Monday, July 20, 2015

E-mail July 20, 2015: "Hello, ako po si Elder Cloward, hindi ako nagta Tagalog."‏

Translation: Hello, I'm Elder Cloward, I don't speak Tagalog.
My companion helped me learn that much to start my talk for Sacrament meeting yesterday.

Holy flip, I'm definitely not in India anymore. For the last several months I've heard from other missionaries what the Philippines is like but I could never picture it very well. When we landed in manila I had to double check my flight ticket to make sure I hadn't boarded the wrong plane to California. It was so green and lush and organized It looked like we had stepped back into America. There were so many crazy differences from India, the replacement of curry hotels to beef restaurants being among the most notable, but as we started to get around we noticed a lot of similarities as well. The main mode of transportation for us here are jeepneys, which looks like the offspring of a 4x4 jeep and a school bus, and trikes, which look like a motorcycle and an auto-rickshaw holding hands side-by-side. To us they're pretty much the same thing as autos and share autos, but the wide roads and lack of traffic means that we get where we're going a lot faster.

I've been assigned to the Philippines Angeles mission serving in the Angeles zone, the biggest part of the biggest city in the mission (I've come to terms with the fact the I'm never getting out of the city on my mission, so I'm just trying to roll with it now). Our mission is very close to Manila so after we met the other missionaries at the MTC we drove to our mission in a van. It was a big difference from taking flights just to get to the other zones like we do in India, but It's cool to know that the church is so established here that the areas are that close together. After we arrived at the mission home we went through orientation with the greenies, and who should I run into but Elder Colt Williams who was there at the same time to pick up a trainee. It was great to see him again and after we had chatted for a minute about our missions he went back to work with the other missionaries speaking what sounded to me like perfectly fluent Tagalog. (We took pictures but my camera's being fussy so I can't send them today, sorry).

 I've been wondering if they would let the Indian missionaries speak English because we likely won't be here very long, but that hope was shattered the moment the mission president dropped a 'learn Tagalog' book in front of each of us and said "you have an extra 60 minutes for language study every day, get to work." No classes, no instruction, no anything. For any of you that have seen The Other Side Of Heaven that's pretty much what I feel like right now (I've already secured my own Tagalog Book of Mormon for the side-by-side approach as well). My new companion is an awesome Filipino Missionary named Elder Operio, and thanks to his help I've already learned a few phrases, but I've got a long ways to go before I can converse or teach in this crazy language. Regardless of that they asked me to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday so I gave most of it in English and then read my testimony that had been translated by Elder Operio. I tried to break my English the same way I do in India to help people understand, but I learned real quick that Indian-English doesn't work over here. Thankfully though I found out that most of the members speak very fluent English, so it'll be a little easier than I thought.

We went on exchange with some of the Ward Missionaries the other day, brother Edsel and Sister Mariel, and they Insisted that I try Balut after only being in the country for 24 hours. Now let me tell you about Balut- Imagine a chicken egg that's been fertilized and left alone for several weeks until the embryo has developed into a baby chicken. Boil it, crack it, slurp it, munch it; that's how they do it and that's how I did it. I've never been closer to throwing up because of crazy food in my life, but I managed to get it down. I'm glad I tried it, but the next time someone tries to play 'Kill the American in His First Week in a New Country', I'm going to opt out. Included is the video. The brown thing on top is the baby chicken, and I'm trying to dilute the flavor with with salt and vinegar.

Anyways everyone pray that I survive as I try to master this new culture and language. Until next time, magandang gabi po.
-Elder Cloward

Here's his video of eating balut:  

Here are a couple of pictures that Sis. Clark sent today of the missionaries that got there last week:

And, just because I like to find things out and share them with you: 
This is his new mission president:  (from Feb. 2014)

Scott Boyd Clark, 54, and Sandra Gail Clark, four children, Naperville 3rd Ward, Joliet Illinois Stake.  Brother Clark is a former stake president, high councilor, bishop, ward Young Men president and missionary in the Japan Sendai Mission. Vice president and general counsel, National Surgical Hospitals. Born in Salt Lake City to Wallace Ivan and Colleen Christensen Clark.

Sister Clark is a former stake seminary supervisor, counselor in a ward Relief Society presidency, stake camp director, ward missionary, counselor in a ward Young Women presidency, seminary teacher, and temple coordinator. Born in Murray, Utah, to Jay Kent and Bonnie Jean Curtis.

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