Monday, December 30, 2013

Almost a New Year!!

Hey, thanks so much for all the emails - there was a lot of big ones this week. I really hope I can get around to answering all the questions. It was super nice to see all of you on skype.

Christmas here was a little weird - ha-ha - definitely very different then back home. We started the day with going to a member's home (John-John- the family that allowed us to Skype on their computer last week) Their family has been really good friends to all of the missionaries. We talked for along time about back home and other random stuff and then went back to the apartment and spent time doing stuff with the other elders in our apartment. Then later that night we got invited by the same family to a party at a different member's house for their big family get together and that was pretty fun. They do crazy stuff like a big dance-off with all the kids. The music is all the same for the most part except for the odd Tagalog song. I really do miss listening to my music back at home - I am starting to really forget all the lyrics (It's a good thing that our neighbors blast music till like 2 am everyday or else I would forget it all...) Also fire crackers and fire works are really big here around Christmas and New Years. Some of the members told me that New Years sounds like a war zone.

Tagalog is super hard here. My biggest problem with it is having correct sentence structure, making sense when I am speaking, and trying to understand it when others talk ( the accent is hard to understand) but it is getting better everyday. At first I couldn't understand anything but now I am able to pick out words a lot better and sentences are starting to make sense to me.

I get 8000 mga peso every month which equates to about 133 mga peso for food and 67 for travel each day. 133 is about $3 a day.

Lately it has been very cloudy here which is super nice. It really keeps the heat down.

Today we went out to these waterfalls that are in my area (my area is huge) and that was quite the adventure. (Again I am stuck in the scary computer shop so I can't send any photos. Even the shop owners think so.) Anyways, we did a lot of rock climbing and hiking to get to these falls and when we got there, we got to stand under them and take showers - so nice. A bunch of kids took us to the falls and their path was kind of sketchy.

Oh and quickly, I got to eat my first balut. I even have pictures of it - ha-ha. So gross but actually didn't taste that bad. My prize for eating it was a halo-halo which means mix-mix in Tagalog. What it is, is a bunch of random fruit and purple ice cream that you mix together (kind of like mushy-cooka) very masarap (delicious). I hope you're not all too mad about me eating a hard boiled duck embryo - ha-ha. I really wish I could send you some photos. Hopefully next week I can send out a bunch of them.

 Anyways, I love you all. I really hope you have a great week. I am loving it here. Every morning I wake up and look outside and I am reminded of how beautiful it is here. I miss you all, and please don't do anything stupid.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Best Christmas Present Ever!!

Once again, this is Erik's mom. I just want to let you know before you read his letter, that I secretly wish every day that there will be a letter from Erik waiting for me to read. Well, I told this to Jon, Erik's dad and he told me that was silly and I should stop hoping for that. Surprise!! Today there was! I am quite certain that Erik's mission president thought it would be nice for families to wake up on Christmas morning to a letter from their son or daughter. Thank you President Peterson! What a treat - best Christmas present! Anyways here is his letter:

"So I guess my P-day got changed to today which is kind of cool I guess haha. I know I just skyped home yesterday but I thought I would also like to take sometime and write up an email to go in to the blog with some photos of my experience in the first week of being here. So first, the plane flight sucked. It felt like it took forever and the seats weren't that comfy. I would have much rather driven in a car with my family to California again. The first problem we ran into with the plane flight was the fact that our first plane had a cracked pipe and was leaking water into the plane which meant we had to change planes and that took 2 hours. It's a really good thing that the church has a strong pull with Delta airlines because they managed to hold our connecting flights for the 2 needed hours. The first thing that we noticed getting off the plane in Manila was the humidity. It is a thousand times more humid here then anywhere in Canada - but I love the air now, it's so nice haha.
President Peterson is awesome. I feel like he is a little hard to read though. He is one of those people who you don't know if they are mad or just joking. I know he was meant to be my mission president. I really love the Peterson's. The first thing they fed me was pineapple (not my favorite back at home) and it was incredibly good. I am loving all the food I have tried here. None of it has given me any trouble. Well except on my third day. Something had me throwing up like crazy on that day but I am good now.
My companion is 6' 7". That was very unexpected. There is no way I ever would have thought that my first companion would be taller then me, much less 5" taller. Anyways he is really cool and we have a really nice apartment compared to ones in other areas. Elder Richards is also our district leader, training me, re-opening our area (last lessons taught were in October so pretty much opening), and he is only 4.5 months into his mission.
We live in Batangas City. The ward here is incredible. So many members want to do missionary work. The members are also really good at feeding us. We have a dinner appointment almost every single night. I know that as soon as I can get fully settled into my area we can really get going on the work here and that we will be able to get lots done.
One really cool thing I found out today is that a brother in my ward is going to be serving in the Australian Adelaide mission. He is supposed to report to the Provo MTC on January 14th - the same day as Brayden Pitcher. haha If they end up companions in the MTC I will know for sure that this is truly a small world. His name is John but every one calls him John-John because another boy in the ward is also named John.
Well I am running out of time and I still haven't posted any pictures so I will get on that. I really hope everyone is having a great Christmas. Know that I am just fine here and that I love you all. I know this is where I am supposed to be.
My companion just told me not to plug my camera into any of the computers here because I am kind of in a sketchy internet gaming café right now and it might load my memory card up with viruses or delete everything. It is the only one open right now. That means you will all have to wait till Monday to see photos of me :)"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

First week in the Philippines!! Merry Christmas!

Well, I am afraid we didn't really get a letter to post on the blog this week. We did, however get something even better! We got to Skype with Elder Nielson for a whole hour! He emailed just to let us know of the time that he would be skyping us, so we took some notes and I will be writing the blog letter this week!

Firstly, I want to say that as much as I miss my son very much, I am so pleased to report that he looked radiant when we saw his smiling face. He looked tired, but very happy and very excited to tell us all about his new life he has been experiencing for the past week.

His plane from Provo to Detroit was delayed by two hours due to the fact that they had to change planes because of mechanical problems. And considering his layover in Detroit was just a short one hour, this could cause some major schedule problems, however, Delta was good enough to delay the plane from Detroit for three hours so that the 30+ missionaries could make their flight. They flew direct, landing in Nagoya, Japan to go through customs. They then got back on the plane and flew the rest of the way to Manila, Philippines. They slept at a hotel in Manila for an hour and then were transported to the mission home in Laguna. He met Brother and Sister Peterson (the San Pablo mission president), and said they were very nice. Erik then was introduced to his companion, Elder Richards, who he will be partnered up with for the next few months. We got to meet Elder Richards on Skype. He is 6'7"! He is a very tall, nice looking, blonde young man from Utah. He was very smiley and seemed very friendly. Erik seems to be getting along with him very well. He has only been there for 4 1/2 months and is already a trainer and district leader, so it sounds like Erik is in good hands. That is a relief! I was hoping and praying that his first companionship would be really good. Although when you are as easy to get along with as Erik, I am sure that many of his companionships will be very successful!

Erik is living in Batangas City, which is not a very huge area, but like everywhere in the Philippines, it is highly populated for its size. They travel from place to place in Jeepneys, which are basically long Jeeps where the back has two long benches that go the length of the vehicle where the passengers sit. The other mode of transportation are Trikes. These are basically a three wheeled bicycle where the passengers sit in the back. Erik said that he and Elder Richards do not fit on these very well. Erik is tall to begin with, but his companion, being 5" taller then him, has a very hard time fitting in a tiny vehicle built for much shorter people.

Erik showed us some pictures of his apartment where he is living. There are water filters in the kitchen making the water quite a bit more useable. And they do have a functioning bathroom with a toilet! But they shower with a bucket and there is no hot water - only cold. Fortunately the cold showers are not too bad when you consider that the temperature is constantly hovering around 30 degrees Celsius! A cold shower may be a relief! The picture he showed us of the view out his window looked like a tropical paradise! He said it is so beautiful and tropical there!

He let us know that the ward members in Batangas are wonderful and they have supper appointments in member's homes every night. He said he really loves the food there. He enjoys the fresh fruits and new dishes that are unique to the Philippines. He got to try Lechon - which is a roasted whole pig (complete with the head and legs) - he said it was delicious! He attended the ward Christmas party the night that he arrived in Batangas where he, Elder Richards, and two other elders sang a Christmas song. He said they sounded really terrible! :)

There are 8 sister missionaries and 4 elders in their area. All the elders live with Erik in his apartment. He and Elder Richards live on the second floor and the other two live downstairs. The weather is very humid, and it rains there during the day periodically, but they are not in an area that floods, which is really nice. Its always hot though! In fact while he was talking to us, we could see little beads of sweat on his forehead, and his companion kept wiping his face with a cloth. Very different from what we are experiencing here!

Erik was sick for a day when he arrived in Batangas. He spent the day in bed and felt very sick. He said he was feeling much better now, but I think that he may not have fully recovered from the bug he picked up in Provo, and with a complete lack of sleep for two solid days, it must have hit him again. Hopefully he can stay healthy now.

Well that's a pretty good summarized version of our conversation with him. I can honestly say that seeing his smiling face and hearing him talk was the best Christmas present I could ever ask for this year! He looked great! I am so proud of him! He sends his love to everyone and wishes you all a very Merry Christmas!

His P-Day is Mondays now and said he will try to send pictures next time! He also said that he had 23 emails to read this week and had a very short amount of time online to reply so sorry if you did not hear from him. He is so grateful for your letters. He absolutely loves to hear from home. Thank you so much for writing to him! :) 23 letters is amazing!!

Oh - and he said he has made some pretty cool tie trades!

CoriAnn - (Erik's Mom)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Six Weeks at the MTC Done!! :) On to warmer weather!

I am doing really good! Its been a good experience to be at the MTC but I am ready for the next step! I leave the MTC at 3:30 am or something like that, on Monday morning, and my flight out starts at 8:35am. I can phone home, and I did buy a phone card. I will try to phone at around 6:00 am if that's ok, or I can phone earlier if you want.

Detroit is the only lay over. The flight total will be 22 hours. I am super excited to leave the MTC but to say I am not super nervous would be a lie. Three districts will be on the same plane - that's about 30 missionaries in total!!

Elder Quentin L. Cook came and spoke to us on Tuesday. He was awesome! I did watch the General Christmas Devotional Broadcast, but I wasn't feeling the best because all last Sunday morning I was super sick and throwing up a lot. Several Elders on my floor had mono so that really scared me. I am feeling much better now though.

I am just getting over being sick and I did get my Christmas package from you, along with many other delicious care packages from so many wonderful people! Thank you everyone! No wonder I gained so much weight already (8 pounds is nothing though compared to the 30 pounds that my roommate gained!) The harmonica in my Christmas package has been a real hit. I have taught myself a few songs and I may just pull it out and play a few tunes on the long plane ride! What do you think about that?

I don't feel that confident with the language yet but that's expected right? haha. I know that no other institution of learning can compete with the huge amount that goes on here in the MTC. If you put in a good effort you learn a ridiculous amount.

Though I know I have a lot to learn, I am excited to get to the Philippines. I am so grateful for all of the letters I have received and for all of the prayers on my behalf.

I love you lots! Can't wait to talk to you all next week!    

Sorry - no pictures this week because I didn't have a card reader with me! I will send more soon!

** Just a side note:
This is Elder Nielson's mom - CoriAnn. He called us this morning at about 6:30am and we visited with him until about 7:30am. It was so nice to hear his voice. I couldn't detect any kind of sadness or homesickness from him - which makes me so relieved and happy! He sounded so great! He is feeling much better and was excited to get on the plane with his buddies and fly to a much warmer climate! Lucky guy! Unfortunately, his first flight to Detroit was delayed by 2 hours. Not a good thing considering he only had a one hour layover in Detroit before he needed to get on the next plane to the Philippines! I guess Delta thought 30 empty seats was too many, because they held over the Philippines flight by three hours so that all of those missionaries to get to where they were going! :) As of right now, we think they are about 5 hours from their destination.

He asked me to say "hi" to everyone and told us that he was so happy to read each letter from everyone! He said he wishes he had more time to write everyone back each week, but he has been so busy! Please keep writing him - he loves to hear from you!

I can't wait to see pictures of his adventure ahead and hear about the people he will meet. I am so excited for him and will be forever grateful that he has been blessed with good companions and wonderful teachers that have made his 6 weeks at the MTC a good experience. I miss him a lot but I couldn't be prouder! He's really grown up in the last 6 weeks. Love him so much!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kumasta Akong Pamily

Hey everyone almost done here at the MTC. One super cool thing that I forgot to write in my letters was that my mission no longer even requires me to bring a suit! You can expect a package with my suit in it when I leave the MTC.

Wow I feel super sick right now haha. I have a terrible head cold, and I really hope it goes away before I leave for the Philippines. Also yesterday I woke up with a big ugly cold sore... not happy about that one...

Haha I am super excited about going to the Philippines but I really don't feel that ready. I know that most missionaries don't pick up the language to the point where you can converse in the MTC. I can understand most things people say in Tagalog, or at least can get the main point of what they are saying. I can also read Tagalog and understand most of what is said. So I am almost to the point where I am conversational but not quite.

Ok this is a quick lesson for Dad.

*Tagalog 101

The way sentences are formed in Tagalog is you first start with the verb, then who or what is doing the verb - aka the actor, then you state the object that is being acted on, and finally you finish with the location or receiver.

ex. Kumasta (how's, the verb) ako (My or me, the actor, the focus) ng (shows non-focus) pamily (family, object, non-focus) sa (shows location) bahay (home, location)

also the a=ah e=ay i=ee o=o u=oo ( those are the basic sounds in Tagalog)

ang= shows focus in a sentence. ng= shows non-focus sa= location. Based on how the verb is conjugated the focus changes.

Sorry, sometimes its hard to remember all the questions that people ask me in letters. Haha. Thanksgiving was cool. I bet if you looked online you would see the MTC service project we did for Thanksgiving. Also they actually made real food for us :) It was great!

So we have had Elder Perry, and Elder Nelson speak to us over the last month which is really cool. Elder Ballard was supposed to talk to us last week but the church security didn't want to risk the roads. This coming Sunday and Tuesday we are supposed to get some big speakers, as well as next Sunday. All of the missionaries get to attend these speakers.

Guess what? I ran in to Brandon Hill! He is on the west campus so I only ever see him during devotionals like that. He is doing really good. For whatever reason my return date is set for October 21, 2015 - that's 2 weeks earlier then when I got here and one week before Branden returns.

Well I have to go now. Bye! :) I thought I had some photos of snow... oh well we only got like 15 inches of it in one day! haha
My tie curtain on my bed. They really dress up our room!

All of the Elders in my Zone

Ran into Brandon Hill at Devotional! Great to see him!


Just hanging out eating lunch
The Thanksgiving service project

Stopped our walk for a quick selfie!

This is me in the lava-lava that my companion from Samoa gave me! It goes so well with my New York City t-shirt and black socks!! :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pamily Ako!

This week went really well I am still doing really good out here in the MTC. The language is progressing slowly but surely. I can say my missionary purpose in Tagalog.  It is, Imbitahin ang iba na lumapit kay Cristo sa patulong sa kanila ng magtanggap ng ibinalik ang ebonhelu sa pamamagitan ng pananampalataya kay Jesus Cristo at kanyang pagbabaiad-sala, pagsisisi, binyag, pagtanggap Espiritul Santo, at pagtitiis hangan-wakas.

My daily schedule goes something like this but changes based on the day of the week:

6:30 wake up, shower, workout
7:20 breakfast
8:00 classroom instruction
11:00 personal study
12:10 lunch
12:55 language study
2:00-3:00 TALL (technology assisted language learning)
3:30-4:30 gym time
5:00 Supper
6:00 Classroom instruction
9:00 planning for the next day

Oh today is my prep and temple day but since there is no more temple time for our group, we decided to have Suana Saturday! We turned all the showers on full and then blocked off the entrance with sheets and let the place really steam up! haha.

So the service work my group does is just setting up and taking down chairs in the gym for the devotionals. Elder Russel M. Nelson spoke to us on Thursday and it was a great talk! Also, we did a huge service project out there where we made like 350000 meals in about 2 hours.

Another cool little fact is that I have been made district leader for my district which is really cool. 

Say happy birthday to everyone for me! haha Oh and congratulate Kenzie for her volleyball zones victory. 

Tell everyone thanks for the letters and also for the great packages! The pumpkin bread and brownies were a hit with my zone and I!

Also have fun in the snow! There is none down here - in fact it is warm outside right now.
Love you lots!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Week 3!

Today is the last weekend I will have the opportunity to go to the temple in almost 2 years! I guess they put the missionaries that are returning home through the Manila temple, but not till the end. Oh and another cool little fact is my last day is October 21, 2015 so not quite 2 years.

Tagalog is going ok'long. I expected the rate at which we learn the words and phrases in Tagalog would slow down after a week or 2 which it did. Some of the other missionaries in my district weren't expecting that and I think that makes them feel like they're not progressing and that they can't do it. Yesterday we had 2 sisters run out of their investigator lessons in tears because they felt like the language just wasn't coming. I told them that they were crazy (not really). I said that we have only been here for just over 2 weeks, and that we have learned more then most people would after taking 4 months of Tagalog (I actually said that part).
I am still having really good time out here. We haven't had any more snow since last weekend but it is still pretty chilly out side. Today my companions and I walked around in the morning in pretty much only lava-lavas and tee shirts (haha). Everyone must have thought we were crazy. I haven't received the package yet but I am sure it will come on Monday. I guess the postal service out here still runs on Saturdays, weird. 
Make sure to tell everyone to keep sending mail. It is really cool to get letters during the week through That way I am able to spend my time on the computer mailing back, not reading mail. My departure date is DEC 18, my mission code is PHI SAN, and my Unit # is 25. This is all you need to send me a letter. My email is - you can send mail here too!

To answer your question about our sleeping arrangements, Elder Fa'asavalu doesn't sleep on the floor very often but he did that night cause he didn't like the idea of his bed being on the other side of the room compared to me and Elder O'neal. 

Within the first 4 seconds of being in the MTC, they gave me a filtered water bottle, so I don't need you to send me any filters, oh and the MTC store is big enough to hold everything I could possibly need on my mission so that guy we talked to lied! lol. 

Those pics you sent didn't show up on my computer :( I think you sent too many.

To answer Grandma's question, the food here sucks but there is so much of it and it looks really good that you end up taking way to much of it and that's I why am putting on all this weight - haha! I am 160 now (finally). Continuing on, both my companions are going to the same mission as me so we may end up as companions in the field.

Anyways I love you all a ton and I hope it's not too cold up in the north haha. Have a great week! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013


These are a few photos I took this past week. Finally I get to send them. I went to the temple for the second time today and had to run through bit of a snow storm to get there. I wish I had brought my camera so I could get a few with the temple and snow covered peaks. Oh well, I will maybe have some for next week. Also I plan on getting one in front of the MTC sign. I tried to answer as many questions as I could so if I forgot something just ask it again. Oh, and my teachers names are Brother Nostrum, Brother Smith, and Sister Stromberg.

My companions



To answer everyone's questions I am doing great! Ha-ha. I am super happy to be here and haven't had any trouble adjusting to MTC life. The first day came as a bit of a shock but after that, everything has gone really well. All the teachers are really cool RM's and they expect a lot out of us. I am pretty sure getting absolutely everything asked done as well as singing in choir is next to impossible but I am trying my best.
I have 2 companions that I kind of talked about in the last email. They are both goofballs most of the time but when it matters, they know the jobs that need to get done. I have learned that you can't do the MTC like a Nazi robot or else your companions will hate you and your life here will be the last thing from fun.
Anyways life is really good here I have gained like 6 pounds :) that's crazy ha-ha! Oh and thank you so much for the care packages, both were amazing and really made my day. Tell Ryley congrats from me, oh and ask him when he leaves.
Tagalog is going well but it is pretty hard and requires extreme focus in order to take away from the lessons. Never in my life have I woke up in the morning (at 6 am mind you) and said "Hey, I am so excited to go to a language arts class and then after that I really badly want to study this topic that I don't know that much about.
Gym class is awesome except for all the rules and all the lack of rules. What I mean by that, is the MTC has a lot of crazy rules in place to prevent any injury. They also don't enforce any of the real rules in the games that we play. For example, in Volleyball, you can't dive or hit very hard but you are allowed to hit the net, bounce the ball off the wall and re-serve if you miss.
Anyways I love you all a lot. Keep sending me letters, I love reading them every night. Magmahal po akong kyo lots.

Monday, November 11, 2013

All packed into one weekend!

Me and Santa!! On Nov. 3!
Delicious Christmas Dinner - on Nov. 3!!

 My mom decided at the last minute that we needed to jam some special events into the last weekend that I would be missing out on. Mom put up the Christmas tree two months early - just for me! My sister Kenzie planned a special surprise party on Saturday and almost all of my class showed up! That was so much fun! I have some great friends! And it was awesome of Kenzie to go to that much work!
Then on Sunday morning, there was a Christmas stocking waiting for me to open and Christmas dinner was all ready after church. My Grandma made me a special birthday cake and everyone sang Happy Birthday twice - one for each birthday I will be gone for. Later on that night, while we were doing some last minute packing and labeling, there was a knock at the door and Santa was there!! This was so unexpected! Thanks Santa! And thanks to all my family and friends that made my last weekend at home so special!!

34 Ties - an explanation!

I guess I should explain the title of my blog! I had so much fun collecting cool ties to take on my mission. I had some great people give me some of their favorites, I found some in stores, I ordered some online, found some in my Dad's closet - it was lots of fun! I think I have enough to take now - 34 in total! We even tied some on my suitcases so that I could identify them at the airport!
Here I am at the Calgary International Airport - ready to go!

My sisters, Kenzie and Tori insisted on being there!

Mom and Dad sending me off!

My Family

Me, Tori, Dad, Mom, and Kenzie
This is my family! I have two sisters. Mackenzie is 16 and Victoria will be 13 shortly. Our home is in Rosemary, Alberta, Canada - a tiny village with approximately 500 residents. My mom works in a dental office nearby and my dad is a physed/science teacher at our local school. I was lucky to grow up in a tiny town that not only had a K-12 school in it, but we also have a full-size chapel with a wonderful, supportive ward. I must say, I had a pretty fun child-hood!

Week 1: MTC

Getting mail from family is the best! I have 2 companions here in the MTC. One is Elder O'Neal. Elder O'Neal lives just up the road from the MTC and is a really cool Elder. The other Elder is from American Samoa and is named Elder Fa'Asalavu. Elder Fa'Asalavu is really big. I would send pic of me and my Elders right now but I don't have my card reader with me. 
Tagalog is going great right now "aco mag pagmahal kyo" very much :) (probably spelled wrong). Class is crazy. From day one our teacher hasn't used a word of English, but we are all learning very fast and praying, bearing testimonies, and teaching investigators in Tagalog.
Say happy birthday to everyone for me :). I know this is where I am supposed to be right now. Anyways, I am having a great time in the MTC and can't wait to get to the Philippines, which apparently is getting hit by one of the worst recorded storms in history. 195 mile per hour winds!!!! Anyways I love (pagmahal) you (Kyo) very much. I look forward to more emails.