Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Philippines!!!

(We did not get the traditional Christmas call from Elder Swanton. He was busy with baptisms and was unable to get to an internet cafe on December 25th.. He contacted us on his next P-day, December 28th.)

The following are questions and answers from our call:

What are your living conditions?: 10 x 10 room with outdoor kitchen,no indoor plumbing, no TP, hand washing clothes.

What is a sample breakfast, lunch and dinner like?: Cookie Crisp with Australian Milk?for breakfast, Rice and a chicken hotdog for lunch and drum roll please.....rice and chicken hotdog for dinner. "Hows that MTC food looking now Elder?" Jacob said that fruit is out of season right now and is expensive. Also eggs are really expensive.

What did you do for Christmas?: Enjoyed a Branch Christmas Party with fried chicken, rice and a really good root pie? He also enjoyed 8-9 hours of continuous karaoke. Yes, they like it very much. No current pop songs however, they enjoy old romantic American love songs.

How do you like the people?: They are great. They all call him "Joe" or "Santa Claus" because of his jolly appearance. He said that for children, pants are optional. Such a freedom we do not have here in the states.

How is the language going?: The language is difficult because it is not what he learned in the MTC and he didn't even have that down all the way. So it is a work in progress.

How is the local Branch?: It is small, about 30 members. They meet in a small one room building with a karaoke machine for a microphone. The branch is so spread out it takes some members over an hour to get there when they come. It is very difficult for some families to come regularly.

Update from Jacob's email:

Well, not much happened this week except that I had two baptisms and that was way sick. We also did some lessons to some less actives here. I think the problems with Bugasong is that it is just a big joke to the rest of the mission. I think it is because the whole branch hates each other and they get offended so easy and then they don't want to come back to church. This week was the first week that we kinda separated and headed out to our own areas. Elder Larsen and Elder Capulac's area is super close to the ocean and my area is super bukid, which means mountains and rice fields. O yeah, Christmas was this week and you can really tell here. What I forgot to tell you is that we live kinda close to the town center that has a basketball court and a big huge stack of speakers. Like it is crazy how many speakers and they are so freaken loud, like I thought that my ears might bleed.  So yeah, all Christmas we heard the music, which is just music that was very popular in the states like 25 years ago and now its just barley getting here. So yeah, we ate at this member's house. She is a Nan, which means mother and she always tells us to come over and to eat, but we are just like no I don't want to get tambok that means fat. She says well come eat anyways. It's pretty cool. So the 26th comes around and we have two baptisms. Then I learned that they will be on the beach and I get ready and head out to the water. Then all of a sudden, the waves just start to get huge. As I am walking out with one of the girls, the waves hit me in the back and almost knocked me over. The girl was almost swept away, so that was a quick baptism. The next girl was the same,  haha. It was awesome to feel the cold water just smashing me in the back and then have this little girl about to become a member of the church. Yeah things here are pretty crazy and I don't really know how to describe things, but just know that I love the work and I am very thankful for all the challenges and trials that I have and am going to receive. Here are some pictures of my area and the baptism. I love you all and can't wait to email you all again.
Elder Swanton

 2 guys with sticks

Local fishing boat


Nice huh!

Local area- nice mountains, excellent down hill mountain bike potential

My first baptisms- performed in the ocean

Cute girls- my first baptisms

Rice fields

Local transport

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bugasong, my home away from home!

Jacob's report from his new area:

Well hey family,

Wow,  to say that these past few weeks have been crazy would be an understatement. First off, let's just say this country was made for little people. I have hit my head so many times and also have broken three benches, which has been super fun to explain to people what happened to them. OK, so to answer dad's questions. Dad, all we did in Manila was go to the immigration office and get our fingerprints. No, the MTC in Manila did not really teach us anything. We were just in this classroom the whole time. We would wake up, get in the vans, and head there to the MTC. Then at night, we got in the vans and went back to the hotel. Here's the good part, so we get to Iloilo and meet the mission president and he is very short and very nice. So, we are all waiting around and they have all these other missionaries come in and sit down. Then, they tell us all to go stand on one wall and the trainers on the other. I was assigned to the Antique Zone and it's the Bugasong A District. They also speak Kari-a here, which guess what is nothing like Illongo at all, so yeah its been like starting all over again. This place is the most namit place in the world; on one side of the road is just rice fields and mountains and on the other side of the road is the big blue ocean just beating on the shore. 
Ok, now on to the people. So the people here are so dang nice. It's amazing they all say mayad ng aga, or hapon , or gab-i. For you Americans that is morning, noon, and night. It's so freaking hot here like all of you would die in a heart beat. I don't even know how I am able to do things here, but I just keep going. Ok, so on Christmas, we have 3 people getting baptized and they are all little kids. I am so excited for them and we get to baptize them in the ocean. My companions name is Elder Olivar and he is from the Philippines and it's has been very hard to say the least.

Well, anyways, yeah that's what has been happening here. We walk close to twelve miles a day and its all up hill through the rocks or its on the beach. I feel as soon as I can get this language down that I might be able to fully love the work. As for now, I am just getting through the days and trying to learn as I go. I love you all.  Here are some pictures of my area and things that have been happening. I love you all and till next week.
Love, Elder Swanton

Manilla Temple

One side of the road is just rice fields and mountains....

Elder, you can't swim home for the holidays!

Elder Larson and I hanging out on the beach.

On the other side of the road is the big blue ocean, just beating on the shore.

Elder Olivar, my first companion in country.

Beautiful sunset

Friday, December 19, 2014

Unexpected email.....

So I am leaving on a jet plane....

Updates from Jacob....

(Jacob had to fly from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles then on to Hong Kong and finally to Manila)

Well I'm just sitting in the Hong Kong Airport and my phone card will not work so I am emailing. We just had a 15 hour flight and it was very long and I had to watch "The Secret life of Walter Mitty." Other than that we woke up so early yesterday morning and started to travel and now just wait for a little bit before we board. I love you all and can't wait to call on Christmas. Sorry if I was not able to call, but just know that I love you all.

(Jacob arrived in Manila MTC)

Ok, so we got here just fine. It was a hassle and as soon as we got to the airport I transferred my money and we got on to a bus and rode to the MTC. We got here they told us that we were not going to be staying at the MTC, we are staying at a hotel down the road. It is nice and the food is nami gid, They are telling me now that I have to get off, but I want you all to know I'm fine and this will be the best two years in my life.

Leaving the MTC....

Updates from Jacob...

Well family, the time has finally come when we bounce out of here. These last few days all we have been doing is a ton of packing. I have just been going through all my stuff. I sent home a box, I hope you get it. The MTC makes everything way cheaper to send so it was only like 4.56 cents. Ok so now on to the best parts of the email. Ok so tomorrow morning at 3:35am we head out to the airport and our flight is not until 8:35. Then Salt Lake to LA. From there we head to Hong Kong and then to Manila. The craziest part is we leave on Thursday and we won't get there until Saturday mid day so yeah this will be a long flight if you can even imagine that. could.
Once we get there we will be staying in Manila MTC for about five days and then after that then we head to the mission home and stay there for a night and then we head out to were ever the lord wants us in Iloilo. I feel so blessed that I am able to be a member of the Army of the Lord. I know that if I do what I am supposed to do that the Lord will bless me and my family. Last night at the devotional we had a speaker from the Seventy come and he shared a story about his mission in Bolivia and how his Mission President told them to only take one mountain path and that if they strayed off that path that the Lord would not be there to help them. The group choose the right path and later that day they had heard that there was a huge mudslide on the other path, so it just reassured me that I need to do the things that the Lord wants me to do and to follow the commandments of the mission field. I really don't know what else to say except that I am so pumped to get to the mission field and to start teaching the people there. I know it will be hard and who knows maybe I will want to quit at some point, all I know is that with the Lord all things are possible and its through him that people are converted missionaries are important not to teach but to be the hands of the lord in this time and in this place. I love you all and I most likely will not be able to email for a while cause I wont have a p day for like two weeks. I love you all and mom make sure you tell the family how much I love them and how they are all in my prayers every day.
Elder Swanton
Last days of MTC


Saturday, December 6, 2014

MTC coming full circle now...

Jacobs update from last week....

Well family what a week. I would like to start off by saying thanks mom for the shaver. Now my neck does not look like a bear tried to eat it. So this was my last full week in the MTC. I would say this has been a very boring week. The highlights would be we hosted the new missionary's on Wednesday and it was fun. Elder Williams and I helped these new Elders find there classes and rooms and then we got to miss some class so it was so worth it. I also got to leave campus because my companion is having sleeping problems. We got to walk outside of the MTC compound and walked down the road. It was so dang weird to be outside, like there were cars and people and we had to walk on the road. It was so crazy but in the end we survived. He got his medication which makes him loopy and he cant ever remember what we talked about the night before so its all good I guess.

As for the rest of this week, I really cant wait to get out to the field. We had an eight hour meeting yesterday called infield orientation. It was a long class that told us how to utilize  the members of the wards that we are going to for missionary work. I learned a lot about how to properly plan for the days to come. It was kinda hard to believe half of what they were saying because the program was catered for stateside missionaries. I was getting kinda upset cause all these Elders were like, "o man, we have been here so long like two weeks, is way to long to be here." I was just sitting in my chair just like "o man, you little children, don't even know whats going on.

 If I have to eat this cat-like food anymore I will be dead, I mean I am so excited to just eat like a little chicken and a mango for the rest of my mission, but whatever, I am just crazy I guess. Man as the week goes on I just think of how thankful I am for my family. I miss you all so much. It is just terrible, but I know that the Lord will  bless me for leaving you all for just two short years. I loved how elder Bednar put it" If you think about it, your family will love you more and be much more involved if you are away for two seasons. Their prayers will become more sincere and they will learn to love what they have and not what they want". This gospel is a blessing and I cant wait to share it with the people of the Philippines and all their family's. 
        Also we had the opportunity to Skyp some people from Iloilo and it was so cool. They speak so fast and to my amazement I could understand what they were saying. Now don't get me wrong it was very hard to speak back to them but I could understand what she was trying to say to me. Mom don't freak out but as we speak there is a massive typhoon hitting the Philippines. As we were Skyping last night the sister said she had to go because some of her things on her porch were flying away. So I might be getting there and starting all over and building some houses, which sounds like the best adventure of all to me. 
Tell Adeline that I love her and I am so proud that she is making this decision to be baptised and that the Lord will always be with her and that her big brother prays for her every night that she will be safe and sound. I love all of you and make sure all the grandparents are staying safe and bonus I will be able to email on Wednesday because that day we have off and will be able to email and do laundry before we leave, so yep that will do it and I will also send flight plans then I love you all and make sure if you are going to send letters that they get here before Wednesday night cause after that I will be off to never land. 
Elder Swanton
Pondering all things......