:  Not a day of being set apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gone by that I  do not feel a special Spirit.  Something that constantly abides within me.  A little piece of God's love that my heart is not big enough to hold.  There's a saying in our working with members that the more they see and feel the blessings of the Gospel in their lives, so will their desire to share it increase.  I've seen it in families coming together and former less-actives I've taught going on missions, but of course, it's unparalleled in myself.  I wish I could take a little bit of what I feel and give it to each of you.  Fortunately, that's not possible.  You're going to have to work for it and earn it yourselves! (:   Something that's helped me personally is reading the Book of Mormon.  Last week I was asked what I like about it, this is my answer: "My favorite thing about the Book of Mormon?  I've read that book many many many times.  Each time, no matter how much I've read a particular chapter (or the whole Book itself), I feel a stronger spirit of God's love for me and a Spirit of revelation that touches my heart.  I absolutely love that. Therefore, I continue."

I sure love it here, especially in Baao!  Saturday we got our transfer announcements.  Elder Balanon and I will be going another six weeks.  Because I'm supposed to be training in April, that means I'll most likely be 71/2 months in this area!  A long time, but I'm happy.  The people here, like most other Filipinos remind me of hobbits - there's not a period in time in which we can't have big smiles on our faces as we sing merrily and slap each other on the backs.  I sure will miss it.  But hey, I've still got another year and a half!  I hope all of you can feel the joy and happiness I do.  Have a great week! (:


Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures -

1.  Eels, yum!

2.  Even tastier!

3.  One of the counselors to the Branch President trying to teach me to "play with emotion."

4.  District Activity

5.  Wearing our flamboyant District Shirts.

6.  Super beautiful on the hill top.

7.  More pictures

8.  Last District Picture before transfers

9.  Squished in a triccy

10.  Brother Jeff (our Group Leader) on his padjack.

11.  He gave me a chance.  It's harder than it looks!

12.  Another picture

13.  One of my favorite families here