Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009


Monday, November 23, 2009

Elder Gonzalez and a
Christmas tree in the

Elder Josh Gonzalez with a bunch of children in the Philippines

Josh in the Philippines November 17, 2009

November 23, 2009

It's been quite an interesting week and to respond to the email that I got from you, yeah the world is getting crazy I've especially seen it here, really no respect for woman it drives me mad and I usually say something to the men who disrespect them, and really no respect for their bodies it's disgusting but all is well I suppose. In regards to what I need..I don't need anything the Lord has blessed me with so much...but I would like Cliff Bars or some kind of protein bar to eat during lunch time or dinner to avoid over eating, banana chips would be amazing, deodorant/shampoo/college (honestly anything would work) toothpast, I know it's cheap here but I know you get it free there. Also my mission president told me this week regarding packages that if you declare that it's under 50$ they don't charge you anything? Yeah I don't really understand that but he told me to tell you to just do that. He was suppose to send you a picture the other day or shoot an email at you I'm not sure if he did. I miss you all very much, Yeah I am planning on sending a recording home and my pictures sorry I wasn't able to send em they are too big I've taken probably 500 since the MTC so get ready for scrapbooking haha I'll try to include one in this email. So news, my diet is still going well I guess :/ haha I kind of slip when we go to members houses, but I've lossed 25lbs since the mtc so that makes me feel good, I've also switched over to brown rice whenever I eat rice which is usually never. The reason the email took so long today is because early this morning we went over to the Patriarchs house he's a really good artist and hung out with them it was nice and then we went shopping in Lipa which is merely an hour away from Santo Tomas and we have to take a bus. Speaking of buses I've had some interesting experiences the last 2 days. So on sunday we went to lipa for stake conference. Elder Bondoc and I take the No AIrcon bus because we are cheap so the rule on that is "you can always fit one more" so we stuff inside this really hot tour bus and it's like 3 to a seat sometimes. Well on the way back this man fell asleep on me over and over again of course I didn't say anything because whenever I got annoyed the verse kept popping into my head "I am my brothers Keeper" so oh well he eventually moved haha, But today was horrible. I must have really look good because everyone seems to love me here girls and boys the same...or i'm american one of the two. I'd rahter go with the 1st because it makes me feel good ;) So going to Lipa today I had my headphones on and was just zoning out thinking about you guys and this guy probably 21 years old keeps moving close to me and I keep looking at him and kind of giving him like uhh? looks. Then he starts talking to me and I feel bad because I thought he just wanted to talk so I take my headphones out, we chat for 15 minutes then he gets really touchy and I'm basically hanging out of the window and slapping his hand away from me, and then he gives me his # haha when that happened I yelled "BONDOC, KAILANGAN NAMING MAG-PlANO Para Sa Araw Ngayon" or in other words BONDOC WE NEED TO PLAN TODAY!! and I jump up and run to him, meanwhile I see him cracking up the whole time, the man is wrong. Hopefully that may cheer you up or scare you as much as it did me.

On a more serious note, it's very interesting how the Lord's plans work out, it seems we are at the right place at the right time. Time and time again we run into people who need help or they say oh I want a book of mormon or I want you to teach my family it's odd. But the event that happened this week was weird. So we were walking home 1:15pm for lunch which is odd because usually we are never late for lunch EVER haha, but we decided to teach one more person before we left. So right as we are leaving we walk by a members house, and we can see people are panicking so we ask what's wrong, to which was replied "One of your members is having a heart attack" Woah that was quite a reply so Elder Bondoc and I run over and we give her a priesthood blessing, as I said the words in the blessing and as I laid my hands upon her head I could feel the spirit of the Lord within me and the words flew it was a very interesting experience. After which she got rushed to the Hospital, we visited her yesteday expressed our love and it turns out she now has diabetes, so wasn't really a heart attack really I don't know what it was. But it was my first time in a Filipino Hospital....hahaha Not pretty. Ants on the wall, Hot and humid, no Aircon just 1 fan per room, and no soap in the bathroom ahah.

About last week we got Bro. Zalito baptized, I was the one to do it because our Ward Mission Leader is basically inactive now. I decided to give all my baptisms to the ward because they will be the one who stay in the area and grow to know this person, but i don't mind doing it every now and then. Anyways this week has been fairly good to me. But a lot of crazy things have happened this week, some that I can never forget, some I wish I never saw, some I don't want to retell, and some that has brought so much joy to my soul it's invigorating. Just know your Son is happy and safe here in the Philippines this backwards and confused nation.

I got your letters this week so thank you so much I'm going to answer Zach's question. What do I do on an average day but I'll do a week for you all.

Monday: P-day! I usually wake up at 5:30am Jog/Work out then 6:30 Shower 7:00 eat 7:30 we usually just hang in the appartment for awhile email shop just hang out for P-day. and we usually go to work for a while at 7-8 and then return and go to sleep:
Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday: wake up 5:30-7:30 same schedudle work out jog eat shower at 8:00 I have Personal study where I study the Bible/Book of Mormon and right now I'm in the Old testament trying desperately to finish it because it's rather dry sometimes, I've finished the New Testament/Book of Mormon back in the MTC then 9:00 I Have language study--Vocab/Grammar book/ etc 10:00 we have Companion study basically I teach Bondoc the lessons we'll teach today.
11:00 we go tracting or go from house to house and find people to teach which usually results in 1 or 2 lessons if we are lucky if not it usually leads me to being angry ahah.
1:00 we return for lunch, I usually just eat some kind of bar/crackers+peanut butter and sleep for an hour :)
2:00-8:00 we either tract or have lessons schedule
8:00-8:30 we return and I usually write letters hang out with bondoc, eat food until 10:30 then we go to sleep and repeat it.
Wednesday: wake up 5:30 repeat the cycle until 9:00--then we take a bus to Lipa for District meeting where we meet the other Elders in the Zone have meetings express concerns about our investigators etc. that starts at 10:00 goes till 11:30 Then we all go to the mall eat and hang out till 1:00 or 2:00 then take the bus home and work starts at 3:00
Sunday: I sleep in till 6:30 :) wake up eat food shower leave at 8:30 for church! after church at 12:00 we have PEC a meeting with the bishop and ward to talk about missionary work and what they can do to help us, but they never help us so it's pointless! haha we get home at 1:00 have lunch/sleep till 2:00 then after 2:00 we WORK!


I love you so much guys and miss you terrible, I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving I'll be going to KFC and stuffing my face, so expect a charge from the Card.

A quick question how do you want me to send your stuff home? C.O.D. Or pay for it here?

Hope you have a wonderful time I love you all so much!

November 15, 2009

Family, Friends, and those who may happen to read this...

So I received your package this week! They received it over a week ago but it took the Assistants a while to drop it off and yes the 100$ i took out to pay for the charge they put on to Fedex companies, I really don't know why, it's the way of the world I suppose. And I talked to the Office Elders they said it was fine if you put $ in the package, they just freak out because they go to San Pablo to pick it up and they demand like 4000 pesos, so if you can just through 100$ or 80$ into the package and I can pay them right when they deliver it, or talk with Fedex and ask why they rip people off? In other news, Gas companies went on strike in the Philippines and the President is pissed so in December it's predicted there will be no gas, we'll see how that goes. Pacman beat Cotto but in the coming months he wont stand a chance against Mayweather;) I can't wait to see the broken heart of every Filipino when he's beaten by an American haha. I was kind of upset I received you're package a few days before I got it, I started a diet and working out so when all the food came I've had to avoid it, however I've been good and haven't cheated! So if you would so kindly in the next package, just send like peanut butter, power bars,crackers, beef jerky, and dried fruit? (bananas) I really cannot think of anything I need just yet.... but I will let you know in the coming months. I love you and miss you so much, I eagerly await "P-Days Eve" or sunday because that means the following day I get to email. One of your Coworkers, emailed me name was Bill he left a very polite letter of encouragement, I thought I'd let you know and how impressed I was by it, So thank him in person for me when you get to see him, maybe give him a big hug. I already sent you the pictures of my other friends in the email and will omit their names here...frankly because I'm embarrassed for them. It really hurts to see some of these guys who I grew up with and love more then you could know, They don't even look like they used to and they look strung out and pathetic. However I still love them and hope there situation will change, it's just sad wasn't a good email to be honest. We baptized a 16 year old girl last friday her name was Dharly Ilagot, she's way nice and me and elder bondoc have a lot of fun when we visit her. Her sisters active in the church, her Mom doesn't go to church anymore but we are working on her to get her back she says she'll return and always cries when we teach her, Father is a truck driver in Mindanao so we never see him, and younger brother who is 12 we may start teaching, it was overall good I just need to remember this isn't america and people are different here, espeically baptisms, Bishop doesn't dress up, the Elder Quoroms president wears a T-shirt and flip flops, it's strange and upsetting but what can you do? That's kind of the attitude Elder Bondoc and I have about Sto Tomas now, our ward has really been horrible to us this week and let me tell you why. I'm really sorry this letters haven't been too fun the last few weeks, I prefer to be completely honest with you opposed to repeating the same thing "foods good, people are good, blah blah blah" But just know whatever happens I've happy here and I love these people, and the food for some reason i've grown to like salted fried fish, when I first got here I almost threw it up, but now I'm eating the head and eyes and all. but I'm sticking to sky flakes, Oatmeal, pop tarts, and cereal for my diet, it's not delicious but my goal after this transfer is to fit into a Philippino Medium sized shirt ahah wish me luck and I'll send a christmas card
So this week none the less has been trying and I suppose I'll explain it through a verse taken from the 20th chapter of acts, written by the hand of Paul the apostle my favorite:)

"Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations"

Humility is such a funny little attribute and I continually learn it over and over again, that and I suppose patience. The continually battle of Humility and Pride not only plagues this land and world alone, but fills the stories of the scriptures, It's the reason why Pharaoh would not free the Children of Israel, Why Aaron the brother of Moses built a Golden Calf for the Children of Israel to worship, Judas betrayed Christ, Why Paul the Apostle was beheaded by Nehor, Why Alma and Amulek had to witness the believers burnt before their eyes, and why the great civilizations of nations have fallen throughout the history of the world. Haha Don't think for a second it's not in missionary work. So i told you about Bro. Zolito the man who cried when we interviewed him well we had an interesting experience with him and his wife. Last monday we had scheduled an appointment with them a Family Home Evening, last Monday was a difficult day for me which resulted in me getting angry, hitting a concrete wall, Elder Bondoc and I arguing, and then crying together for an hour. So I did not feel like going to their home, of course we should have let them know but we did not. So then before Monday was told them his baptism would probably be on friday, complications came because the Philippines is the only nation in the world without Divorce, so the wife has had 4 marriages before or other words she commmited adultery 4 3 times now, and then we get the word from our Zone Leaders that we cannot baptism him yet until he is interviewed by president, So theres no baptism for him we don't have a cell phone or time to tell them it's not going on. so we go to their house she starts yelling and screaming at us and saying all these things like "Your job is to save souls why arent you doing it?" "he's been inglesia for several years so if he goes back to his church what does it matter" and basically scolding us. I just bit my tongue apologized and sat there in silence. So i called president we arranged the baptism for this week, Do I think they deserve it...I don't know there seems to be no repentance process for them he commited fornication she committed adultery...but does he have a testimony oh yes, is he dedicated oh yes! And the bishop is just rushing all this so he can get a chapel built in Sto. Tomas does he deserve one...NO not at all he's late all the time, does the ward deserve one ? No Not at all, they don't support missionaries or missionary work, and now that Elder Bondoc and I have done something "BAD" everyone in the world is Tsismising about us or in other words They are gossiping about us, for instance a woman who i've never talked to turned around and started chastising us in Sacrament meeting for not going to Bro. Zolito's house on Monday, then I hear it from at least 8 members on Sunday. Well to be honest, Elder Bondoc has helped this ward grow from 50 members to over 100 in 3 months and since we've been here it's grown about 7. but I suppose that's life salvation and pride. So I'll continue to humble myself and bite the bullet, these people don't realize the evil they work. However we all do this, I am by no means perfect, it's just hard to work for a ward who doesn't support you. However I love it and the Lord alone I will obey. and continue to swallow my pride and repent. and tell president not to extend them a chapel they don't need one they are too underdeveloped

more next week I have no time I love you all so much.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9th 2009

Thank you for the email Curt, it's really great to hear from you and thank you guys so much for supporting me out here. You are right about the Rain here, it gets crazy out here! and I'm always waking up around 3:30 am and open the window looking at all the rain and wind and my mind or heart or whatever turns to home and I stay up thinking about you guys, what problems your facing, what new battles mom is fighting, what zach's doing with his friends, what new crazy idea tiffany has come up with, and what new thing the dog's have chewed up. I miss you and love you guys.

So I was thinking about home this week during my personal study and decided to reread the letter mom wrote for me before I left, I never really had the chance to thank you guys for that it's given me much strength in hard times, and I remember a portion you wrote about whenever you feel the mist hit your face think of me, it's been rainy this week so indeed I have been thinking you quite often when it gets rainy or depressing here. But just know that I am happy and healthy and absolutely love this place. I've grown to love this country, this people, and I've come to know who I am or who I really want to be. I've come to know the goodness and wickedness of people in a foreign nation and foreign tongue, and more importantly I've come to know the God I serve more than I could have asked for. All is well here. In the words of the Psalmist from the Bible: "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, who's hope is in the Lord his God"

This week I was riding in a jeep after we had been punted or stood up on lessons going to the other side of town to teach another family, I looked at my soaked clothes, my tired companion, my muddy shoes, the old seats we were sitting on, and then I looked out into the horizon, where I saw a miraculous sight...sunlight breaking through the clouds making a glorious sight in the setting horizon with rain dancing about the rays of sun. It was at that moment I came to love this place. It was when I sat in homes the size of my room, with familes of 15 in front of us and see a 50 year old woman cry because of my humble testimony about how great God has been in my life and how her family can be together after this life through the ordinances of the temple. I came to love these people. It was when I was on my knees and crying for faith, when God had comfortable my soul then I came to know how wonderful he his. It was when I saw the hand of God in this work by seeing those hearts of the people softened or indescribable coincidences take place that I knew this work is the most important thing I could be doing now.

I love you all so much, Hope all is well

Love Your Son,

Elder Gonzalez.

p.s. I've been thinking about Zach quite a bit this week hope he is doing well! oh by the way about your dream mom, I kept thinking about it and there is a Sister Warnick here she's american I told her about your dream she said that's odd, yeah our house flooded and now my mattress is destroyed and on halloween there was a drunk guy who wouldn't stop knocking on our front door for 20 minutes, I asked if she needed anything and she said she is fine, she's a great girl from Idaho, so perhaps you had her in mind.

Really quick about Feddex, Mission president asked us not to send it because they really screw us over here. They charge about 5000P to pick up any package sent from fedex so it roughly translates to 100-150$ extra when it gets here and the office elders have to front the $$ don't ask me why just another way to screw over american's because I suppose there mind set is well you have money! so gives us it! I've ran into that a lot over here. To which I reply in my head, well If you didn't drink all day or gamble and had a job at your age 20-45 then things would be different, it's hard to think that but it's also hard to see these horrible parents ruin their children because they don't want to work and sleep all afternoon and drink daily. It's a testament to me that in life if you want success: WORK, STUDY, and Take care of what's important which is family don't be a lazy slob and in the words move on with your life...values you have instilled in me since I was young so thank you again. So they asked to send through the post office because it's only 35P to pick up? Don't know how much that is to send from home, perhaps you can put 100$ in the package or something and maybe the Elders won't care. Who knows well love you again!

Tell Zach, Tiffany, Jessica, Jason, Michaela, Madison, Chance, TK, Malaki that I love them. and Zach to respect woman don't do anything with them that would bring shame to our family name, don't be stupid and drink, and don't be stupid and do drugs, and don't hang around with kids that give mom and curt worries.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nov 2, 2009

Ok,  For those of you I did not tell.. I had a dream about Josh him telling me he was safe and happy but that his companion was struggling..
Still not sure if he got his Birthday Box or not... geez there is some good stuff in there..


-----Original Message-----
From: Joshua Gonzalez []
Sent: Sunday, November 01, 2009 6:13 PM
To: Debbie Hicks
Subject: Re: Happy Birthday Josh


I've been honestly waiting for Monday since Friday ha-ha I was really excited to hear from you and I love to hear from you..So Friday came and a Level 3 Typhoon hit Santo Tomas the area I am in, we got woken up around 3:30 because it was really loud outside the weather was incredible, but we've been in level 4 and level 5, before we were perfectly okay nothing happened to us because the Church has us staying in San Miguel Brgy. which is a really nice area and an awesome 2 story house! So everything was okay with us, and the prophet a few years ago recieved revelation to store water and 72 hour kits, so if anything were to happy we have enough food and water for 3 days alone, and president would come rescue us we are only 20 minutes away from mission office, so we are beyond safe. But seeing the effects of the Typhoon on our investigators was really sad and some have been killed. The Busa family lost as two of their family members, they were killed, we have been teaching the whole family since my arrival here.. It will be so hard to go back with the Mom and Grandma now gone. For instance the Busa families house got flooded maybe 5 feet and the surrounding areas there and the water was just sweeping people away, a Jeepney which is roughly the size of my truck got throw into a river and this man jumped in after it, it's sad to see people through away their lives for material possession. He was killed, they got a crane and pulled it out, but he was crushed from the water pressure. I got a picture, not the outcome I was expecting while I had my camera in hand. . I have a sad story to tell, when the typhoon hit , it was raining pretty hard, whenever it rains bad they tell us to go home so we stay in our fort haha. But it was in the Brgy. of San Miguel, and this little child got swept under this bridge, and down the river so this Lolo or grandpa jumped in after him, needless to say neither of them made it. Mom you would have been proud of me as we were crossing the same bridge at the exact time, and although it hurt tremendously,, I knew there was nothing I could do, to save the child or the grandfather.. We stopped and prayed for them, but it was obvious that they would not survive the ordeal. ( I remembered what you told me at the airport, help the living and pray for the dead, and to be aware of my surroundings and not to try and be a Hero ) We were told the next day that they also did not survive. It's sad but it's very preventable. The typhoon also knocked down a few walls in my brgy. Imperial because they were made out of cheap Cement I asked my companion Elder Bondoc why Philipinos don't make things to last and he says "Because we've cheap! :)" SO i suppose that is the philosophy here. Don't worry about us mom here, honestly I've never felt safer in my life the President is always wearry of us and constantly text the members around us to tell us if there is a storm coming and tell us to go home. About your dream, I haven't gotten your box yet it is probably at the Mission Home I suppose we'll travel over there today to see if it's there if we are able to get out and the roads are not destroyed. But you are a bit right about my companion. Rumors were that he was going to be transfered and I saw him and he got really upset, last night I was messing with him and told him I think i'm being transferred and although he tried to show it I could see him crying. He means a lot to me and I love Elder Bondoc, but life is like that, I'm pretty use to being upset and the large and small sacrifices out here...but there's always a new horizon and something if not better just different. We didn't get emails today so we don't know if I'm transferred, if not then all will be well...if so then Ganoon Buhay or life is like that.
Mom, you were correct, I have seen things and witnessed things here that no one should have to see or witness and so much of it is preventable, I guess I never realized how precious and fragile life really is and how very quickly your life can be lost.

It hurt me to think that Zach lost and he was upset, I hate those feelings and hope he is feeling better, whether they cheated or not doens't really matter, they got to the finals and they played their hearts out I suppose that's all that really matters what can you do? and if the game did get reversed would you really feel any better knowing you won because you complained? I'm as proud as him as I would be if he won. By the way I made him a REALLY cool jersey so expect that in a few weeks when ever I mail it, I'm still looking for some more gifts for you guys. It was weird waking up in our apartment and saying oh it's halloween oh it's my birthday, we woke up went for a jog I did crunches and Elder Bondoc said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE!" Joe is the name for American's here Don't ask me why haha.

About the priest who is kidnapped don't worry about me mom That's in Southern Mindonah and you are an IDIOT if you are an american and go to Southern Philippines and expect to live or not be kidnapped, A lot of the terrorist travel from Indonesia and stay there and raise hell, the Philippino Gov. has been fighting them for years, and They are ususally really nice to their prisoners, because They are Visayans and Visayans are amazing people! Don't worry about North Philippines it's say here and everyone is afraid of me because of my size haha.

Speaking of Visayans we met a family this week called the Bagyo family, and it's interesting the miracles that happen in missions, I say a big sign that was for boyscouts so I walked over to the thing and peeked over and at that exact time I saw the brother of Julies Bagyo our investigator, he is the manager of the Chicken Farm or Texas farm it's for COck fighting they imporart chickens from Hawaii and train them to fight in Manila in internation competitions each chicken cost like 30,000 pesos or roughly 600$it's crazy. Julies after seeing us decided to invite us in, he thanked us very much for teaching him and fed us pork chops he was beyond polite he also told us. That if we are ever in danger or need somewhere to hide this is the safest place i n STO Thomas to come, since there are armed guards 24/7 and they are pretty well armed with M16's he also told us if we get in trouble with the police to tell him his name and we'll be free to go, and that if we need him to rough someone up on the street to tell him their name nad consider it done haha. That last offer was very tempting but this man is so imcredible nice, and had said "I beleive it's possible you are sent form God, usually I just ignore Missionaries because I don't really trust them but then I say you in your shirt and ties and felt that I should invite you in, and what you've taught me and my family I am so greatful for" I'm not saying his baptized yet but we taught them twice already and we're playing basketball with them later tonight they are so nice. He used to fight Taekwando so he is teaching me alittle here and there haha its so great here. I really love his family and they invited us to their Christmas party on the 23rd. All is well here I am safe and the lord provides for us. Pray for me that I may find success here I love you all very much!

So excited for Tiffany going to PAris/Germany/England that's so sweet!

OKAY running out of time love you very much.
Elder Wallace means nothing to me

oh can you send an American Umbrella they are cheap and break here consistantly Love you all so much

Elder Gonzalez