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)

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